Sunday, 20 January 2013

Why You Should Support Livestrong Now More than Ever

To say that this week has been an eye opener on who Lance Armstrong really is would be putting it lightly. After explaining his logic, and the incredible amount of lies and deceit that he continued throughout his reign over the cycling world was damaging to not only Lance, but also the organization that he founded, Livestrong.

It is nearly impossible to find someone who hasn't had a friend or loved one affected by Cancer. Lance Armstrong's incredible story as a Cancer survivor who dominated the world of cycling in a way that no one had done before helped propel his career, and the exposure of his organization to new heights. However, over the past months, as more and more former teammates  and others associated with Armstrong came forward about his steroid use, the organization which he founded began distancing themselves him.

If I'm going to be totally honest, I don't care about Lance Armstrong. I've never watched a bike race, and I don't race bikes enough to appreciate how talented he must have been. I think it's important to note that before any of the allegations about Lance came out, no one saw a Livestrong bracelet and thought, "There's a Lance Armstrong Fan".

As part of my brother's wedding this summer, he got his wedding party all Livestrong bracelets. I haven't taken mine off since then to show support for the organization, and over the past couple days I've been getting a lot of "Are you still wearing that?!" from several people. I can definitely understand the statement, but I think now more than ever is the time to show that you support the organization, not the man who founded it.


I would encourage anyone that has gotten rid of their Livestrong bracelet, or is thinking about getting rid of it, to instead educate yourself more about what the organization does, and encourage others to get involved. There will definitely be a lot of fallout from their founders poor decisions, but let's not let it cripple the organization. When someone asks you, "Are you still wearing that?!", tell them what the organization told their supporters, "Livestrong isn't about one person. It's about millions of people facing cancer who need support as they battle the toughest battle of their lives".

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Farewell Alexisonfire

I've thought about writing this for a long time, but never really knew what to say. Alexisonfire has been a constant between my group of friends for a over a decade now. It has outlived several relationships, hair dos, and fashion trends. They've been around from when I was fourteen to twenty five; those are some pretty fundamental years in your life, especially musically.

When I heard they were breaking up, it was more than a band breaking up. My first band was essentially formed to rip off Alexisonfire. After coming home from a show at a local high school that half my band went to see, they came back with a totally new perspective on music. These guys weren't superheroes, they were just like us. They gave it all on stage, and they cared about their fans. Everybody in this area has an Alexisonfire sighting as if they were Big Foot; I saw Dallas Green at a local 7/11 once and he turned down my offer to buy him a slushie, my friend Kevin saw the whole troop going through a Wendy's drive through.

I think that's the thing that I find so crazy about this break up. So many people I know have such a personal connection to the band. While they may have gotten a huge following, they never seemed to forget their roots. They have always seemed to stay one step ahead of the mainstream curve. Certainly not the heaviest, certainly not the poppiest, but always with a lot of heart. And yes, while I may not think Crisis is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I find it incredibly frustrating that their final EP, Dogs Blood, has been my favorite album for two years running.

You don't have to like Alexisonfire, or even like music to know what I'm talking about. For a hockey fan in the 80's it was seeing Gretzky get traded to the Kings. Football fans, can think of all 9 times Brett Favre has retired. Baseball fans can think of the feeling Boston fans must have had at the trade of Babe Ruth. We are talking some epic times here folks.

Getting a chance to see Alexisonfire one more time over the holidays, during the farewell tour, was like saying goodbye to an era in my life. A lot of the friends who grew up listening to them with me have like the band, have moved our separate ways. As the band said, it's not a funeral, but a celebration of an era. The end of one thing, can only mean the beginning of something new, so I hope the next era can top the last, cause it was a good one.

What kind of experience did you have in your life that has been similar?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Not All Who Wander are Lost

This past summer at the folk fest, one of the performer's was telling a story. I know what you are thinking, someone telling a story at a folk festival? Yup, it happens. Anyways, the story he was telling (I say he, because I can't remember his name) was about his time touring with Stompin' Tom Connors. For those of you who don't know, Stompin' Tom is a Canadian folk legend, whose most famous for "The Hockey Song". So, the story though was about the way Stompin' Tom toured. He told this guy who will remain nameless until my memory gets better, "If you want to see the real Canada on tour, stay away from the highways. Take the side roads through the small towns. No one ever saw Canada from a highway". Well, at least this is what I think he said, as I mentioned before, my memory is foggy at best.

Appropriately, Stompin' Tom's road is off the beaten path. 

This really resounded with me though. It's very true. I've driven all over this country, but most of it was from the view of the 400 series, and then the Cross Canada Highway. You really don't get to see the real Quebec when all you can see is giant moose fence.

So, I started venturing off my normal routes. I only live about an hour from home, and I make the drive a few times a month. It's gotten a bit mundane to take the same old route every time, even if it is the most efficient. One day when I was driving home, I thought, you know what, why don't I just drive in the right direction and see where I end up. It's surprising to see what you miss when you take the same route every time. There are amazing ranches that I had never seen before. All of this just beyond my sight from my normal route.

It's almost become a quest of mine now to get lost. Luckily I've been unsuccessful so far, but what I'm more surprised of is what I've found. Trips seem faster even though they take longer, simply because you can't believe what you have been missing. Even in my own neighborhood I've been surprised by how many amazing houses, and parks are around, that I would never have known about without bidding farewell to efficiency.

Next time you go to drive somewhere, why not turn on "avoid highways" on your GPS. Its amazing the number of lives you can drive by at high speed on the highway, but its even better how much you can learn by taking in the scenic route. Real life isn't lived on a highway.

What I'm Listening to This Week:
Jamiroquai - Traveling Without Moving

Monday, 10 September 2012

What Travelling Experience has Changed your Life?

This summer I got to go to the Grand Canyon. The canyon itself was pretty remarkable. It's hard to describe until you get there and see that it goes for as far as the eye can see. This isn't about the canyon though. While travelling around Arizona I was blown away by the diversity of the state. From the scorching heat of Phoenix, the wilderness in Flagstaff, and the never ending supply of breathtaking mountains, it's a fascinating place to visit.

Little Known Fact - Grand Canyon is French for Big Canyon
Now, I've had the debate before that travelling can be dangerous. I'm not talking about movies like Hostel or Taken which tell of the dangers of being abducted. What I fear of travelling is the effect it can have of demistyfing the world. A majority of my knowledge of the world comes from documentaries, friends harrowing tales of adventure, and history books. However, when people go to Paris, they don't typically talk about the long lineups at the Louvre, abundance of dog poop, or the smell.

Why Not Dance at Hopewell Rocks?
Like meeting your idols, only to find out that they are mortal too, is travelling a dangerous trip for your mind? Is the idea of ignorance is bliss truly the best? Well, I've gone back and forth on the idea that staying home, and believing that Aladdin taught me all I needed to know about Arabian nights is the best way to travel the world. However, when you see the amazing landscapes that this world has to offer, it becomes apparent that you really have to get out of your pajamas, and see the world first hand. Let me apologize in advance and tell you that David Attenborough will not be there to narrate your every discovery, but you won't need him to.

or.. Dance in Quebec City?
Now, I'm a terrible person to travel with. I am terrified of bears, spiders, snakes, oh, and travelling. However, sometimes you just have to say life's too short to watch reruns of Futurama, get in a car with your friends, and journey into a part of the world unknown.

So I ask you, what travelling experience has changed your life?

What I'm Listening to This Week:
Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Monday, 3 September 2012

So.. What do I really Do?

I think one of the most common question someone get's asked is simply, "So, what do you do for a living?". Seems like a simple question, which ideally, would warrant a simple answer. However, it took me four months at my full time job with tbk Creative, before I was finally forced to come up with a title for what I do, and that's just the title. With all of the emerging technologies, there have been equal numbers of new job titles. I settled on something that I thought would help explain things a little better; Conversion Expert. Still shrugging your shoulders? I'll explain.

Essentially my job is to take an new idea, like a website or social media, and show a business how it is actually useful for them in growing their business. So where do conversions come into play? Well, anytime someone does something on your website that deem valuable to growing your business, that's a conversion. What conversions are can widely vary from a simple purchase on a site, to registering for a charity run. What I do, is utilize the tools at my disposal and increase those.

The internet can really be a confusing place. With so much information accessible at any time, picking what's important can be challenging. The true test of a successful website has become beyond just having a nice looking website, but has moved into the realm of having a website that you use as a tool. Yes, we've had websites for a long time, but it's really only been in the past few years that we have been able to study how people interact with those websites, and improve on them so interaction has become easier.

So where do I fit in? I'm your websites equivalent of a city planner. I make sure that the store what you want people to find isn't buried in some dark corner at the end of town. Once they get into the store, I make sure they find what they are looking for and help grow your business.

Still not sure what I'm talking about? Check out some of the websites I've worked on at and notice the difference.

What I'm Listening to This Week:
Polica - Give you the Ghost

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Students. Explore Your City.

When I was picking what University to go to, I have to admit I didn't put a whole lot of thought into the fact that I would not only be picking my program, but I would be choosing to become part of a new culture for at least four years of my life. It never occurred to me to become involved in the city that I was going to University in, because when you are part of the campus bubble, you feel more like a temporary resident, than someone that can actually have an impact on that city.

Playing with John Pilat at Phog Lounge
However, it has become quite apparent to me now, how naive and irresponsible that was of me. I lived in Windsor for four years of my life, but I never really became overly involved in what that city had to offer until after I had graduated. It wasn't until last December that I went to the award winning Phog Lounge for the first time, and that was only because I had a show there. After playing another show there this past weekend I realized just how much I was missing out on by not engaging in the city that I lived in. Sure tons of students might venture to the downtown and contribute to the thriving bar scene of your city, but that's akin to taking a road trip on highways through the country. You only get to see the real country by taking the back roads.

There are so many gems in any city that go mostly unnoticed by a transient population. I grew up coming to the London area for concerts, but it wasn't until I became an intern at the Aeolian Hall that I attended my first concert there. Students miss out on so many amazing events that go on in this city that occur during the summer months when the majority have gone home. London really does have festivals that go on every single weekend in the summer.

Home County Folk Festival
These situations aren't exclusive to Windsor and London where I've gone to school, but happen in every city. Student's can contribute to the economy and the culture of the city just as well as anyone else. It's a huge challenge for most businesses to constantly appeal to the ever changing student populations of their cities.

So I make this challenge to the returning students, and students attending school for the first time in the fall: get out of your dorm rooms, the over populated student housing you live in, the student bubble you occupy, and the downtown or nearby bar district. See the real community that you are living in. Experience the culture, and maybe even contribute to it. Explore the different neighborhoods, side streets, and  markets. See the real city you have been missing, and you just might be pleasantly surprised.

What I'm Listening to This Week:
Vincent Van Go Go - Do You Know?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Why London?

I am often times reminded of a particular episode of "Family Matters", where the father, Carl, was having a fight with his wife Harriette. She is driving him nuts and the fight is only resolved, when he realizes that the things that are driving him crazy, are the same things that he fell in love with her for. Cheesy? Absolutely. Was Family Matters amazing? Yes.

Now, the reason I bring up one of the greatest shows ever is not to reignite Jaleel White's career, but is to ask a question? Why did you originally come to London, or where ever you live, in the first place? The reason I ask this is because I find that I hear more people having to rationalize staying here, than staying out of love for this city. So there must be some reason why you came here in the first place.

Earlier today I was talking to someone and she turned the question on me, "Why did I pick London in the first place?" Well, I was fresh out of University, and there wasn't sure where to go, and my group of friends from high school were all spread out all over London going to Fanshawe and Western, and it seemed like as good as time as any to all live under one roof.

Also, when I was growing up, I lived in a town right in between Sarnia and London, but as I got older, I began to gravitate more towards this city than Sarnia; but why? Well, London had an amazing music scene when I was in my teenage years. The Embassy was still putting on nightly shows, Call the Office had incredible shows every night, and there were always shows going on at houses across the city. It was the playground for a teenager that loved music.

While the London that I knew then has changed (the Embassy is now a pile of stones), you need only take one look at our website, , to realize that the shows never stopped, but some of the venues may have changed.

What Would Carl Do?
I know it may seem like a tough decision for many as to why would you stay in this city when it may be much easier to find a job elsewhere,  but I would ask you to examine the roots of why you chose it. Heck, even if you don't live in London, and find yourself struggling with the city you live in, ask yourself, What would Carl Winslow do?  I love London because it isn't as big as Toronto. However, with that means that there simply won't be the opportunities. Sometimes what you loved about the city, is the same thing that drives you crazy.

What I'm Listening to This Week:
Les Paul and Mary Ford Shows - May and June 1950