Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

25 May, 2016


Once you're diagnosed with high blood pressure like me, you practically have to keep the salt shaker hidden under your mattress. You'd actually think the Morton's Salt girl was carrying a coffin instead of an umbrella!

But now a new Canadian study might just be the final end for the Great Salt Myth. Researchers have proven that if you have high blood pressure, cutting back on salt isn't just dangerous, it might in fact even kill you.

It doesn't seem to matter how many studies come out on the health benefits of salt -- or that our bodies can't survive without it. The mainstream -- and our government -- aren't about to admit they've been giving terrible advice to people with high blood pressure for decades.

Just ask Dr. Andrew Mente, a top researcher from McMaster University. Mente has been under constant attack since he released his new study proving that a low-salt diet can be a death sentence for people with hypertension. Of course, if the people who are attacking Mente would bother to read his study, they'd see he's right on the money.

I find it interesting that Mente actually pooled together the results of four different studies involving 133,000 people from 49 different countries. And he found that cutting back on salt is a lot more dangerous for you than eating too much of it.

In fact, people with high blood pressure who consumed less than 3,000 mg. of salt a day were a whopping 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Even if you don't have high blood pressure, a low-salt diet can increase your heart attack or stroke risk by a frightening 26 percent. You'd think that would be enough to get the mainstream thinking twice about its war on salt. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon.

The minute the ink dried on Mente's study, a former president of the American Heart Association claimed he wasn't buying it -- and that it "should not be used to guide public policy." Are you kidding? If a study with 133,000 people won't convince the AHA, it looks like nothing will.

The AHA has spent years recommending a dangerous 1,500 mg. salt limit for high blood pressure -- and it's not about to admit it's been putting all of us in harm's way. These guys probably still believe that the Earth is flat and the moon is made of green cheese (and low-salt cheese at that)!

But the fact is, Mente's study wasn't the first to prove that the science behind low-salt diets is paper thin. A study out of Germany 12 years ago also found that ditching salt is unhealthy for seniors. Most North Americans consume about 3,400 mg. of salt a day -- and that's right where we should be, according to this latest research.

If you have high blood pressure and have been purposely depriving yourself of salt, print this article and show it to your doctor. See what he/she has to say about salt used with moderation in your diet.

Your taste buds may be glad that you did!

...And I'm glad to know that it is not going to kill me. I've never been a heavy salt user anyway but I always like it on my French fries.

19 May, 2016


I take the liberty of publishing an email I received from a friend today.  I am sure she would not mind. There just might be one or two other friends who will appreciate it as much as I did.

Dear Richard,

Shit happens. It just does.

We have good days, bad days, and mediocre days. One day we feel of the world.  The next day we feel like crap, get in a car accident, or worse.

Life is great. Life sucks.  This is just how it step forward, two steps back.'s the BIG question: Why do so many of us live as if feeling bad is so WRONG?

I think there are two answers to this question:

#1 is that we were raised on the old Alka Seltzer jingle "plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is." We're programmed to believe that there is a pill to pop to alleviate every pain or discomfort. (Even though we all know that physical pain is a necessary signal that something is calling for our attention.)

#2 we don't believe that the Universe always has our back. Quite simply, we don't trust God. We assume that whatever is happening...whether it's loss of a job, heartbreak, illness, betrayal, unexpected money issues, or roadblocks to our heart's desires... we take it as a sign that we are doomed and more bad is on the way.

While just like everyone else I would rather avoid pain, in six decades on this planet, I've discovered that my greatest, most extraordinary "wins" in life have all come as a result of my most painful and difficult experiences. Over time I've learned to cultivate trust in the Universe.

As I began to witness in my own life that from the darkest times came the brightest results. I found the ability to trust both God and myself. I consciously sought out proof that the bad times were the soil in which my dreams came to fruition. (And yes, I admit, that I often wished for a genie in a bottle to make it all easier for me.)

If you are having a great day today, take a few moments to close your eyes, drop into your heart and really feel how grateful you are. Deeply breathe in this gratitude and savor it.

And, if today is a bad day, close your eyes, drop into your heart, and take a few moments to feel what you are truly feeling....and then see if you can conjure up true gratitude for the possibility of the most wonderful thing that will soon come to you as a result of this difficulty.

Wishing you love, laughter and magical kisses,

15 May, 2016


It is not likely that many of my readers will know that Saturday, June 4, is "Tom Longboat Day" in Canada.  Who was Tom Longboat, you might well ask?

Tom Longboad and his trophies
Longboat was a world-champion, long-distance runner who, in 1907, won the Boston Marathon in a record time of 2:24:24 and went on to win many other races and claimed the title of Professional Champion of the World in 1909. He was the first person of First Nation descent and only one of two to ever win the Boston Marathon.

His feats were on a par with those of the legendary American Indian Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.

Born on Six Nations Reserve, east of Brantford, in 1887 with his First Nation's name Kakwe.ik (Everything) and a Residential School survivor, Tom Longboat would go on to become a Canadian Army dispatch runner in France during World War I.
He was inducted into both Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Indian Hall of Fame.  Each year, the Toronto Island 10K race commemorates his memory and First Nations' athletes from each province, both male and female are selected for the Longboat Award.

By no coincidence, the 28th Annual Huron Shores Run is also scheduled for June 4 this year and to commemorate "Tom Longboat Day", the event will begin with the dancers and drummers from nearby Saugeen First Nation in prayer at the Coliseum in Southampton.  They will then lead the runners and walkers down High Street to the starting line, both at 7:30 and and 8:30 a.m.  (I'm going to try to get up early enough that morning to take some photos, but I won't be wearing running shoes -- been there and done that!)

The run is for every age and ability -- Kids' Fun Run, 3k, 5k, 10k Runs, Half Marathon Walk and Run. For those who can't run, no problem...They can get their 10,000 steps in by entering the 5k Walk and collecting pledges or by sponsoring someone they know.

Again, this year, the Rotary Run is partnering with the Town of Saugeen Shores that will hold a Health and Wellness Fair at the Coliseum where the awards ceremony and a lunch for participants will also take place following the Run. Commendably, proceeds from the event are shared by the local Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation, Rotary projects in the community and the Saugeen Track & Field Club.

Tom Longboat runner athlete marathon Olympian NOTE:  In 1998, as one century was about to end and another begin, Maclean's magazine ran a list of the 100 most important Canadians in history, dividing them into 10 categories, with 10 names in each category. In the Stars category, reserved for the best in celebrity the country has had to offer, the number one spot went to Tom Longboat. And in the list of the top 10 Canadians in history overall, Longboat came in ninth spot, sharing the list with the likes of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Glenn Gould, Nellie McClung and K.C. Irving.  Tom is recognized in numerous books, articles, and web pages. As well, various races, scholarships, clubs and a school have been named in his honor -- even a Canadian commemorative postage stamp.

07 May, 2016

Cardboard Retreat - Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong's Cardboard Retreat is a powerfully poignant anthem about the plight of homeless Armed Services Veterans. An alarming number of service people are returning to their homeland with no real place to call home. Collaborating with America's non-profit, and their sister organization in Canada, Jim and other like-minded artists performed their music to raise awareness and dollars to support the day-to-day work of helping returning heroes reclaim their dignity.....SEE JIM'S STORY IN THE POST BELOW and keep this video playing as you read it. 

06 May, 2016


On Monday (May 2nd.) at 1:31 p.m. hikers walking along the Lake Huron shoreline at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, came across a body floating just off shore.  The body was transported to London where an autopsy was performed and later identified as that of missing person Peter James Armstrong. No foul play was suspected and the cause of death will not be determined until the results of toxicology are completed and reviewed by the coroner's office.

Armstrong was last seen at 9 00 p.m., March 9, at a relative's home along the Saugeen River in Southampton. An extensive search was conducted by the OPP Emergency Response Team, the Saugeen Shores Police Service and the Saugeen Shores Fire Service over the weeks that followed.

You may, or may not, have picked up on such sparse information from a press release circulated in recent days.  Fifty-three-year-old "Jim" Armstrong was a quiet, unassuming guy who flew under the radar most of his life but trust me there was much, much more to him than that.  To his friends and associates in the music world in and around Toronto he was well-thought-of and deeply respected.  Only in Canada, you say!

The body those hikers found along the shoreline earlier this week belonged to a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer with decades of performing and recording to his credit.

Jim Armstrong, in concert
Jim's Armstrong's story deserves to be told.  His work was recently compared to the master singer-songwriters of Americana roots-rock — Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Tom Petty and Canada’s own Fred Eaglesmith — in that their music shares a working-class sensibility and honesty.

He was a self-taught multi-instrumentalist with drums being his first instrument. His mother Marie's short-lived attempt at sending him off to a piano teacher as a young boy did not last too long. The teacher soon twigged to the fact that he was just playing back the songs he picked up by ear and not bothering to learn to read the actual sheet music. He was always creating music and was a touring drummer from the age of 10. He was a lifeguard; he played sports and earned two college degrees.

Jim never let epilepsy and encephalitis stop him from accomplishing things even when he was first diagnosed with his condition and spent many weeks and months in and out of hospitals as a youngster growing up in Southampton. However, by his late 20s, his seizure activity began to increase and the medications were not working as well anymore. He sometimes considered it a blessing in disguise that he was forced to stay home and concentrate solely on music. In his early 20s he was also playing guitar, bass, keys, harmonica, sax, and writing and recording solo pursuits. 

Jim underwent surgery in 1992 to minimize the effects his seizures.  It was an unnerving prospect because the risks were great -- death obviously, but also paralysis and a possible loss of musical abilities, brain damage, you name it. Faced with these risks Jim began writing a lot of new material as the surgery date approached. He felt he needed to stockpile as many songs as he could in case he could never create music again.

Fortunately, the surgery was fairly successful. He still needed medication and he continued to have some seizures "but I can cope," he said at the time. It wasn’t the easiest recovery though; he was temporarily paralyzed and had to force his body to pick up the guitar and drum sticks again. Three months after surgery he recovered sufficiently to begin recording and producing his first Sonic Deli Records release, a compilation CD entitled "Brown Bag Lunch" and forming his own band.

Four of the songs on Jim's "Mudtown" album were first included on Brown Bag Lunch; "Angel In Our Corner", "Hole In His Heart", "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Grand" and "Oxygen Kiss". They were from the pre-surgery time when he was madly stockpiling material. "Imagine my surprise though, when people kept telling me that they loved these songs and why wasn’t I out there performing them? Well, my performing days had always been spent behind a drum kit, not singing and playing a guitar or as a front man," he wrote on his web site a few years ago.

"Mostly, I’m just happy to still be alive; able to do the music I love to do and hope that people will get to hear that music, like my songs and even come out to hear my band perform them on occasion," he added.

In the early 1990's, Jim was fortunate enough to meet songwriting and business manager, Andrea Poulis, and began to collaborate with other artists.   Today Andrea is Director of Music and Canadian Programming, Radio 11.3X in Toronto and President, Artist Management, Sonic Deli Records. Together, Andrea and Jim worked with various singers and musicians in many different genres, developing their craft. It was also during the early nineties that they hooked up with bass player, Wes Miller. who had played just about everywhere in North America over the years and became an integral part of the writing process, co-engineering and co-producing Mudtown in conjunction with Sonic Deli Records.

Almost unbelievably, with the exception of the bass guitar and some of the lead guitar tracks, Jim played all the instruments on the Mudtown album.  The official bio for the album declared:

"Mudtown is a straight ahead alt-roots-rock album that shoots from the hip and aims at the heart. With his first solo CD, Mudtown, Toronto-based musician Jim Armstrong has crafted a collection of 13 songs with musical and emotional hooks that stick unshakably with the listener. He has also scored films such as Canton Film Studios' The Adulterer's Guide to Toronto (2007). Now, he’s stepping authoritatively in front of the curtain to unveil "Mudtown", his solo debut.  The title and driving spirit of Mudtown were born during Armstrong's wanderings through downtown Toronto, where he lives, works and walks his dogs. Armstrong explains, "Life can be dirty, rough and mean, but there's a breed of people who struggle against the grind and somehow keep their humanity. They don't get hard, like the city, and that's what makes Mudtown livable."

"They made me sound like a pro," the laid-back and almost embarrassed Jim was known to say about the glowing words on the album cover..

Jim Armstrong was a genuine hero and an inspiration to all who are faithful to their art. True enough, he defended the underdog through his music by dispelling the modern myth of perfection. He wrote songs about real characters from everyday life, singing their stories with the passion of the human justice activist that he was.  

Often labelled a "troubadour", Jim and his The Sonic Deli Band were annual regulars at the International Buskerfest run by the charity Epilepsy Toronto for which he was an official spokesman.

Not long ago, Jim had this to say about where he found himself in life: "If, four years ago, someone had told me that I would be back on a stage performing songs from my own album, I would never have dared to believe them. Oh, I knew that I wrote some great music and I loved creating new songs all the time, but I had reached the point where I was beginning to despair of living any sort of normal life – let alone be out singing my songs somewhere."  One has to wonder what was on his mind when he disappeared, lightly clad and supposedly without his medications, into the sub-zero dark of that Southampton night two months ago...Maybe it is better that we will never know.

He was reported to have been experiencing some mental health and emotional issues in recent months.

The 2 Kens (comedy team Ken Main & Ken Devoe) recorded a wonderful and revealing radio show tribute to Jim and his music today (Friday). Please scroll down and click on the mp3 link to have a listen...I leave it to those two good friends to have the last words on this post.  It is an extremely moving tribute.

"This week we lost our dear friend, Jimmy Armstrong, an extraordinary man who touched so many lives with his music and countless more with his great big heart. We put together a short tribute to our friend. You can immediately listen to the mp3 here.…/2Kens_Remember_Peter_James_Jim_… Please share this freely with everyone who appreciates knowing that there are still good people out there who champion the underdog -- and never make a peep about it. Jim Armstrong certainly was that.

"While there seems no bottom to our sorrow, it is uplifting to learn from Andrea Poulis, Jim’s music partner, co-songwriter and BFF these past 25 years, of the massive outpouring of love, compassion, kindness and appreciation for Jim’s life, his loving way and, of course, his wonderful music. Jim believed in paying it forward. It goes on and will go on.

"We love you, Jimmy! Thank you for sharing your special gifts. Rest in peace, great friend. We’ll be okay, don’t you worry. We know because you promised, “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Grand.”  -- Ken Main & Ken Devoe, 2Kens Comedy

Now you know the story that was not included in that earlier matter-of-fact "missing person found" news release.  Jim is no longer missing but he will be missed!

05 May, 2016


Followers of Wrights Lane may think that I am a bit preoccupied with the brain-as-a-computer concept (or vice versa) but I find the subject a fascinating one worthy of consideration.
How long has the human race sought immortality? The fountain of youth is a famous legend for a reason, and we’ve all heard numerous stories involving potions of everlasting life. There is even an entire industry devoted to freezing your body in the hopes that future technology will be able to revive you. As humans, we’ve always sought to become immortal through the preservation of our physical forms. Aging, however, is a natural process – while we can certainly slow it down with modern medicine, we cannot stop it completely. But what if we’ve been looking at immortality from the wrong angle all along?

Cyber Immortality

Scientists are now suggesting that the answer to achieving immortality lies not in preserving our bodies, but in preserving our minds. If you think about it, the human brain is akin to a high-powered computer. So, what if we could copy all those files stored in our brain and simply transfer them to another computer? Many important thinkers agree that it may be possible.
“I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer, so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death” – Stephen Hawking
This idea is reinforced by the fact that computer power has grown exponentially over the past few decades, and continues to do so. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has suggested that we may be able to transfer the entire human brain to a computer within forty years.
The technology itself is also progressing quickly – scientists have already been able to replicate some functions of the brain. For example, a team led by neurology professor Henry Markram was able to successfully simulate part of a rat’s brain. Although replicating the entire human brain is still a long ways off, it’s likely to happen within some of our lifetimes. As with any revolutionary technology, it will undoubtedly come with a hefty price tag. However, think about the payoff. Can you really put a price on immortality?

Coding Consciousness

The biggest remaining question surrounding this issue involves consciousness. It’s one thing to replicate the computer-processing elements of the human brain, but what about the more complex aspects, such as feelings and emotions? Is it even possible to ‘code’ consciousness? On this important aspect, the experts disagree.
Some scientists are convinced that if given enough time and research, this technology will eventually succeed in simulating consciousness.  And in fact, this work is already underway. Leaders in the field of artificial intelligence are currently developing robots that can reason, think, and even learn by imitating the human brain. Recreating human emotions will be difficult, but the technology is progressing quickly.
However, other scientists remain highly doubtful about the possibility of ‘manufacturing’ consciousness. According to well-known neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, “there are a lot of people selling the idea that you can mimic the brain with a computer”. While this sounds good on paper, he says, “you could have all the computer chips in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.”  Until more progress is made, the jury may be out on this question.

Are We ‘Playing God’?

Either way, this is groundbreaking technology we’re talking about. Once it becomes affordable, we will be faced with an existential question: do we consider our mortal lives sufficient, or should our brains be allowed to live on in cyber form? There also exists a moral quandary here – some may argue that this technology is equivalent to ‘playing God’. 
Do we have the right to interfere with the universe’s plan for us? If it becomes an option, would you sign up to download your brain to a computer?  Personally, knowing me and my muddled mind as I do, I'd be afraid to!
Think I'll take my thoughts to the grave with me...That is, those that I have not already committed to Wrights Lane.

03 May, 2016


As we get older our memory comes apart. One memory sticks to another, but the glue is old and fragile and sometimes breaks. It's just gone. Something is there, but it's not together as it should be. It's a jumble.

Mike Sterling of Southampton has one of those kinds of brilliant minds that thinks electronically, almost like a computer. I have written before about the new mind-boggling musical instrument that he is inventing.

On the subject of memory, he has this to say: "As we think, as we recall, memories come out like incomplete strands that are pulled from a box of Kleenex. One should pull on the next. They should cascade out without a pause. We should not have to dig deeper in our memory."

We like to think that as we pack in new memories, we've just made room by getting rid of useless bits and pieces, but that's not true. Those bits are, after all, who we are. We need them.

Here's how it goes with Mike, at least ....He thinks of things from the past. These are not words, but images. Row upon row upon row of images.

Recently a vision of a former mayor of Detroit, who participated in the decline of the city, came into focus for him. "Why think of him? Who knows? He's hanging there like an incomplete strand. The glue must be dried up," he adds.

"I see him clearly. His face and his voice come back quickly. I think of his energetic predecessor. I see him too. But, what are their names? I should know them. I must know them!

"No need to panic, I'll remember and I do in a few minutes. Meanwhile I remember the Mayor's WWII record as a flyer. I remember the other mayor with his children going to church on Sunday. These all come from moving around inside my own server space. Without my private Google, I'm lost," Mike emphasizes.

"All of a sudden the name Coleman is pulled out from someplace and then Young. Yes, 'Coleman Young'. That's the guy. A man with much promise but no friend of goodness. He controlled and participated in the cities decline by controlling the church goers not the bad guys. Bad guys don't vote after all."

Eventually Mike was able to "pull out" the other name but expresses some annoyance that he did not do it faster.

I never thought of it this way before but that is more or less the unconscious process that I go through when I click on my mental recall for information tucked away in the recesses of my mind.

So how can old guys like Mike and I use our memory to better advantage and do it consistently? Ah, our mutual friend Google helps. Even without the real Google though, we can and should do a bit of digging ourselves. "Search like Google does" should be our routine rule of thumb.

Sometimes we don't need Google at all. The pesky past just needs a strong tug. A mind that thinks like Mike Sterling's helps too.

MB: Just an after-thought to the above...It's remembering what we did yesterday and what we have to do today that we really have to work on. Certainly for me anyway...And Google can't help with that.