Sunday, July 31, 2005

Babies don't turn 5, do they?

Our little guy, Noah, celebrates his fifth birthday today. In a couple of hours, we'll load the minivan, slide open the sunroof, pop on some tunes and head on down to the play place that he chose as the venue for his party. He and his boisterous circle of friends will run themselves silly, fill themselves with pizza and cake, and then hopefully be tired enough to nap while their parents - and we - drive them home for a quiet afternoon. At least that's the plan.

But it wasn't the party that was on my mind as I snuck into his room after tuck-in last night. I simply stared at him as he dozed in the dim light that reflected in from the hallway. He lay curled up on his side, underneath his Buzz Lightyear comforter, clutching his beloved Winnie the Pooh blankie. He was bigger than he had ever been before, yet he still looked so small.

I gently patted his head with one hand, wondering how much longer I'd be able to fit my whole hand over so much of him. I put my head in the little crook between his shoulder and his cheek, and felt his gentle breathing. I wondered what he was dreaming about. He's such a happy kid that I figure it had to be a sweet dream.

I stayed there for too long, hoping I could slow things down just long enough so that I would properly remember what it felt like to be right there, right then. I thought how lucky he was to be having a sweet dream about his big birthday, and how lucky I was to be right there as he dreamed it all.

He didn't stir as I whispered into his ear that I loved him and kissed him one last time. I'm sure he didn't even know I was there. But deep down, I hope he knows that I wish I could always be there with him. And that no matter how big he gets, he'll always be our baby, and we'll always remember what it was like for our little guy to get lost in the middle of a sea of Buzz Lightyear and Winnie the Pooh.

May this birthday be as happy as the little boy who celebrates it today.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bizarro Google search return

I came across this one as I noodled around Google looking to see who on the Internet has been quoting me in recent weeks. The link traced back to a generic, pathetic-looking site, and the whole thing smells a bit funny. But the starkness of the search return block on the Google screen stuck in my mind. I am, apparently, an Internet phone-sex guru. Here it is. Please swallow your milk before you proceed.

Your turn: what weird search returns have you come across recently or not-so-recently? What does this say about our world?
Your internet Guide to skype sex
... says infotech research until the voip world gets serious about security, group senior research analyst carmi levy Development, presence, peertopeer, ... - Similar pages

Magic comes home

I was catching up on a bit of work on my laptop this morning when it dawned on me that the Discovery astronauts were conducting their first spacewalk of the STS-114 space shuttle mission. So I did what any modern-day geek with a broadband connection does: I loaded up NASA-TV in a new window, moved it to the corner of my screen, and continued to work while the otherworldly scene played out in front of me.

I called our two youngest munchkins over to see. They oohed and aahed as they asked a rapid-fire series of questions:
  • "How can they breathe in space?"
  • "Why do they have to go outside?"
  • "How did they get outside? Did it let the space stuff into the space shuttle?"
  • "Hello! Hellooooooo"
After the last one, I had to explain to our soon-to-be-five-year-old that they can't hear us from the kitchen table. With that, they settled in and watched the chaotic video from one of the astronaut's helmet cams for about another minute.

The viewing didn't last long. Almost as quickly, they were getting up to leave. "This is boring," uttered Noah as he scooted back to his Shrek DVD.

The magic lasted all of three minutes, but it was just enough for them to have a glimpse of another world before they went back to the comfort of their own.

Your turn: What's magical to you? To your kids? How do you know when something actually is magical?

Quoted - (again) on Apple/Intel

More geekiness to come. I've been vanity searching this morning to catch up on who's running what words of mine in response to recent press releases and interviews. I've been so busy over the past couple of weeks that I've let this kind of tracking slip. Anyway, here goes...

The Channel Insider has published a piece entitled, VARs wary of Apple's transition to Intel. This follows up my earlier comments on Apple's announcement to dump its G4/G5-based processor architecture and migrate to Intel's x86 landscape by 2006/07.

What's cool about this particular pickup is the who. The Channel Insider is a Ziff Davis (ZDNet) publication, and it wears the sub-title, "From the editors of eWEEK." Both The Channel Insider and eWEEK are pretty influential publications in the tech world, and it's a real thrill to be interviewed by them, and to be quoted alongside a roster of pretty top-flight analysts from across the continent.

Quoted - IBM, Avaya & convergence

Warning: self-centred tech discussion shall ensue. I'll keep it brief, however, as I know we can only take so much Avaya before the appeal wears off. Come to think of it, the word "Avaya" would make a cool party greeting. But I digress. On with the geek show...

I was interviewed for a piece, entitled IBM, Avaya answer convergence call, that appeared in IT World Canada yesterday. I commented on an emerging trend in the industry, and was quoted alongside some key representatives of the two companies that are driving this week's news.

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now: I love doing this kind of thing. It's another way of getting words in front of folks far and wide, and helping them see their world just a little bit differently than they did before.

Update, August 1, 10:28 a.m.: IT World has picked up the piece and is running it here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blogroll backlog

Time-out for maintenance discussion...

I've fallen immensely behind in maintaining my blogroll (see sidebar). In fact, I've fallen behind in maintaining the sidebar as a whole. I've been so busy with writing, work and life in general that I've barely been involved in maintaining my blog's health and happiness. Priorities...

(I won't even begin to talk about my inability to comment on anyone else's blog. Please don't assume I've abandoned you...I just have too much on my plate these days.)

In reviewing my comments, I notice a number of you have added me to your blogroll. If you have done so - or are thinking about it - please let me know and I will add you to my own during my next round of site edits. And let's not forget: a huge thank you to you all. Without readers, I'd be talking to myself.

Thanks in advance.

Your turn:
  1. Please let me know if you've blogrolled me (i.e. added me to your list of favorites).
  2. Similarly, let me know if you'd like me to do the same (I'm assuming so, but you never know.)
  3. Even more similarly, kindly let me know if a current entry for your site needs to be updated...basically, this is your chance to set me straight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Publish Day - keeping kids water-safe

My latest column, Tots at highest drowning risk, deals with a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.

As usual with me, there’s a bit of a back story: When I was 13, I made a conscious decision to never work in a burger joint or other minimum-wage-prison job. I decided to become a lifeguard. I trained hard, got certified, and worked at pools throughout my teens.

The experience helped set the stage for everything I’ve done since. I learned how to lead, communicate and empathize. I learned how to manage in a crisis, and how to control large groups of people. I learned the value of prioritization.

I was also a swim instructor, and much of my work with children and their parents helped me build skills that have lasted a lifetime (so far, anyway.)

I also met my wife at my pool, and I can’t help but think that things would have been very different if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be there on that particular day.

So when I open up the paper and see an almost endless trail of stories about kids drowning, my heart breaks. I look at my own kids and pray we never show up in the paper for that reason. I hover over them when we swim and agonize over all the things that can threaten their safety and their lives. I cringe when I watch other parents and caregivers at a beach or pool virtually ignoring their kids for hours at a stretch.

If this piece reaches one person and motivates him/her to become a water-safe family, then this column will have been worth it.

Pray we don’t read any more news stories like it this summer.

Your turn: How do you keep your kids safe around water? How do you handle yourself when you see kids with no one looking over them?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Vacation images - swirly grass

Another in a seemingly never-ending series of pictures from our grand driving adventure to Florida last December.

I liked how this wild grass seemed to have a swirly pattern to it. More challenging was the fact that this occurred to me while I was stopped at a red light. Thankfully, I shot quickly while my wife watched for the green light. No, I do not recommend this photographic technique for the faint-of-heart.

Many thanks to the good folks of some now-forgotten town in Tennessee for suppressing the road rage gene while I engaged in this little bit of photographic fun.

Your turn: Two things, actually:
  1. Do you, like Nostradamus, see anything in these swirls?
  2. If you've got a good grass picture (no silly doobie jokes, though, as this is a family blog) then I hope you'll post it to your site and let us know.

Monday, July 25, 2005

New bio

If you're looking for some more comedic reading, click here. It's my new analyst's bio at work.

The picture is grand, isn't it? Definitely PhotoShop at its best.

I'll be serious for a moment: When I read this brief synopsis of my all-too-short work life, I realize I've done some pretty cool things. And this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. Neat!

Angry sky

As a followup to my earlier post, I took this picture from just outside my house earlier this evening as a huge, rather intense thunderstorm was rolling in. I was challenged by rapidly fading light and rapidly approaching lightning. This isn't going to make my Photographic Tack Sharp Hall of Fame, but there's something about the rich, boiling color in the clouds that just gets me. Nature is awe-inspiring and scary, all at the same time.

Your turn: I hope you'll upload a picture that "gets you" in some way. I also hope you'll post a link to it from here.

Inspiration wears yellow

The world now knows that Lance Armstrong has captured his seventh straight Tour de France victory, and has retired from the sport that he dominated for so long.

It's easy to measure his legacy in terms of victory, and to calculate his greatness by the number of times he stood atop the podium and the manner in which he could absolutely crush competitors on a climb, in a time trial, or on a flat stretch of impossibly beautiful French road. But this doesn't do justice to the impact that he has had on the lives of cancer survivors - and anyone else who has simply aspired to lead a better life.

For years, he has been dogged by rumors of drug use, that he somehow cheated his way to the top. Arrogant European cycling fans could never quite accept that an American - a brash Texan, no less - could come in and lay claim to iconic status in 'their' sport. They mercilessly taunted him along the route, conveniently ignoring countless scandals that claimed their own so-called national heroes.

As always, Lance found a tactful way to both put them in their place, and to remind the rest of us that there's so much more to him than his ability to turn a bicycle into a frighteningly quick blur of color and motion. I'm struck by what he said just after he finished the race:
"For the people who don't believe in cycling - the cynics, the skeptics - I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles."
We do, Lance. We've watched yours for so many years. We look forward to seeing where your journey takes you - and the rest of us - in the years to come. It's not often one gets to see a miracle play out so gloriously. And for that we are thankful.

Your turn: I hope you'll all take a few minutes to share your thoughts on Lance Armstrong's legacy. Where do you find your inspiration? What are you going to do with it?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Tonight's spooky London weather...

If I don't post for a while - or ever again - please look for me and my brood in the basement under the stairs. Here's the latest weather warning that I just pulled off of Environment Canada's website:
London - Parkhill - Eastern Middlesex County
10:02 PM EDT Sunday 24 July 2005

Severe thunderstorm warning for
London - Parkhill - Eastern Middlesex County continued

Around 10.00 PM a large area of severe thunderstorms about 50 km wide over the western half were moving eastward at 70 km/h.

Damaging winds risk of a tornado large hail torrential rain and deadly lightning are likely with these storms.
Carmi again: You know, two things come to mind as I read this weather warning:
  1. The terms "tornado" and "deadly lightning" really make me question why I uprooted my family to move to this part of the world. What was I thinking?
  2. I think I should offer my services as an editor to Environment Canada. Whoever writes their web updates needs some serious English lessons. Our tax dollars, apparently, are hard at work once again.
Your turn: What kind of weather scares you? What do you do to stay safe when it rolls in?

Public service message: Please don't be like me, riding my bike, taking pictures, using my laptop to connect to the Internet, and basically putting my health and my technology at risk for the sake of sharing my words and vision. Though I did get some amazing pictures tonight. Wanna see 'em?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The wonder of the back yard

This bedtime picture is a result of a ritual I started when I was a kid: Before I could go to sleep, I had to stare at the sky for a couple of minutes and wonder what was out there. I always found it neat that the whole world was still busy while I was asleep. What can I say except I was a crazy munchkin with an overactive imagination.

It continues to this day. When we tuck the kids in and I close their window shades, I first peek outside - pretty much the scene you see below - and wonder what tomorrow will bring them. And us.

Your turn: What's the view like from your backyard when the day slowly turns into night? What do you hope tomorrow brings?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Quoted - VoIP (again)

More geekitude on its way...

I know you're all likely getting tired of my posting links to stuff where I've been quoted. Frankly, if I don't post it here, then I tend to forget about it. Since I am a media wh.... um, streetwalker, not keeping track of these things would keep me awake at night.

Anyway, I was interviewed for this piece, What is the Leading VoIP Service, that was published last Monday (July 18th) in Enterprise VoIP Planet. I chatted about quality concerns and similarly scintillating stuff.

Your turn: Should I cut the geekiness out? Should I talk about it in the main blog? Leave it in the sidebar and hope folks stumble across it? What say you?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Vacation images - sandy ground

Another photo in an occasional series from our trip to Florida last December...

It's not the beach, but a playground in a park near my in-laws' place. Still, it takes me to a far-off desert as I wonder about the never-ending forces that reshape the surface every day. Kids really can change the world. On a really small scale, here's some proof.

Your turn: What is it about playgrounds that makes them such fertile ground for thinking? What do you think about when you sit around the edges of one?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dilithium loses its lustre

Sad news from the world of entertainment: James Doohan, who played Scotty on the iconic Star Trek series and subsequent films, has passed away.

CNN just ran the AP bulletin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beating the heat

Today marked the first day of non-record-breaking heat and humidity in, quite literally, many weeks. It was interesting to see people emerge from their air conditioned cocoons and revel in the fact that it was sorta comfortable outside.

The stinky, smoggy air will no doubt soon return, and along with it a desire for relief that lasts longer than a fleeting day. When that happens, I hope you'll have something cool to think of. Here's mine, a red leaf on snow that I shot last autumn.

Your turn: What images will you think of when the weather gets unbearably hot and gross? Do you think we'll ever stop whining about the weather?

Quoted - HP

Quick time out for some geekiness...

HP confirmed weeks of rumors today when it announced it would be laying off 14,500 employees as part of a large-scale restructuring effort. Since I own a laptop from them, I felt compelled to say something about it.

The release, SMEs Beware: Relationship with HP will change, says Analyst, is now available on our corporate web site. I guess my schedule for the next day or two is going to change a bit. What fun!


Monday, July 18, 2005

A child's perspective on life

Regular readers of this blog may know that bedtime is a pretty big deal in our house. Between picking the right pair of pyjamas and changing into them, brushing and flossing, negotiating bedtime extensions and hunting for favorite blankies and stuffies, the complexity of moving our three kids from an awake state to an asleep state can often rival that of a Space Shuttle launch.

And we love every second of it.

Part of the ritual involves storytime. Often, we read their favorite books, or we tell them stories (their favorites are the ones about Mom and Dad when we were younger), or we simply let the older sibs read to the younger ones. This often leads to deep discussions about life, the universe, and everything.

All too often, I'm stopped in my tracks by what our kids share with us as they drift off to sleep.

To wit, Noah, 4, sighed very loudly the other night after the two of us had finished a long conversation about what my bedtime was like when I was 4. He very seriously looked at me as he clutched his beloved blanket, scrunched himself under his comforter and adjusted his pillow just so. Then, he let me have it:
"Daddy, I hope I never die. I always want to be a kid."
For what seemed like the millionth time since my wife and I became parents, I had no words. He's been bringing up death and dying more so than usual in recent weeks, and I've struggled with how to respond to it truthfully without letting too much of life's cold realities into his world.

I looked at him, all small and curious and looking right back at me for an answer, and I just couldn't string together the right answer (some writer I am.) All I could think of was how badly I wished for his wish to come true, and how sad I was that it wouldn't.

So I held onto that fleeting moment - and to him - tightly in the hope that the memory would carry me long after the moment had passed. He didn't see the tears in my eyes as I did so.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Technology goes to the birds

Our van has a neat feature: little sensors on the back bumper that beep when they detect an obstacle. They're obviously no replacement for actually turning around and carefully eyeballing the scene before you start to move, but they don't hurt either.

So the other day, I'm backing out of a driveway when the thing starts to beep. I'm absolutely certain that the only thing remotely close to my rear bumper is air (OK, smoggy air, but nothing that will result in an expensive crunch.)

My wife saw it first: a tiny bird had flown right past the bumper and set off the sensors just as I shifted into reverse.

Never let it be said that technology is anywhere near perfect.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Not so mundane after all

Interesting compositions sometimes present themselves to you at the most bizarre times. We had taken the kids to the splashpad when, as luck would have it, little man needed to pee (I know, big surprise there.) Compared to the typical public washroom facilities - which are usually hideously-designed and filthy - these were in a lovingly designed building, and were stupendously clean.

So as we exited the building and headed back, our little guy commented on the bright red trim. We stopped and examined it, and agreed that the color was really nice. I thought it looked especially impressive against the yellowish brick that is a staple of century-old London architecture. So out came the camera, and the result is here.

I like the lines, the color, and the fact that it was our four-year-old son who saw the potential in the scene. The apple seems to have fallen relatively close to the tree.

Your turn: Can a bathroom be worth a closer look? If so, how?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Small things

The scene: yesterday morning, on the bike path a couple of km away from my house. Two little girls - maybe 3-ish and 5-ish - are walking toward me, a few meters ahead of their Mom. I'm riding my bike to work, in my usual early-morning haze of I'm-not-up-yet thought.

What happens next: the smaller munchkin sees me approach, smiles and waves. Her sister pickes up the cue and does the same thing. I smile back, broadly, because this just doesn't happen in this day and age.

Mom sees me smiling, laughs and says hi. We all continue in our opposite directions, all in a better mood than before our paths first crossed.

The takeaway: Small things make a big difference in the trajectories of our lives.

Your turn: How would you like to influence the life of a stranger the next time you're out and about? Can something as small as a friendly smile and wave make that much of a difference?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Not so far from the madding crowd

McGill College Avenue in downtown Montreal is a not-very-long street that, when I was a kid, sat at the center of a huge controversy over urban renewal and what constituted effective street design. Developers duked it out with city hall over what the streetscape would/should look like, what kind of buildings would hover over it, and ultimately how regular everyday people would interact with it all.

As a child-newspaper-addict, I voraciously followed the debate, then watched the street come alive as I grew through my teens and went to school in that very part of town.

The road eventually became a broad boulevard with lots of cool features at street level. It's a great place to walk around, and it continues to resonate in my mind long after I moved far, far away.

This is one of my favorite sculptures along one of my favorite urban roads. I'm not quite sure what it's saying, but it's definitely speaking to me.

Your turn 1: Describe your ideal urban environment. What does the street look like? Why does it work?

Your turn 2: Sorry, I couldn't decide on just one, so you get two tonight! What do you see in this crowd scene? In one sentence, please describe what you think is happening to the left of this image. Virtually, of course, because what's really happening to the left of this picture is traffic. Quebec driver-traffic. The scariest kind. But I ramble. Again. Your turn...

Quoted - VoIP security

Attention: geekdom alert!

IT Business Edge has published the transcript of an interview I gave them recently. It's also distributed within their Optimizing Infrastructure online newsletter. It's entitled 3 Questions: Walking Upright, Not Yet Running. I've pasted it here:

With Carmi Levy, senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group Inc., London, Ontario, Canada.

Question: In recent research on Voice over IP, you cite the relatively unsettled regulatory situation as well as security concerns and other issues for holding off on VoIP deployment. What's your best guess as to when the technology will be ready for worry-free, enterprise-wide deployment, and what's the biggest variable in that equation?
Levy: I don't think any technology is ever completely worry-free. For example, e-mail has been around in various forms for well over a generation, and we continue to deploy it along with a phalanx of protective filters against spam, viruses and a host of other threats. For any relatively new technology, the worry never really goes away, but it does tend to level off somewhat once the technology has had a few years to mature. Maturity occurs when standards become relatively universal, key vendors become more entrenched in their respective market niches, and the overall language of the technology becomes known by IT decision makers.

For VoIP, we're still in the somewhat more chaotic early stages of its evolution. Standards remain somewhat fluid, startups do battle with more established vendors who are in turn struggling to make the transition to VoIP, and IT decision-makers are still getting up to speed. The next two to three years will witness that kind of shaking-out, meaning 2008 is the year when we can comfortably call it a mature technology. The biggest variable is clearly security. Until it is relatively stable and well-communicated, IT won't make the jump.
Question: You also caution potential customers that upgrade costs can spiral out of control, since the increased traffic load on the IP network can mean unforeseen additional expenditures. How common is this among customers and what sorts of additional equipment or software do they end up having to buy?
Levy: The majority of early-adopter VoIP implementations run into greater-than-expected infrastructure costs. The majority of such companies with whom I have spoken have run into varying degrees of uncertainty during deployment, and this can be attributed to the uncertainty of the new landscape.

We're still learning the language of VoIP and figuring out what questions need to be asked. Until IT becomes as well-versed here as it already is with other aspects of infrastructure — as it has become with server design and desktop operating system deployment, for example — these little surprises will continue to pop up. The kinds of additional expenses that tend to pop up include VoIP-compliant firewalls, higher-capacity switches and routers, as well as direct increases in available bandwidth. As IT becomes more familiar with the scope of VoIP's impact on network infrastructure, these questions will be asked — and answered — far earlier in the project planning process.
Question: The "skills gap" you mention occurs as enterprises come to grips with whether VoIP gets handled by the telecom staff as a data service or by the IT staff as a voice application. Does this blending of voice and data at the personnel level really have to be so disruptive or expensive?
Levy: It never needs to be disruptive, but reality has an annoying habit of falling short of the original promise.

Both disciplines are typically staffed by highly experienced, long-serving experts in their respective fields. The term "turf war" wouldn't be out of place in describing how each side responds to a potential degradation in its area of accountability. Like most people, they focus on the territorial protection of what they already have. In doing so, they ignore the going-forward potential of the converged architecture.

Fear can be a positive or negative motivator. Effective managers focus on the wins that will benefit everyone, and ensure their messaging focuses heavily on these advantages right from the start. Effective managers also anticipate the kinds of questions and issues that employees from both teams will raise, and they prepare properly structured responses in advance. Proceeding through a VoIP implementation without a communication plan that outlines, in explicit detail, how the respective data and voice specialists will be deployed to support the new infrastructure is, in my view, a disaster waiting to happen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Publish Day - getting published

My latest column in the London Free Press, Author prevails in finding publisher, focuses on the very real challenges of getting published. I was lucky enough to observe London author Mark Rayner's efforts to launch and market his newly-published novel, The Amadeus Net, and thought his experiences in doing so would resonate with anyone who was thinking of doing the same.

The intestinal fortitude I witnessed in the process was monumental, and I have an even deeper respect for him and anyone else who has the conviction to follow a dream and get a book out there.

Editorial correction: a glitch seems to have creeped into the piece following submission. The lede should in fact read as follows:
Mark Rayner has some advice for would-be authors who want to get rich and famous from writing: put down your pen.
Your turn: Wanna write a book or get your name and work out there in some sort of historically significant manner? Why? What drives you?

(BTW, here are links to his web site and his blog. Both are compelling reading, just like the book.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Go flight, again

The spacehead in me is having a difficult time keeping the excitement in check in advance of Wednesday's scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Return to flight represents a lot of things to a lot of people, not the least of which is the need to keep exploring despite the inherent risks of doing so.

I have been fascinated by aviation and space flight for my entire life, and I watched shuttle launches, missions and landings faithfully from STS-1 on up. I saw Challenger explode and Columbia disintegrate on live television, and thought the only tragedy larger than the loss of such precious and exemplary lives would be an end to the journey.

The journey resumes tomorrow. Television coverage starts at 3:30 p.m. ET in most regions. I hope you'll stop what you're doing and tune in - or log onto and click on the NASA-TV link.

I'll have more to say tomorrow. For now, it's your turn: Is space flight worth it? Why? Why not?

Quoted - AMD/Intel fallout

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on AMD's lawsuit against Intel, and posted it here.

Tom's Hardware has quoted me in an update story, EU raids Intel's offices in Europe. Here's the snippet:
Still, it is unclear if AMD's claims are strong enough to hold up in court. Analysts such as Carmi Levy from Info-Tech Research, for example, believes that the current antitrust claims have nothing to do with unfair business practices but rather with the fact that Intel is just in a different league when marketing and selling its products. "When Intel gets its act together, everyone else scatters," he said.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Another glimpse

A couple of weeks back, Noah was playing in the back yard with Dahlia. We had laid out some towels on the grass, as well as some toys. It was a pleasant, sunny day, and they were engrossed in their little world of happiness for what seemed like an age.

At one point, Noah rolled over onto his back, put his hands beneath his neck in the universal relaxed-reclining position, and while staring up at the fluffy white clouds in the middle of a deep blue sky, asked her this:
“Dahlia, is this the life?”
I was stunned – happily so – at the level of insight from a four-year-old, and consequently didn’t even hear her big-sisterly response.

Never mind, I know the right answer anyway: it most certainly is.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Geometry at the beach

Manufactured lines meet those from a more natural origin. Can you tell I've been toying with the infiniteness of large bodies of water lately?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Fire in the sky

For some reason, the clouds have been especially beautiful over the past few days. The cynic in me says it's the smog, but the romantic being that hovers over my other shoulder says I'm just getting weepy in my old age. While they duke it out, I'll just take the pictures.

I shot this one the other evening as I walked home from an errand. I noticed this formation reflecting the setting sun as I strolled the last few meters before getting to the house. I grabbed the camera off the kitchen table - it's always handy, wouldn't ya know - and ran back outside. These scenes tend to disappear quickly, and I didn't want to miss the magic.

Your turn: It's actually a two-parter:
  1. What are the first three words that come to mind as you see this?
  2. What will you photograph next?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Playground pattern

An indoor play place is home to countless images that hide amidst the kaleidoscopic colors of the equipment and the blurred energy of the children who scamper in every conceivable direction.

While waiting for my own little people to make their appearance from inside the maze, I somehow fixated on this. As their little hands grabbed at the blue rope on their way out, they hardly paused as they waved at me before running back into another entranceway.

Your turn: The next time you head to the park - indoors or out - take a minute or two to look closer than you usually would. You might like what you see. I do hope you'll consider capturing a photo of it and posting it online.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Quoted - Amid some controversy

Ooh, I've stoked controversy. Good stuff.

Recently, I was interviewed for a story, entitled Five Reasons Not To Implement VoIP, that was published this week in Networking Pipeline.

In response, a ZDNet (I know, don't hyperventilate on me) writer named Russell Shaw posted this to his IP telephony blog:
Analyst's "don't implement VoIP" screed sounds like "hey, hire me"
Subsequent comments to Mr. Shaw's posting have branded me as a VoIP Insultant. They have also provided endless entertainment on how easily the English language can be butchered, but that is neither here nor there.

I'll ignore the whole quoting me out of context and missing the big picture thing. The article is right on the money, and I would change nothing if I were interviewed again tomorrow.

The closest analogy I can draw comes from the world of the daredevil:

Before you jump off of a cliff, I would highly recommend you exhaustively ensure every component of your parachute is in proper working order. In advising you to take these precautions, I'm not telling you NOT to jump off the cliff. I'm simply telling you to not do so before making sure you don't end up a flattened speck on the bottom of the gorge.

Happy jumping, Mr. Shaw and friends. Oh, and while we're here, kindly note that my name is not Carni. It is Carmi, with an em. If you're going to miss my point by the intellectual equivalent of a light-year, at least get my name right, k?

I know, I'm enjoying this way too much.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sing it like the Flintstones...

It's been 13 years since a beautiful young woman with a lot of courage put on a lovely white dress and married me. She's courageous because she's managed to put up with the tempestuousness of a husband whose idea of fun is lying on his back on the front lawn and measuring the size of clouds with his fingertips. That she does it at all is a wonder. That she does it while keeping herself and the household on an even keel is even more so.

We celebrated by dropping the kids off at day camp, then heading to nearby Grand Bend - a little town on the Lake Huron shore - to sit on the beach and contemplate life. The weather was iffy - it rained off and on as we drove there, forcing me to close the beloved sunroof - and stayed gray for most of the time that we were at the lake. The sky cleared into brilliant blue as we loaded up to head home. But I didn't much care. I had, after all, gotten to spend quiet time with the one person on the planet who can speak to me without saying a word.

After we got back to London and picked up the kids, we took them out for pizza. As our daughter had a hissy fit and buried herself in the deepest recesses of the adjacent bench seat for a good sulking, Debbie smiled and shook her head. She said never in a million years could she have imagined when we got married that we'd be doing THIS on our 13th anniversary.

I thought the same thing, then looked at our boisterous children and thought how cool it was that we had created this crazy little world.

We watched our wedding video with them before bedtime. I always have difficulty watching it because I can't bear to see all the folks who are no longer with us. As much joy as we felt on our wedding day, I don't want my memories to be bittersweet. Still, explaining who was who to our munchkins, and listening to them belly-laugh when they saw me happily saunter down the aisle made everything right with the world again.

I lack the ability to write the words that adequately - or even remotely - express how lucky I feel that I've been able to spend my life with my wife. All I can do is ask for countless more years that are as charmed as the last 13 have been.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Catalpa madness

I'm still on a bit of a picture kick, so thank you all for indulging my little photographic jag in recent days.

This time out, I headed into, of all places, my parents' backyard. This is the house where I grew up, and next month they will be moving to a condo nearby.

We visited them this weekend, and I found myself slowly taking pictures, hoping to capture not just the images, but the ghosts of what it felt like to grow up there. I'm not sure I succeeded, and I'm not even sure it mattered. But it did get me thinking.

This is a picture of the mythical catalpa tree. This tree with the giant leaves has fascinated me forever. It has seemingly died off some years, then charged back with bursts of leaves after the next winter. Half of it continues to be a skeletal presence high in the sky, but it grew enough big green leaves close to the ground this year to shade my playing children. Here's what it looked like to them as they bounced around on the lawn below.

Your turn: What is it about trees that speaks to the kid in you? Why do they matter so much?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Noah sleeps

It's been a very busy week for the little man, so here he catches up on his beauty sleep. Not that he needs much, mind you (yup, there goes that bias of mine, again.)

Your turn: I'm amazed at how he can fall asleep just about anywhere. I wish I had that ability. Do you? Where's the most oddball place you have fallen asleep?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Picket this!

Everybody wants a white picket fence, right?

Your turn: If you aspire to a white picket fence, why? What is it about them that makes them worth dreaming about? If you're not a fan, why not? (I know, this is a really broad topic...I'm feeling vague today. Thanks for indulging me!)