No Silence. Not in my lifetime.

I offer this as a caution to young people.

For more than 20 years I have suffered from Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the human ear. In my case it’s like the sound of eascaping gas right in the middle of your head … and, using this as a reference, it’s about a 26 volume level on your car radio.  It’s loud.

Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes.  In my case, I think it was those years as a disc jockey during the rock n roll years with high volume on the control room speakers and blaring earphones. And my reward is this internal sound and it is with me 24 hours a day, every day.

Tinnitus is common: about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old report symptoms on a general health questionnaire, and 11.8% on more detailed tinnitus-specific questionnaires.  Life catches up with you.

More recently, about 5 months ago, I noticed some hearing loss on one side, accompanied by a mid-range hum.  It can be as loud as the tinnitus or, on good days, it’s about half volume.

Two problems.  The first, and perhaps the saddest issue, is the fact that I am unable to enjoy the absolute peace that comes from silence. This is something that we hold so dear in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario.

A few weeks ago I was sat by the family campfire with my son and his family and they remarked how absolutely thrilling the quiet of the evening was.  I was very saddened to realize that I would never again know that kind of tranquility.

The second problem comes when trying to follow conversations in a group.  With two competing sounds in my head it becomes a real challenge to separate conversations.  The strain of not being able to hear easily is hard to deal with.

After four doctors appointments and different befuddled opinions, I am scheduled for an MRI in October and then I have a speedy appointment with a hearing specialist in November.  We need to figure out why the mid-range hum is occuring.  The tennitus, sorry to say, is a given and will likely never be fixed.

When I see young people with ear buds and I can hear the volume spilling out, or when I hear the whum, whum, whum, of a base speaking pounding inside a car, I know that they are prime candidates for tennitus.  I’ve talked to others who have the same condition.  One chap drove truck and had the window open on the good weather days.  The pounding of the wind can create this kind of damage.  I remember reading about a fighter pilot who suffered from tennitus as a result of the incredible whine of the jet engines … despite the head gear that was supposed to protect him. Entertainers who perform in high volume setting, i.e. concerts, also are prone to this injury.  Of course, workers using noisy heavy equipment wear ear protectors because they know that this is the way to protect their hearing and avoid the curse of tennitus.

It sounds such a small thing but, trust me, until you have a constant hisssss in the centre of your head, you have no idea just how precious silence can be.

Do yourself a favour. Think about your long life ahead and turn down the volume, or at least enough so that you’re not abusing your hearing.

I’d give just about anything to hear the sound of silence once again.

Should We Be Frightened? I think so.

If you feel the government has forgotten what the people of Canada value and believe in, here is your proof.  Consider all that will be taken away by this new, strange form of government we currently enjoy.  Bill C-38 is a 420 page document affecting 70 pieces of legislation. Here is a letter with good list of it’s contents.  Thank you to Eric Lilius for passing this along.

Ryan Leef
Member of Parliament, Yukon
Open Letter #14
June, 2012

Dear Ryan,

Conservative MP David Wilkes recently told his constituents that he had serious concerns about the omnibus budget bill C-38. He said that backbenchers weren’t allowed to look at this 420-page document until it was released to the public. How can any Member of Parliament vote on something this large and important without proper review?

I’d like to bring to your attention a list of worrying Bill C-38 clauses for your perusal.

–  Budgets for Libraries and Archives have been slashed throughout different departments.

–  Rights and Democracy, an independent agency that monitors human rights and promotes democracy abroad, will be cut.

–  The Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal will be shut down.

National Round Table of the Environment and the Economy is shut down. It was an important round table of industry leaders, environmentalists, First Nations, labour and policy-makers. Their research and advice are being dispensed with because the prime minister is next to God and knows all there is to be known.

–  The Auditor General’s area of oversight will be reduced, thus decreasing opportunities for government embarrassment. Reports from Human Resources Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Northern Pipeline Agency and Canadian Polar Commission will report directly to ministers who are not likely to be experts, be willing to listen to experts or be transparent.

–  Charities may no longer spend more than 10 per cent of their budgets on political advocacy. Since the promotion of environmental stewardship is now considered a political activity, this provision will harm environmental groups. (It is important to note that environmental stewardship has only become politicized under the current Conservative government. Both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal Governments, at the very least, pretended to endorse good stewardship.)

–  Elections Canada has had its investigative effectiveness compromised by a cut by $7.5 million. That is just slightly less than the $8 million allocated to harass environmental groups. (See below.)

–  $8 million in public money has been allotted to investigate environmental charities and organizations. (Now public money will be used by the Conservative Party in its campaign to persecute environmentalists while the Kluane Lake Research Station is scraping by on $80,000 of its $100,000 former budget and must crawl on its hands and knees to beg for adequate funding in the future.)

–  Due to budget cuts, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has ceased funding for the Polar Environment Research Laboratory, the Experimental Lakes Area Research Project and many important scientific research facilities and projects across Canada.

–  The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science, with its economical $1.5 million budget, has been cut.

–  Adaptation to Climate Change Research has been cut.

–  The group within Natural Resources who maintain Arctic ice cores has been disbanded.

–  The new Fisheries Act will no longer protect fish habitat but will instead focus on the protection of economically viable fisheries.

–  Amendments in Section 142 of Bill C-38 propose that industries are no longer required to notify the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of their projects nor are they held liable for habitat harm, thus exempting them from responsibility.

–  Amendments to the Fisheries Act in Section 35 give industry, developers and provinces the right to authorize adverse harm to waters and wetlands.

–  Bill C-288, the Kyoto Implementation Act, will be repealed.

–  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act has been repealed and will be replaced by the ineffectual Environmental Effects Act that favours the desires of industry over the health of the land, air and water.

–  The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has been gutted, allowing the federal government to cherry pick which projects will require assessment. Substitution rules allow the federal government to offload assessments onto provinces and territories. (Given the Yukon government’s cavalier attitude towards the environment, this is not reassuring.)

–  The Canadian Environmental Protection Act has increased time limits on waste disposal and includes an open-ended clause covering protection for species at risk. This Act has been made toothless.

–  Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act have exempted pipelines and power-lines.

–  The National Energy Board has been rendered toothless. Its reviews will now be limited to two years regardless of the size of the project. Cabinet is allowed to reverse its decisions willy-nilly.

–  The National Energy Board is exempt from having to protect critical habitat, thereby undermining the Species at Risk Act.

–  Large cuts have been made to Parks Canada.

–  The assessments done by the Nuclear Safety Control Act are to be handled by theNuclear Safety Commission, a body not equipped to do assessments.

–  The Canadian Seeds Act is to be privatized. It doesn’t bode well for heritage seeds.

–  The Wastewater Survey is cut so we will no longer monitor water use in Canada.

–  Environment Canada’s Environmental Effects Monitoring Program is to be reduced by 20 per cent so we will have a less effective effluent discharge monitoring.

–  The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed. No longer are contractors who bid on federal projects required to pay fair wages and overtime.

–  The age of eligibility for Old Age Security Pensions has been raised from 65 to 67 years.

–  Changes to the immigration rules and temporary workers program will make it easier to bring in foreign workers.

–  Changes to the Employment Insurance program will force EI recipients to take lower-paying jobs in areas outside of their fields.

–  Amendments to the Employment Equity Act exempt federal contract workers from protection. It is a direct attack on equal rights for women and minorities.

–  $31 billion is to be removed from health-care transfer payments to provinces.

–  The Office of the Inspector General at the Canadian Security Intelligence Servicehas been cut, thereby removing an important watchdog.

–  Changes to the Food and Drugs Act, under the guise of “Marketing Authorizations” and “Incorporation by Reference,” will allow the ministers to fast-track approvals to new foods and drugs. This leaves Canadians vulnerable to harm caused by hasty and incomplete investigation.

–  Changes to the Telecommunications Act increase opportunities for foreign ownership.

–  Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will wipe out a backlog of 280,000 applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Applications made before 2008 will be deleted and the application fee refunded. Xenophobes everywhere are cheering.

–  Amendments to borrowing limits for the Territories will devolve what used to be legislative power back to the federal government. How different is this from the old practice of requiring federal approval on borrowing for First Nations groups which seriously crippled their efforts towards self-government?

–  The CBC has had its budget cut by 10 per cent. This is on top of previous cuts that have already crippled this national treasure.

–  A 5 per cent cut to the Office of the Information Commissioner will further cripple the already over-taxed Access to Information Office.

Debate on Bill C-38 has been limited. Committee work has been rushed and, in at least one case, sabotaged. Many of the amendments have not been given the thoughtful, research-based work they require in order to make good policy. The bill is an assault on the environment and workers’ rights with the intention of promoting industry at the expense of Canadians. “Long-term prosperity,” as applied to this bill, is an oxymoron.

In a letter to your constituents, you said: “The environment, particularly as it impacts the North, is an extremely important issue. My commitment is to continue to work towards a sustainable future for Yukon, and ensure that voice is heard in Ottawa.”

David Wilkes said that that if 12 other Conservative MPs stood with him and voted against the omnibus budget bill, it would be defeated. Ryan, it is time to walk the walk. Will you please vote against the omnibus budget bill?

May your time in Ottawa be constructive and may you walk on the high road.

Respectfully yours,

Linda Leon

Should we be frightened?  I think so.  This harkens to a different kind of governance in Canada and the brutality of it is very unsettling.  Obviously majority governments are not always the best option.

— What you people call your natural resources, our people call our relatives. Oren Lyons, Onondaga elder

Life in 4 acts. An unfinished work.

Recently I celebrated a significant birthday.  It bothered me for a few weeks leading up to the date.  I ruminated over the fact that so much of my life has passed by and, in my view, there were precious few years ahead to achieve those outstanding items on my “to do” list.  It’s not a huge list and it’s certainly not a bucket list.  I never had the time to think about a bucket list and, to be honest, I’d be afraid of being desperately disappointed in not getting to them all.

As the birthday arrived and we travelled to meet with family members and old friends I did a little bit of stock taking, and took the occasion to muse on my life as it stands today.

I explained it to the attending celebrants.  I am indeed a lucky man, I have the pleasure of a life in 4 acts.  Act 1: Business, Act 2: Public, Act 3: Community and Act 4: Family.

My business life has led me down many trails.  And, save a few shallow spots, I have had a delightful time.  My dad got me started on the right footing before I even got to my teen years.  He hired me to help him in his part-time job refurbishing connecting rods for engines.  For my part, I recieved 1 cent for every piece I processed.  I worked two or three evenings a week and Saturday mornings and I did that until I was about 16.  I must give him credit, I did get a raise to 2 cents and partnership (worth $60 a month) when I got to 14.  Time with my dad turned out to be a good grounding in keeping commitments, developing a work ethic, managing money (even little bits) and enjoying small rewards (going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon).  Stints in radio, advertising and marketing, including broadcast production, media buying, client representation, creative group and finally vp and president followed.  Today, I work sorta part time, i.e. I’m paid for part time but a lot of days I work like full time.  I’m working with young entrepreneurs in and outside of our business incubator, and how fun is that.  Sharing what I’ve learned to try help young businesses by providing a program of advice and mentoring.  What a fine way to end a business career.  Act 1 will complete somewhere down the road.

I have a public life.  I start each day (rising at 4.30 am) to prepare a two hour show on our local community radio station ( and I do that Monday thru Friday, 7 to 9 am.  I call that my hobby time. After 9 am I start my “real” life.   I have the pleasure of being in our Summer Festival theatre (I have a delightful part in Arsenic and Old Lace this summer), our Highlands Little Theatre and I have given speeches and acted as MC at numerous community activities including, for the past number of years, our Chamber of Commerce Awards night.  All of these have given me so much joy over more recent years.  This public life continues for a while yet.

Community life has been a part of my make up for decades.  My first taste of community life was when, as a young man in my early 20’s I went to the middle east to attend a world youth conference as a Canadian delegate and a representative of the Hamilton YMCA.  When I returned I spoke to many groups about my learning and my experiences in Egypt, Lebanon and the holy lands of Jordan. Shortly after my return I was invited to be a member of the YMCA board.  That was the start.  I won’t bore you with the list of organizations that I have volunteered with.  I can tell you that I gave my very best to each undertaking, and in return I met amazing people, saw lives changed or impacted positively, and I learned that I had much to be thankful for.  A few years back I was pleased to be nominated and receive a Queen’s Jubilee medal for my efforts.  Today, I still volunteer and the rewards continue to be the same.  I’ve realize that in so many of the things we do, when we do it “All Together”  we are “Stronger”.  I have made this a theme for the next part of my story.  This act continues.

The most precious of all 4 acts is family life.  As I watch our children’s lives go forward, and their children grow and develop, I am filled with a love that can never be put into words.  So I won’t try.  Those of you with kids and grand kids will understand. My dear wife, who brings such joy and love to our life, and keeps me reasonably grounded,  gives meaning to each of my days.  My old friends make every moment that we are together a reminder for me that friendships are the golden thread in a good story.   This act evolves, sometimes with great joy and sometimes with great sadness, because that’s how life is.  This act, the most important of all, plays out still, with laughter, frowns, chuckles, worry and hearts full of love.

So, we had the birthday and I feel much better because I have a somewhat clearer view and a better understanding of why I am fortunate and why I should give thanks every day I wake up.  Even better, now I can follow the four acts and see how this plays out.  I hope it ends in a really good laugh, before the story comes to its eventual conclusion.


Business Insider reports on how Pepsi discovered its difference

Brad Jakeman signed  on as president of global enjoyment and chief creative officer of Pepsi last  year and was tasked with developing the identity of Pepsi’s biggest drink  brands.

First, he had to figure out what exactly makes the Pepsi brand different from  eternal enemy Coca-Cola. It took a while — nine months to be exact — but  he and his crew finally came to a conclusion, reports  Natalie Zmuda in a feature on Pepsi’s Beverage Lab at AdAge.

Look at what they went through, according to AdAge:

“For nine months, a core team of Pepsi execs,  including Messrs. Jakeman and Lowden, scoured the globe for inspiration, looked  to the past for insights and sought to understand what precisely made Pepsi  different from Coke. There were exhaustive focus groups, in-home ethnographies,  quantitative and qualitative studies, and cultural immersions in markets as  diverse as Argentina, Australia, United Arab Emirates and Russia.”

What did they come up with after all that effort? “Coke is  timeless. Pepsi is timely.” Essentially, Coke represents permanent  happiness while Pepsi embraces excitement.

It just goes to show how much effort big brands put into their research.  Pepsi used all that research to develop  its simple new tagline, “Live for Now.”

How it will move the market segments will be interesting to watch.  Does anyone care, as much as the execs do, is a question yet to be answered.




Some little darlin’s will be looking for new homes

Karra Wesley advises us that she has a bundle of Sheppard cross pups (9 male.1 female) that were born April 14th.  They will be ready to go to good homes in 6-8 weeks. Too cute for words.

Ain't I cute!





Adoption fee will apply.   Call: 705-935-0359

Here’s momma looking after her brood.









Give Karra a call if you’re considering adoption of a new addition to your family.

I love interesting people

I love interesting people and that’s part of the reason I love to get into conversation with them.  This coming week on Canoe FM, just after the 8am News, we’ll be talking with some interesting folks.

Monday, Steven Kauffeldt will be chatting with us about Wilberforce’s entry into the Kraft Hockeyville competition.  Steve is a councillor with Highland’s East and we’ll find out how the community of Wilberforce can score in this national CBC competition.

Thursday, a special treat.  Most families take a moment each holiday season to watch that wonderful Christmas movie It’s A Wonderful Life.  The classic Frank Kapra movie starring Jimmy Steward and Donna Reed.  We’ll be chatting with Zuzu Bailey (Karolyn Wilkerson) .. who was 6 years old in the movie, the daughter of George Bailey.  We find out from Karolyn what the holiday season is like for her when people flock to her door to celebrate this perennial silver screen favourite.

Friday we’ll be chatting up Joe Passion … Joe will be coming to Northern Lights Pavillion on January 20th with his great “Great Balls of Fire” Show.  If you love Jerry Lee Lewis and great piano work, you’re gonna love this show.  Joe is a talented performer, with a wide range of musical abilities … we’ll find out about the man behind the song!

Wednesday, the lad from “Down Under”, Tudor Holton joins us for a bit of fun, from 7am to 9am.  Tudor says there’s nothing better than a veggie burger on “the barbie” … no wonder he loves Haliburton County, he can enjoy all the wood chips n dip he wants.

Hope you can join us next week on the Canoe.  Cup of coffee n a bit of fun, each morning 7 to 9am. 

Dogs-a-dashin’ on New Years Morning

A quiet morning in the Haliburton Highlands, and a perfect time for a walk with the dogs.  Sophie, Blue and Beau had a playful hour and a half walking the back roads and lanes of Eagle Lake, up above Sir Sam’s Ski area.  It was perfectly still and quiet. A lovely way to welcome the new year.

The year past had its highs and lows, and we are reminded, as the old saying goes, “life is not a dress rehearsal.”  Time marches on irrespective of our attempt to try and wring every moment out of each day.    Family and friends added greatly to our “plus” column. We don’t see them as often as we would like, but when we do spend time together we are left with wonderful movies in our mind.  We are able to revisit them time and again in quiet moments.   I would be remiss if I didn’t say that living in this lovely county, amidst so many interesting, creative and energetic people also contributed greatly to our 2011.  Haliburton County is a fine place to live and be alive.

We will miss Dorothy, Jane’s mom.  Her passing was a sad moment in our year.  It reminded us too how much we miss our departed family members and dear friends who have passed on to, what we trust will be, a better place.

It’s definitely a time for introspection, a time to consider how we can do better in the coming year.