Category Archives: Life

Vacation State of Mind?

Vacation Alert

What is a vacation state of mind? What is an ‘away from work’ Zen moment feel like?

Do you detach completely? Is it an awareness there are something at work that you know will be waiting for you when you get back? To get your vacation state of mind do you leave town? Do you go off grid? Or does obtaining a vacation state of mind merely mean getting out of the office?

I have a week off, so I got out of dodge as they say, this week we’re in Thunder Bay. That does not mean I left everything behind. Give me two weeks away from the office and I will go stir crazy. To avoid that when we go away for two weeks, it better be in another city, town, somewhere that means the regular life trappings are not in my line of sight. Without somewhere to go, why take the time off? It is not an uncommon as you might think.

The benefits of taking vacation are well known; a reduction in stress helps relationships and a paid mental break from work. Are there benefits for the few that don’t want to take vacation? For those enjoy their work, vacation my just be an unwanted distraction from it. It is very difficult to find benefits to not taking vacation, but there are reasons why some workers will avoid it.

Count the reasons for vacation denial as being the fear of email inbox overload and increased assignments, the fear that another worker will take their job away, the fear that someone else doing their work will screw it up and it will have to be redone when they return.

A 2014 study in the US; Project: Time Off found 4 in 10 Americans did not take their vacation. Are Canadians any different? If you believe a study from Expedia .ca, Canadians only did a little better. Just over one in four Canadians did not take the vacation OR had a year between vacations (http://www.torontosun.com/2016/10/19/canadians-leave-31-million-vacation-days-unused-each-year-study ).

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Our work places are changing and work environments are also adjusting to be more competitive, hence the reluctance to get away from it all.   While most of Ontario is off on vacation for one or two weeks this July and August, Ontario MPPs are currently touring Ontario to discuss Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. Sadly, with 173 recommendations from a study that led to the legislation, the majority of press around this bill goes to one recommendation to increase in minimum wage to $15.00/hour by January 1, 2019.

Other aspects about workplaces including vacation, sick notes, emergency personal eleave, overtime and other aspects that will impact Ontario employers are going almost unnoticed. Much of what the Ontario government wants to implement are clauses that are normally negotiated between companies and unions. Is Kathleen Wynne now going to force non-union workplaces to have ‘union’ like workplace rules and atmospheres? Bill 148 will change workplaces in Ontario, but for the better?

Take some time to read about Bill 148, http://www.ceridian.ca/blog/2017/06/ontarios-employment-standards-act-reform-what-bill-148-may-mean-for-employers/ and then talke to your MPP and let them know what you like and don’t like about telling good employers how to run their shops.

Of course there are some bad employers Bill 148 will be awake up call for them – but to force union like rules on workplaces that are successful? The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is something I would expect from the Ontario NDP…BUT the next Ontario General Election is less that 11 months away (June 2018), so yes I also expect this frm Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

A virtual walk in the snow

RHBS 172There is something to be said for walking away from something you enjoy. Not like Trudeau v1.0 and his walk through the snow on the second last day of February in 1984 (it was a leap year). I took a walk in my mind and made the decision on Friday to not post on social media for the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, but I was tempted.  We had a great weekend, I didn’t post on Twitter or Facebook at all about a Saturday at Lake Opinicon and the great music we heard.  However as difficult I thought it might be that day, it was quite easy and I focused on the music, the food, the beautiful surroundings in and around Chaffey’s Lock and the company of Liz, who posted a few photos on Facebook and Twitter.

I took a virtual walk in the snow after what I thought was a tough weak in social media. To those that say that I should have known what I was getting into because of the two topics I was posting about – it was the overall tone of the discussions of the day that took a toll, not so much what people what commented on after I posted. I think that many would agree that in Ottawa it was a perfect social media storm when the debates over the Ottawa Pride parade requesting the Ottawa Police not wear their uniforms in the parade collided with the Omar Khadr settlement rumours and then the government announcement.

The tone of the two conversations clashed and I burned out.

In the ashes was a weekend of feeling free, no pressure, no need to make a comment – only to read and see what other people say. It turned out to be an opportunity to see how others react, comment and rationalize on the two issues. Having eyes and not allowing your voice to be heard does permit for thought. There was no “I have to comment right away or else it’s old news” to worry about. I also saw that extreme comments and tweets were emotion over logic. The Khadr affair is clearly the best example of this – it should be, and I hope someone picks up on this, a separate lesson in the teaching plan of anyone that instructs students in the use and influence of social media. I see this being the pinnacle of a debate on the usefulness or the drudgery of Facebook and Twitter.

What lies ahead is still unknown, what I thought was going to be a weekend in virtual hiding was a weekend awakening and the thought provoking self-analysis of my own way I use my social media feeds. It have been ‘tempted’ to post on Instagram since Friday, but I had to be true to my self-declared sabbatical. I haven’t posted today (Monday) and haven’t had the burning desire to do so.

As a confession, I did post on my #RedHeartBlueLife blog (see link below) Sunday night but that’s it. I’ll post this blog – but I don’t see how this is the same as posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. My plan is to stick with it, the sabbatical, for the rest of this week.

I have vacation planned in Thunder Bay next week and then I’ll be travelling for work the week after in Western Canada. Those two weeks seem like they most certainly will be ‘Instagramable’ opportunities for me, lord knows I will want to be sharing it all. Maybe it will be baby steps, but for now it’s okay, I’m okay and I am okay with not being slayed by people who don’t know me because I have (in my mind) a logical opposing point of view.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Our Canadian Identity

Canadian Identity

Who do you identify with, or rather what nation or country do you identify with? This was a big question as Canadians celebrated Canada’s 150th year of confederation this week.  This does not have to be the divisive question that it appears to have become.   What has become even more divisive are the ideas of “Canadian values”. In an unfortunate turn of events, the use of the term itself has become a negative value, where our Canadian values are used to divide rather then being seen as what brings people together. The term Canadian values should be retired, never to be used again – unless for intentional (negative) use against one particular political party.

Can we refer to what Canadians are/Canada is as ideals?

We can split the idea of a Canadian identity to who we are and who do we identify with. They will not always s be the same, nor should they; it may be a more truthful way of looking at ourselves in the Canadian mirror. For example, I am a second generation Dutch-Canadian. My parents arrived in Canada in the mid fifties in Montreal and headed to Hamilton where my mother’s brother Lex had settled after arriving years earlier in Canada from the Netherlands.  They later settled in the suburbs of Toronto first in Scarborough and then onto Mississauga where they reside today.  I am a Dutch Canadian, I cheer for both the Canadian and Dutch teams during the Olympics, World Cup and other international events. I subscribe to the twitter feed of the Dutch Prime Minister and receive their latest news in my inbox.

However, I identify with being a Canadian, I identify with the ideas that Canadians are fair, open-minded, friendly and accommodating. That is what I see from my perspective; there will be others who will not share this with me. Historically Canada has brought these ideals forward, but we also have not been so good, with good (but misdirected) intentions.   These ideals allow us to move ahead to make amends, apologize and act to correct our past actions.

Canada Day, Canada’s 150th, was a day where our past came face-to-face with our present and future. Protests from Canada’s First Nations on Parliament Hill highlighted that we have some way to go before all who identify with being Canadian, part Canadian or not a Canadian at all,  are content with how Canada as a nation represents them.

Our Prime Minister commented on Canada Day that new Canadians might feel more proud to be Canadian than those of us who were born here. I disagree and feel he misrepresented the pride of all Canadians. There were only few ‘Canadians’ here when Canada was first thought of, first as far away provinces of the Crown and then as a country on its own. As citizens of Canada, 97% of Canadians have roots that are not from here.  We all came from somewhere, French-Canadians, Dutch-Canadians, Italian-Canadians, Indo-Canadians and many more may not feel less of Canadian pride, but it has become who we are and our identity when we remember our past and relish the present and future.

We have a long way to go to recognize the contributions of our Inuit, Cree, Metis and other First Nations. We have a long road to travel to reach appeasement for the actions of previous governments. Nowhere though do Canadians as a whole feel we should not reconcile with our past – it is part of our open-mindedness to recognize that our future as a country lies in part with our history.

It’s our Canadian identity that makes it easy to see the path and who we are.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Summer Music

I like to buy and listen to a lot of new music, always looking for something that is going to make my head swing, get my feet going and find a song that I have to put on repeat. On my iPod I have a playlist I titled “New and Noteworthy”. The past few weeks I have added few new selections to the playlist, they make up part of my summer music.

Buckingham/McVie “Buckingham/McVie”

For Fleetwood Mac fans do not confuse Buckingham/McVie with the 1973 Lp Buckingham/Nicks, but let me just say, if you a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this is a MUST have for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band. The only person missing form performing is Stevie Nicks, but you don’t miss her. The sound on this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, you know – the one BEFORE Rumours.

It is clear that the same musical chemistry that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s has not faded 40 years later. These two sound good together, the song writing is great with each contributing their own songs and collaborating on others. Key tracks on this disc are ‘Sleeping Around the Corner’, ‘Red Sun’, ‘Game of Pretend’ and ‘Feel About You’. The challenge is to shuffle Fleetwood Mac with Buckingham/McVie and try to differentiate the two.

With Fleetwood Mac touring this summer (with Stevie Nicks) you can bet the new Buckingham/McVie material will fit right in.

Fiest “Pleasure”

This CD was sadly, anything but a pleasure to listen to. I found it missing the melodies and musicality of her previous outings. I never expect to hear another ‘1-2-3-4’, but almost every track on this record is so far from it that it would be hard to recognize it as a Fiest record at all. “Pleasure “ is stripped down, and stripped down works for some artists, Johnny Cash is an example, but it doesn’t work for Fiest. It does not work for me because of Fiest vocals; they don’t match the raw guitars, the raw production and yes, the raw songs written for the records.

I heard Fiest interviewed by Tom Brown on CBC’s q; there she says that women will better understand this record. Maybe that’s it; I gave this record a few extra spins hoping the music would grow on me. I am disappointed that it didn’t – I really wanted to like this record, but I am not ready to give up on it either.

Ruth B “Safe Haven”

It took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was.. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me. I hope that you will also make it one of your summer listens for the summer of ’17.

Lorde “Melodrama”

With no new music planned from Taylor Swift (but that doesn’t mean something won’t drop before Christmas) Lorde’s follow up to the 2012 Heroine had the largest expectations of all of this years new music releases. Melodrama opens up with the lead single ‘Green Light’, one of the best songs I have heard all year. My worry was if it would be the best song on the album. With a percussion driven set of songs, Melodrama that will remind you of her debut, but in Melodrama I found myself on a few occasions thinking of Phil Collins and the trademark sound he had on his solo work. As different as each song is, each track also melts into the next, almost seamlessly. Lorde’s vocals are unique, her phrasing is unlike what we still don’t hear a lot of today, and yet it is still not tiring to listen to. Melodrama was a good surprise, bit of Heroine but also lots of growth over four years. It may not have a ‘Royals’, but it doesn’t need one.

Serena Ryder “Utopia”

I saw Serena Ryder last summer in Thunder Bay play off Lake Superior on an all-Canadian bill that also featured Gowan and Tom Cochrane. I have been listening to Serena Ryder since she released “If Your Memory Serves You Well” in 2006, and I learned about her from Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap on the CBC,  I’ve been listening since the early days of ‘Little bit of Red’, ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and ‘You were on My Mind’. 2012’s ‘Stompa’ was huge leap for Ryder and ‘Got Your Number’ was an early indication to me that she continuing the leap.

With Utopia, the evolution continues, Ryder’s song writing continues to grow and here the songs are personal, more than before, as she trusts herself more to lay out her life before us. Along with ‘number’, ‘Hands’, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Sanctuary’ demonstrate what I think are some of Ryder’s’ best songs in years. Utopia as a destination is a high reach; musically for Serena Ryder, Utopia is a place we can hear a performer continue to grow.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

When I’m 81. #SgtPepper75

 

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In 1988 I purchased a Phillips Compact Disc player and three Compact Discs; Yes: Fragile, Roxy Music: Avalon and The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Sgt. Pepper was 21 years old when I bought the CD. I had already had the vinyl at home.

There was not much of a celebration for the 20th Anniversary. The 25th Anniversary only had interviews released about the making of the album.

The 50th, my goodness, the 50th has a Deluxe Box, Anniversary editions of the CD and Vinyl that each had a 2nd disc with out takes, demo and alternative versions.

The 50th Anniversary even had a hashtag: #SgtPepper50

George Martin oversaw the 1992 mixes. In 2017 for #SgtPepper50 discs, Martin’s son Giles was in charge of the mixes, which produced a new stereo mix from the original mono masters. I have yet to take the shrink-wrap off the double vinyl package, though I have heard that as good as the new mixes sound on CD, the vinyl is even better. It may only be a matter of time before the wrap comes off and I get see all the extras that first appeared in June 1967.

The title of this post is not that cryptic, when Sgt. Pepper turns 75, I will be 81 years old. In 2042, there are a few things we can assume – that there no Beatle will be alive. The respective Beatle estates will be run by the younger Beatles generation of Sean Lennon, James McCartney, Dhani Harrison and Zak Starkey. Giles Martin will again handle the producing duties for #SgtPepper75 as he will be a youthful 72 in June of 2042.

On the celebration of #SgtPepper75, what will be said that had not been written 25 years earlier? Will there be rare tapes discovered of a Sgt. Pepper follow up no one ever talked about?

Will the latest anniversary version include all songs recorded by the sons of the Fab Four?

Will the sons of the Beatles sound so much like John, Paul, George and Ringo listeners will not be able to tell the difference from the original recordings from 75 years earlier. Will this ‘one off’ recording spur the Beatles reunion no one thought could ever happen? We can only suppose what the reviews say; will it read “the Beatles would be proud of what their boys produced”, “the sons have done the fathers a dis-service” or “the re-imaging of Pepper from the Baby Fab Four is beyond what their fathers could have envisioned”.

In 2042 will CD’s be making a comeback? What will the packaging look like? Will it all be streamed with only the packaging (without the music) being sold? What about a hologram version of Sgt. Pepper, now that would be cool!

What will they say about the music? I imagine the Beatles would have thought about this when they recorded in ’67 and embedded sounds and messages that only would be heard in 2042.

I wonder if #SgtPepper75 will bring back a nostalgia for the 60’s, will music critics pine for simple days of when creating music really was ‘creating’ rather the ‘programming’ of the current generation (at that time). I hope that when 2032 comes along I will still be writing and contributing online in whatever format online in 25 years will look like and able to share more thoughts about how great Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is.

For now, “it’s getting better all the time”, every time I listen to Pepper.

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Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

…on Mother’s Day

 

For a person that spent a great of his life in communications talking to others, I suck at communicating to members of my own family. Don’t read anything into this – there was no huge family squabble, no family fight at Thanksgiving or disgruntled Christmas dinner. When we get together everything is fine in fact the year I spent in Toronto meant that I was able to see my Mom and Dad. My brothers and sister talk to my parents more often than I do. I could use the distance between Ottawa and Toronto, but won’t.

It’s just me.

IMG_20170513_0105125You see though I have no reason, a lot of what I do and who I am is because of my mother. I learned to cook because my mom went to work when I was sixteen years old. It was nothing fancy, but it was the basics of cooking potatoes, vegetables and meatballs. Sometimes the meat was switched, but it was always a good Dutch meat and potatoes delicacy. Besides the cooking I also have to thank my mother for my unmatchable skills at loading a dishwasher, no one can load as much in to a dishwasher as I can with every dish getting spotless. I also learned how to iron a shirt by watching my mother iron my father’s shirts for work. I can proudly say that I can iron a shirt in less than nine minutes. The thing that changed my life the most after learning to iron is buying non-iron shirts – those 9 minutes each morning are precious.

I also learned from my mother and my father, because as a team they are unstoppable, is that devotion to your spouse tops everything; they have 60+ years of experience together to show for it. As my father gets set to turn 90 this year, I know it is rare to have both parents alive an in their 9th decade of their lives. I can see why it works; it is the love for each other, having a purpose to get out everyday and their church family.

On Mothers Day, as a son I have to perform well. I even ‘expressposted’ a card to make sure it reached my mother (it did – I checked the tracking number) and of course yes I will call on Mothers Day. While I don’t call as much as I should, there is not a day I do not think of them, pray for their continued good health and am so thankful that they a happy life together. Calling? I just need to do it more often after Mothers Day.

Happy Mothers Day

 

*The ceramic pot is from my mother’s mother, my Oma, and now sits in my kitchen as it did in my mom’s kitchen.

I read and hear a trend here

 

I just finished reading Philip Norman`s biography of Paul McCartney “A Life”, and as I always do during and after reading a musical biography I am drawn to listen to more of that artists’ music. In the case of McCartney my interest is towards his later music more importantly “Flaming Pie”, “Driving Rain” and “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”. The earlier music is very much part of my growing up and early adult years. I hadn’t paid enough attention to those three CD’s and now I have the opportunity to do so. Luckily I have had the almost complete McCartney discography – so no new purchases required.

The most difficult part of the read was working through the Heather Mills era and how different Paul seemed when compared to the years with not only Linda but earlier with Jane Asher. Do some relationships just bring out a totally different person in people? By the time I reached the last page, I got what I expected and enjoyed every page.

35 years ago I read Phillip Norman’s account about The Beatles entitled “Shout! The Beatles in their Generation”. I have few recollections about that book, and thankfully the author in his notes says he did not rely on his research in that book to write McCartney’s life book. The obvious next read is the same author’s Lennon account “John Lennon: The Life” if only to ensure the facts are same between the two books. But that will not take place for a few books as I have Robbie Robertson’s and Bruce Springsteen’s books up next on the read list.

My adventure in a musician’s life ends with the same result, more music to be bought and listened to as an enhanced experience to the words my brain has taken in. In the case of some biographies it can be more expensive than others. I have taken to the pages of Neil Young and Led Zeppelin books, but a case to demonstrate this is Joni Mitchell. After reading “The Creative Odyssey of…” purchasing the early catalogue was a necessity. I had only been listening to the later work of hers, 1988’s “Chalk mark in a Rainstorm” to 1995’s Grammy Award winning “Turbulent Indigo”, I had no personal listening experience to her early work (other than when I worked in Radio from 1982-1990). Listening to “Ladies of the Canyon”, “Blue” and “Court and Spark” helped to appreciate what I already knew of her music.

The two books that brought the largest surprise to me were Keith Richards “Life” and Elvis Costello’s “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink”. In both these books I was astounded to hear about the musicianship that each had. I had previous been a staunch Beatles over the Rolling Stones person but with his book, Keith Richards won me over (but not totally) to the Rolling Stones side. In fact his 2015 Lp “Crosseyed Heart” remains a favourite of mine.

Unlike my Keith Richards/Rolling Stones experience, I have been listening to Costello for a very long time, likely due to my prime music year being late 70’s onward. I knew that Elvis Costello was a good musician, but how good I had no idea. The book explores a musical background that he shares with his father and mother and provides an insight to the British Punk and New Wave music in the 70’s and 80’s. His song writing prowess is incredible and the range in which he can produce blows me away. Even the manner in which he interviews other musicians is extremely impressive. His run as host of “Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…” showed an intellect and interest in hearing about other musicians. The show was produced by Costello with Elton John and David Furnish and sadly only ran for 2 seasons. The show remains available to purchase and features some wonderful musical performances with his guests.

Beyond Robertson and Springsteen the next pick up might have to be Norman’s “Sir Elton: The Definitive Biography” of Elton John. As a lifelong fan and owner of most of his discography, I might not learn more about his music but I’m willing to see if I will and search out a disc I just have to have. After all I should not rely of the Lp “Captain Fantastic and Brown Dirt Cowboy” as my only biographical reference to Elton John.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.