Looking for motivation

In the last few weeks I’ve run a 5k race and a sprint duathlon. While the 5k was an opportunity that popped up because we were in Chicago the weekend of the race. And it fit my training schedule for the du. But now that I’m done the du, I’m at a bit of a loss. I haven’t run or biked since the race, and I’m having a hard to time “finding the time” to get moving again.  The lethargy is even in creeping into my writing; it took me almost a week to finish the BTN Big 10k recap, and I haven’t even started the National Captial Duathlon recap yet. Hopefully I will find the “time” / motivation to get going again; maybe I have to sign up for another race.

What tips do you have for getting back to running/exercise after your goal race?

Learning to Look More Carefully

Maybe I should have a made a reference in my title to the Boy Scout motto to “Be Prepared”, but the basic message is the same. I let a colleague have a look at my camera recently, but I did not check the settings when she gave it back to me.  Of course when I went to take some pictures on the weekend, I had more than a few problems.  The camera wasn’t working the way I expected it to.  I made some quick adjustments and managed to get some good shots.  Great, problem solved — or so I thought.  When I downloaded them to my computer I discovered the other setting she had changed.  I was no longer shooting in RAW, only JPEG.  Turns out I actually like to shoot in RAW because of the editing options it can offer.  IN the grand scheme of things it’s really no harm no foul, but this experience did teach me a valuable lesson to check my gear BEFORE I plan to shoot.  I wonder if there is a market for slightly blurry pictures of trees and lightning?

Haletunes Music Monday — B is for the BLUES

Trying to keep this A to Z challenge going — maybe just getting it started — has been about as hard as my efforts to become a runner. I don’t really think I had expected to be stuck with the second letter of the alphabet;  that said, I have lots of ideas for other letters and I’ve started writing some of those posts already. But what to do with B. Should I try to come up with some pithy thematic link? Should I attempt an ironic post related to the letter? I’ve settled on keeping it simple. I’ve got lots of opportunity in the coming weeks to become more complicated. I’m still at the beginning of this journey so why not look at a musical form that directly influenced much of the music to be discussed throughout this series. It’s time for the Blues!

Hold it!  What does a guy who grew up in the suburbs of Ottawa, Canada really know about the Blues. To be honest, not much; however as a music lover, teacher, and lifelong learner, my discovery of musical forms is ongoing. And with regard to the Blues, the notion that influence is everything hods especially true.  Like many people, the Blues were present in various forms of music I listened to over the years, but it was the year I spent working with Barry Bickerton that I learned more about the blues than ever before. Barry often spoke about his love of the Blues, especially Delta Blues; he recommended music, he played it before morning classes to get kids moving in the halls, he even has his own band Barry and the Blasters.  Without a doubt, my appreciation of the blues has been made greater because of Barry.  I owe him a debt of gratitude for helping move me down this musical path  — “a whole lot of Elmore, heavy on the James!”.

While this 5 song set may seem simplistic or elementary, I hope it serves a starter for other people interested in learning about the Blues.  I’ve tried to find videos that showcase the brilliance of the musicians, as well as some of the artists who they influenced.  Also there are some challenges finding videos of some of the earliest Blues performers.  Thus, essential suggestions such as Robert Johnson and Champion Jack Dupree have not made this list, but neither have more modern acts like Stevie Ray Vaughn as there is no way I can possibly hope to create a definitive list of essential Blues artists here, but I have included a list of resources for further investigation. That said, I encourage anybody who wants to learn about the blues to seek out the music of these two musicians.

B.B. King
When people think of the blues, I suspect one of the first names that comes to mind isd B.B. King.  And why not? He’s been around since the 1950’s.  He’s played with numerous artists, including recent duets and collaborative efforts — most notably his 2000 album with Eric Clapton Riding With The King that saw him back on the charts with the title track.  But to really get a sense of B.B. King, his 1965 Live At The Regal album is a must.

Howlin Wolf
One of the true great Blues musucians, Howlin Wolf  “was a ferocious, full-bodied singer whose gruff, rasping vocals embodied the blues at its most unbridled.” (See more at: http://rockhall.com/inductees/howlin-wolf/bio/#sthash.Jy21Afh1.dpuf ).  He was part of the Chess Record label, and his musical influence was heard in top acts of hte 1970’s and beyond.  To get a good sense of his influence, check out the album  The London Howlin’Wolf Sessions.

Muddy Waters
A Delta Blues musician who emulated musicians such as Son House and Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters used his electric guitar to move his style of blues into the main stream.  Another of the great blues musicians whose influence can be linked to the Rolling stones and AC/DC, Muddy Waters is another to check out.

Bo Diddley
After B.B. King, this may be one of the first Blues muscians I had ever heard of.  A true cross-over musician whose music seems to have been accepted by all sorts of music lovers.  His aggressive style of the blues clearly influenced ealry rock and toll acts, but also hip-hop and pop musicians too.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2015, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band “converted the country-blues purists and turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James.”  (See more at: https://rockhall.com/inductees/the-paul-butterfield-blues-band/bio/#sthash.wvuv7kQY.dpuf).  This racially diverse band crossed over various musical stykes to bring the Blues to music lovers throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, however their influence continues today.

Bonus #1 — The Grammy’s salute to the Blues

A star studded line-up of Blues musicians (and a very young Billy Crystal as host).

Bonus #2– Everything is a Remix “The Song Remains the Same”
Researcher, documentary maker Kirby Ferguson shows in his “Evrerything is a  Remix” series how art and other pop cultyre is reimaged and repurposed by others to create new and exciting artistic forms.  Check out episode #1 “The Song Remains the Same” to see the influence on the Blues on popular music.

Learning resources

http://www.pbs.org/theblues/classroom/defhistory.html

http://research.culturalequity.org/audio-guide.jsp (the Alan Lomax Resewearch Center)

http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/general_library/archives/blues/

https://rockhall.com/exhibits/the-roots-of-rock/

http://youtu.be/HIrx3M5aLL0 (Son House, Mike Bloomfield, and Paul Butterfield discuss and pay the Blues)

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement and for new music.

Until next time.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Okay, so this post doesn’t actually fit the photo101 activity for the day, nor does it have anything to do with the blogging101 activity.  Actually it doesn’t even have anything to do with my intended blog.  I just wanted to write it.

It’s hard to think about connectedness without thinking about things that help connect kids with their parents and with their friends. November 10 is the 45th birthday of Sesame Street. That show connected kids from all over the world to each other through their friends on that magical Street. Thanks to Pete Morey (@CBCPeteMorey), guest host of CBC Radio 2 Drive show (@CBCR2Drive), for reminding me about the brilliance that is Sesame Street, and the way it connected kids with their parents.  Here is just one example of how the show connected kids with their parents — the awesome guests:

 

Photo101: Solitude

My wife and I have very different views on the tranquility of solitude. She finds the peace and quiet of curling up on the sofa with a good book the most restful way to enjoy a moment if solitude. Please don’t think I don’t love reading; I really do — I’m an English teach after all. It’s just that I find listening to music is how I find and enjoy moments of solitude. Maybe it’s because I grew up an only child, but I quite like having music playing when I’m doing things.

IMG_0467.JPG

Once a week I get to go to the rink to watch my daughter at her goalie clinic. It’s the only time I don’t participate in her development as a goalie. Instead I sit in the stands and listen to the music. I watch her, I learn from the on ice coaches, I process the day. It’s the same when I run. I don’t really like running without music; there’s something about the soundtrack that helps me lose myself in what I’m accomplishing. I like the time alone. To myself. To think.

Blogging 101: Dear Reader

What makes a good reader? Well I guess somebody who takes the time to stop for a few moments to actually read what I write is a good start. But really that’s not enough; it’s just the start. One of my favourite memories is of a student telling my I wrecked music and movies for her because I made her think about them. Of course she said this with a smile, and she did explain that she actually liked that I encouraged and expected her to think. As a blogger, I want to challenge thinking.  The reader doesn’t have to agree with everything I write; in fact it might be better if s/he doesn’t agree. All I ask is that you think about what I have to say. Challenge me or question me in the comments section, if you want, just don’t stop thinking.

Consider this series of photos I took this summer in Vancouver after a round of golf.  My wife wanted the young crow to have a prize, something the older and more dominant crows couldn’t get, some of her chips.

Thinking Crow 1

The Crow investigates the chip

Thinking Crow 3

Now what to do with the chip?

Thinking Crow 3

Crow grabs the chip

Thinking Crow 4

The crow has finally decided what to do.

New day and a fresh look

As I’ve been spending more time blogging this week, I realized I wasn’t very happy the theme I was using. So I opened up the dashboard and started poking around the themes. With a nod to my years as an English teach I have selected Hemingway Revisited. I like the cleaner layout, and I hope you do too.

Photo101: Water & Bliss

Water is life. Seems like a pretty simple concept. Not surprisingly, many of the memories and photographs my family have involve and cherish water.  There was a time I thought that because my wife came from the West Coast, we placed more value on water-ish things.  But then I remembered some of the things I did growing up in land-locked Ontario.  Water was ever present.  There were the cottages my grandparents owned along the Ottawa River, learning to sail at my aunt and uncle’s cottage in the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River, playing in a river with my best friend John and then the two of us almost getting swept away (best photo I wish I had — John’s dad took a great shot of us that exists for me now only in my memory), earning my swimming bracelet at camp, playing in the ocean and on the beaches of Barbados, having a swimming pool in high school and a hot tub in university.  That’s a lot of water, and it doesn’t even include snow, which we get a lot of in Ottawa.  Not bad for a kid who grew up in Ontario.

When I met my wife and she explained the wonders of BC to me, I didn’t really get it. I should have known, really, the significance of water since the month after we started dating we took a trip to Biddeford Pool, Maine.  There isn’t much to do there except sit by the ocean and listen to the waves.   But I didn’t clue in.  So what, I thought, you lived in a city that was on the water and close to mountains.  Sure you still thought of Vancouver as home even though you hadn’t lived there for 8 years.  Big deal.  Turns out I was wrong.  It was and is a big deal.  We take our kids there every other year, more often if we can manage it, because there is something amazing about being on the water.  Our first stop is inevitably the beach at Spanish Banks. We stay with family who live near the Fraser River, and we rent cottages on the Gulf Islands.  The years we do not go west, my wife always find a way for us to spend time on the water, whether it be visiting friends at their cottages or renting our own in Western Quebec or in Maine.  We love those trips because we see family and we re-energize even though we’re always doing something.

So with all this thinking about water, and trying to always capture a new photo for this experiment I’ve undertaken, I made a point of stopping at Hog’s Back Falls on my way home from work.  I have visited this place many times in my life because of the magnificence and power of the water moving over the falls.  I often wonder how many people who drive over the bridge ever stop to see the falls.  If they have any idea of what goes on just below their cars.

Here is a series of shots from the east side of he Hogs Back Falls taken with my Nexus 7 tablet.

Hogs Back Falls 2

Hogs Back Falls cascading down the rock chute

Hogs Back Falls

Hogs Back Falls and the upper and lower runoffs to the Rideau River

Water Cuts Rock

Hogs Back Falls and the passage of time

Google created Awesome Photo

Google created Awesome Photo

So that’s what I came up with today.  But because I’m also trying to cover my Blogging101 task for the day, I’m going to throw in a couple of other things.

First are some summer holiday shots from Saturna Island, BC, our Gulf Island get away, taken this summer during the super moon; you can really see the impact of the full moon on the tides:

The low tide during the Super Moon of July 2014

The low tide during the Super Moon of July 2014

East Point Beach at High Tide

Of course a blog about water needs to have a picture from the Georgia Aquarium:

And to wrap it all up, I have to turn to music.  I often have a soundtrack that runs through my head, and no post about water would be complete without the Rev. Al Green in this “Soul Train” clip from 1975:

Al Green “Take Me To The River”, Soul Train circa 1975

Thanks for wading through to the end of this post.