Hi! Thanks for dropping by my site!
As a musician, composer, producer, photographer, artist, instructor, and technology creator, I've had my fingers in a few pies. I've worked with Lucasfilm, Nelvana, Rush, Lee Aaron, Platinum Blonde, Bell Canada, Hydro One, Panalpina, Ceridian, and more.
I am multiple NMA "Jazz Artist of the Year" winner, nominated four times, Downbeat Magazine nominee, studio musician, and lateral-thinking problem solver. I'm also a technology instructor, Thai Massage and Restorative Yoga practitioner, a Zumba instructor, and freelance journalist. For more than two decades I've supported the Niagara Jazz, Blues, and Roots music scenes, and promoted live music throughout the region.
Take a look around my site, and feel free to get in touch! Contact me to book me for performances.
For high quality instruments (like BassLab and Eminence) and amps (like Acoustic Image), take a look at my business site, www.ghservices.com.
- Photo Sessions: You can book photo sessions with me, either in my studio or mobile. Portraits, fashion, product shots, and other styles. Contact
- House Concerts: I'm now booking house concerts in Fonthill and surrounding area. House concerts are live music in your living room - a great way to experience real music in a comfortable environment. Contact me for details!
- Hired Hand: I'm available for producing, engineering, as a session musician, or as a co-writer. See my discography for my production credits. Contact me to talk about your project.
- "Jazz Up!" A unique free series I've created to promote Jazz music in Niagara and beyond. It's an interactive and intimate environment for Jazz performance and conversation - or "jam and jaw" for short! Musicians and listeners alike are invited to attend. The series will launch future concerts and other events. Every Tuesday, from 7pm to 9pm in Fonthill, Niagara. Seating is limited, so contact me to reserve a spot.
- Hot News: The Jazz Up! brand is growing! I'm finalizing venues for regular events. Stay tuned...
- Ssshh... It may seem to be a little bit quiet around here right now, but that's because I'm assembling tracks for my new CD, consisting of all live recordings from various gigs over the past year. So, if you see the red light over the door, try not to make too much noise. Thanks! Mini update: This is taking a while because I have over five hundred tracks to work through... But you can find a few of them right now on my sounds page.
- 2022-09-18: Finishing a two hour movie. The tech details: I split the work into two projects which are open at the same time: music composition, with 400 tracks of MIDI, VSTs, and soundfiles, then I copy the mixdowns over to the 500 track dialog and SFX project where I can stretch the mixdowns for better timing if needed. Both projects include video tracks for sync reference (transcoded to MJPEG for faster seeking). I've set up shortcuts to export stems and sub-mixes for director approval, but I can link in the original hi-rez video files and render a finished video suitable for upload. Using REAPER on a refurbished 8-year-old 16GB Dell Latitude E6540 laptop, with 4 external monitors (one out-of-view to the right). Maybe I could combine the projects into one, but there is benefit in having mental separation of roles - "composer" vs "dialog" and "sfx" and "mixer". For that matter, I could do video editing in these project files, but I guess there had to be something left for someone else to do. Lol!
Answer: it's in the genes.
Two people go out to dinner and have the same meal - one ends up in the emergency room with food poisoning, but the other does not. Fraternal twins exposed to Zika in the womb - one born with severe birth defects and the other somehow unimpaired. Two boys get muscular dystrophy - one ends up in a wheelchair, the other remains highly mobile. A man gets COVID and is cared for by his maskless wife - afterwards, the man shows evidence of prior infection, but the woman does not.
Question: why the different outcomes?
Dr. Mayana Zatz (geneticist at the University of São Paulo) and her colleagues believe that no single gene mutation could affect the response to the coronavirus, and so they instead looked for combinations of genes. They ultimately found variants in genes of infected people, as compared with those of their asymptomatic partners, that influence the activity of natural killer cells, a key component of the immune system. Partners who showed no sign of infection were more likely to have a robust natural killer cell response. This does not mean that all who avoided disease did so by virtue of these genes, but Dr. Zatz’s team focused on this one aspect of the immune response.
Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova (pediatric immunologist and geneticist at Rockefeller University) is also on the hunt for genetic markers for Covid resistance. Along with an international team of scientists, he published a worldwide call for individuals with protracted coronavirus exposure who never tested positive. He has fielded more than 10,000 emails from people around the globe all willing to have their genomes sequenced. The team has identified people with severe Covid-19 who have mutations in genes involved in interferon, resulting in a hole in the body’s ability to defend itself against infection.
Benjamin Neale (co-director of the program in medical and population genetics at the Broad Institute in Boston) and his colleagues established the Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative, bringing together academics and direct-to-consumer companies with genetic databases like Ancestry.com and 23andMe. From this data, associations were found between severe coronavirus infection and genetic variations related to how the immune system responds to infection. These connections are one aspect in a person’s response to the virus, along with behaviour, environment, social failures, access to health care, vaccinations, boosters, age, fitness level, underlying conditions, and prior infections.
Researchers have studied genetic susceptibility and resistance to H.I.V., tuberculosis, and malaria, but the COVID pandemic has led to a large-scale effort to understand the role genetics plays in the response to infection.
The power of genetics is about making sense of randomness and about understanding biology and, in doing so, removing blame from the individual.
(Links available upon request.)
- 2022-01-07: Here's how I worked alone with 12-footers on the ceiling of a 7 foot basement: I screwed a wide rail (2x4 on edge, like a shelf) to the wall, and prepared a 2x4 "T" screwed to a step ladder. The T and the wall rail were both wrapped with old towels, an inch or more down from the ceiling to avoid a tight gap. The ladder was off to the side, and about 6 feet from the wall, only an arm's length away from where I'll be when I need it. I got under the board about 4 feet from the wall end and lifted flat, leaving the other end on the floor. The drywall should not sag or bend too much. I faced the wall, so I could put the end of the board on the wall rail. Then I worked my way to the far end, lifting as I went, and made sure that the wall end stayed on the rail. I supported the middle with the T that I reached for and dragged under. I also had some twist blocks in place around the edges. I kept pushing the drywall up to the joists until several screws were in - it will pull through if there are not enough - and I pushed up right next to each screw as I drove it. With two people, this method would work great, and the wall rail would still take much of the weight.
In Blender, assets are curated DATA-BLOCKS that are meant for easy reuse.
Images, sounds, video files, etc. are not assets in Blender - unless they are contained in Blender data-blocks.
Blender assets are contained in .blend files.
Many assets can be stored in one .blend file.
Assets are only globally available if the containing .blend file is placed in an Asset Library folder that you define in Preferences.
To "import" many HDRI files into the Blender Asset Library, the workflow might be this:
- Create an empty .blend file.
- In the Shading tab, edit the World to use one of your HDRI files (to look something like 0:49 in this video), rename the World to match (as done at 1:19), and Mark as Asset.
- Create a New World, edit it to use your next HDRI, rename, and Mark as Asset.
- Repeat step 3 for all your HDRI files.
Here's the video.
- 2020-07-07: YouTube Ads Interrupting Content! The technical solution is for YouTube to allow content creators to specify where the ads will occur on the timeline. YouTube Studio would indicate how many ad breaks are required for a particular video duration, then the content creator would plan the video to have breaks at certain points. These break locations could be indicated: 1) for EXISTING videos: the content creator would manually place markers on the timeline after the video has been uploaded, or 2) for NEW videos: the content creator would add "marker frames" (for example a special YT-supplied image) into their video before uploading which the YT upload tool would recognize as marker positions (and delete those frames during processing).
- 2020-04-30: We act according to our beliefs — and so our beliefs have consequences. If our beliefs result in discord, anger, confusion, alienation, or other negative outcomes, then our beliefs should be re-examined. Ultimately, our beliefs aren't worth the paper they are written on, but they direct how we act, and it's those that actions matter.
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Short splash video for a teacher, who plays this at the start of her streams. Rendered using EEVEE with Blender's rigid body physics, with 500 balls. The challenge here was to encourage the randomness of the simulation, but to find ways to control it, since I wanted the elements to finish in certain locations. Each time I made a small adjustment (such as where "Fab Fives!" lands), the sim would completely change, so I had to iterate many times. I used hidden controllers (bumpers and pushers, for example) to wrangle the sim into shape. #blender3d #b3d #blendereevee #eevee #blenderartists #blendercommunity #madewithblender #3drender #motiongraphics #3dart #cgart #digitalart
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Looping abstract tunnel using Blender EEVEE, with dynamic sparkling starfield background. The challenge in this one was to apply processing to the background and the foreground, but not the midground. This was done with linked scenes and the compositor. I was hoping to use Z Depth or Mist for DOF in the compositor, but the tunnel material was transparent, so it did not appear in those passes. I considered a few alternatives (like material overrides) but ended up creating depth of field with a combinination of rendering and compositing. Bokeh and bloom were applied in the compositor, followed by lens distortion and chromatic aberration to glue everything together. Rendering and compositing took about 1 minute per frame. Made with my own build of Blender 2.83alpha. #blender3d #b3d #blendereevee #eevee #blenderartists #blendercommunity #madewithblender #3drender #motiongraphics #3dart #cgart #digitalart #bloomandbokeh
- 2020-04-02: If OBS Studio shows a black window when you try to create a "Display Capture" on a dual-GPU Windows laptop, here's a possible solution. OBS should be running on the default Intel HD graphics GPU, rather than on the high-performance secondary GPU. To make that happen, quit OBS, then try this: Hit the Windows key, then start typing "graphics settings" to get to the Graphics settings applet. Under "Choose an app to set preference", select the "Classic app" option, then browse to the OBS executable file (probably "C:\Program Files\obs-studio\bin\64bit\obs64.exe"). Once it is added to the list below, click it and an "Options" button will appear. In there, choose "Power saving".
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Animated metaball particle system, with camera and object motion blur, varied particle colours, an internally illuminated pulsing "sponge", plus an "Easter egg" for you. In addition to the internal light, the sponge has three layers of texturing (bumps, pores, fissures), each with separate lighting, all parametrically controlled. The two finer textures remain fixed on the surface and ignore the swelling of the sponge, giving the impression of skin. The evolving cloud in the background tracks the movement of the camera, but at the antipodal point. Motion blur and depth of field are reduced during the closeup to maintain clarity. And, of course, bloom and bokeh! Easter egg: during the closeup the viewer is revealed (in a reflection) to be a red-eyed drone. #blender3d #b3d #blendereevee #eevee #blenderartists #blendercommunity #madewithblender #3drender #motiongraphics #3dart #cgart #digitalart #antipodal #bloomandbokeh
- 2020-03-19: There are 35 or so COVID-19 vaccines being researched in the labs. They use various approaches. In one case, the vaccine contains a synthetic version of mRNA. When injected into a muscle cell, the mRNA acts like a drill sergeant, ordering the cell to create a doppelgänger of one of the coronavirus’s surface proteins - known as “spikes”. The spike protein is only part of the virus and therefore won’t make a person sick, but it is a crucial component of how the virus infects a human cell. In a sense, this technology outsources the labor of building these spike proteins to our own bodies. Once our muscle cells follow the vaccine’s mRNA orders, and manufacture loads of these spike-protein doppelgängers, our immune system recognizes them as foreign objects and learns how to fight them by creating antibodies.
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Animated logo rendering in EEVEE, using hydrid EEVEE/Cycles compositing for motion blur, with "boids", mesh deformation and substitution, morphing environment maps, and multiple particle systems. Client: @FonthillFitness #blender3d #b3d #blendereevee #eevee #blendercommunity #blenderartists #mgcollective #madewithblender #3drender #3dart #cgart #digitalart #logo
If you are using the Blender command line and having odd problems, make sure that the parameter order is correct.
In particular, if you are rendering an animation with
-aor a single frame with
-f NNNN, these two should be last. Why? When they are encountered, they immediately assemble the info they need in order to work. If they are too early in the command line, that info will not be ready.
- 2020-02-26: Cold & wet days like this remind me of my trips as a boy to the marina shipyard where my Father stored the boat for the winter. Those "early Spring" prep missions were for the purpose of opening the boat and making modifications that were deemed necessary from the previous year's experiences. My perspective at the time was one of standing in the wet gravel and shivering while waiting to get the tarp open. I realize now that my Dad was shivering too, but was focused more on the need to get things done than on the numb fingers. Sometimes, in the moment, we cannot properly weigh priorities, and can only do so long after the event.
While running "
make update" before rebuilding Blender from source, I got an SVN error:
svn: E720005: Can't move 'C:\blender-git\lib\win64_vc15\.svn\tmp\svn-E65722C0' to 'C:\blender-git\lib\win64_vc15\python\37\DLLs\_lzma.pyd': Access is denied.
The solution was to
C:\blender-git\lib\win64_vc15\folder and run:
This took a minute or two to re-synced the folders with the online repository. Then "
make update" ran successfully. Onward to building Blender!
- 2020-02-13: "image may contain food" (but it isn't)
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Experimenting with a metaball particle system. The goal here was to get varied particle colours and an internally illuminated "sponge" emitter. This is a frame from the animation. #blender3d #b3d #blendereevee #eevee #blendercommunity #madewithblender #3drender #3dart #cgart #digitalart
- 2020-02-05: 10 years of Fonthill Fitness!
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A test render of an idea for a client. The water is physically simulated and the bottles have "wine" in them which refracts the lights. There are 5 studio lights plus the string lights. Also: volumetric fog, subtle noise in the floor shader, depth of field, light flare in the compositor. Improvements for next time: stronger fog, less colour in the string light wires, texture in the bottle tops, camera rotation to make the center bottle more upright. #blender3d #b3d #blendercycles #blenderartists #blendercommunity #madewithblender #3drender #cgart
More thought = less code
less code = fewer bugs
I speak as the developer of large, revenue-critical software systems which were in use for over a decade, bug free!
- 2019-10-25: Over the past year or so, my business toll-free number has been receiving spam phone calls. A few times a week, someone calls and leaves no message, just odd "soundtracks". Some examples are factory sounds, people in a cafe, fishing on a river, running water, mall crowds, and birds. This would be mildy amusing, except for the fact that I have to pay for these spam calls. Here are some of the numbers making the calls this month: 215-353-5056 (Lansdale, PA), 256-273-9866 (Fort Payne, AL), 706-672-6704 (Greenville, GA), 707-203-3682 (Elk, CA), 628-209-2040 (Novato, CA), and 541-241-9052 (Bend, OR).
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Combined photo and 3D rendering. I sliced the photo into foreground and background, then matched the perspective and lighting in Blender, adding a 3D logo, ground plane, and some spheres as shadow catchers. Then I composited everything with glare and lens effects. Client: @FonthillFitness #b3d #blender #madewithblender #3drendering
It turns out that the letter G is an excellent example of the features that arise through the evolution of a letter shape.
Of course, it tickles me that it is the letter "G"!
"Roman letter development began with a skeleton alphabet and then occurs on the one hand, a formal characterisation of this alphabet influenced and largely produced by the broad-nibbed pen, and, on the other hand, a less formal characterisation resulting from the scribbling of the educated public: this development, at first controlled by the tool and material – the stylus and wax tablets of the public – was mastered by them, the scribblers, and became an economic development, simplified strokes and linkings or loopings, saving both time and space. The craftsmen in their turn, borrowing the more economic skeleton forms characterised them afresh by means of the broad nib. Johnston, 1913." from here
- 2019-06-01: I have always been interested in communication, and as typography as a part of achieving that. Our letterforms have evolved over millenia, and Edward Catich's study of the Trajan letterforms led him to fully develop the theory that the serifs of Roman capital letters were entirely due to the use of a paintbrush to lay out the incriptions on stone, rather than to the tools and processes of actually chipping them out. This idea is shown on the cover of his book "The Origin of the Serif: Brush Writing and Roman Letters". Of course, having done some carving, I can appreciate that the serifs could also help to keep the ends of the stone channels clean. Either way - the result of something practical!
- 2018-08-08: Sorting through computer disks from the early-to-mid 1980s, I was reminded of some of my early 3D graphics experiments. To make the most of the slow hardware, my code changed the resolution of graphics calculations depending on proximity - closer means more calculations, and farther means fewer. And not just spatially, but also temporally, so more active processes got finer time slices. There's only so much that can be done in assembly language without losing one's mind, so this was primitive code, and more of a proof of concept than anything commercial. From the perspective of today, they seem like steam-powered moon rockets or something that Jules Verne would write about.
How to prune a weeping mulberry!
Healthy Balance #2 : Let's Get Personal
One size fits all, right? No, it doesn't!
Maybe you tried the latest trendy workout, or followed an easy meal plan that you found online, or took standard treatments that your doctor prescribed, but you didn't get the promised results.
High-carb diets, low-carb diets, high-fat, ketogenic, Atkins, Paleo, and on and on... they all work - for somebody - but not for you.
Our medical system is set up to provide standard responses to health issues. That's no fault of the doctors and nurses, it's just the way our society does medicine. But what works best for one person may not work well for you.
Why is this?
It's because you are a unique combination of where you come from, what you've done, and even where you're going.
Personal training is all about that: you work one-on-one with a trainer to accomplish your goals, with a customized exercise plan, according to your current condition. And the plan changes as you change.
We'll soon have "personal nutrition" and "personal medicine", tailored to your uniqueness just like personal training. Technology will be able to scan your cells and optimize nutrition and health care just for you.
For example, in some people a slice of bread causes blood sugar spikes, but in others it doesn't. It turns out that such spikes are determined by your gut bugs - and you certainly have your own personal combination of those! We'll dive further into this in an upcoming column.
So, all the generic advice we've been given over the years is "right" in general, but "wrong" for you specifically. Your responses are highly individual, and depend on ... you.
Hey, my body didn't come with a User's Manual. Did yours? Despite that little omission, you can achieve amazing things! And your path is determined by the very stuff of which you are made. This column is about exploring that stuff - exploring the science of you.
We'll talk about many interesting things here, but feel free to send me your questions. I hope to inspire you to take some guided steps to find your healthy balance!
Healthy Balance #1 : Starting With The Man In The Mirror
You balance a broom on the tip of your finger. It sways a bit side-to-side, but you correct with instinctive little movements of your hand and the broom hovers mostly in the middle. You even manage the larger swings - with corrections that are just the right size to bring the broom back to center.
But if the broom leans to one side and you don't get it back into balance, then it falls, right? Or if your corrections are too large, then the broom falls the other way. Thud!
When I was young, I didn't eat that well. Mostly hot dogs and deserts, it seems. Typical kid! I should have listened to my parents. They presented me with good choices and possibilities, but I seldom chose wisely.
As a kid I was small and was bullied, and as a teen I smoked a bit. I was thin into my late twenties. People would say "Get that boy a sandwich!" - to my face.
So I wanted to be "bigger", which I achieved by adding on pounds over the next decade. I became overweight. Actually, I took it to the next level and was clinically obese: I had gained 60lbs or 27kg. No half measures for me!
Do I need to tell you that this extra weight was bad? I was pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, suffered from depression, developed vision problems, was refused life insurance due to kidney issues, and had skin cancer that required grafting.
Like the unbalanced broom, I had tipped one way, then too far the other way.
I did not recognize the man in the mirror, so I started making changes to bring me to my center.
My Mom had planted the seed of good food (thanks Mom!), and I inherited a sense of curiosity from my Dad (thanks Dad!), so now, a decade later, I'm a fitness instructor and pursuing a Masters in Nutrition.
I'm looking forward to talking with you about exercise, bones, aging, stress, digestion, vitamins, and many other things.
Join me in finding your healthy balance!
- 2017-11-03: After my upgrade to Windows 10, my CanoScan N67U flatbed scanner stopped working. This is because Canon has not made drivers for 64bit Windows 10. If you search the Web, you'll see a lot of complaints about this - and they are justified. There are some technical workarounds involving modifying and installing older drivers, which I have done with other devices, but for this flatbed scanner I have taken another route. I use the free Oracle VirtualBox software running Ubuntu 14 32bit (a free Linux). Windows 10 does not recognize the N670U scanner, but Ubuntu does. Starting VirtualBox Ubuntu takes only moment and does the job!
- 2017-10-30: The word respect is so overloaded: with respect to (concerning or about), in some respects (some aspects), having respect to (in reference to), paid our respects to (memorializing), or give me respect. My focus here is on the latter. Respect is such a tenuous concept. Parents demand it of their children; children demand it of their parents. But it must be earned, not simply bestowed because of some chronological relationship. The word is just too easy to throw around in a heated discussion. So I prefer to avoid the word, and instead look deeper at what we really mean when we use it. How about understanding, compassion, and appreciation? Aren't those things what we really want when we demand respect?
- 2017-09-29: Singing in the shower: Great acoustics, good humidity for the vocal chords, and you think no one can hear you... (but they can)
- 2017-03-30: After a recent photo session with a fitness client, I had a bit of extra time - and the gear was already set up - so I decided to try a few fitness shots of myself. This was taken in black and white in the camera, with contrast enhancement done in the computer. I had forgotten about the freckles on my back!
Rich Froning Jr. (born July 21, 1987) is the first person to win the title of "Fittest Man on Earth" four times, with his first-place finish in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 CrossFit Games.
He has said "It's not necessarily that I like to win, but I hate losing more." While the sentiment is understandable, it's actually very silly.
By the very act of doing what he is doing, he is a winner. How many people in the world are competing like him? Even if he places last in an event, he's ahead of 99.99999998% of the other six billion people sharing this planet — who didn't even enter the race. To truly "lose", he would have to do worse than all of them. And how do you even define that?
So, remember this when you are being hard on yourself for your less-than-perfect performance:
It doesn't matter whether you finish first or last. At least you are in the race.
- 2016-04-04: I use a Shuttle Pro V2 control surface with the Lightworks video editing software, and was having trouble finding the right settings to make the Shuttle work well with Lightworks as shown in a demo video on the Lightworks site. I solved this by finding the file "Lightworks spv2.pref", which came with the version 2.13.3 of the Shuttle Pro driver, and imported it using the Contour Shuttle Device Configuration control panel, "Options" button, then "Import settings".
- 2016-03-04: This image for Fonthill Fitness is apparently monochrome, but actually has a slight sepia tone applied to the image (but not the text). Seemingly simpler than previous images, but this one has quite a few layers. The source image of Arnold was cropped in tight around him, so I had to extend above his head and below his fingers to give me the room to place it one the canvas where I wanted it. The left side of the image, starting near his right elbow, is from an image of a different gym. I scaled, rotated, cross-faded, and blurred the add-on to match the background behind Arnold. I also sharpened Arnold to make him stand out. The left side of the image has a gradient overlay to give the text a darker background for clarity. I chose to make the logo white to match the text.
- 2016-03-01: Another image for Fonthill Fitness. This one started with a small image of the inspirational quote that was forwarded to me. I deconstructed the image and used only the outline of the text, cleaning it up considerably in the process of enlarging it. Most of these images are about 6000 pixels across when I am working on them. I used two types of metal sheet for the virtual canvas, brushed metal and non-slip, and layered the portrait on them to make it looked etched into the metal. The portrait has a mild sepia effect and the text is very slightly "rusty". These faint tones stop the image from being a cold monochrome. The subtle 3D shadow behind the text varies in length across the image to help locate the virtual light source.
Gig at Café on Main, Fonthill
This gig was a little different. An evening of food and music at with myself and Dan Kozar - performing together for the first time. Dan played his Godin guitar and I used the awesome BassLab L-BOW-V bass. Video coming soon!
- 2016-02-18: Here's the first in a series of images I am creating for Fonthill Fitness, as part of my role as Social Networking Coordinator. In Gimp, I layered the "Fit Happens" text onto the brick wall image, using a layer mode that allowed the two to interact. A bit of erasing was used to distress the white paint at the grout lines. I applied a mild perpective to the wall, and some lighting and lens effect layers, along with a faint blurred shadow of the person. Actually, that person is me.