home acquires a new Name and a new Power source
In the summer of
2005, we decided to name our still-new-to-us home Aanimad, which is
Ojibwe for "the wind blows wildly here". We have always been aware
of that characteristic, and started researching the use of wind energy
shortly after we moved in. Now, after much work and learning, we
have installed a wind turbine generator on our property.
The turbine itself is a Lakota 1kW generator, attached to a 46' tilt-up
tower, as shown at left. The power (wild AC) feeds into a controller
where it is converted to 24V DC power and stored in a bank of 4 flooded lead
acid deep cycle batteries.
The tower anchors employ my own innovative design. All 8 guy wires are
permanently swaged to turnbuckles at the base. By completely
unscrewing the turnbuckles at the 'tow' anchor (see right), the
resulting eye-bolts can be dropped directly into 2 drilled holes on the
'gin' pole (showing lying on the ground at left), and attached with a
pair of nuts, allowing for quick and easy transfers to the gin pole for
raising and lowering.
The turnbuckles allow for adjustment, although the anchors were placed with
enough precision that the whole tower can be raised and lowered without
altering the other 3 anchors. The tow anchor also features a built-in
roller and tow cable guide. (If necessary, a single person can lower
and raise the tower!)
My cousin the
awesome painter has a new web site
Christopher Wallace, who I grew up with as a kid in Nova Scotia, is a
world-class painter who is beginning to get some serious attention in
artistic circles. He just launched a web site, so I'm putting in a
plug here. I have a few of his pieces, but not enough. This
is Alex Colville meets Andrew Wyeth.
Check it out.
Brilliant composition; meticulous execution; scenes that tell a quiet
for Elswyth and me!
For some time
now, I have wondered about the wisdom of pursuing a home-based and
outdoor-oriented career from downtown Toronto.
Elswyth, the love
of my life, and I have made occasional forays into the country to see
what was available outside the city. About a year ago, I sat down
and contemplated buying some land and building a house. I
completed the rough blueprints and even a simple construction model of a
post and beam house built into a hill. Last July, Elswyth sold her
house and moved into here at 5 Selkirk Street. We've been very
happy and very cramped ever since. Then a few weeks ago, she found
a house on the internet that looked very familiar... a house that
was somewhat similar to the one we had contemplated building. It
is not a century home, which was her preference, but we thought we
better check it out.
It was overpriced, unfinished, and the layout of awkward things like
fireplaces was not great. Still, we saw great possibilities, the view
is spectacular, and we're not shy about putting in the work to bring it all
together. And so began the negotiations...
At last we reached an agreement that we could all live with, and the deal
was done (and closes in January, 2004). The property is in Alton in the Caledon hills, just south of
Orangeville, Ontario. Toronto is 45-60 minutes away, which is a bit of
a stretch, but we have an answer for that, at least in the short term.
The concept is to keep the current house on Selkirk Street, create a small
apartment in the lower portion, and the rent the rest of the place out.
That way we will have a downtown apartment for early meetings and late
shows. Besides, as a teacher, Elswyth will still have to be in town
until June. Needless to say, we are very excited!
before 40? Well, YES! Sort of...
The rumours are true. I officially retired on November 22, 2002. Did I win the lottery?
No. "But how can you afford to stop working?" everyone asks.
My response is often the same: "Who in this day and age stops working
when they retire?" Probably some people do, but I haven't met
them, and that certainly isn't me. So what does retirement mean if
I'm still working?
Retirement is a state of mind.
Retirement says you are no longer pressured to do work that does not
suit you. Retirement means that you make very conscious choices on
where you spend your time, based on how much a project interests you,
not what it is worth to others. Retirement is doing things
differently from how you used to them. Retirement, properly
executed, removes those sources of stress that decrease your number of
days in this existence, and lower your enjoyment level on the days that
it leaves you with.
So what changed after November 22, 2002?
Number one: my attitude and approach to 'work'. The definition of
my retirement continues to take shape and evolve, but there are other
more concrete changes planned. I hope to close down my home office
as much as possible. That means that my paid work will be measured
in hours and specific contracts spent outside my home. Report
writing, design work, and open-ended projects will be dramatically
reduced. In the words of a good friend:
"Life is about living according to your values and your dreams. Not just
about work, productivity, and financial concerns."
Experiential Education Practitioners Symposium
One of my major 'retirement projects' is to create a
new industry conference. I've had the plan in my head for this
conference for almost three years. At last it is a reality, and
the first symposium will take place in April 2003. I am very
excited by this project and the interest that it has already generated
within the industry in Canada. I'm also quite proud of the CEEPS
web site, which was created in a matter of days and quickly received
over 100 hits. Please check it out.
My first animation feature
I figure I've worn just about every hat in the theatre business, but
there was always one thing I longed to get into, and only one thing I
could stand to do professionally - animation voice work. A very
twisted chain of fates re-connected me with Steve Hutton, an old
acquaintance from Waterloo. Steve is a a film producer who does
technical writing for IBM as a hobby - or so he claims. (We all
know which one pays the bills - at least for now.) Anyway, Steve
had just finished shooting his first independent film and was casting
voices for his new 'gay zombie vampiric film noire' animated short, called
"The Night Life"
The main character, Dick Gumshoe, is a private investigator, and he
asked me to do it. We went into the studio a number of months ago
and had a blast. The animation work is still underway, but you can
some of it
of the rough product (as a 2M QuickTime movie file, which
also works with Real Player, but doesn't seem to work with Windows Media
Player). My only regret is that most of my lines were taped near
the end of the day when you don't get that same 'gravel in the pipes'.
The final cut should be ready early in the new year.
Career? Which career?
In 1999, I announced that I had undertaken to rapidly
phase out all programming aspects of my consulting business. (After
25 years of programming, I decided that it was time for a significant
change.) I also substantially reduced my systems management consulting
projects. That plan worked quite well - I
reduced myself to effectively one client (in Wisconsin) and occasional
chats with an old client in Florida. HOWEVER,
every once in a while, someone stumbles on to this web site and decides to
call and see if I can help them out with some systems issue. If this is
you, then the answer is YES, I usually can, but some of my knowledge is
out of date and I do not take on any projects requiring ongoing
development or support. If you want to
read my bio for the old career, click here.
In its stead, I am now well entrenched in a new career
designing and delivering experiential education programs. What is
experiential education? Well you might want to check out the
web site of the
Association for Experiential Education, or better yet, the new
web site of the Delta Synergy Group,
a consulting firm that I am currently
affiliated with. I
facilitate learning in the corporate community by creating environments
where knowledge can be acquired and shared. The
theory of experience-based training and development is that participants
retain a vastly higher proportion of knowledge when they acquire it
themselves through active engagement - in essence: doing
something, rather than reading, hearing, or seeing something.
Work that allows me to combine my business
background, climbing skills, and theatre improvisation is a dream come
As an experiential education facilitator, I work with
teams of people to create their own learning. The typical process is
actually quite simple (on the surface):
Determine their needs.
Provide an experience that might (metaphorically or
directly) recreate that need.
Give them an opportunity to succeed with that experience.
Reflect back on the experience. "What
Generalize behaviours from that reflection. "So what
does that say about us in other experiences?"
Turn generalizations into action plans. "Now what
can we do differently in the future?"
If you still don't quite understand, I finally have a
I have been very pleased with the rapid progress of my new
career. I started as an Assistant
Facilitator at the beginning of 1999. In
October of that year, I moved up to full Facilitator level.
14 months later, I joined the program
design team with Lead Facilitator status, and was delivering programs on
my own. Last October, I was promoted to
Ropes Course Manager, in recognition of my ongoing training and experience
as a challenge ropes course leader. As of
January, I was offered the position of Director of Resource Development
for the company. In addition to program
design and lead duties, I will be responsible for maintaining technical
equipment, facilitating ongoing training of Delta Synergy staff, and
updating literature and web site articles.
I also get to work with groups of students, mainly junior
high school, by conducting leadership and outdoor education sessions at
the Bark Lake Leadership Centre
near Haliburton, Ontario.
As for my theatre
career, I essentially left the professional side of things a number of
years ago, although I do appear in the
Internet Movie Database! I did not have the time (no surprise there) or the interest in
pursuing productions in that industry, however I
still do occasionally work as a murder mystery actor or lighting designer,
and I have kept up my ACTRA membership. I have also been known to take on
non-paying projects both on-stage and off-stage, however the production
has to fit my schedule and be of significant interest to me.
Trip to Africa - 1999
(It is now a little dated news-wise, but it is one of the most
popular parts of this web site.) For those of you who might recall my
1993 mountaineering trip to Nepal, I once again responded to the call
of the wild in 1999. This time it was Africa. My travelogue
tells the whole story.