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Pat Dryburgh

Got home late last night from visiting my friend Carly and her musical companions who were rehearsing for her album release party happening this Friday July 23 at London Brewing Co-operative.

I’m really excited to attend my first concert since lockdown began. The last public performance I attended was Kill Tony at the world famous Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California on Monday March 9, 2020. The virus was being discussed, but things didn’t lock down until a couple days after I got home. The idea that we wouldn’t be able to attend a live performance for more than a year was inconceivable at the time.

This has been a difficult time for everyone. While in no way do I expect things to ever return to “normal,” it’s nice that some things from The Days Before are starting to happen again.

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I’ve been meaning to write about the arrival of the 88 Keys of Light project to downtown London. I haven’t had a chance to go see my friend Edward’s amazing work in person, but now I’m really sad I didn’t. After spending 45 days delighting thousands of people on a street corner in Toronto, the piano was vandalized just days after moving to London. The keys were broken rendering the piano unplayable and the stool smashed, causing my friend to have to add plexiglass to prevent further damage.

Thankfully the buttons that trigger the preprogrammed song and light demonstrations still work and surveillance has been increased in the area where the piano is currently on display. If you are in the London area, check out 88 Keys of Light at Covent Garden Market Square at 130 King St.

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My younger brother, Rob, recently founded Team Hawk Canada with the aim to motivate, educate, and empower people through storytelling. His experience becoming a Master Parachute Rigger and a member of the Skyhawks military parachute demonstration team taught Rob important lessons about discipline and determination that have been an inspiration to me and many others.

After 508 jumps and suffering a career-ending injury, Rob medically released from the military and began the long, difficult process of rehabilitation. Recently, Rob was a guest on the Spill It! podcast to share his story.

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What happens when you blend together a piano, 5 acoustic guitars, 120m of wiring, a massive array of LEDs controlled by a computer, 6 buttons to trigger renditions of popular songs, and an Augmented Reality experience?

My friend Edward Platero and his partner in art (artner?), Kristyn Watterworth answered that extremely specific question with their wonderful 88 Keys of Light interactive art installation. The installation has been set up in Toronto for the last month or so, but will be heading to other cities over the summer months.

During a time of darkness, it’s nice to experience a bit of light.

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Billy Dryburgh

I grew up with dogs. Samantha, a beautiful and gentle sheep dog, was around when I was first born. When she passed, our family got Mandy, a bearded collie who sadly had to be re-homed because she was too rambunctious for my then-just-a-toddler sibling. When we were all a bit older we got Samantha II, another bearded collie we all loved until the day she passed of old age.

I always dreamed of having my own dog one day. I once made getting a dog a reward back when I was trying to lose weight. I reached the goal I had set, but never got the dog. My life was still heavily oriented around travel, a hectic work schedule, and a lack of desire to settle down.

This past autumn, I made the move from Vancouver and shortly after bought my first house, a bungalow with a fenced-in backyard in a neighbourhood by the Thames River and its beautiful trails.

Once I had unpacked my belongings and felt settled in, I began the search for my first puppy. My initial plan was to adopt, however there weren’t any available in London and very few within a reasonable distance who were either not my preferred breed or too high-needs for my level of experience.

I had decided I was willing to wait for the right dog to come up for adoption, however in early January I found an opportunity to purchase a puppy who otherwise would have ended up at the pound. After meeting with the owner and their 8 week old puppy and feeling its friendliness and energy, I knew I’d found my puppy.

On January 3, Billy Dryburgh came home. A Great Pyrenees mix, Billy is full of energy and lots of love to share with everyone he meets. He loves to chew, play fetch and tug-of-war, and cuddle. His favourite treats are dehydrated pig ears and large beef knuckles. His favourite toy is anything that makes noise.

Oh, and nap. Boy, does he love to nap.

Billy napping
Billy in the Snow
Billy napping again
Billy chewing a beef knuckle
Billy in the car
Billy on a walk

It’s been amazing to see him grow and learn over the last few months. Billy and I begin dog training on Monday and I can’t wait for all of the adventures we’ll have in the years to come.

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For the last several years, Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley, and the team at Relay FM have run annual fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a nonprofit operating in Memphis, Tennessee that provides treatment, care, and support to young cancer patients and their families at no cost to them, made possible through donations from people like you and me.

In an ideal world, our friends in the U.S.A. wouldn’t have to worry about the cost of healthcare. But until that time comes, it’s heartening to know that someone is alleviating this burden for families whose children are fighting for their lives. Through the support of individual contributors, St. Jude has been able to quadruple the childhood cancer survivor rate from 20% to over 80%.

Two years ago, the Relay FM community was able to raise $69,000 for the kids of St. Jude. Last year, the team set their goal for $75,000, hoping they might push it to $125,000.

They raised $315,000 in one month.

They are at it again this month and have set an initial goal of $315,000 with fun milestones along the way. There are countless causes worthy of our support, but if you have more to give, St. Jude’s is definitely amongst those who deserve your support.

There will be a live Podcastathon on Friday, September 18, from 2-8 PM Eastern on their Twitch channel. If you can’t wait until then, have a listen or watch last year’s Podcastathon full of laughs, hijinks, and touching stories about the good work of St. Jude.

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In a little less than a month, I will be packing my belongings into the back of my Toyota 4Runner and making my way east from my current home in Vancouver, British Columbia back to my hometown near London, Ontario.

I first moved to Vancouver in 2012 for a job and moved back to Ontario in 2013 to be with Mom. When she passed in 2014, it was only a matter of time (246 days, to be exact) before I would move back to Vancouver. I’m not sure my reasons for moving back to Vancouver were entirely logical. I just knew I loved BC and wanted to get away from the grief I was feeling in Ontario.

(As it turns out, grief isn’t limited by geography 😄)

These last 5 years in BC have had their ups and downs. I fell in love for the first time in a long time, got engaged, then wound up single again. I worked on a number of amazing projects and a couple less-than-amazing ones. I made a few new friends and lost a few others. I got to live in Uganda for 6 months, an opportunity that only presented itself because I was living and working in Vancouver.

I was lucky to be able to return home often for holidays and summer workations, and once to attend a dear friend’s funeral. Being able to fly home at a moment’s notice made being so far away from the people I love somewhat tolerable.

As soon as the country went into lockdown in March, I knew flying home was not going to be possible for a very, very long time. It was clear that I needed to move home to be closer to my family.

I wasn’t sure when or how I would move and uncertainty around SARS-COV-2 meant I had to wait until I knew I could travel safely. I’ve been planning my strategy through the summer and think that by preparing meals ahead of my departure, camping in my tent along the way, and limiting my exposure to other people to only when I am buying gas and can’t pay at the pump, I should be able to avoid unnecessary contact with people.

I’m excited to be closer to family again, to be able to help my father with chores and errands, to spend time with my brother and his wife and their daughter, and to only be a day’s drive instead of a day’s flight away from my sister and her fiancé.

With the way things are now, I’m not sure when I’ll be back to visit BC. I know I will miss the mountains and the ocean, Lynn Canyon and Sloquet Hot Springs, I will really miss the few friends I still have here, and—of course—I’ll miss the sushi.

I am hopeful there is still time to see people before I go (I’ve only seen two friends in person since March and am open to socially-distanced outdoor hangouts) and that one day soon I will be able to visit this beautiful province—my second home—again.

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On the latest episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber made a comment during a conversation about the prevelance of email spam that made me chuckle:

There’s no possibility in the real-world [for] a spam filter.

I had to chuckle because here in Canada, we’ve had real-world spam filtering for over two decades 😆

Starting in 1998, Canada Post has allowed residents to request that unaddressed advertising mail no longer be delivered. When the policy was first introduced, residents had to send a letter to Canada Post and then a red dot sticker would be placed in your mailbox, letting carriers know to stop delivering unaddressed advertising mail to your address.

Most Canadians were unaware of this ironically unadvertised policy until 2008, when Vancouver-based marketer Beth Ringdahl created the Red Dot Campaign to encourage Canadians to make this request of Canada Post in an effort to reduce paper waste.

Canada Post has since updated their policy to remove the requirement of making the request to stop unaddressed advertisting by sending a letter. Now, all that is required is a note inside your mailbox. Or, at least here in Vancouver, a little red dot.

My Little Red Spam Filter
My Little Red Spam Filter
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Canadian wireless telecommunications provider Freedom Mobile is offering a very enticing deal right now: 20GB of data for $55/mo. The catch? The only way to get the deal is to risk exposing yourself to a lethal virus by entering one of their physical stores.

When I told the Freedom Mobile customer service representative I spoke to that demanding customers go into public during a global pandemic is insane, they responded “I understand where you’re coming from. I really do.”

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