Santa Claus Parade

We were on the Rogers Media float again this year. Rob, Abby, Josh, Matthew and myself. We played Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Jingle Bell Rock over and over.

Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Kingston. A very enthusiastic audience. A treat to be part of the event.

Although not as cold as last year — wind chills were minus 12 at the 2013 parade — there were plenty of challenges for the guitar player this year.

I used a Line 6 Pod HD500 modeller straight into the PA. No guitar amp. The Line 6 unit is a  pedalboard design. I had it wrapped in clear plastic to hold off any rain. Much easier setup than trying to mic a guitar amp on a moving flatbed truck.

We rented a bass amp and a drumset for Josh and Matthew. Bass amp worked well. And the drumset was fine except every now and then a gust of wind would come through and blow the ride cymbal over. Matthew became quite adept at catching the cymbal in time. He never missed a beat.

I took out my American Fat Strat. Somewhat reluctantly I might add. I was going to use my Squier Telecaster — a Chinese-built student guitar — but the thing was buzzing like crazy so I left it behind.

Fortunately the weather stayed fairly clear. A bit of rain at the front of the parade and that made playing interesting. Fingers really slide on wet guitar strings. A first for me to play a soaking wet guitar.

Fingers were not quite as numb as last year. Still tricky to play outdoors in near freezing temperatures.

That said, the event was an incredible experience. So much fun.

Big Board


The Christmas season is almost here. And my big board comes out for a number of playing dates.

A few new additions to the board: the Strymon Deco and the Disaster Area Designs DPC-5 Programmable True Bypass Switcher with Midi control. The Deco adds a compressed, tape saturation to the tone. And the DPC-5 — the red pedal on the bottom — allows me to program a set of patches including complete Midi control of the Timeline and Mobius pedals.

It took me a while to configure and wire the board and I will need to make a few more changes before it goes out later this week. I had to use the Lava cables for the top row of the DPC-5 as my right angle Switchcrafts were too large to fit. Unfortunately, I only had the solderless Lava cables and I really don’t like them. They are too fragile for me when used on the road. They will get swapped out once the soldered kit arrives.

The board is powered by two Voodoo Labs Pedal Power units — one is the 4×4 and the other is the 2 plus. All 14 pedals require power. 5 of the pedals draw above 200mA. Both the Timeline and the Mobius need at least 300mA power.

Signal flow right now is guitar->Timmy->EP booster->Keeley Compressor->Fulltone Fulldrive 3->VFE Alpha Dog->Strymon Deco->Ernie Ball modded VP Jr->Strymon El Capistan->Strymon Mobius->Strymon Timeline->Neunaber Wet->amp.

The DPC-5 switches 5 pedals and controls the Midi on the Timeline and Mobius. The DMC-3, the small orange pedal on the bottom row, controls the bank changes on the DPC-5. Much easier to switch a lot of presets from the DMC-3.

It Is A Small World After All


Hmmm. What photos?

Yes. I had been down to Walt Disney World. But I had not signed up for any Disney PhotoPass photos. Was this some sort of scam?

Well, I clicked through. And there were all sorts of photos of my family. Photos like this one:


Of course there were photos. We did most of the rides at the parks and many of the rides take your photo hoping that you will stop by the gift shop and buy one on the way out.

But how did Disney know that these were our photos?

Facial recognition.

And where did they get the matching photos to validate the facial recognition?

From our cruise. We were required to have our photos taken when we registered prior to embarkation.

And how did they find my email address?

Well, clearly they have a customer database with all sorts of information about me including my images and my email address. I did purchase the one image above so I suppose digital persistence does work.

Staggering to think that an amusement park is so well informed about its guests.



Why Rosetta?

The European Space Agency’s unprecedented mission of cometary exploration is named after the famous ‘Rosetta Stone’. This slab of volcanic basalt – now in the British Museum in London – was the key to unravelling the civilisation of ancient Egypt.

Amazing photoset here.

Following The Path


I have been reading Joan Chittister’s book Following the Path. Joan is a Benedictine nun. Her book touches on the theme of searching for a life of passion, purpose and joy:

This book is about what it takes to find and respond to the magnet within us — that great, deep passion for life toward which our hearts leap up at every turn. This is the call that demands that we give back to life everything that life has given to us. Then, at some moment far from now, perhaps, the feeling will finally come that, looking back, whatever difficulties we have suffered in its doing, it has all been right.

The question of what each of us is meant to do in life is the question that no one else can answer for us. It is the question of uniqueness. It is the moral imperative of every human life. To discover and pursue what we are called to do in life is the very fundament of happiness.

Do you know anyone that has actually found what they are called to do in life?

I follow a large number of blogs on the web and I came across Nasim Mansurov’s recent announcement on photographylife:

This long overdue announcement was something I had been unintentionally delaying for too long this year. I started this letter months ago on an airplane and I am now sitting again at an airport, waiting for my four hour flight to Denver, in hopes that I will be able to finally complete my disarray of thoughts in one piece. Without a doubt, the last 12 months have been rough, packed with a number of life-changing events that have had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. One event led to another and I found myself going back and forth, questioning my actions and intentions over and over again, until I finally made a decision: I decided to pursue my dream to become a full time photographer, writer and educator.

Read more:

As I am getting older and somewhat closer to retirement, I am now thinking more and more about what I will be doing over the next 10 to 15 years of life. And, in part, I hope to discover and pursue what I am called to do during that season of life.

Future of Cars


Automakers took center stage at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. General Motors exhibited the Firebird IV concept car, which, as the company explained, “anticipates the day when the family will drive to the super-highway, turn over the car’s controls to an automatic, programmed guidance system and travel in comfort and absolute safety at more than twice the speed possible on today’s expressways.”

Interesting piece by McKinsey on the future of the auto industry.

I also liked this observation:

Today’s average high-end car has roughly seven times more code than a Boeing 787.

What Could Go Wrong?


A message from the Bank of Canada:

The Canadian system of housing finance proved to be resilient and efficient during the global financial crisis and its aftermath. The system’s effectiveness is the result of a rigorous prudential regulatory and supervisory regime coupled with targeted government guarantees of mortgage insurance and securitization products. In the post-crisis period, household debt levels and house prices have risen, owing, in part, to accommodative monetary conditions necessary to support the economic recovery. These vulnerabilities were mitigated by tightening macroprudential policy, specifically mortgage insurance rules, and strengthening mortgage-underwriting standards. Looking ahead, the housing finance framework needs to be adjusted and strengthened by rebalancing the risk exposures away from the government toward the private sector participants in the housing finance market. Although some measures have already been taken for this purpose, more adjustments may be needed to create the right incentives and achieve a sustainable rebalancing in risk exposures. Measures should also be considered to promote a liquid private-label mortgage securitization market in Canada.

The Wall Street Journal translates the Bank of Canada message this way:

Canadian taxpayers have become too exposed to the dangers posed by the country’s frothy housing market and authorities should get the private sector to take on more of the risk, a senior Canadian central banker said.

The Globe and Mail translates the Bank of Canada message this way:

The Canadian government is now too “exposed” to the country’s hot housing market, warns a top central bank official who’s calling for more private-sector involvement.

Garth Turner explains it this way:

Something is seriously out of whack.