Monday, December 15, 2008

Jennessa Clarke - Believe

Recorded Sunday December 14th 2008 in Guelph as part of the Grand River Music Christmas Pageant, this is Jennessa singing "Believe" from the movie The Polar Express.

Friday, December 05, 2008

More Political Humour

I know I keep claiming to eschew political humour but I must admit that this one tickles me; I think because I've always believed that at the core of any bully is a coward and Mr. Harper seems to perfectly illustrate the point.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Creation Science 101

I used to love Tom Lehrer.

I thought he was the cleverest songster that I ever heard - pithy, witty, intelligent - just a joy to listen to.

Well, Roy Zimmerman is this generation's version of Tom Lehrer. He, too is pithy, witty, and intelligent. Here he is singing Creation Science 101.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Amazing Volleyball Return

Trish and I attended a volleyball tournament at Jennessa's school this afternoon and I thought it might be a good opportunity to try out my new videocam. This short video tells the rest of the story.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

First Recorded Instance Of Crowd Surfing?

Here’s a video of Peter Gabriel performing (the appropriately titled) “Lay Your Hands On Me” I maintain he is the inventor of crowd surfing.

Now, there are those who contend that “crowd surfing” was invented by Jim Morrison in 1968 and, considering how drunk/stoned Morrison was 95% of the time, I suppose that is possible. BUT – there is no documented evidence of Morrison doing it and, considering Morrison’s well-documented fear of audiences, it seems doubtful.

This footage (from the film POV – produced by Martin Scorsese) was released in 1990 but I understand that the concert footage was filmed in 1988. From the anticipatory mood of the crowd you can surmise that they were expecting Gabriel to “crowd surf”. My understanding is that, by this time, this was already an established part of his performance. If I had to guess I would guess that he was doing this from 1986 onward.

There are three things I would like to draw to your attention in this clip:

1. Gabriel is flipped onto his front at one point and immediately flips himself back – considering all the hands lifting him I suspect that this was done to avoid being handled about his genital area – which anyone could certainly understand.
2. Gabriel is ‘relieved’ of his jacket during the ‘surf’ – rather than resist this blatant theft he acts to remove the jacket. I find his apparent attitude in this to be admirable: ‘if they want it, let them have it.’
3. Gabriel’s energy level once he is returned to the stage. To me, this is the most significant thing about this clip. I don’t know if you have ever attended a Peter Gabriel live performance. In addition to this film, I also have the concert footage of his “US” performance, and I saw him live at Exhibition Stadium while he was touring to support the “SO” album. His concerts are carefully orchestrated events – every movement, every gesture, is pre-planned and calculated to give the audience the maximum experience – he leaves almost nothing to chance. But when his security people heave him back onto the stage after his crowd-surfing experience it is evident that his energy level has been boosted to the maximum and he can barely contain himself as he finishes the song. I find this very telling.

The clip is eight minutes long; I uploaded it to my youtube account. I suppose they will eventually pull it since it is copyrighted material but until they do, here it is.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jennessa Performing At The Guelph Music Centre

Jennessa's programs at Grand River Music include periodic performances at the Guelph Music Centre. On June 15th 2008 she took part playing piano (a piece entitled "Jig") and singing this piece - "Just Around The River Bend". Jennessa was the only double threat performing that day.

I videoed both performances but only converted and uploaded the vocal piece, here for your enjoyment.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Golden Prison - The Louvre

In the mid-1980s when I was planning my (thus far, only) trip to Europe I stumbled on and bought this videotape in the "pre-owned" bin at a video rental store. This was a 1978 NBC release of a Lucy Jarvis documentary about The Louvre. (I just today learned -thru IMDB- that it was originally made in 1964.)

The VHS tape was (and still is) in excellent condition and though the style and content is obviously dated, it stands up to viewing still today.

Trish and I have been ridding ourselves of old and no longer needed clutter in the house and I've given away almost all of my VHS tapes. I've kept a few that I figured I wouldn't be able to replace with DVDs so that I can digitize them. This is the first one I've done and it came out quite well.

Because it has never been released in a digitized format, I feel no guilt at sharing this documentary with others - if NBC (or whoever owns the rights) re-released it on DVD I wouldn't do this, but they haven't so they obviously don't care about making this film available to the public.

I've split the film into 'youtube-acceptable' size chunks and uploaded them (six in total, with a sum playing time of about 44 minutes).

I don't know how long they will be available; I imagine that if youtube gets a complaint they'll pull them. So if you're interested in watching it I'd suggest you do so sooner rather than later.

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 1 of 6)

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 2 of 6)

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 3 of 6)

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 4 of 6)

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 5 of 6)

Golden Prison - The Louvre (Part 6 of 6)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Switch Your Hot-Tub to Hydrogen Peroxide

The drawbacks of traditional chlorine-based (bromide) Hot-Tub water sanitization methods are legion; the necessary chemicals are expensive, complicated, smelly, and really drying to the skin. But with a little pre-planning you can sanitize your Hot-Tub water with Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) instead of all those other chemicals. Save money, save your skin, and save having to perform all sorts of unnecessarily complicated water treatments.

I recently switched our 1558 Liter (410 US Gallon) Coast Hot-Tub over to Hydrogen Peroxide and I couldn't be happier with the results. The tub is easier to maintain, doesn't have that 'chemically smell' it used to have, and my entire family noticed being in the Hot-Tub no longer dries out their skin but leaves it feeling smooth and soft. We'll never go back to chlorine!

Now, Hydrogen Peroxide won't be an option for you if you don't get your water from a municipal water supply that chlorinates it. So if you get your water from a well or directly from a lake or river WITHOUT chlorination you'll have to stick with bromide. But the relatively low levels of chlorination provided by virtually all municipal water supplies is adequate and, since most people are on municipal water, Hydrogen Peroxide is an alternative for almost all Hot-Tub owners.

- 35% Technical Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
- Polyethylene Containers for Hydrogen Peroxide
- Hydrogen Peroxide Test Strips
- Clean Hot-Tub Filter(s)
- Glass measuring cup - 250 Ml (1 cup)
- Protective Gloves and Eye-wear

Obviously you'll need Hydrogen Peroxide. It is available in various concentrations and grades but for Hot-Tub use we want 35% Technical Grade. Depending on where you live, getting it can be tricky. I live in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and, fortunately, in the neighboring city of Guelph there is a supplier who not only sells 35% Technical Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and all of the other supplies I need but offers free delivery to my area. In fact, Bob Simpson of SUPERFAST SOLUTIONS ( has been a terrific source of information as well. If you aren't fortunate enough to live in Bob's delivery area try doing a web search for Hydrogen Peroxide suppliers in your area, you might get lucky and find Bob's counterpart near you. If not, you can investigate shipping your supplies from somewhere else, but the shipping charges will put your costs up a bit.

The minimum quantity of 35% Technical Grade Hydrogen Peroxide that Bob sells is 20 Liters (5 US Gallons). It costs me CDN$60 and, for a Hot-Tub our size, I figure is about a one year supply. Although the Hydrogen Peroxide comes in a blue polyethylene container with an attachable spigot, it weighs 26 KG (57 Lbs) and that seemed rather unwieldy to me so I also ordered five 4.5 Liter (1 US Gallon) polyethylene jugs for storage.

Hydrogen Peroxide Test Strips are plastic strips with a reactive pad on one end, similar to the test strips you are probably using currently to check Chlorine, Alkalinity and pH levels. The strips measure Hydrogen Peroxide from 0 to 100 parts per million (PPM). Bob sells me test strips for CDN$40 for a 50 pack.

When you first start using Hydrogen Peroxide, organic material that has accumulated in your Hot-Tub's pipes, pumps and tubes are going to circulate so starting out with a clean filter is advisable. Be prepared to replace or clean it frequently, at least at first.

You'll need to measure the Hydrogen Peroxide and since glass is non-reactive to it, a glass measuring cup is a good choice. And protective gloves and eye-wear should always be used when handling corrosive materials.

Though Hydrogen Peroxide can exist quite safely in water already treated by chlorine, bromide and the other chemicals I was already using, to enjoy the benefit of unclouded, fresh-smelling, non-drying water I chose to make the switch when I was planning to replace the Hot-Tub water and I strongly suggest you do the same.

Once you've drained and refilled your Hot-Tub (and put in a clean filter), shock it by adding 250 ml (1 cup) of Hydrogen Peroxide for every 1000 liters (250 US Gallons) of water.

Let the Hot-Tub stand for one day with the circulation pump running intermittently. After that, check your filter and clean or replace it as necessary.

Use the test strips frequently to check the level of Hydrogen Peroxide until you pick up the pattern of how much Hydrogen Peroxide to add and when to add it. Check at least once per week after that.

When the level drops below 50 PPM add 250 ml (1 cup) of Hydrogen Peroxide per 2000 Liters (500 US Gallons) of water in the tub - this is half the quantity you used to originally shock the water.

Maintain the level between 50 and 100 PPM (it isn't dangerous to exceed 100 PPM but it is unnecessary).

Remember to check and clean or replace the filter frequently.

Undiluted 35% Hydrogen Peroxide is corrosive, toxic and can be fatal if swallowed. Keep it out of the reach of children and never use unlabeled or improperly labeled containers. Use child-proof caps on all containers. I used an indelible ink marker to label my storage jugs: "DANGER! H2O2 - DO NOT TOUCH".

Hydrogen Peroxide also reacts to sunlight and becomes more active at higher temperatures so store it in a cool dark place. I put my supply on a bottom shelf in the basement on top of a plastic sheet. The shelf is behind a door and I installed a hasp and lock on the door for additional security. I also keep the measuring cup, gloves and safety glasses on the same shelf and I only measure the Hydrogen Peroxide outside when I am about to add it to the Hot-Tub.

If you accidentally spill it on skin, flush the area immediately with running water. If it is accidentally swallowed, drink large quantities of water, remain upright and call a doctor or poison control agency at once.

In case of accidental spillage, flush the area with water to dilute. Don't return any spilled Hydrogen Peroxide to its container and keep undiluted Hydrogen Peroxide from going into the sewage system. Report any spills as required by Federal, Provincial/State or local regulations.

If you are using a spigot to dispense Hydrogen Peroxide leave it in place until the container is empty. Removing and replacing the spigot can cause lint or dust to contaminate it.

With a little pre-planning and some common sense you can safely switch your Hot-Tub water sanitization over to Hydrogen Peroxide and not only save money on the multitude of expensive chemicals you are currently using but also have an over-all better Hot-Tubbing experience.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mistaking Our Egos For Ourselves

Most physiological processes are either voluntary (finger movement, leg movement, etc.) or autonomic (heartbeat, digestion, blood circulation, etc.)

Only two are quasi-autonomic: breathing and thinking. We can control these processes but only to a point - they will become autonomic when we take our attention away from them.

The unique similarity between these two processes is the reason disciplines around Yoga and Meditation place such emphasis on breathing - because consciousness around breathing can lead to consciousness around thinking. The two are related.

The 'chatter' in your head is not YOU - it is the voice of ego.

You are the 'focus' that can direct the chatter and you are the spaces between the thoughts. It is in the moments when we still the chatter that we are most ourselves.

-"Be still and know that I am God."(Psalm 46:10)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pure Pap For Now People

"After some consideration, I've decided to remove this post. I don't normally do that because it feels a little "dishonest" somehow to go back and change what I wrote but I recently re-read it and realized that this particular post was overly critical and potentially hurtful and that is not what I am about."

June 26 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

April? Already???

Wow, I've just been so busy with working on the illustrations for the upcoming (Fall 2008) release of my non-fiction book (A real chore for someone as 'artistically-challenged' as I am) that I let this blog (and lots of other things) slide to the wayside. Please forgive me.

Here's a video of Jennessa (and other participants in the 2008 Grand Valley Rock Camp) performing IRREPLACEABLE.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feel The Dancing

I used to be the easiest person in the world to manipulate (I'd like to think that I've matured and this is no longer true but I can't cite any empirical evidence of that). Back in the day, all one had to do was tell me that I couldn't do something and, sure as God made little green apples, THAT's what I'd do.

The Reverse Psychology Poster Boy - that was me.

So, in the late seventies/early eighties when Wayne Walsh and I were writing songs by the bushel, our manager manipulated me easily to get us to write a Disco song. He simply told me that the reason I didn't like Disco was because I couldn't do it.

Well, that was one gauntlet the Reverse Psychology Poster Boy couldn't resist and - within two weeks - we had "Feel The Dancing".

I still cringe when I hear it.

Not because the lyrics are insipid (though they are)

Not because the tune is mindless (though it is)

Not because the production is painfully pedictable (though, my God, is it ever... and yes, I was the Producer)

No, it's because I was so easily manipulated into doing it.

So much for standards.

(Click on the title above to hear an MP3 of "Feel The Dancing")

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hollywood - A Cautionary Tale

You come up with an idea, flesh it out and think, this is pretty good. So you take steps to protect it then submit your idea to appropriate agencies to see if anyone wants to develop it.

You're screwed.

The powers that be in Hollywood will take your idea and do whatever they want with it and give you nothing in return and there's nothing you can do about it. That's the lesson I recently learned.

On February 18th 2008, NBC premiered its new gameshow "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad" - there's a description of it at

Its Executive Producer is Mark Burnett (the guy who gave us "Survivor") and its Creator is credited as Jon Hotchkiss (of "Penn and Tellers: Bullshit" fame).

Check out the description of the show and then check out my article from this very blog (from January 21 2006) -

More than just a little similar, don't ya think?

Sure, they've made some changes. The name, for one thing, changed from "My Dad Can Beat Your Dad" to "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad". But the changes are all sort of evolutionary; the type of changes you would expect once you start to develop an idea. The premise, the structure, the idea - it's all the same.

January 2006. That's when I published that blog entry. I didn't publish it until after I gave up on flogging the idea through because I didn't want to spend more money renewing my subscription there. So my idea was in Hollywood's hands before January 2006. That isn't a coincidence.

Since I have actual proof that I had this idea first, I contacted an intellectual property lawyer in Toronto, he referred me to a lawyer in Los Angeles (I didn't ask this lawyer for permission to use his name so I won't, but he's a well known expert in the field and has worked on some famous cases involving idea theft in Hollywood.) His advice? "...just forget about it. Let it go. Move on with your life."

That's a verbatim quote from our email correspondence. So is this: "...for every successful TV show or movie, there are around 15 various different people who claim that they had written the idea first. Some of them have registered for Copyright Protection, and many of them have registered their scripts with the Writers Guild of America. None of them prevail, in my experience."

Remember, this guy is a pro - out there - dealing with these issues all the time. And he wasn't being cruel; he's seems like a real nice guy just telling the truth as he knows it: "...just forget about it. Let it go..." I'm taking his advice.

Moral of the story? If you come up with a good idea and you aren't prepared to develop it yourself, put it in the shedder. It'll bring you nothing but heartache.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jennessa at the 2008 Unity Centre Coffee House

While Trish and I were away on a long overdue honeymoon the annual Coffee House was held at Unity Centre. A friend at Unity was kind enough to videotape Jennessa's performance (Thanks Nathan!) so we didn't have to miss it. I digitized her performance and uploaded it to youtube, so here is Jennessa singing: "Big Girls Don't Cry".