Archive for December, 2010


Christmas 2010 has come and gone and I hope all enjoyed the holiday. One of the changes that getting older has brought is I don’t have to wake children to open gifts. It wasn’t like that in times past. I still remember waking up at 5:00 a.m. and hearing whispering coming from the living room where the two older boys were sitting by the gifts excitedly speculating on the contents. I must confess I don’t miss the midnight building sessions – trying to be quiet while in the midst of the construction of a gift, or two. Gift cards may be impersonal but they do have benefits.

This year, Santa was very good to me as my family gave me a Kindle.

The Kindle in its 'off'' mode

The Kindle is Amazon’s e-reader. It uses e-ink rather than a backlit screen on most computers. The advantage is very clear text that is very easy to read, even in direct sunlight. It is only black and while and lacks the bells and whistles of its computer competitors. But it is a brilliant design. It weighs only 8.7 oz. and is about the thickness of 3 toonies. I was given the version that has both Wi-Fi and 3G installed.

When I registered the device, Amazon sent a welcome letter back. In the letter, they explain the design philosophy – they want you to forget you are using an electronic device but to enjoy the book you are reading. And it works. I have used PDAs as e-readers for about 10 years and this is just about perfect. I am very impressed – and am enjoying sitting back in the La-Z-Boy and “reading” a book. Great stuff.

I am currently reading the biography of John D Rockefeller.

Thank you family!


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When I first started writing my blog, I posted an entry that explained why I was blogging – or so I thought. However, I am starting to find a different purpose for my writing – that of a family history. This is a little bit of a surprise but in some ways it does make sense.

When Dad passed away in 1994, a friend at the office who had recently lost her father, sent me a note that said that I should consider writing down our family stories. Her experience had been no one in the family had been documenting their past and now she found there was a large void for her generation and those yet to come. This is also sort of along the lines of my friend’s recent advice to label all your old photos. I have to tried to follow Linda”s advice on more than one occasion but I tried to tell our stories in chronological order and soon got bogged down each time. The blog is almost stream of consciousness and so I think I will have better success with this strategy.

So, inter-spaced with other ramblings in the blog will be snippets of Waddell history. Feel free to pass them over if you wish or see if our history resonates with your own. And I probably should tell the kids to look at this once in a while.

Merry Christmas and a joyous and peaceful 2011 to all.

A postscript: Some of my song writing friends sleep with pen and paper by the bed – this is being written on my netbook at 3:30 in the morning. Just another way to capture the thoughts that come in the night. And maybe one of these days, a song for Don.

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First Guitar

I think I was around 13 when I got my first guitar. It was a Christmas gift and arrived in its own custom cardboard case. I think my parents purchased it from Simpsons/Sears and it wasn’t very expensive. The guitar was a brand name instrument – a Saturn. It had a wide neck and the strings felt like cables at first. The major flaw in the instrument, aside that it was cheap, hard to play and didn’t sound particularly good, was there were no metal sleeves for the tuners. This meant as the wood expanded, the tuners would stick and it was almost impossible to turn the tuning keys.

I think my parents never expected me to continue with the guitar. I had been offered piano lessons a number of years before and I had turned them down. And I had applied to be in our public school brass band but didn’t get a high enough score on the entrance test to qualify. But I really liked music. There were all sorts of records around the house – most of them 78s. My dad was a big opera fan but that didn’t go over. We had a lot of Scottish traditional music but that was a little too old fashioned. But classical music was another thing altogether. I spent hours listening to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and my favourite, Bach. And when you are 12 years old and the Beatles were just breaking in North America – it didn’t get much better. I still recall my buddy Luke and I singing ‘She Loves You’ as loud as we could in his bedroom. As well, I can remember having a radio from an early age. The best fun was to wait until after dark and then see how many radio stations I could hear and how far away they were. WSM from Nashville was always a fun one to listen to – not bad for a $15 radio with no aerial in Toronto.

However, the guitar did its job and I was hooked.

My first guitar being used as a prop

I was a member of the camera club in high school (and the science club as well – let’s get it out in the open). We had several sessions where girls from school volunteered as models and I brought in my Saturn as a prop. As a keen eye may notice, she was not a player – in fact, sadly, I don’t even remember her name.

My first music book was Gordon Lightfoot’s first album and I must have driven my parents crazy with the same songs over and over. It didn’t take too long to outgrow the Saturn and I bought a Harmony Rocket – a semi-acoustic (a Gibson ES-335 copy) from one of my girlfriends. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and I have seen Rockets selling for upwards of $1000 today. Still, the Saturn was the guitar that started my playing and after all these years I am playing more than I have in a long while. It is very good for the soul.

An arty shot of my Saturn guitar with a Phil Ochs songbook

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Borrowed from a friend’s blog … thanks Robyn!

On the 12th day of Christmas, my human gave to me:

12 milk bones
11 deer to race
10 car rides
9 mailmen chased
8 hidden bones
7 swimming swans
6 rabbits bounding
5 squirming mice
4 falling birds
3 dead squirrels
2 chew toys,
and a long long nap on a soft bed


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Don and I playing the Carrot open stage

The Carrot is a little coffee house that hosts an open stage on Saturday nights. It is a very friendly little place on 118 Ave near the Bissell Centre. This was my first time playing there. Don was accompanying on the Irish Bouzouki. (And yes, my eyes are open but it is hard to tell in the picture.)

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A recent post on The Online Photographer blog (which is an excellent source of photographic information BTW) said in the last two years, sales of “point and shoot” digital cameras declined by nearly 16%. Quoting an article in the New York Times, the blog indicated the issue with “point and shoots” is they are single-use devices. With the improvement in camera technology in smartphones and the like, people are opting for a multi-use device over a dedicated piece of photographic equipment – at least at the entry level. To back this up, currently on Flickr the most popular “camera” is the Apple iPhone 3G, followed by four digital SLRs.

The first digital camera I ever used was a Sony Mavica that used a 3½ inch floppy to record the image. This was in the late 1990s and I believe the camera cost over $600 at the time. My first digital was an Olympus C-340 3.2 megapixel camera, which I bought in 2004 and cost around $400. It was a good camera that had a 10x zoom lens but having used SLRs over the years, I really wanted to get a digital SLR. Since my main film camera was a Canon EOS 630, it made sense to go to the Canon system. I bought my 20D in 2006 and have used it ever since. But in digital years (think of dog years), four years is now an eternity.

My thought here is if the digital “point and shoot” is falling out of favour over multi-use devices such as smartphones – what’s next? CDs are being slowly phased out because of online music services and CDs have been around since the early 1980s – 30 years. Digital “point and shoots” are only about 20 years old. I know there will be diehards who hang on to older technology such as vinyl records but what is the cost of faster changing technology? What stresses does it add to everyday life? And where does it end?

One of the fellows who used to play in our band went to work at Microsoft in the early 1980s. On one of his first visits back, he shared a thought that left a lasting impression on me; “If you can buy it, it is obsolete“.

I think this is more than just the ever faster changes in technology. In my opinion, the rate of change is as much an issue as the change itself. I believe there is more to this than just cameras. As I develop my thoughts on this, I will explore more of this in a further post.

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Comfort Food

It ain’t perfect … but it’s real.

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