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.

A Season of Delights

The past few weeks have seen a constant stream of events and activities which help celebrate the Christmas season and, in most cases, generate food, gifts and needed funds for those in need of that support.  Haliburton County and its communities, like many small, rural areas, takes the plight of those in need very seriously.  We know that our county holds the dubious honour of being one of the poorest areas in Ontario.

Parades, concerts of all musical varieties as well as church activities, social aid fundraisers, bake sales and sports tournaments have all held out their hands asking for our support.  I’d love to make a list for you but it would go on for pages.  Our residents, bless their hearts, give and give again.

December 21st the students of Haliburton High put on their annual Tribute Talent Show, titled “In The Spirit”.  Elke Zilla and her amazing students invited some of us from the community to participate along with them.  Brilliant idea.  It brings residents other than parents and students into the audience.  This reinforces our support for the school and students, and on the other side, it demonstrates to the general community what talented and spirited young people we have in our high school.

The audience was packed to standing room only.  They had a wonderful evening as evidenced by their enthusiastic applause, and when appropriate their laughter and their cheering.

Dame Beatrice live in Haliburton

I had the pleasure of participating, in a newly created guise, as Dame Beatrice … a visitor from over the pond.  I am a great fan and admirer of Dame Edna and, in tribute to her, I shaped a pale rendition for the purposes of this special evening.  The link to this performance is:

Dame Beatrice "In The Spirit"

Thank you to Beth Kipping for the loan of the delightful hair piece (in the most lovely shade of mauve), Haliburton Vision Care Centre for the wonderfully catty eye glasses, Currie Motors and the fellas in the paint shop for finishing the glasses in a hot Christmas red, my dear wife for the clothes I stretched out of shape and the Salvation Army Thrift Centre for shoes that fit (that’s another funny story for sometime down the road) and earrings that were to die for.

I dedicate this performance and the video to my family … that they might be mortified and embarrassed for years to come.

Merry Christmas to all.

Residents of Dysart et al have a unique opportunity!

Help Shape the Future of the Arts and Culture in the Municipality of Dysart et al

The Municipality of Dysart et al is undertaking a community engagement process to prepare a “municipal cultural plan” which is an economic development plan, focused on the arts, culture and heritage.

The Municipality is working with a Steering Committee with representation from Dysart Municipal Council, the Haliburton County Development Corporation, Fleming College Haliburton School of The Arts, the Arts Council-Haliburton Highlands, the Rails Ends Gallery and Arts Centre, the Haliburton Highlands Museum, the Haliburton County Public Library, Canoe FM, and the Haliburton Creative Business Incubator.

The approved plan will be implemented through the actions of the Municipality and supported and advanced by the actions of our community partners and stakeholders. We welcome your ideas and input!

More information on the project can be found at:

Please participate in the municipal cultural plan by completing the community survey below, or, by attending the community visioning session, which will be held on Thursday January 19th, 2012 from 2 pm to 5 pm in the Great Hall at Fleming College.

To complete the community survey, just copy and paste the link below into your browser and follow the simple instructions. The survey should not take more than 15 minutes.

Hard copies of the survey are available at the Dysart Municipal Office, the Haliburton County Public Library – Dysart Branch, Fleming College – Haliburton School of The Arts, and the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre. Completed surveys will be accepted until January 6th, 2012.

For more information or to register for the community visioning session please contact: Patricia Martin B.E.S.,M.C.I.P.,R.P.P. Director of Planning and Development Municipality of Dysart et al Phone: 705-457-1740 E-mail:

Should be a fun week on Canoe FM .. even Rick Mercer may join us for a few minutes

This coming week we’ve got some interesting folks lined up to chat with us:

Monday at 8.10am, Dave Roylance, will talk about getting all those gizmos ready for winter … lawnmower, outboard, chainsaw, generator and of course the snowblower.  Dave’s got 20 years experience keeping outdoor products, home appliances and special equipment running.  Being a dolt, he’s going to give me some advice.

Tuesday at 8.10 am, Carol Moffatt and Kate Hall will join us to talk about the Rail Trail consultation process and the upcoming public sessions.  Find out how you can have a voice.

Tuesday at about 8.30 am, Rick Mercer may be checking in with us to talk about the popularity of his Rants.  You won’t want to miss that.

Wednesday, Tudor Holton, co-hosts with us and once again we’ll try and figure out what this crazy Aussie is try to tell us (love that accent.)

Thursday, The Snake Man, Matt Ellerbeck joins us by phone and we will be discussing why we should be more loving of this species …guess we won’t discuss recipes. Boy, talk about the Christmas gift for the man who has everything!  Matt’s conservation message and his drive to raise the consciousness about endangered snake populations has earned him respect on both sides of the border.

Friday, plans are still in the works but we hope to have another great guest for the 8.10 am spot.

Join us each morning 7 to 9 am on Canoe Fm.  If you enjoy what we’re doing, spread the word.

Arts Alive 2011 was not only alive, it was jumpin’!

The six annual Arts Alive evening in Minden was a rousing success.  A fine crowd of active bidders were on hand to take home some amazing values on work from area artists.  Jack Brezina was, as always, host for the evening and he was in his usual fine form as he steered the agenda and the silent and loonie auctions.  He’s lots of fun to be with and a great supporter of the arts in Minden Hills.

I was asked to assist Jack and be responsible for the live auction .. and boy, was it exciting!  There were some persistent bidders in the room and some of the items were fetching hundreds of dollars … with our final item well over $800 in an exciting nail-biter for the audience as well as the bidders.

I’ve included a composite photo of Jane’s amazing piece.  Unfortunately it was hard to get a good photo because the item was displayed on a table rather than hung on a wall.  The perspective is a little bit wonky but hopefully you get the idea.  The wall hanging represents hours and hours of work due to the complexity of the butterflies and the total number of glass pieces involved.  I provided some of the grunt, by prepping the wood and then mounting the elements on the driftwood.  The piece is approximately four feet high.

We shouldn’t forget to say thanks to the Grill on the Gull for a terrific meal and desserts … to Shawn and his group, thanks.

We had a great time and you can always count on a fun evening with a roomful of really nice people.  Congratulations to all the people involved in the planning and preparation of the event. We trust that it raised lotsa money in aid of the good work the foundation undertakes.

Bruce Beaton on Kids in Sport

This morning on CanoeFM I had the pleasure of chatting with Bruce Beaton from his home in Kentville, N.S.  Bruce is the coauthor of The Truth About Success, My Rules, Enduring Principles of Leadership and 38 Lessons Learned in Professional Football, and most recently, Little Athletes Big Leaders – Effective Sport Parenting

Bruce Beaton played his first ever football game at the age of twenty and went on to an outstanding academic and athletic experience at Acadia University (BA (hon) MA) and a 13 year professional football career in the CFL.

Bruce was a struggling player then an all star player and a team leader at every level of football. He played on teams that didn’t win a game for months and he won three league championships late in his career. Bruce is truly an expert on the subject of leadership and competitive greatness.

Bruce has been influenced by over 40 coaches at the professional level and by countless terrific teammates. A voracious reader, Bruce has also been influenced by the hundreds of leadership books, sports and leadership biographies, and personal and business development books he has read over the past two decades. .

Bruce’s core belief is that the skills associated with leadership are the most important you will ever learn. As a leader, you must create a vision or goal you are passionate about, and if you develop the strategic and relationship skills necessary to leverage the engagement and productivity required to bring that dream into reality, you will succeed.

Bruce believes the most effective social and community institution we have to create leaders is youth sport. Sport’s emphasis on collective goal setting, vision, teamwork, interpersonal skills, mentoring, daily action, personal excellence and mastery, perseverance and resolve, and self discipline provide the environment for a tremendous leadership education. The key is effective mentoring from parents and effective transferable skill reinforcement from coaches. We spent a good deal of time chatting about that this morning.

If you’d like to know more about Bruce, his philosophy and follow his blog, you can do so at

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