Friday, October 12, 2007

Now this is cool!
A woman named Mary Lou Jepson has developed a solar powered laptop.

The laptop also has an attennae (for wireless internet, I guess) and a "wind-up crank" to power the battery on "gloomy" days. Comes with an durable bumper guard in case it's dropped and when "closed" is water resistant. The goal is to eventually be able to provide every child on the planet with a laptop. Individuals or corporations that really want to make a difference in the world, can donate one of these OR for a limited time participate in their "one for me one for you" program.

Here's the deal...for $400.00 you get two laptops, one for your child, grandchild, neice or newphew (or maybe for the "kid in you") and one is donated to a third world, underprivileged child. Yes, admittedly what they really may need is food, shelter, medicine but as Mary Lou Jepson said, "they also deserve an education" (not her exact words).

As they say, "knowledge is power". Or there's the other adage too, that you "give someone a fish, and they have food for a day...teach them how to fish and they have food for life".
I give this organization my "hero of the week" award. (H.O.W.!!)
Check out their website

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I was fascinated to hear research confirming that artists & musicians (right brain creatives) have a bigger “corpus collosum” than left brain thinkers. The corpus collosom is the nerve fibre that transmits data between both brain hemispheres.
You could almost say the right brain is like fertile ground…building “beanstalks for Jack” to climb to higher places!

With a little more investigation I also found out that women have a bigger corpus collosum than men. It’s not surprising.
Women have a tendency to use both sides of their brain as opposed to men who function mostly in the left. Women are equally functional in left brain skills, but constantly go back to their right brain where they access their “emotional, intuitive and nurturing” abilities. (All right brain attributes!)
One example is the fact that women communicate their feelings and emotions better than men. (Sometimes to their own detriment as the research suggests.)

This “healthy” right brain activity may also offer an explanation why women on average, live about 8 years longer than men.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some people may find the "blogs of others" to be a bit pretentious,...perhaps those of us who maintain a blog, live with the delusion that hundreds of subscribers tune in to read about our daily adventures. I blog for two reasons (not because I possess great wisdom or have more insight than others):

1.) My website was not “built” by me, but by a friend named Ron Good* (a great harmonica player who also performed on my CD). Ron gave me the opportunity to contribute something fresh to my website, by means of a blog. This I can do....just "log in" and post some thoughts.

2.) My "blog" serves as another way to communicate with participants of our Tai Chi classes. (Fall sessions are starting soon!) Here I can write about how Tai Chi helps create a sense of well being & balance. I try and give specific examples the participants can relate to, so it doesn't sound like hippy-new-age "Yak-a-doodle-doo"!

I’m grateful for the times when I feel "in balance". I believe it’s the result of being able to pursue things I’m passionate playing the guitar for a living, practising my tai chi & calligraphy (by documenting my thoughts in a journal). These are some aspects of my life I like to post as blogs, regardless of whether anyone reads them or not.
(*you can check out Ron Good’s website @

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It was six years ago today that we sold our house in Calgary, loaded up our U-Haul and made our way to our new home in Peace River. As our oldest son Luke drove the family van, I drove the U-Haul truck. In the was just me, and our "pet frog" in his fish tank.

We left Calgary around midnight and drove all through the night. I wasn't able to get radio reception until somewhere near "Valleyview, AB." and I heard on the CBC news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

About an hour later, I heard on the news that another plane had crashed into the Trade Center. Exhausted from driving through the night this all seemed like a nightmare as I came to the sombre & shocking realisation that this was no accident.
While unloading furniture into our home we'd break for a moment to watch television news clips of this cowardly act of terrorism.

Today, on the 6th anniversary of this sense-less tragedy, my thoughts are with all my American friends.
I have the utmost respect for parents that raise “fully-functional” kids!

By fully functional, I mean children that have been “nurtured”, make good choices in life & seem to know how to survive in the world. They can cook their own meals, do their own laundry, and purchase their own ipods & “designer clothes” with money they have earned at their after school job. These kids are well on their way to becoming “SELF-REALISED”.
I’ve known several young women who do all the things listed above, AS WELL AS do some basic carpentry & car repairs and are forceful & assertive when they need to be! These women have a huge advantage over some guys I know who basically “need a mother all their lives”.
This is my view (MY blog)…but if a husband doesn’t share in the house cleaning & laundry, cook some of the meals, and help raise the kids…the marriage is at risk. SOME GUYS ARE LIKE MAGICIANS. They have succeeded in turning their wives into their mother. Maybe that’s why they looked elsewhere for their romantic fulfillment?
Dads & Moms…my thinking here is, the best thing we can do for our sons is teach them how to be fully functional, rather than to end up having to spend ½ of their life earnings on child support & alimony!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I frequently meet folks who tell me that they used to play a musical instrument (usually the guitar or piano). Most of them say that they don’t remember how to play anymore.
It’s kind of sad to put in all that time & energy just have a skill…fade away. I usually suggest to these people that they try and pick up the instrument again but there’s an old saying, “What you don’t lose” and perhaps it holds true for these former music students.

On the other hand...there are people who go through life and seem to be able to maintain their skills. These folks always seem to have a goal, and they don’t stop just because they are “getting too old”! I find these kind people a real inspiration! And hey, there’s also a saying that applies to this remarkable group of individuals,...“Refine everything in your grasp and more will be added to you”.

Friday, August 24, 2007

When I was in school I often felt that I wasn’t as smart as the other kids. It took a while to understand that the school system was mostly geared toward academics & left brain thinking. Naturally, a “right brain” thinker (such as myself) might not feel “at home” in such an environment.

It was while working in the marketing department of one of Canada’s chartered banks that I noticed differences between myself and my “co-workers”. The workers that were chosen as management excelled at left brain technical skills...the “number crunching” & processing data ( interest & exchange rates, etc.). Often, the individuals chosen as department managers seemed devoid of creative skills.

I sat in on some meetings, loaded with information about RSP’s and mutual funds and how to solicit interest from potential clients. It’s not difficult to understand why all this “left brain” stuff was boring. The right brain is not only the source of creativity, but is also connected to emotion. The left brain data was leaving me feeling,...pretty dry.

It occurred to me that right brain thinkers are invaluable to many corporations. The right brain/creatives understand the emotional side of the corporation's potential clients. People tend to make a lot of buying decisions based on emotion.

You don’t get the “warm fuzzies” from looking at a television screen full of "jargon & technical data”, but you do from seeing two people sitting on a beach...snuggled together & watching a beautiful sunset while sipping on martinis (or some other exotic beverage). Creative people have a knack for dreaming up these wonderful images, and are usually paid handsomely by corporations who want to lure the consumer to purchase their products.

I mean yeah,...I admit I get a good feeling from balancing my checkbook, but when I realised that some of these bank executives had lost touch with their creative/emotional side and that was the motive for hiring a bunch of right brainers (like myself) to do their marketing, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything at school after-all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Paul Lovejoy (July 27, 1952 - August 4, 2007)
I lost a good friend this past week-end.
Paul Lovejoy, was a friend as well as a mentor for me.

He had a remarkable memory for song lyrics. Paul was always top of my list to call as a sideman for any gigs that came up. Not only was he an outstanding vocalist and back-up singer, he was also one of my favourite drummers to work with. You could always put a song list together very quickly because Paul seemed to know almost every song that was worth playing...AND not only did he know the lyrics, but he could sing lead OR back-up if you needed him to.

Most importantly, Paul had a real “zest for life” and an incredible sense of humour. He excelled in being able to laugh at himself! Many of the “one liners” that I still use on a regular basis came from Paul. It wasn’t stand-up comedy because it usually came while he was seated at his drum throne.

Paul Lovejoy, you touched a lot of people’s lives and you will be sadly missed!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Joni Mitchell
Before embarking on a full time music career I was a student at the Alberta College of Art, in Calgary. Originally, it was my intention to become a full time graphic artist, and to further pursue my “love” for drawing & sketching.

At the time I was also performing with a rock ‘n’ roll band on the week-ends. It was a great way to earn “gas money” and a little extra cash. At some point however, I decided that I wanted to play music as a career and keep drawing & sketching as a hobby, so...I asked to meet with Stan Perrot (who was the head of the art college) for some advice on what to do.

Stan Perrot shared an interesting story with me.
Apparently, another student had approached him with the same dilemma about 6-7 years previously. Her name was Joni Mitchell. As I understand it, Joni Mitchell was performing in the pubs and coffee houses around Calgary, while working diligently with her passion for art and painting.

It got to the point that Joni Mitchell was experiencing so much success with her music that she could no longer “juggle” both music and school and she decided to “give her all” to the music. Well, I guess we all know how that turned out!

The best part is that Joni Mitchell somehow still managed to find time to paint, as she has “adorned” many of her album covers with her excellent paintings!

Monday, July 30, 2007

When I was in my “twenties” I met two people who had an impact on me. One was a my Tai Chi instructor, Paul Ying Po Mak and the other was a spiritual teacher named Ellafern. Meeting these two remarkable people at this time in my life was a blessing. Sadly, Master Mak passed away about a year ago.

Master Mak spoke “broken English” and each day when I practise tai chi, I try to emulate his graceful moves & his “spirit”...not so much “what he said”.

Conversely,...a day rarely goes by without reflecting on one of Ellafern’s insights. The most profound thing she ever said to me was that, “I had learned to become my own father and now I needed to learn to become my own mother.”

A few years ago, I read that one of the objectives of tai chi is to “balance our own male & female energies”. Suddenly it struck me that although these two teachers did not know each other, essentially they were teaching me the same lesson. Inner balance comes from honouring our male & female aspect...the balance of yin & yang!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

My sister Susan recently loaned me her copy of “The Secret”.

It was worth watching...but it’s nothing new. Old ideas in a new fancy package. This stuff was being talked about in the late 70's by “Shakti Gawain” and was also covered in “The Seth Material”(Jane Roberts). Believe me, I’m not “knocking” this DVD, but it’s good to acknowledge the individuals who “initially” made many of us aware of these “age-old” principles.

It was good to be reminded of some of the concepts in The Secret. A great “refresher” course in visualization techniques & affirmations. I read Gawain’s book, Creative Visualization a few years after it came out, and I’ve had some REAL success with her suggestions from the book! I found her book to be a much more practical way of getting down to work, on “SELF”.

“The Secret” did not cover anything about karma (I once read that there are at least 4 types of karma) or dharma and the powerful impact they both have on our goals and dreams. Being aware of the role karma plays, helps to understand some of our roadblocks, as well as the patterns that we tend to fall into. At the same time I think that dharma shows us that we may have a propensity to be involved in a certain kind of work. (A kind of "being in the Tao".) I just think it’s good to consider these variables as well, when trying to set goals and make life changes.

As stated previously, I derived “value” from watching this inspirational DVD and still see it as a good “primer” in getting what we really want in life!
I got back from Calgary last night around midnight. Whew,...what a long drive!

After a week-end gig at the Strathmore Hotel (a BIG "thank you" to those of you that drove at least 30 minutes from your respective homes, to come & hear me perform.) I spent some time hanging out with lots of my old “good” friends, met one of my T.V. heros from when I was a teen-ager growing up (Cliff Kadatz), had a great work-out at the Eau Claire YMCA (thanks to my brother Randy and thanks to Lana from “memberships”) and I even caught a sneak preview of the 2007 Calgary Stampede.

It was great to have a few days off but now,...I’m really looking forward to gettin’ back to work! I’ve got some new equipment to try out & “adjust” and then I’ll be heading off to the Black Horse Pub in Fort McMurray, July 12, 13 & 14.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Many of the servers in the clubs & pubs I’ve performed at, are single moms who need to work TWO jobs to make ends meet. In some cases she is already putting in a “full day” somewhere else & then, needs to work the pub at night because her “ex”doesn’t make his child support payments.
(The kids suffer the most ‘cause they end up NOT seeing enough of either parent!)

On a couple of occasions, I’ve noticed the server suddenly go running out the door to chase a customer who’s trying to “sneak out” and not pay his bar tab. If she doesn’t catch the guy, guess who foots the bill at the end of the night?...The server! The unpaid tab comes out of her wages.

That’s pretty low of some guys, eh?! I have a lot of respect for these women in the “hospitality” industry and some of the “un-hospitable” stuff they have to put up with.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I made a friend on a recent “road trip” to Fort McMurray, Alberta. Shaun works as an electrician for Syncrude, one of the big oil companies situated there.

Shaun told me about the year he was an unemployed electrician so he worked part-time as a roadie loading equipment on & off stage at Max Bell Arena in Calgary. One day while hauling gear, he noticed sparks flying from the electrical circuit board. Some “jack of all trades” roadie was trying to “wire into” the power supply. Shaun was able to convince the makeshift electrician to hold off and then approached the arena management with an ultimatum. After proving his qualifications he demanded that they pay the “going rate” to have HIM do the wiring or he would call the Fire Marshall and the concert would be shut down.

After some hesitation from the management Shaun got his fee. He was then hired on as an electrician by one of the bands performing that evening.

I hear a lot of stories from folks I meet on the road, but I have no doubt that Shaun’s story is true. I casually mentioned that one of my stage lights was broken & he insisted on repairing it!

So Shaun this blog is dedicated to you! Thanks for fixing my stage light & hope to see you again next time I’m in Fort McMurray!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

One breath!
International Tai Chi Day is Saturday April 28th. There will be literally thousands of people doing workshops and demonstrations in their communities.

There is a large list of ailments & medical conditions that are "kept in check" or eradicated by regular practise of Tai Chi. Time Magazine calls Tai Chi, "the perfect exercise!".

To learn more about this remarkable "meditation in motion" check out the website: where you can link to a school or instructor near you, as well as get some free online "introductory" lessons.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I’m a lucky guy!
I got to “BE what I wanted to be when I grew up”.
As a kid, I used to love to draw...then, I found out there was a job called a “commercial artist” where you got paid to draw. Wow!
Then one day I saw a guy on T.V. named Cliff Kadatz. He would play the guitar & sing some songs and then he’d show kids how to draw. Wow, I thought... I wanna do THAT too! So, I took guitar lessons from Mr. Harold McKenzie at 14 years old.

In my early 20's I went to Art College to learn how to be an artist. One day at college I noticed a guy showing his friend some slow, “dance-like” moves...I didn’t know it at the time, but he was doing Tai Chi. Something deep inside me said, “one day, you’re going to learn that too”!

Now, almost every day I sing and perform my own songs and/or do some drawings and I do Tai Chi. Okay, so maybe I haven’t grown up yet...but perhaps that’s a good thing!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our family has a friend who’s roots trace back to Slovakia, a small country between Poland and Hungary. He is a tall, burly, patient & gentle soul, with light brown hair, blue eyes, a big “handlebar” moustache and a hearty laugh.

He once told us of a “custom” that is worth repeating here. Each year on his birthday he would buy a small gift for his mother as a token of his appreciation for her hard work of giving birth & raising him. It impressed me so much because in North America we practically expect gifts on our birthday and my friend is happy to acknowledge that his life is a “gift”. Sadly, his mother passed away a few years ago, but what a beautiful way to honour her life "as woman, mother”!

Friday, March 16, 2007

In my first “touring” band, I worked with a great singer/front man from Detroit named Mark. (He was always changing his last name so I’ll leave it at that!) Mark had done a fair bit of theatre work & we were discussing the origin or intent of a performers' "bow" at the end of the show. Mark explained that an actor is constantly transmitting energy from the stage to the audience.

At the conclusion of the performance the audience acknowledges energy received by applauding the actors (this includes the cast & crew). Then, as an act of humility & to deflate any trace of ego...the actors lower themselves to the floor in a gesture known as a "bow or curtsy".

Today for a performer, this “dynamic”...this wonderful exchange of energy is all to often, absent. As performers we try harder & harder to garner the appreciation & attention of the audience. Frequently we send out the energy but receive no response.

Many times we feel like we are just “wallpaper”. In spite of hard work and hours of practice I have been mistaken at a performance as being a Karaoke singer. I come off stage feeling a bit like Rodney Dangerfield when he said “I can’t get no respect”!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Several years ago, I watched my 15 year-old son perform with his band, at an "all ages bar". It was a "non-smoking/no alcohol club" was great! What impressed me most was the support the bands received from the audience. All of the bands that performed that day, had overwhelming applause from a full-house of “teens”.

In 1970, when I performed at my high school for MY best, 25% of the audience paid attention. The remainder were huddled into groups through-out the gym discussing their “dramas of the day”. The lack of applause was not because our band was unworthy, was because the audience was “pre-occupied”.

In the mid ‘70's when I was trying to make a career of "rock 'n' roll", it seemed most Canadians were pre-occupied...with "British or American" music. Few people supported Canadian artists, which is why I was told, “if you want to make it in music, move to the United States.”.

The truth is, many outstanding Canadian musicians didn’t want to leave the country & consequently were overlooked by the Canadian public. So where are they now?...
Some work in recording studios, music stores or as music teachers...but sadly, too many of these "fine musicians" now have careers not related to music.

Now-a-days it’s a different story. All those “kids” that supported my sons' performance (and thousands of others across the country) are buying Canadian music. Today, there's a new "crop" of great musicians & bands in Canada making a living doing what they do best...playing, writing & performing good "Canadian" music. Guess I was born in the wrong generation!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tai Chi "on the brain"
I read recently that it takes about two years to learn all of the 108 tai chi moves (ie. the "precision" and balance). This is like following a schematic or blueprint.

A tai chi master will execute the form in a precise & identical manner every time. A new student uses left brain functions to "compare" their moves to the instructor, "analysing & memorizing" through repetition. (The words in quotations are all left brain functions.)

After learning these moves, we can experience the energy flow as it is happening to us at every movement of the form. This is not easy to do, as we can easily go into "auto pilot" and do an unfelt, “robotic” version of tai chi that stays true to the blueprint, but is missing the spirit (shen) & spontaneity of the moment. Spontaneity or "going with the flow" is a right brain attribute.

When we do tai chi, if we are “in the now”, we respond to our environment...the fresh air, the fragrances of the flowers & trees. Our awareness is heightened by these factors. If we fully internalize (a right brain function) these aspects of the moment, tai chi is less likely to become "routine"(a left brain tendency). The perfectly executed tai chi form involves a constant "synchronicity" between the two brain hemispheres.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mimetic Desire
Rene Girard introduced this concept many years ago. The word mimetic is derived from the word “mime” which means “to imitate life”. The principle demonstrates how we get hoodwinked into buying “stuff”. (a.k.a. “keeping up with the Jones’s.”)

For example, let’s say there’s a lonely bachelor named Steve. Steve has a neighbour that owns a dalmatian dog. Steve sees the neighbour & his girlfriend walking the dog. Because Steve likes the image that it represents, he makes the assumption that by getting a dalmatian dog, he too will be able to enjoy an “ideal” life and possibly even attract a girlfriend. In other words mimetic desire is “a desire to imitate the life that we think another person has”.

What Steve doesn’t know is, his neighbour isn’t happy with his own circumstances. In truth, he finds the dog to be a burden & he also wants to “dump” his girlfriend so he can spend more time with buddies. Instead of taking his girlfriend on dates, he spends their time together on these “dog walks” hoping SHE will end the relationship, and he won’t look like the bad guy. (Typical male, eh?!)

Marketing people use mimetic desire all the time (although not necessarily aware of it). One example is before Christmas you’ll see a television advertisement of kids having fun with Dad & Mom, playing some ridiculous board game. Many kids are so starved for attention they figure, “if Santa brings me the game...I’ll have the same quality time with my Dad & Mom”.

It doesn’t stop at kids’ toys. Buyer beware! Next time you're making a purchase you might want to ask,..."Do I really need this, or am I buying due to some mimetic desire?".

Friday, January 12, 2007

Motivation vs. Inspiration
I once read about a car dealership that every month, would fire the sales-person with the lowest sales. This is known as “motivation” by fear...and is not a form of empowerment. It really only benefits the owner of the car dealership, and undermines staff morale to have his sales people fighting to stay on top. Fighting like rats in a cage!

Conversely, when Ghandi began his famous “salt march”, people at every village he stopped at, were “inspired” to join him in his mission. The word inspiration implies “invoking spirit” and it empowers us from our core!
We serve one another more performing acts which “inspire”, rather than “motivating” others to get what we want!