REPOST: Vinyl Spin: Elton John “Live from Moscow”


NOTE: This post was originally written in April 2019 in honour of Record Store Day. The 2 LP/CD set has been released globally January 24, 2020.  In honour of that event I’m resharing this Red Heart Blue Sign piece.

In 1978 Elton John released a solo Lp, A Single Man, it marked a few departures for him musically.  It was the first where Bernie Taupin did not have a writing credit on the Lp.  He also didn’t record with the band that had accompanied him on his two previous studio albums Rock of the Westies and Blue Moves. Elton toured to support the album, but unlike previous tours, the tour in ’79 was a man and his piano.  Elton was accompanied only by percussionist Ray Cooper. The tour that year had only one stop in Canada, the old O’Keefe centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto.  These shows were not unlike shows recorded Elton 20 years later in Madison Square Gardens.  These shows were made available solely to Fan Club members (of which I was) on two CDs in 2000 and 2001.

The tour included a historic eight shows in the old USSR, four in Leningrad and four in Moscow.  The concerts were one of the first by a western musicians allowed into the country and would open the flood gates for everyone else.

For Record Store Day this year, the BBC recordings of his last concert in Russia in 1979 were released on vinyl as a double Lp.  This 2 disc set was my first purchase after buying a new Turntable and it fills me with joy to hear the needle softly set itself down on side one track one with every album I play now.

Disc one Side one opens with Elton solo on the piano with open refrain of “Daniel” and cautiously welcoming applause, as the song plays I find I have tears in my eyes to hear the warmth of vinyl again; it’s a welcoming feeling to my youth.  Sticking with older materal Elton seques to his self professed favourite composition, “Skyline Pigeon”.  Take me to the pilot leads into Rocket Man a song that turns epic in this live performance.

Flipping to Side two it begins with “Don’t Let the Sun go down on me”, “Goodbye yellow brick road” and “Candle in the wind” all songs the audience well recognizes.  It seems as listening to the Lp that the the soviets in attendence are settling in and are not so wary of this pop superstar.  Elton’s love of Motown is widely known, the side ends with Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the grapevine” but sadly, IMHO, he over extends this taking away from the performance.  As I listened to it, I wonder how many in the audince felt as I did – is this almost over?

Over to Disc 2 Side 1 and Elton is joined by percussionist Ray Cooper.  Cooper has been playing with Elton since the 1971 Lp Madman across the water.  Besides Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson no one has played more with Elton.  The second disc opens with a combined “Funeral for a friend/Tonight”, songs that appear on Eltons only two disc studio albums.  Touching on 9 of his 11 previous studio Lps in this concert he brings a bit of Captain Fantastic with “Better off dead” before breaking into a full arena sized concert version of Bennie and the Jets with a room full of Russians yelling “BENNIE” on queue.

One last flip to Side 4, with “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” and “Crazy water” from Blue Moves, the audience is clearly in his hands, Elton sets up the end of the show with a a series of song combinations guaranteed to get Russian boots moving.  Elton works his magic with “Saturday night’s alright for fight” and “Crocodile Rock” with his “Pinball Wizard” and he was the first to end a western pop concert in the USSR with the Beatles “Get Back” and “Back in the USSR”. Judging the by the reaction to the song you might think he played official state anthem, but while the USSR was still in tact as it was in 1979, it was  most certainly the unofficial  emotional anthem.

Elton John Live from Moscow is a gift to his fans from a performer who is in the middle of his “farewell yellow brick road” tour.  For me it took me back to being 19, Elton John’s Greatest Hits was my first vinyl Lp I purchased and “Sleeping with the Past” in 1989 was his my last before going into full CD mode.  Live from Moscow brings me back to being a fan of Elton John and to vinyl. From the warmth and depth of the sound of the recording to the packaging of vinyl.  It is a return to good days and good music.

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You didn’t lose – you won!

In 2015 there were 1,792 candidates, only 338 went to Ottawa. There are no official numbers for the federal election in 2019, but we can assume there are more in the last election because there were 4 parties that ran a full slate of 338 candidates last fall.   I can safely say that over 2000 people ran for a party or independently last election.

Based on my estimate, there are now 1,662 Candidates of Record (CoR), each of them will keep that title until the next election. Most of the CoR come from registered parties and for these people, congratulations, you are now a Candidate of Record. With that title comes responsibility.


This week CBC Toronto posted a tweet in response to former GTA Conservative candidate Bobby Singh jumping into the Conservative Leadership race.  In the tweet the CBC called Singh a failed Conservative candidate. I ran twice, unsuccessfully in the 2011 and 2014 provincial elections, the elections were amazing experiences.  In the eyes of @CBCToronto I am a two-time failure.  Do I feel like that?  No, far from it!

In the 8 years between the 2011 and 2018 election where I was the CoR I attended party conferences, worked locally and continued to have great conversations with not only the winning MPP, but other candidates and voters in the riding.

As the CoR it’s important that you maintain ‘election’ mode as you finish up your responsibility as the candidate.  That includes financials of the campaign; making sure all invoices are paid and that your CFO completes and the files of your campaign return to Elections Canada.  It’s important that you follow up and watch this closely to protect your reputation as a candidate and that of the riding association.  The more you and your team do, the less the party has to get involved.

Boris Johnson rivals

British PM Boris Johnson with his local riding opponents in the recent UK Election, all of which are now Candidates of Record

As CoR there are a few responsibilities you have, especially if you plan to seek the nomination and run in the next election.  As the CoR the local riding association will need your help to keep the association active.  This includes fundraising, being active on the association Board of Directors.  If you want to ensure you have a better shot at being the candidate the next time around, you should bring some of your campaign team onto the Board.  Having friends there will be helpful to continue the work you were doing as the candidate.

The next election may come sooner rather than later; it would be a benefit for you to keep your campaign team engaged between elections.   Staying involved locally also helps as you will need signatures for your nomination, keeping supporters engaged is a plus for the association, the party and YOU.  Showing that you have continued to build your support in the riding will be noticed by the party regional organizers (RO).

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Finally, as in the situation of the Conservative Party of Canada, you will be asked for your opinion about a leadership race, the declared and presumed candidates that has come from election results. The CoR may also be asked for their thoughts to the local media.  If you are asked, you might want to notify the RO.  There will come a time in the leadership race that you’ll be courted and asked to support and publicly endorse a candidate.

If you consider all that you gain as the candidate NOT going to Ottawa, it will still be an honour to represent your local supporters and to continue to work for the party causes.  It may not be the win you were fighting for, but I can say, as a two-time CoR, it’s still enjoyable and beneficial and will continue to fulfill your desire for public service.

I have kept friendships many of the people I met through my two campaigns, it’s my hope for you that you will also have joy of knowing so many people through the amazing experience you just finished,

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My year in pages – Part II

Part 2 of my year of the books I’ve read covers July to December.  In this list of books, I have chosen “Trudeau”, “The King’s War”, “A Gentleman in Moscow” and Stephen Harper’s “Right Here Right Now” to be my reading list while I was in Barrie for the federal election for 8 weeks.  While I read the first three as planned, I finally read Harper’s book in December.   I also did not complete the books in the 8 weeks as I planned, but I did read them all just a later than planned.

Here are my July to December books.

Trudeau: The education of a Prime Minister by John Ivison (2019)

This was like rereading the headlines for the past 4 years, but with a view from the right.  As I anticipated it reaffirmed everything I know and feel about Trudeau.  After reading Ivison, it feels like I should be reading Promise and Peril: Justin Trudeau in Power by Aaron Wherry just to see if I come out on the middle of this time in Canadian history.

The King’s War by Peter Conradi and Mark Logue (2019)

The follow-up to The King’s Speech, to which the Oscar winning movie was based. The King’s War follows George VI and Lionel Logue after the war and into peace time.  If you liked the movie, you’ll enjoy this book.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

A great story!  After you have finished it you’ll want to read it again – right away to catch what you missed the first time that lends to the eventual ending.

The making of the October Crisis: Canada’s long nightmare of terrorism at the hands of the FLQ by D’Arcy Jenish (2018)

A couple of years back I read a book about the legacy of French Canadians have and their contributions to what Canada is today.  Beside Legacy” Canada has an history that needs to be told, sometimes it is an ugly history and we should not hide from it.   The making of the October Crisis is a thorough account of the beginnings of the quiet revolution in Quebec to the explosive climax of it in 1970.  Jenish starts us with the 1960’s Quebec, the roots both political and social that lead to the dissatisfaction of Quebecers.

The groups and individuals who fueled the crisis are explored in detail and provides background to where Quebec is today and helps to understand political cycles in there that include the resurgence of the Bloc of Quebecois in the 2019 federal election.

This book is an important book, it’s a book all Canadians should read, but baby boomers will have flashbacks of the events while reading this.  It’s a weird feeling as you may have lived through this era of our history, it will trigger memories. More importantly it triggers the idea that we cannot allow the same conditions to flourish again.

Right Here Right Now by Stephen J. Harper (2018)

If people could past their dislike for former Prime Minister Harper and read this for this is, an account of the collective good conservative policies generate, history will be much kinder to Harper when political adversaries look back at his tenure as PM.  RHRN is Harper not shooting arrows at his adversaries but shooting arrows at the policies they brought forward.

It is written clearly and not so that you need a PHD to understand it.  His look at polices that have national and global impact on the economy, immigration, nationalism and trade are straightforward and make sense.

Harper’s view of Donald Trump is not at all flattering, but he also recognizes that the reasons for the election of Trump goes back years through policies brought in by previous White House administrations.  Trump is merely the person that recognized and capitalized on the anger of the American worker, it doesn’t make him a better President than say Hillary Clinton would have been.  It’s a lesson that should not be overlooked here in Canada.

Many Moons: A Songwriter’s Memoir by Dayna Manning (2019)

My reading steer me to where I lived and what I’ve done.  Manning hails from Stratford Ontario where I spent 5 years working at CJCS-AM.  I thoroughly enjoyed Dayna’s journey as a musician and a songwriter.  I feel that I should be looking to purchase music she’s released, or at least the songs she has profiled here.

As you may have noticed, my reads leaned heavily towards non-fiction last year, something I would like to change in the next 12 months.

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My year in Pages – Part I

I made a promise to read more, at least an hour a day.  I was able to keep this promise most days, so it was not a complete failure.  I always, with the exception of the weeks I was busy on the election, had a book on the coffee table that I had was in the process of reading.

The result of that promise was that I read 15 books, more than double the 7 books I read in 2018. I’ve written about some of the books I have read, and where I have, I’ll include the links for the complete review.  In the order I read the books, here is is my 2019 in pages.  Part I consists of books I read from January to June.

Takedown: The attempted political assassination of Patrick Brown by Patrick Brown (2018)

I knew the players; I saw it unfold on TV and in the news.  It was a sad thing that happened to a man that likely would have become the premier of Ontario.  There are many loose ends to this made in Ontario political thriller that have yet to be heard.

Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple (2017)

The most interesting political book I read all year and is a timely read considering how challenging being the Chief of Staff for Donald Trump could be.  This book is about leadership, good leadership and bad leadership and how there should always be at least one person who is there to steer Presidents, Prime Ministers and Political leaders.  Whipple profiles White House administrations going back to Gerald Ford. The gatekeepers is an intriguing read that puts a few of history’s most crucial moments in a new perspective for the reader.

Shakey by Neil Young (2002)

I had a false start on reading this in 2018, I had to put it away a for a few months before I could start over and really enjoy this.  Is there anything Neil can’t do? Reading this almost 20 year after it was published, everything he has accomplished was on his terms. I think about everything that was NOT in this book.  I might have to find a recent memoir to catch up on Neil.

How the Scots Invented Canada by Ken McGoogan (2010)

I borrowed this after seeing it in the office of a Senator.  I’ll leave it at that, you can read the review here:

The Girl in the Spider Web by David Lagercrantz (2015)

This sat in my shelf for a couple of years before I opened it up, my inspiration as wo have read it before I watched not one, but two movies based on the book.  The Swedish film version was heads better that the English version that featured Claire Hoy (The Crown) as Lisbeth. The book however was fabulous and generated much more page turning excitement than either of the movies did.  Lagercrantz does the Stieg Larsson’s franchise well with this.

Open Look by Jay Triano (2018)

I was intrigued by One Look based solely on the success that the Toronto Raptors were having last season.  Like any good sports book, it really isn’t about the sport.  It’s about how a person gets into the sport and how the sport teaches how to overcome adversity, but it still has a lot about basketball in it.

Tales beyond the Tap by Randy Bachman (2015)

I paired this book up with Neil Young’s Shakey in a post about the two famous Winnipeggers. There is a dogged determination in everything that Bachman has tackled and succeeded at.  He should go down as one of Canada’s greatest musical mentors.

The Effective Citizen: How to make politicians work for you by Graham Steele (2017)

We became aware of this book in Halifax during the Conservative Party of Canada convention in 2018.  I have written more about this book in a previous post, but the synopsis is this:  If you want to get involved in the democratic process in Canada and any level of government you must be smart and methodical about it.  This book is a lesson for politicians and their staff who disregard the voice of the voter AND it’s a “how to book” on working with local representatives, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and their staff.  This book along with “Gatekeepers” were the most informative books I read in all pf 2018.

Independence Day by Ben Coes (2015)

Good fun paging turning fiction.  It has spies, espionage, and lots of international deceitful action that gets fixed by the end of the book.

Part 2 will be posted next week, thanks for reading Part 1.


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My Year in Music

elton JOhnOne word, Vinyl sums up my year in music.  At the same time, I moved back to vinyl I also took a giant leap forward on digital music.  The loser in 2019 was the Compact Disc.  Considering I always ripped CD’s to digital storage, it made sense to make the bold step (for me) go 100% digital, with the exception of my vinyl purchases.

My move to vinyl was in conjunction with Record Store Day this past spring.  My desired purchased was the 2-disc set of Elton John’s concerts in Moscow. Putting on that vinyl stirred my heart.  I wrote about it in May in a post I called Vinyl Spins  That post can be found here:

In the past 12 months a few artists really got me tapping my toes.  I’ll try something different here in an attempt to mention as much music that moved me in 2019 as possible.  I mention why I liked the in two or three sentences.  It’s a written lightening round of answers.

imagesAfter a year of playing Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the feeling” on repeat, her LP Dedicated provided more fodder for my ears beyond “Call me Maybe”.  Dedicated proved that “E-Mo-Tion” was no fluke.  I look forward to listening to this for months to come.


Black KeysMy interest in The Black Keys is 100% based on my love of the music of Michelle Branch.  Like other music I’ve purchased in the past on impulse, “Let’s Rock” was a surprise to my ears.  Catchy tunes, Beatlesque harmonies and some good ol’ rock and roll make this the surprise of 2019 for me.

ColdplayThe last I listened to Coldplay was 2014’s Ghost Stories, I have largely ignored new music from Chris Martin, up until “Everyday Life” was released this fall. To be honest it took a few weeks after buying it off iTunes to listen to it, but when I did, I was surprised and so happy to hear a return to form of the band.  Will it be another Viva la Vida?  Likely not – but this Everyday Life is Coldplay, and it’s nice to have them back.

StingThere are very few artists that I would allow creative license to go back into their catalogue and revisit key songs, Sting is one of them and this year he released “My Songs”.  Sting goes back to The Police (with re-envisioned Message in the Bottle and Walking on the Moon and 5 others) and 7 songs from his solo years.  Some of his selections don’t move far from the original, but bold “re-writes” to his early music proves how talented a songwriter Sting is.  While I bought this digitally purchasing the vinyl of this is a sure thing.

Kacey MusgravesDua LipaJanelle MonaeSt. Vincent

Kacey Musgraves, Dua Lipa, Janelle Monae and St. Vincent grabbed my attention during the 2019 Grammy Awards show.   Winning an arm full of Grammys got my attention to find out more about Kacey Musgraves.  A fabulous performance pairing of Dua Lipa and St. Vincent performing Masseduction and One Kiss left me no choice BUT to seek out their music.  I was not let down by either.  Neither did Janelle Monae, who for me is the next coming of Prince.
Out of the 2019 Grammy’s it was Musgraves who stood heads and shoulders above the others.  Golden Hour, winner of four awards in last year has provided hours of listening enjoyment.  I am not embarrassed to admit that that I have three songs on repeat on my iPod; Slowburn, Space Cowboys and Butterflies.  I would listen to these songs for a full day, the three songs over and over and over.  I would not, could not tire of them.  As a postscript I’ll also add Billie Eillish to this group of performers that are bringing something new.

Musgraves, Monae, Lipa and St. Vincent are leading each of their genres bringing new energy and voice to music, I can’t wait to hear what comes next from each of them.

One last musical highlight, it came to us on December 5th and I dare anyone not to like “Christmas Tree Farm” from Taylor Swift.  The song on its own is infectious in its joy of Christmas.  However Swift enhanced that joy with a short video on the making of the song, which was written, produced and released in 6 days from December 1st to 6th.

I hope you all had music that moved you in 2019, may 2020 bring more beats that enthrall you and give you goosebumps!

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The miracle of the upside-down turkey

20191224_110950.jpgThe thought that another decade was ending really snuck up on me. My 5th decade on this planet is coming to a close and my 6th decade is ascending quickly on me. My father was born late in the 1920’s; 2020 will be his 11th decade, and my mother enters her 10th decade, I wonder how they feel about it. Perhaps my life has been more hectic than normal this year; it may have been a year of survival event by event, the realization that we were heading into the 2020’s did not hit me until a week ago.

My year-ends used to be marked by tearing out the year end music charts from the newspapers.  I used to buy all the newspapers to make sure I didn’t miss a single one – whether I listened to that radio station or not. Now, there is not a souvenir music chart to be seen in print by December 31st.  I hope the years of charts I have saved will survive and will demonstrate how different it was only a few years ago. I hope that in the newspapers I buy on December 31st this year I might find a “end of the decade” best chart.

It was a political banner year for me, and this is not just by judging success and accomplishments, but by measuring what I have learned about the people in politics, whether they are friends or foes.  As great as the 8 weeks in Barrie-Innisfil was, I am sure some of my plans may have run counter to what was done before and not have been what were expected.  I can say in all honesty that I learned more from the volunteers than they would have got back from me.  The volunteers were fabulous!

The work done for John Brassard in re-electing him  by almost doubling his margin of victory was a phenomenal experience; however, we had to temper that with the Conservatives not forming government, it was a difficult few weeks to get through.   When all the staff came back to Ottawa from across Canada, I could tell many of my colleagues felt the same way.  Happy to have won, but still sitting in Opposition.

The challenge I had to work through (and still do) was that both the Liberals and the NDP lost seats but there seemed to be no pressure for either Trudeau or Singh to step down.  Rather it was Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, someone I have known for several years, that made the choice to step aside.  Leadership races can be exciting, but they can be divisive as well – I don’t think we every really resolved differences following the previous conservative leadership took place in 2017.  I hope the 2019 race fixes that.

It has been quite a year seeing friends and former co-workers deal with challenging health situations. Some have been comfortably sharing publicly their trials, tribulations, successes and relapses.  I am grateful for them for sharing everything as I am more than happy to offer my prayers for good health and best outcomes.  Sadly, the list gets longer each year.

This year I added my name to the list as I had a moment with prostate cancer.  I am not one to say “f*@k Cancer”, I know others are and that’s OK.  My father has beaten prostate cancer – I knew I would be a likely candidate to have the signs and chance that I would be diagnosed positive. Like others, I had to go through weeks waiting for the for the ultrasound and then the biopsy and further for the results.  I received good news, of the samples taken for the biopsy cancer was found to be in one of the 13 samples – and at less than 1%.

I got lucky, so many others don’t, and I am so thankful for outcome I was given a few months ago.

Turkey in our home is an event, an all-day event.  With thanks from my former Mother-in-Law we have never had a bad turkey at Christmas.  The day starts with the turkey in a brine, overnight if the turkey was frozen or for 5 hours if it’s a fresh turkey. A few years ago, we started getting our turkey from the Glebe Meat Market, I was introduced to them through Daybreak Housing.  Daybreak would receive turkeys as a donation for our tenants Christmas dinner and I would cook one of the five birds.

This year we began before 7am; the turkey goes in the brine; the stuffing is prepared and by 11:30am the bird was in the oven.  It was stuffed properly and all that we needed to wait for the 4 hours cooking time and the proper temperature was achieved, but that seemed to be a problem.  After what was an hour longer than normally required to cook, we took the turkey out.

Everything else was ready to be eaten, the turkey seemed to have taken its time.

The craving of the turkey proved to be not only a problem but also a resolution.  For a 16 lb. turkey it seemed to be all skin and bones. Where was the meat, where was the juicy breast meat? It seems to have melted away I was quite concerned – dinner was going to be a disaster.  More eyes were obviously needed.

Four of us stood and looked the turkey, we were perplexed – something was not right.  In fact, something was not the right side up!  Maybe I was just not thinking, or not remembering or really had no idea what I was doing but I had placed the turkey upside down in the roasting pan – what?!  The breasts weren’t able to cook and brown sitting on the bottom of the roasting pan.

We managed to get well fed with correctly cooked stuffing and turkey by carving the meat after we flipped the bird and popped it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  It was a miracle and delicious!  I know I am guaranteed to be reminded of this for years to come!

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The Walrus Talks: Living Better

the WalrusWe recently attended another in a series of “The Walrus Talks” sessions with the theme of “Living Better”.  The sessions are put together by the Walrus Magazine and Concordia University.  On the most recent talk 7 speakers talked about living better from their personal, business, social or scientific perspectives.

Living better was presented though our identity, song, low tech social media, loss, babies and architecture.  Because of the lack of space and to keep the word count down to keep you the reader engaged here are thoughts on the speakers that left the greatest impression on me. Where there was info available I have included some Twitter ID so you might look further into the speakers I have for you.

Our individual Urban Community is recognized as a core to our living better; presented by architect Donald Schmidt, it discussed the science, politics and culture of how we live now.  Exploring Ottawa’s architecture he gave 6 examples of  buildings that bring better living to Ottawa; his list of six included the recent renovations of the National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Train Station, educational institutions uOttawa and Algonquin College, the Science and Tech Museum and the last of the six, but the one with the greatest potential – the new Ottawa Public Library and National Archives building that will rise in Lebreton Flats.

Going straight for the heart, Christa Couture, writer and broadcaster (Twitter ID @christacouture), brought the idea that personal loss can bring a ‘living better’ quality to our lives.  In loss we often think and hope about life getting better, Couture made us think that sometimes life cannot get better, but that life can be different. Different is an alternative to better that sometimes we need to embrace.  Different gives us all a grounded hope, not for better but for different – an alternative to live better.

With enhancements to how we communicate, it was enlightening to hear Nanveet Alang (@navalang) talk about how we can dial back technology. Tech is essential in today’s world but finding the human in technology allows everyone to make decisions that are our decisions, not technology’s or social media’s.  Two options we have to give us the ‘opt in’ decision are the online group chat rooms. The earliest of these group chats was launched in 1983, a very adopter of social media, but the ideas often stayed in the group forums.  In today’s social media, people’s thoughts are too often public, when they should be kept private.  His second roll back in tech communications is the newsletter, they used to be delivered by email.  The newsletter gives us the human reaction od deciding to opt in to receive a newsletter.  Too often, by simply purchasing something we are automatically part of an email group and added to a newsletter distribution – the opt out is something that should part of history. Alang publishes his own newsletter, The Purposeful Object and is available for subscription at

Finally, how about a song to celebrate living better? Sean McCann (@seanmccannsings), former member of Great Big Sea described his days post-alcohol through his song “Stronger” – how now being stronger he is living better.  Have a listen:

Of course, we all make decisions on our personal ways for living better, listening to the others provides insight and perspectives how our community and personal experiences play a part in us living better – if we choose to.

NOTE: For more of The Walrus Talks: Living Better, visit their You Tube Channel for all the speakers of this event and other talks,

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at  If you prefer email, please contact me at