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A CONVO OVER COFFEE

 WHERE DOES THIS CREATIVITY AND MOTIVATION COME FROM? 

 I won the genetic lottery, its random, luck. 

 

HOW DOES  ADVENTURING AND FIRE FIGHTING RELATE TO ART? 

 All three are about taking a calculated risk. 

 WHAT'S THE SCARIEST THING YOU EVER DID? 

 Fell in love. 

 

"Caffeine, treadmill for the brain."
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How would you describe your creative process?

 I work with a practiced level of concentration yet I'm 

 relaxed and ready to respond to my thoughts and ideas. 

Is it the same in the Fire Department?

 It's similar but different, it begins with concentration and is   supported by training.  An emergency doesn't offer time to   think so you need to respond quickly and act with purpose.   Being creative isn't an emergency but requires a level of   spontaneity and confidence to be successful. 

What keeps an emergency scene together? 

 When you train with intent and accurately identify the   priorities at the scene then you'll see what opportunities 

 are available and how best to deploy resources and   people. Once that's in play you then have actions to 

 focus on. 

How do you avoid being overwhelmed?

 Being familiar with certain fire behaviours gives you the   edge because you're able to quickly identify threats and   decide on being either offensive or defensive. Also, having 

 the support of well trained people helps. 

What does it mean to be a professional? 

 Every decision I made was peer reviewed and each year 

 there was a list of re-certifications so I was expected to   consistently perform at the highest levels. The little success   I've had with my art is because I understood how to apply   these fundamentals to being creative. As a result I was  

 taken seriously. 

What are some of your musical influences?

 I graduated in 1972 so that's where I'm coming from 

 but I enjoy any music that has relatable emotional 

 content. 

What's your biggest achievement with your art?

 Raising over 35K for the White Helmets in 

 Syria in 2015. 

How did you get involved?

 Caught the news clip, got angry and responded effectively. 

What's the biggest take away from the fire department?

 There were a lot of personal moments with all kinds of 

 people suffering and in trouble . I didn't always want to see   what was in front of me but someone has to help and this 

 real connection with strangers stays with me. 

What's the take away from adventuring?

 The climbing partnerships and experiencing the highest   levels of trust that we had in each other. It was this shared   human experience I wanted. 

You have each other's lives in your hands.

 Definitely, the insecurity in climbing comes from 

 those conditions that can't be anticipated but 

 the security comes from those unspoken words 

 like whatever happens we'll act together. 

What's the take away from Outward Bound?

 As a student their 3 principals, to serve, 

 to strive and not to yield vibrated the threads 

 of my soul to say the least. Especially to strive 

 which emphasized the importance of trying. As an instructor   it was satisfying to help people discover what called the 

 'deeper you'. This happens when we overcome a challenge   we believed wasn't possible and that spontaneous joy   we experience is the 'deeper you'. Give yourself 

 good reason to believe in yourself and everything 

 else follows. 

What's life like in a fire hall?

 It has a lot of dynamic tension to it, you need to be relaxed   but also ready to perform at your best in the time it takes to   arrive on scene. 

 

Saving a life must demand the most from you.

 It does and it's intense for everyone. I dealt with it by being   hyper vigilante in my training and preparation. I wanted to   give people the best chance of rescue and recovery. 

People look up to fire fighters and see them as heroes.

 We're not heroes but well trained people. To me the heroes   are the ones who witness an emergency and act without   waiting for us to arrive. That impresses me, they're great   human beings. 

You still go towards danger lights and siren.

 True, but even that is calculated. As soon as 

 hear the address I begin thinking of what I 

 know of the area in terms of where is the 

 closest water source and what kind of water 

 pressure can I expect. Also, what options are there in terms of   access and are there restrictions for the ladder truck. We do a   lot of pre planning and property inspections so we end up with   meaningful first hand knowledge of our area which also helps. 

Driving the fire truck is not something everyone gets to do. 

 Theres a saying around the hall that nothing good comes 

 from driving. These trucks are big and don't stop as easily 

 as a car. In every aspect of the job you're held accountable 

 and no role is more important than driving safely for the sake   the public and the crew. I knew what was expected of me 

 and I maintained a due diligence so all went well. In a way 

 as I driver I felt like I was the king of the road. 

Did you dream as a kid of driving a fire truck? 

 I grew up watching rescue shows like the 'Whirly Birds' 

 and Rescue 8 and I felt a connection to the role of helping   people. When I worked in the world of mountain rescue and 

 wilderness first aid, although I didn't know it then, but this   experience was going to lead to being a driver operator. 

How old were you when you were hired? 

 31, and like each decade it brings with it a moment when 

 you reassess your place and decide if where you're headed 

 is really where you want to go. I didn't really want to leave 

 behind the people or the profession but I felt there were 

 other opportunities out there and if I didn't take the risk 

 then I would never know. 

Any regrets?

 No, the fire department gave me more than I bargained for 

 in terms of a real connection with people, a community and 

 the opportunity of working with a great group of men and   women. 

More than you bargained for, like what? 

 I witnessed many scenes of bravery by people seriously 

 hurt yet they kept their composure and were patient as we 

 worked out their rescue. It was their trust in us that I found 

 so humbling. 

How controversial was it when women were hired?

 For some it was a problem but I learned to climb in the 

 mid seventies from women as well as men so I had no 

 gender issues. Women often climb differently than 

 men, they taught me to be more thoughtful and 

 precise with my movement and to not always 

 muscle my way through problems. It's an approach 

 that has influenced many of the actions and choices 

 I've made in life. 

What about carrying somebody out of a fire? 

 Well to begin with that's a myth, this idea of lifting 

 an unconscious person and slinging them over your 

 shoulder doesn't work because it's extremely awkward 

 and difficult. Dragging someone is still hard but it's what   happens in real life. Adrenalin helps but it has limitations, 

 I go back to what I learned from the women who taught me 

 to climb, technique over muscle most often wins the day. 

Was retirement a difficult decision? 

 A little, the crew I had in my last years of being a Captain 

 were self motivated and believed in my system. I treated 

 them as adults and they responded. On the fire ground they   knew that their safety was always on my mind. Also, I made   decisions that made sense and that's really what it comes   down to, so yes, it was difficult to leave that behind. 

Do you miss it?

 Honestly I don't. It was a relief in a way to finally remove 

 the burden of responsibility. Just like at age 31 there came 

 that moment of reflection when I realized that after having 

 all my professional decisions peer reviewed and all the   concerns for the safety of the crew I had achieved a level 

 of credibility. That was always important to me so leaving on   my terms was a smart play. Once I made the decision some   folks began expressing things like, "hate to see you go" or, 

 "you were one of the good ones" that I realized they still 

 liked me and what better time is there to go. 

Where were you when the attacks happened on 9/11? 

 Having breakfast at friend's restaurant enjoying the company 

 of half a dozen regulars. A small tv was on in the background 

 and from this benign setting we were, along with the rest of   the world, pulled into the darkest shadows of humanity. 

What were your first thoughts? 

 Same as everyone else's, how can this be? Then as events 

 unfolded and we watched the dangers escalating everyone 

 in the restaurant shared, again what the world was  experiencing, a deep distress. 

You must have felt a fellowship with the FDNY. 

 Definitely, no one prepares for or can even imagine a scene 

 so destructive especially one that involves so many people 

 in need of rescue. Their training and experience could only   take them so far. I watched as they assembled themselves 

 within the structure of incident command and do their best 

 to respond to those people who were within their reach and   those who had the best chance of being evacuated. 

So they knew people were going to be left behind? 

 Unfortunately, yes. As I watched it was obvious those on 

 the fire floors and those above wouldn't be going home. 

 We have a 15 floor apartment building in Delta and we drilled 

 regularly in moving equipment and ourselves up the stairwells. 

 It takes time especially in full gear, the towers had 110 floors,   that's over 1300' with many paths of egress destroyed and   over 20,000 people in both towers filling the escape routes. 

 It took responding fire fighters an hour to reach the 30th floor.   By that time they would've understood how bleak the scene   was and the longer it went on the responders would've known   that because they were so committed that they weren't going   home. 

Isn't there a heroism in that? 

 Without question but most fire fighters never experience that 

 higher level call to duty. We're ready to respond to it and that 

 is the essence of fire fighting. 

Did 9/11 change the way you look at the job?

 No, in fact it strengthened my resolve and commitment to give 

 those in need the best chance of rescue. When emergencies   happen someone has to help and that means being all in. 

Being 'all in' is a common theme with you. 

 It's the experience I wanted in life. 

What are your thoughts on these record setting wild fires? 

 I've been advocating for the enhancement of public 

 education with emphasis on the best defence being 

 early and voluntary evacuation.  Residents need to take 

 some responsibility and pay attention to fires that have 

 strong winds and high temperatures accompanying them. 

 This is especially true of areas experiencing drought 

 conditions. 

Is your home town of Whistler vulnerable to a large fire? 

 Yes, it has the advantage of a lake large enough to support 

 air tankers and there are the other necessary resources 

 close by. However, as I pointed out to some whom I thought 

 were over confident and complacent because of these 

 advantages, we've already experienced heavy smoke 

 conditions that reduced visibility to the point that no air 

 craft are flying. When this happens the fire will go where 

 it wants. That's when the shit storm happens. In those heavy   smoke conditions I'm ready to act by following through with 

 an early and voluntary evacuation. 

Any songs come about from these large fires? 

 Yes, during the 2003 fire in Kelowna a song called, 'Running'. 

 I was on holidays and across the lake when the 

 fire started. For the next 10 days I watched 

 as it grew in size and intensity.  At it's peak I 

 wrote the song and recorded the reporting 

 and live phone in conversations on the 

 radio. What you hear in the song are those 

 clips. 

 

What's aspects of being an artist do you enjoy?

 My mission statement for my art is, be honest be expressive.   Staying true to this has become a meaningful human   experience regardless of success. 

What are you thoughts on AI and art?

 AI is plagiarism and I'll put my songs up against it anytime. 

What's your songwriting process?

 Playing the guitar was a way to take my mind away from 

 professional responsibilities and this began at Outward   Bound. Songs would emerge and I came to believe in this   process. I still love to hang out with the guitar and every 

 now and then I hit a note and think, wow, where did you 

 come from? 

The risk taking is in the emotional commitment?  

 Exactly, it's also where you find authenticity. 

How do you define 'flow'?

 Concentrating without thinking. 

And is this the same place your ideas come from? 

 Yes, but there's also times when I get this feeling like we've 

 all had where I get the sense that someone out of view is   looking at me. It's hard to ignore and I'll make an effort to   concentrate on that feeling and see where it leads. 

That sounds intriguing and exciting.

 For sure, the challenge is these moments are fleeting and   they can quickly disappear so being relaxed and ready to   respond is important. It's a lot like watching fireworks, they   get your attention but they're gone just as fast as they came. 

Being relaxed and ready to respond sounds familiar.

 Exactly, many attitudes and disciplines cross over between 

 the professions. 

 

How do you know which way to go with an idea? 

 I trust the first expressions, that being mood and tempo, 

 then I allow myself to settle into that characterization. In 

 a lot of songs I'm drawing on personal experiences and in 

 others it's more observational. With both methods scenes 

 and their emotional content guide the way forward. 

Any tricks to help that along? 

 I'll create a click track that has percussive elements 

 common to the style to keep the vibe happening and the   effort focused. 

Describe what a 'practiced level of concentration' means?

 I keep my mind from getting lazy by making an effort to 

 keep it active. For example, as soon as I stepped into the 

 fire hall I was switched on. Once I walked out door then I   turned it off.  With all the responsibility and the many skills 

 you're required to perform there's no shortage of subjects 

 to practice or ways to improve. 

Coming up with original lyrics must be challenging.

 For me it begins with Be honest Be expressive. After that 

 I work at it. 

How do you know when a song is finished?

 When I'm satisfied that my best effort is on every part of 

 the production and the result is coherent and excites me 

 then I consider it to be a 'musical conclusion' I can live with. 

Your process is really a journey.

 It's a journey of self discovery guided by intuition and 

 curiosity. As the story takes shape deeper motivations,   insights and wisdoms surface. If you're being honest and   expressive you'll elevate your personal growth. 

It sounds like it's something you really enjoy. 

 Definitely, the more fun I have the better I get, the better 

 I get the more fun I have. I'm also very aware that I was 

 lucky to be born in a time when the opportunities to record 

 at home and film independently became available. This 

 really is an empowering time for independent artists. 

Have you ever had writers block?

 What's that? 

How much did the challenges of life contribute?

 A lot. I started writing in my mid thirties and 

 quickly discovered that I had secrets I didn't 

 know I had. It also became apparent that adversity reveals   rather than builds character and if your character isn't 

 coming through it means it's time to grow up. 

Originality is hard to come by these days.

 Bringing anything original or innovative into the world is   exciting and having it be relatable is an unexpected but   welcome reward. Be honest Be expressive is what 

 guides me. 

Some artists refer to their songs as their children. 

 I get that because of all the layers of care you give them 

 but for me the songs are more like souvenirs or messages 

 in a bottle. When you consider that all art is autobiographical   then in my case once a song is finished I'm curious who, if   anyone, finds it and relates to it. When that happens it's 

 always a great connection. Also, there's a lot of nostalgia   attached to the 4 track recordings because they're so raw 

 and expressive. 

 

What do you mean by Analog Love, Techno Mind?

 The first video camera I used was a rental from 7eleven and 

 as technology led us to digital I embraced it. The same is 

 true with the music, I started out recording on a boom box. 

How did Outdoor Living come about?

 The need was there as the one film I found on Hypothermia   consisted of do's & don't's which educates but doesn't inspire   learning. Dramatic action does this really well. 

What are the challenges of this method of teaching?

 Writing natural sounding dialogue and the believability 

 of the actors is what makes it work. 

Everyone is so authentic and the out takes are hilarious.

 The guys would goof off right up to 'action' then 

 they would drop instantly into character like 

 Clooney and Pitt. Being yourself makes 

 everything easier. 

The fact no one had any acting experience is notable.

 Things like speaking on the radio were second nature for   Brian & Bob and being themselves was real easy for Tyler 

 and Doug. It helped that the story was very relatable. 

Education through entertainment was a success.

 Definitely, signing broadcast agreements with 2 PBS stations   was gratifying. They were genuinely excited about being part   of the innovation and everyone involved was proud of the 

 team effort. 

And all the money is on the screen.

 That's right, fortunately during a lift evacuation on Whistler 

 I met the Patagonia rep, he asked what I was filming, I told 

 him about Outdoor Living and on the spot he committed 

 to sending full sets of gear for everyone. Good things can 

 come from good intentions. Not always but this time it did. 

What were the years at 'Outward Bound' like?

 It began in 1973 and went to1985 and I didn't want to be 

 anywhere else. Taking on the responsibility of people's 

 lives was the level of professionalism I was seeking. It's   meant a lifetime of equal parts humility and equal parts 

 confidence. 

Those years also led to an invitation to climb Mt. Everest.

 It did and they're also what got me the job with the Delta 

 Fire Department which meant giving up the Everest climb. 

Was that a hard decision?

 It was because I would be helping a long time friend 

 achieve his goal of making the first handicap ascent 

 of Everest but by the time it came around I had already   decided to change direction

Climbing Everest has become a crowded affair.

 I never thought I would read a headline that called Everest 

 a tourist trap but sadly that's the way it's gone. When you 

 consider traditional climbing is about self sufficiency and 

 unwavering commitment its also predicated on sound   judgement under duress at altitude. That takes time and 

 its importance shouldn't be underestimated. 

Any professional mountain misadventures?

 No, all my decisions stood up and everyone went home. 

Any personal mountain misadventures?

 Nothing serious until age 62 when I did a head jib off a 

 cliff while skiing and ended up fracturing my pelvis. 

How scary was that? 

 After I hit my head I ended up falling head first with my back   facing the cliff. I was in the air long enough to think this is   not going to end well. 

Was it scarier than falling in love?

 Nothing is more frightening than when you first fall in love. 

Was that the end of skiing?

 No, it was a closed fracture and didn't require surgery making   it easier to recover. I was on my skis in 8 weeks.  

How do you manage your fears?

 In the fire department I did so by being hyper vigilant in my 

 training and knowledge. With climbing the risks were well 

 thought out and my choice of climbing partners instilled   confidence in the knowledge that we could work together 

 to solve any problems. My desire and drive to achieve my 

 goals overcame my fears creatively. 

What are your thoughts on streaming and Spotify?

 Streaming makes access to music really easy which is a   great thing. mp3's are higher quality from when they first   came out so with a good set of headphones the listening   experience is enjoyable. The fact that Spotify isn't paying   artists a more fair share pushes them away from creating  

 and pressures them to hustle other ways to get a return on   their efforts. That's not why I pursue my art so that circus   doesn't work for me. I give up the opportunity of more 

 people hearing my songs but I keep my energy and time 

 for creating. 

What other successes have you had with your art? 

 I've signed agreements with a publisher in L.A. who 

 has placed 2 songs in film and T.V. 

How exciting is that? 

 It's an unexpected but welcome reward for sure. It's funny   because the song in the film is playing in the background, so   far in the background if you weren't listening for it you'd never   know it was there. 

Any words for others pursuing their creativity?

 Be honest Be expressive and give yourself time to grow 

 into your process and your art. I can say from experience 

 that putting in a strong effort and achieving long term goals   has a charm all its own. 

Are you a religious or spiritual person?

 Spiritual in the sense that I have a conscience and don't   need religion or a god. Ultimately I believe in the intelligence   of life and helping others. 

Is this where the slogan, helping don't hurt comes from.?

 Yes, however you can't be naive about the world and I'm 

 very discretionary about who I support. I spent a lot of time   finding out about the White Helmets and the videos on 

 YouTube were more than convincing so I knew this was a   group I could and wanted to help. 

What do you mean the 'intelligence of life'?

 To me it means the interconnectivity of nature of which 

 we're part of and the importance of sustainability and   biodiversity. It refers to how changes in temperature 

 ventilate a termite hill or how a desert flower collects 

 water or how a lioness learns to hunt with her sisters. 

 Life has been around a long time over coming the odds 

 by expressing itself through plants, insects, animals and   humans. Geneticsinstincts and intuition are cornerstones 

 to our continued existence. 

Striving for a high standard is a common theme with you.

 Getting it right when it counts is important and there's 

 always room for personal growth along with that. The less   important flaws I have seem to win out more often than not   but fortunately they mostly only hurt me. 

Care to share any of them?

 I'm the king of faux pas and I should never be around 

 people without underarm protection. 

Are you a control freak? 

 I've been called that by people who haven't worked with 

 me and those who don't know me. People closer to me know   I'm secure in my abilities so I'm not threatened by anyone and   as a result I can listen to others and act for the greater 

 good. Also, I know I don't have all the answers and as   Incident Command if I didn't have an answer then I had a   radio to find someone who did. With the art I put my trust in   my vision so I knew where I wanted to go. Quite the opposite   of someone who is fixed and a 'hard ass'. 

Questions of mental health come up often with artists. 

 Legitimately so, creativity is a lot like the effort required to   climb a serious mountain, you need to be all in but you also   need to come back. I don't abuse any substance, I don't drink   and best of all I'm not moody. The professional standards I've 

 been held to helped me to become emotionally grounded and   reliable which also works not just in the art realm but in life. 

How did you make out during COVID?

 I was 4 years into my recording project and experiencing 

 the most productive and creative time of my life so I was 

 already spending every day in the studio. The lock down 

 was restrictive but because I lived in a low density area 

 was also outside as much as I wanted to be. 

What do you think of the way the lockdown was handled? 

 Canada was in a position to act ahead of it showing up but 

 they waited until it showed up in the community. That was 

 too late. In 24 hours we went from being busy with who 

 and what we loved to uncertainty and it didn't need to 

 go down like that. 

What would've been a better response?  

 We have something called the Canadian Pandemic 

 Influenza Preparedness. It's a comprehensive 

 document written after MERS and SARS which 

 provides operational advice and technical guidance 

 for the Health Sector. It identifies the triggers for a 

 response and this supports why I'm saying their response 

 was too slow, the triggers were there and they weren't taking   the advancement of the virus seriously. Canadians deserved   the benefit of this document and the level of protection and   care its designed to provide. 

Do you have any home truths you want to share?

 I staked my 'claim', which means I was fortunate to know 

 what I wanted in life. I watched my side of the street and 

 got it right when it counted. That continues to work for me. 

How did you deal with grief? 

 The first time around I slowly realized that it's ok in the first 

 3 months to both hang on to and feel the pain but after 3   months I needed to let it go. I still carried the pain but I 

 understood that I had to learn to live with it. 

 

Is there a secret to life? 

 Sure, the secret is, there is no secret, secrets are for selling   books. You know, some questions don't have answers, they're   just part of life and we have to learn to live with it. 

Is age just a number?

 Only if you're healthy, living with age related struggles can   quickly wear you down. I'm really grateful because I'm going 

 into my 70's healthy and energized which gives me the 

 opportunity to still take risks, the only difference is if I get 

 it wrong no one gets hurt. 

What are the cornerstones to your success?

 Professionally I focused on due diligence while having a deep   appreciation of what my responsibilities were which was the 

 safety of other people's lives. I developed a very practiced   level of concentration which enhanced my performance and   led to consistency which then builds confidence. Also, I had 

 a holistic approach to the high expectations of guiding,   forecasting and fire fighting. 

Can you comment further on what music means to you? 

 I think it's a fundamental need for all of us to feel like we're 

 being understood so experiencing this through music and 

 with others is vital. If I'm listening on my own then the music 

 is like having another person in the room. Either way, I'm   finding that place where I'm most comfortable and secure. 

How amazing is it to be creating your own? 

 Well, I feel grateful and lucky to have these skills that give 

 me an opportunity to experience life in a very personal and 

 meaningful way. The fact that others find the music relatable 

 has a charm all it's own as well. 

You had some higher profile mentors, how much did that help? 

 Immensely, the fact that they invited me into their world was   enough to motivate and inspire me to consistently deliver my 

 best effort. Striving for and achieving the highest standards   revealed my character and potential. I was lucky to have this   level of support and I made it work for me.  

Did you design and build your website?

 Yes and I own all the all the rights to the music and most  

 of the images and video. With the stock video I paid a fee to   license the media or made a donation to the artist. 

 

Any last comment? 

 From the fire department and the randomness of life I would 

 say, in the end the only thing we take with us is the love we 

 leave behind. Helping don't hurt. 

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