Challenges Overcome

Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Aerial Video & Photo

Challenges Overcome

Receiving a request to do a drone ‘shoot’ at a new locale is always a challenge.  We received a call from a seasoned, and very astute real estate agent who found us on the web.  The issue as many UAV pilots know, is what form of certification do you have?

In our case we had successfully migrated to the highest level of certification with Transport Canada which is ‘Complex Restricted’ and further, we were awarded ‘blanket coverage’ for all the Muskoka Lakes Region.  For those not aware, blanket coverage can only be gained once Transport Canada feels that you have had enough successful and safe flights for business in specific locations, for specific dates, that they will give you broad access to an area for a much longer period of time.

So…. in this case the request came to do a shoot on Sparrow Lake which was not in our specified area of legal work.  So quickly we put together, yet another application, sent it in to Transport Canada and were pleased to receive a quick turnaround on approval.

Next, we had to co-ordinate the weather with the agent and the property owner, ensuring all aspects of the visuals would be in place.  In this case, the owners were having a yard sale and rightly so, wanted everything cleared away prior to the shoot.

Rain and wind are the UAV enemies, and we battled both prior to, and just after our shoot.  No matter the circumstances, we always learn something new at each customer location. A glitch with the GoPro camera delayed our launch.  The data card became slightly unseated in the camera and we could not discern why a beeping sound persisted. You have to be prepared for a myriad of problem solving.  There are SO many factors: equipment, safety regulations, emergency details, the angle of the Sun – customers typically have no idea.

This is why Drones (UAV’s) have developed such bad reputations because there are many ‘rogue’ pilots who do not operate within the law, flying ridiculously stupid and reckless operations.  Example:  you MUST have a certified ‘observer’ working with you to handle safety, payload (camera), and a host of other duties.

In the end we had a great shoot.  We went through two batteries (two flights) to get all the coverage we felt we needed, and both agent and the property owners were happy with the results.

Right after we drove away, a howling wind came up which would have prevented our operation.  Luck and a little forward planning was on our side.

A Message for Radio Announcers

Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Business & Marketing

A Message for Radio Announcers

For the most part, being a lifelong Radio guy, you get pretty close to the trees, and sometimes the forest disappears.  This might be one of those samples, but darn it all, I care about the way our children, and grandchildren are growing up!

Back up, back up Johnny, “What are ya gettin at?  Just talkin, tellin a story.  Thanks for hangin with me today, and payin attention!”

Have you ever heard sentence structured like this on Radio?  Do you even notice anymore?  I hope you do.  Let me say, it’s tantamount to a Radio announcer with a megaphone pointed right at me, when they speak like this. Drives me to distraction.

It’s just SLANG to me to drop the G.  The use of this kind of diatribe is intended to be all fuzzy and warm, feeling like, part of the family.  Let snuggle up, “cause it’s happenin”!

It sounds awful.  I hate it, and I don’t hate much.  Most importantly, I think it sends the wrong message to our children growing up, who listen to Radio.  God only knows how many youngsters listen to Radio anymore with digital this and that everywhere displayed in front of them.  I do suspect, many mornings over breakfast, and afternoons in the car, families still tune into Radio for contests, local news, and a dose of their favorite music.  I still LOVE Radio. It’s free, accessible and for the most part entertaining.

What children don’t deserve, are announcers who never graduated grade six English.  Buck up folks, and let’s pronounce our  I N G’s.  It just sounds better.  ‘Kinda’ like the lazy announcer who broadcasts “Toronna” not “Torontoh”.  New Canadians have a tough enough time learning our language, what about our kids?

My Moose

Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Life @ North45

My Moose

We have lived in Muskoka for eleven years now.  As many folks know, I worked for the Haliburton Broadcasting Group which owns all the Moose FM Radio Stations.  The Moose itself, it quite iconic in Muskoka and generally in the north.  Oddly enough, I have never actually seen a Moose up close and personal.  Most folks in this district have, but not…me.

So recently, as this winter was winding down, I decided to take the canvas door cover off our boathouse entrance, to open things up a bit, all the while dreaming of getting the boat back in the water.  Extracting this canvas tarp is tricky.  Picture me hanging off the back of our 22 foot Chris Craft, sitting on the swim platform dangling about five feet off the ice with a drill in my hand, carefully removing the strapping (support pieces) that holds the canvas in place.

My cel phone rings.  I pretty well always have it with me, in case of accident or generally accessibility.  It is my darling wife.  “Where are you?” tone rather excited.  “I’m hanging off the back of the boat”, I replied.  She blasts in to my ear: “There’s a Moose right beside the cottage!  It’s heading to the parking lot!  Where’s the camera?”

Well, of course I had the camera with me.  Im always taking pictures.  Mind you EVERYONE has a camera these days, tucked right into their much-too-smart phones.  Regardless, my #2 daughter was the first to see this magnificent creature.  Then my son in law who just happened to be indisposed on the 2nd floor with a ring side seat as ‘giant four legs’ walks right up our hill towards the parking lot to the top of our hill.  Darling wife, cel call discontinued, etches the behemoth into her memory, as it punches hooves into the remaining snowpack up the property.

At my age, the seconds are ticking faster than ever, so I set the drill aside, and very carefully dismount off the swim platform,  managing movements.  Falling or slipping – not an option.  I then grabbed the camera, and began my ascent up the 65 stairs or so, up the hill, past the cottage, to our parking lot.

Racing along with me, was my mind, picturing a social media frenzy of posting awesome shots of said moose on twitter, facebook and even a cool shot for an interior bathroom wall!  Son in law is now invisible to me, off in the distance ‘tracking’ the beast.  He has a camera of course.

No pictures are ever produced by anyone in the family.  Grandchildren, now have their stories to tell classmates.  The rest of the clan all have their water cooler talk prepared for Monday morning.

Thirty feet away from my noisy drill and a rare introduction, she hung a right at my boathouse, and bid Bala Bay a fond farewell.

Me? Ive still never seen a Moose.

Muskoka Adventure or World Class Event?

Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Life @ North45

Muskoka Adventure or World Class Event?

I read a very amusing and informative article in the Globe And Mail recently, about fishing which prompted this note.  More about that, down the page.

As a young lad enjoying the privilege of summer holidays in #Muskoka, I loved to get out in my little boat ( with a 10 Johnston on the back) and run about chasing waves.  Later, I was chasing girls, but often, it was all about chasing fish.

Early, many mornings, I’d hop in my boat and run up to visit with Mrs. Cunningham (now Purk’s Place) by the amazing Bala Water Falls that tumble down into the Moon River.  Here I’d purchase my allotment of worms, so I could attempt to trick a bass or two into my boat with the help of a net-at-the-ready.

Fishing at the middle train bridge on Bala Bay was, and still is a key location.  With three entry points for the water to stream from Lake Muskoka proper, into Bala Bay, the constant current, the train trestle concrete abutments, and the disintegrating cribs are an attraction for what many believe is, pound for pound, the world’s best, fresh water fighting fish: the small mouth bass.

Fast forward forty plus years.  Now I take great pleasure in taking my niece’s children on adventures in various water-craft.  For a few years now, two of these great kids have joined me to learn about fishing at this middle bridge.

Now you must realize, I am not a great fisherman.  Never very lucky, not very skilled, I just like the process, the quiet, the hum of trolling along, and in particular just being on the water.  So as an instructor, I’m okay to teach how to put half a worm on a hook, anchor the boat, and point out the trials of knocking over the tackle box when it is open.  The basics I can cover.

We ALWAYS catch a few fish, so it’s a fun outing, often a little chaotic anchoring in a current, and organizing two or three lines without getting tangled.

Typically, we haul in several rock bass (always unceremoniously tossed back in), but you know when you have a small mouth on the line, big or small.  They just feel different, and when they break the water and jump, visually it’s very stimulating.  Youngster’s sound effects are guaranteed!

Last summer, my neice kinda hit the jackpot (pictured above) with a lovely bass which required (speaking of chaos) the net, and a flurry of activity getting other lines reeled in.  Of particular interest to me was not letting the rod and reel end up in water towed off by this muscular specimen.

Bringing this fish home to Gramma and proud parents was akin to doing a sail past after winning Bala’s Callaghan Cup.  The kids were glowing, and I think I was too.

Which brings me back to The Globe And Mail article on The Bassmaster Classic.  What a terrific read by #CathalKelly.  A real eye opener.  Even if you don’t know anything about fishing, this article is about the world heavy weight championship of fishing tournaments. and Cathal’s trials and tribulations as an observer.  Serious, and after reading this, dangerous too.

As I say, I like fishing, but there are degrees of desire to be on the water, one with your adversary and the elements.  I prefer Bala Bay and Lake Muskoka on a sunny morning.

Go Genie Go

Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Business & Marketing

Go Genie Go

Today folks in #Muskoka, Canadians, and tennis fans around the world, can send our message to #GenieBouchard in #Australia, as she goes to the next level: the quarter finals of the Aussi Open on Tuesday. A tough battle to be sure against #MariaSharapova.

Did I know today is Australia Day?  I must confess I did not.  The official national day of Australia is celebrated annually on January 26, marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site, by Governor Arthur Phillip, but I digress…

As my family, friends and many of my associates know, I have been working towards being ‘compliant’ as a (UAV) Drone Pilot.  Both my Co-pilot and I took Ground School a few years back, so, that has helped this process – big time.  Recently, #TransportCanada has, rightly so, altered the law(s) to ensure that drone pilots who are utilizing their crafts for business, are certified and insured.  It’s an onerous process, but it’s worth the effort to get certified.

Which brings me back to Genie Bouchard.  Last spring and summer a lot of folks sprained their ankles getting on the Genie bandwagon.  All good and great for Tennis!  While I had been following Ms. Bouchard’s tennis career since her Wimbledon Junior title, life changed for Genie in 2014.  We loved Genie’s Army in Australia, the French Open, and then, Wimbledon really changed it all. (Yes the US Open was great too, but certainly not as event-filled.)

The picture above tells the story of efforts made by my wife and eldest daughter creating this sign on our dock in the sweltering heat.   When we tacked it up, Genie was really getting going, at the All England Club, advancing so confidently.  Sooo exciting!  Reaching the quarters, the semis, and then, THE FINALS.   I kept drawing the additions to Genie’s success to the sheet up on the boathouse.  Boaters would drive by and honk or wave… So much fun.  People were engaged with Tennis, largely because of Genie.

So now here we are again.  I got a flight certificate  (SFOC)  JUST in time to do this shoot on Sunday…  edit the video, add some nice music and sound effects… all, to send a message of hope, but much more importantly, of CONGRATULATIONS to Genie for her run to-date.

And for the record let’s not forget to support our tiger, with the lethal serve, Milos Raonic , in a similar way.  What I know is, good things happen to good people.  Milos is fantastic, and is in the Quarters now too.  How exciting is that??!!

So all of this to say, enjoy the new Video on YouTube and share it, as a message of Congratulations to Eugenie Bouchard.

Go Genie Go.  Good luck!

Better to Ask for Forgiveness

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Business & Marketing

Better to Ask for Forgiveness

Recently my wife and I have been hooked on the TV series: Suits.  This fast paced, well written Legal based saga on NETFLIX is addictive.  One attribute of the main character and his junior accomplice is that they are decisive.

Being decisive in business, particularly as a Leader and a Manager, is crucial.  You cannot be frozen by the fear of making the wrong move.  Ultimately your role, possibly your job, will be jeopardized by uncertainty.

Hence the expression: it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.  An oft-joked-about phrase referenced more to marital spats than employment, I have based many of my work related decisions on this mantra.

Fortunate for me, previous direct reports were two of the brightest media moguls in Canadian, and closer to home, Ontario’s history.  Making decisions, I often went where angels feared to tread, but regularly reported to others that: sure, I stick out my neck, but I have not had my head cut off..…yet”.

Believe me, I may not have been the brightest light on the tree.  I had no Business degrees.  In fact, some would even say my inter-company relationships were, well, not perfect.  Often marching to my own drummer, I charged along, making decisions I felt, were for the betterment of Clients, the Team, and ultimately the Company – long term.  Fair to say, I also encouraged individuals to stick their necks out too, and supported them if the wheels fell off.  How else do you learn, if not taking the odd wrong turn?

Being decisive in favor of Customers RARELY brought me to the feet of my mentors.  Reporting to entrepreneurial owners who fed off the bottom line, made this strategy challenging, but in the end, persistence, passion, and the ability to: make up my mind, and move on, stood me well.

Which is why this article in the GLOBE AND MAIL – Careers –  January 12 – caught my attention.  I don’t typically go too deep into this section ( maybe I should ), but the phrase “Be Decisive” caught my eye, because of what is written above.

Worth the read by Merge Gupta-Sunderji, who is a regular as a Globe’s ‘Leadership Lab’ columnist.  Impressively, in the Globe’s 2014 retrospective on Leadership Lab columns, Merge’s advice was tabled #1 and #2 on the list.  Must be something to this decisive leadership quality.

A Christmas Message of Hope

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Life @ North45

A Christmas Message of Hope

I had the pleasure of visiting my friend and associate Gary Froude this past week at the West Park Healthcare Centre in Central West Toronto.  Gary is an amazing story of determination, intestinal fortitude and mental strength.  Along with his loving partner Gayle Dempsey, they have endured unspeakable, indescribable challenges that show no limits to what the human psyche can achieve and overcome.

Due to a mysterious virus, Gary has been virtually paralyzed and on a respirator for a year and a half.  That’s eighteen months.  ….five hundred and forty days or more to the point….12,960 hours.  I know what it’s like to be alone in hospital staring a ceiling, but I cannot in all good conscience, compare, so of course I wont.  But I know enough from personal experience, to have motivated me to visit Gary, in three different care facilities, a half dozen times during this period to check in, say hello, and ‘talk’ Muskoka for a bit.

This most recent visit was wonderful.  Gary is better.  He is actually able to talk.  Off his respirator twice daily now for three hours each session, the change is nothing short of remarkable.  You see, I clearly remember visiting Gary and Gayle with my wife Pam at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Barrie’s wonderful Royal Vic.  Gary could not talk.  Have you ever read lips?  We typically look to one’s eyes when we converse.  Tough when you lip read.  Imagine Gary’s frustration with me?  “Watch my lips you idiot!” he must have thought, all the while unable to move an arm or a leg to kick up a storm of impatience.  But I digress.

Plans continue to Bring Gary Home to renovate the house, to accommodate a myriad of safety issues such as wheel chair access.  It’s a momentous list.  Reto-fitting a yet to be acquired van for transport is a priority.

The picture you see here, I took to show what teck-advances are being made today.  Gary is ‘on-line’ here browsing software (email and Skype) by BLINKING at the screen.  Gary ‘left clicks’ by very slightly moving his knee, which he is leaning to do.

For strength work, Gary is strapped to a ‘tilt table’ which takes him from horizontal to vertical, so he can place his body weight on his legs.  It’s helping.  Recovery is slow, but incredibly, there are lights in the tunnel and they are brightening, thanks to experts, family and friends.

There are many ways to help, should you wish to pick up an oar.  Best to call or drop into the CIBC in Bracebridge and make a donation to “Bring Gary Home”.  Tough sledding ahead to be sure, but what a difference a positive attitude can make in life.  Merry Christmas Gary & Gayle.  Words do not do justice.

Elevator F

Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Business & Marketing

Elevator F

Recently I invested some time in the big smoke of Toronto, visiting Clients and Agencies.  An annual ‘trek’ so to speak.  To understate the current Traffic picture would be to say that it is ‘different’ than 11 years ago prior to moving to Muskoka.  I’m used to driving into the city, visiting our delightful children and wonderful G kids, staying a night or two and then getting outta dodge.  Typically we pick the times to travel and aside from the potential disasters on 400 south and 401 east, we’ve been ok with it.  This road trip however scheduled me downtown three times in the early and mid-weekday hours, and several drives in afternoon rush hour.  I know, you could say “Buck up Johnny, it’s life in TO”, so im good with that.  Frustrating, but what can you do?  Listen to Radio.

What DID occur on one visit down to the foot of Bay Street, was a request by a double sided bank of elevators – five deep on each side.  The elevator asked me: “What Floor?”  I entered my number obediently, then it directed me to go to: “Elevator F”.  Wow!  Again, obediently, I stood in front of Elevator F, awaiting the doors to ‘open saaz me’.   Miraculously, they did, and as I walked in with other obedient souls, I noticed on the inner key pad that my floor had already been selected!  Technology.  Never embarrassed to ask a stupid question, I quizzed the assembled group “Is this new?”  I was informed that this was not a totally ridiculous question, that indeed, it WAS quite new.  Relived, I made a mental note to blog about new technology.

Two hours later, I stood in front of one of the last (it seems) remaining above ground downtown parking lots, facing the devise pictured above here.  There were two devices of course, and after 15 minutes fiddling around (with a crowd gathered, offering advice and encouragement), it was determined that my one machine did not work.  Here you must enter your license plate FIRST, then your cash or credit card, then how much time you want, at $5 per ½ hour.  Hmmm what will they think of next?  I then retreated  back to my vehicle to place my well earned ticket in my windshield.  Obedience is a must if you want to succeed in downtown Toronto.

Peggy Peterson’s Turtle Island

Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Business & Marketing

Peggy Peterson’s Turtle Island

Have you met Peggy Peterson?   You should visit her.  While you cannot see her in this picture, she is occupying much of the very contentious ground (gorgeous middle bottom of photo) that early explorer David Thompson portaged on many years ago.

There have been a few articles about Peggy’s effort in the local papers and THIS ONE from the TorStar / Metroland Group is decent.  Gets the point across with some information about her, why she is protesting in Bala ( not her home ) and what she hopes to accomplish.

When i met Peggy, i was taken with her positive  up-beat spirit, which after 50 some odd days camping out in various tents on “Turtle Island” is a testament to her strength and beliefs in our environment, culture and heritage.

There is often a small gang of supporters around the encampment.  For many weeks now, and especially during Thanksgiving  and Cranberry Festival, interest-seekers come by offering water, food, wood, coffee and verbal thank you’s to help get her through each day.  I must confess, the amount of rain and cold weather (and wind storms) that Peggy has endured is incredible.  Not sure that i would have the intestinal fortitude to do what she has done for the community of Bala and Muskoka in general.  Humbled i am.

As a marketing / branding type of fellow, I am amazed that, what is called Burgess Island (for many good historical reasons) has suddenly become “Turtle Island”.  Peggy got to know some ‘blanding’ turtles   (an endangered species) as they crossed her path, and the rest is history.  She is here to protect the trees,  our Muskoka LORAX   (check it out)

The bottom line here may be what the Wahta Mohawks, the Shawanaga First Nations and the Williams Treaties First Nations can do to be effective with our Ontario Premiere, Kathleen Wynne and Federal MP, Tony Clement.  Need i mention our Hon. Prime Minster?  Do they care about Bala?  I think Tony does.  Will there be a payout to the Proponent?  “PAY THEM OUT”  i say!  By now, hopefully it’s obvious, a dreadful mistake was made 9 years ago.

As Mitchell Shnier points out, the Bala Falls in Muskoka are unique from 18 other  nearby hydro-electric generating stations in Ontario. Our Falls are not off in some isolated river. These falls are a centre piece of Muskoka, a key part of tourism and it’s economic engine.  An historical landscape to be protected.

Peggy Peterson knows these falls are unique.  She knows that ‘Turtle Island’ is unique and that we don’t need or want a power plant in Bala.  God bless you Peggy… for adding some additional life, zest and positive spirit to our cause.   Thank you!








No Bala Land Lease? What’s the Answer?

Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Business & Marketing

No Bala Land Lease?  What’s the Answer?

Good Day.  Short and to the point.   An important letter to read about the status of the Bala Land Lease and how this effects the proponent’s ability to start any construction of the power plant or destroy the trees and landscape in Bala.  Please click on ‘letter’ link to learn more.