Tag Archives: Blogging 101

Blogging 101: Being Distracted: Driving vs Cycling

A nod to the WordPress Daily Prompt for Sunday; take a local issue and present both sides.


There was uproar in the cycling community over a recent news report on CTV Ottawa http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/life-video/video-ctv-ottawa-distracted-cycling/article23377319/ that Ottawa Police are asking the Ontario Government to add to cyclists to the Distracted Driving law currently on the books. The cycling community was almost unanimously against the proposal. Me, not so much so.

As part of Blogging 101 and making a Blogging Prompt personal, I present my take on the two sides, the pro vs the con…I’ll start with objecting to the proposal.

Distracted Cycling NO WAY!

The biggest knock against cyclists is that we want too much. We want to feel safe on the road and want more room to cycle. These are not unusual requests – I think most people get that. Now for the Ottawa Police to come out and put distracted driving on cyclists is absurd, as a cyclist I am always on the lookout for what drivers and other cyclists are doing. I am a defensive cyclist, and proud of it.

The police proposal also suggests that cyclists who have an Ontario Driver’s License be given demerit points when ticketed. WHAT? REALLY? My permit is for driving, not cycling! You want to ticket me and take away my right to cycle? Then start licensing cyclists (not that I think this should actually be done) and force all cyclists to be tested regularly.

Many that have commented on this say that they rarely see it take place.  Most distracted actions come from drivers, not cyclists. Don’t pin the cyclists on the lack of success police have in eliminating distracted driving. Come to the cyclists when you have solved the distracted driver issue. Taking care of that makes riding a bike 100% safer on Ottawa Streets.

Distracted Cycling, It’s about time!

As spring approaches and the snow melts and bike lanes and paths are clear again I fear the cyclist. I fear them as a pedestrian and as a driver. I fear missing a cyclist after doing the shoulder check and then almost driving into one. I ask, ‘where did that person come from?’ Why are they not looking out for me as I look out for them?

I have no problem with cyclists that are distracted being ticketed and having the tickets noted on their driving records. Most cyclists have a driver’s license, even if they don’t own a car. It’s the best form of ID to have and the permit allows a cyclist to rent or car share a vehicle when a bike just won’t do. I will say it here, yes – it should impact their insurance rates as well.

This proposal takes aim the few cyclists that ride distracted. I have seen more than a few cyclists talking on their cell phone while cycling. I also consider a cyclist taking a drink while riding being distracted as well, especially if it is the cause of an incident. I am a cyclist and a driver. I cycle as I drive, with the “leave the phone alone’ pledge front of mind and the phone in a pouch where I can’t touch it when cycling.

Almost all of our streets are two way, as should the distracted driving law should be. If this opens the door to the City or Province licensing cyclists, let’s have that discussion.

Blogging 101: A Nod to my Neighbour


I write this as a nod to The Immortal Jukebox. His post “An Archangel, a Journey, a Sacred River and a Spiritual” started me thinking about recent craze of covers that has been front and centre the last 10 years. Though he did not start the ‘cover craze’, Rod Stewart and his American Songbook Anthologies can claim some responsibility for more contemporary artists jumping in the songbook pool.

Though covers are not new, as the Immortal Jukebox noted, there have been some notable releases that indicate that some that can pull off what I deem to be the true test of an artist; take a song written and released by another and make it their own. At the end of the post I’ll reveal what I consider the best cover I have ever heard, and it won’t be Robin Thicke’s cover of Marvin Gaye.

Eric Clapton has two very good compilations, with each being dedicated to a single great guitarist. In 2004 “Me and Mr. Johnson” featured Slowhand does a mean Robert Johnson and last year he brought a few friends together for the excellent “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale”

I give a nod and a tip of the hat to T Bone Burnett and his team of producers for their work on the soundtrack for “Across the Universe”, a movie telling a story using over 30 titles from the songbook of the Beatles – they gave each song a new life with a great arrangements that took the Fab Four classics in a new direction successfully. We should not compare this at all with Bee Gees/Peter Frampton effort of 1978’s “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band where only Earth, Wind & Fire and Aerosmith received good reviews for their renditions of “Got to get you into my life” and “Come Together”.

More recent efforts from Canadian stars Bryan Adams and Diana Krall highlight what happens when you get to do the music you want to, and when you don’t.

Adams “The Tracks of My Years” features only Number songs from the 60’s and 70’s. He does a decent job, but it might not have been the music he wanted. Published stories on the collection indicate that Adams wanted to go in a harder vein and that Producer David Foster really pushed for #1’s only. Stand out tracks for me are ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ and ‘God only Knows’. The best cover here though is the photo of Bryan Adams as a 16 year old on the front of the CD jacket. The only thing that has changed about this guy is the length of his hair!

Diana Krall’s’ “Wallflower” has our Queen of Jazz doing her best Krall version of some wonderful songs and doesn’t try to replicate the original. In what is a kind of weird coincidence, David Foster produced this collection as well AND Bryan Adams (he also sings with DK on the CD) photographed Ms. Krall for the CD. Every track is outstanding here. Her version of ‘Desperado’ features haunting sound-alike vocals of Don Henley – it sent shivers up my spine. ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” and her take on the Carpenter’s ‘Superstar’ are features on this collection were almost all are single worthy. She ends the CD with ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’, this makes me sad because from first to last track Diana is not trying be anyone else Diana Krall and it works.

And now…my favourite cover of all time…

This song first came out in 1984, and at that time I really like it, this song was also covered by Don Fogelberg. It wasn’t until 1991 when the song was covered by the Barenaked Ladies that it really connected as a great song! BNL made the song theirs with their unique musical arrangement with a video to go along with it. BNL’s version of ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’ appeared in a Bruce Cockburn tribute Lp “Kick at the Darkness”. I still see the video of the band in the back of a pick-up truck driving around Scarborough Ontario on a cold day in winter when I think of that song. To me what the Ladies did is so rare, they took a song that was recognizable by the originating artist and with a made it their own with an arrangement that now made it recognized as a BNL classic.

Here’s the video the Barenaked Ladies made for ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time”.



Blogging 101: Who is your audience?


There are many things people do not know about me. One is that since the age of 16, I have been DJing, parties, weddings, BBQ’s and more. I’ll do the math for you; I’ve been DJing for almost 40 years!

I remember clearly loading up the back of my 1980 Honda Civic Hatch with milk crates – and I mean the old Imperial size of Milk carton milk crates.  When the metric system came in, everything was smaller and 12 inch vinyl just didn’t fit in the new smaller crates. Getting those Imperial crates was always a challenge, thank goodness for working late on Friday nights at the old Dominion Store in Woodchester Mall.

When playing music you know who your audience is, you see them, they are right THERE! Or are they? DJing now they audience is still ‘there’, but some nights they aren’t, it seems they have gone into hiding. So as the musical director of the evening I play for any number of people, the ladies, the couples, the older crowd and the younger crowd. What worked when everything else didn’t? Playing for me…playing what I wanted to hear, what I thought would sound great…it worked. I’ll always take requests, but…when stuck I play what I know.

So…when it comes to #RedHeartBlueSign it was hard to define who I was writing for. The blog started as a purely political blog – I know who would be reading it, politicos. But I also wanted it to be a voice for what I was thinking. Some posts were hits and others weren’t. Now that two provincial elections have come and gone, I can only complain about the current government so much before becoming obnoxious about it.  Besides, there are many other topics that I want to be able to write about and share. So I think my audience might still be me and people readers like me…same interests and same curiosity. Think it will work? I am betting on it.

Joy of Music

Vinyl recordsWorking from home tends to create habits in what you do for either background noise or for a distraction. I have been doing the working from home shtick since May 2012 – that’s a lot of distractions to be avoided in order to compensate for not having the usual cubical lifestyle.

I’ve been able to use this time for creating a schedule for breaking up my day from the usual coffee and meal breaks. I’ve been able to take advantage of my work scenario to have some irregular ‘breaks’ in the day. They range from “playing guitar break” to “shoot some billiards time” (because our condo has a billiards room) and during the summer there is nothing like a 12th floor outdoor office to work on projects and my tan.

What working from home has done the most for me has allowed me to get back to doing what I love to do, listen to music and discover even more new music.

Each week there is more to hear, both old and new!   This week alone I have put the following in my “News and Noteworthy” playlist:

Imagine Dragons: Night Visions

Imagine Dragons: Smoke + Mirrors

Steve Earle and the Dukes: Terraplane

Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo

Patti Smith: Banga

Gordon Lightfoot: Harmony

Lynn Miles: Fall for Beauty

Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park

Sam Smith: In the Lonely Hour

Pink Floyd: The Endless River

Not only do I get to hear some amazing music, but I do get so much more done with the music playing. I have to say lately it’s been a great experience. But an unexpected reward has been finding more new music on #Twitter, being followed by musicians and bands from across North America. There is so much great music out there that it is going to make working from home even more enjoyable!

At one time it was a joy to sit and file new vinyl in my library, LP’s and’s 45’s. Most of the LP’s are gone with only 250 left. I have managed to keep all the 45’s I bought and collected from 1971 to 1990. As weird as it is, I now get to arrange playlists, mp3 files and sit and file new CDs in my library. It’s my Joy of Music.

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

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

Back to School

Blogging University

I started #RedHeartBlueSign almost four years ago following the 2011 Provincial election. The idea of the blog was to discuss provincial and local political issues, and for the most part I have stuck to that plan. After almost 4 years it’s time to refocus #RedHeartBlueSign and add content that is not only of political interest to me, but also other interests.

At this time it’s time to bring in new topics: The Media, Social Media, Music, Environment, and Community along WITH politics. To do that I’ve embarked on Blogging 101 through WordPress, 20 Blog Posts in 20 Days. It is an exercise that will bring #RedHeartBlueSign to a regular schedule for posting to the blog. As I embark this month on 20 in 20 please feel free to comment on what I have posted and suggest other topics that you would like to challenge me with.

As my blog now evolves the first change will be hashtag the name to #RedHeartBlueSign, it is in keeping with my keen interest in Social Media, Branding and remaining creative. After 72 original posts, this 73rd post is the first in this journey; join me for the next 20 days. To those also taking part in Blogging 101, I look forward to seeing you in the WordPress Commons.