Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chromatic photographic self-portrait

It's always fascinating to look at people's travel photos. Different people can visit the same places, yet they come away with completely different perspectives and experiences.

In my case, I've taken to carrying the little digital camera with me whenever I hit the road. When I'm away for work - as it is on this week's trip to Phoenix - I am often challenged to find time to get out and shoot. The schedule is so packed that I'm lucky if I can grab a few minutes during daylight.

So to ensure I come home with something, I often play photographic games when things are quieter. Morning and evening routines make for fun camera play, especially when the good folks at the hotel had the foresight to install lots of marble and chrome. How did they know I love to shoot these surfaces? Bless them.

Back soon. Will have more to share in the days ahead. For now, I can't wait to get home: I miss my real world and the important people within it.

Your turn: We all know how boring the same old travel photos can be. How do you change perspective and keep it interesting?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Connecting with the little man

Anyone who knows our little man knows that he loves apple juice. I know he'd drink it all day if he could, but for obvious dietary and dental reasons, we strive to limit his intake to something more appropriate for the the typical five-year-old.

I've evolved this odd little quirk around his favorite beverage: whenever I'm away from home, I try to drink some. As I do, I think of him and imagine that he'd find it neat that his Dad is drinking apple juice, too, wherever he is.

So earlier today I found myself floating seven miles above the earth as some majestic peaks slipped below the belly of the plane. I popped open my can of Motts, pulled out my camera, and thought I'd reconnect in some small way with a small person who, for all I knew, was asking his Mom for a cup at that very same moment.

For a brief instant, it felt like I was right back where I wanted to be.

Your turn: How do you connect with the folks who matter when you're away from home?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shadowed layers

This earlier-posted image, entitled Lightning Strikes, elicited enough speculation that I thought I'd share other results from that shoot. My technique was simple: wade into the surf, point the lens down, and click away.

Aside from our kids, I've never worked with subject matter that moved so quickly and changed so dramatically from one moment to the next. Unlike most picture-taking expeditions, I went into this one with no clue how it would turn out.

When I reviewed the files afterward, I was amazed with the degree of variation. There's a magical world quite literally at our feet, and all we have to do is look down for a fleeting glimpse.

Your turn: What does this one remind you of?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Comments all over the map

I've posted a few links to some of the coverage I received in the flurry of activity that followed the BlackBerry announcement (not sure what's going on? Click here for yesterday's big news.)

Our original press release: RIM injunction outcome will resonate throughout the economy, says Info-Tech Research Group. Posted on Yahoo! Finance and PR Newswire.

Some of the fallout from that release:
Radio interview with Jim Richards
CFRB 1010 Toronto

Television interview with Pat Bolland
Report on Business Television (ROBTv)

Judge delays BlackBerry Decision
National Public Radio. Report by Lisa Napoli

Rim decision prudent: lawyer
The Globe and Mail. Byline: Roma Luciw

Le Blackberry de RIM obtient un sursis à son existence aux Etats-Unis
Agence France-Presse.

World's top PDA maker averts shutdown
ABC News (via AFP). Cross-posted to CIO Today, Yahoo! Finance/UK, Yahoo! News Australia,
Alternate headline: Judge Grants Reprieve to BlackBerry Maker

RIM, NTP and Patent Madness
eWEEK. Cross-posted to SmartCompany. Byline: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Analysis: RIM can now literally settle for less with NTP
Tom's Hardware. Byline: Scott Fulton

BlackBerries Stay Connected; Judge Will Issue Injunction Decision 'Soon'
TechNewsWorld. Byline: Keith Regan

BlackBerry users breathe sigh of relief
Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune. Byline: Michael Pollick

Millions have stake in BlackBerry case
DelawareOnline/The News Journal.

RIM Wins Reprieve
Unstrung. Byline: Richard Martin

Patent dispute fails to dampen BlackBerry sales
Metro/Torstar News Service

Friday, February 24, 2006

Quoted, interviewed, etc.

I had a bit of an eventful day at work today. I've been covering the legal battle between BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and NTP. The judge in the case held a hearing today and ruled that the two sides have to work out a final settlement. He declined to allow the BlackBerry service to be completely shut down in the U.S. It was big news in the business/tech world.

Why does this matter?

Because I was interviewed by a whole whack of journalists. I was on television (Report on Business TV has the piece here), radio (Montreal, Saskatchewan, Kitchener, and Ottawa), and in print. I'm going to be in tomorrow's New York Times and Globe and Mail. National Public Radio is running an interview here. This coming Monday, I'm going to be interviewed on Canada AM.

In short, I am a media whore. Today was likely the most surreal day I've had in a very long time. I love what I do and can't imagine doing anything else.

More later...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Good old American values?

Quoted - RIM cubed

It's a busy media morning around these parts: I've been quoted in three places. It all revolves around (say it with me, now) the RIM/NTP patent battle.

The Globe & Mail - Don't forget the BlackBerry's small business users (Byline: Shane Schick)
The Toronto Star - BlackBerrys could be squeezed (Byline: Tyler Hamilton)
The Washington Times - Judgment Day (Byline: Dan Caterinicchia). Also linked on TMCnet

Here's what I said...

Globe & Mail
Although RIM hasn't developed many services specifically for small businesses, the company has been reaching out to developers over the past six months to expand its presence in this market segment, says Carmi Levy, a senior analyst with the Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont.

"If you look at the enabling capacity of mobile infrastructure, it allows a small company to emulate a larger company -- it lets you be bigger than you actually are and compete," he said. "We are rapidly reaching a point where mobility is no longer going to be a luxury."

RIM is not the only portable device maker around, of course. Mr. Levy says Nokia, Microsoft and others have all been using RIM's legal troubles to their advantage. "Competitors have had time to build their own solutions that go head to head with anything RIM has been able to deploy before."
The Toronto Star
“Canadians have seen it primarily as an American case, but if the network has to change, it will impact all BlackBerry users, no matter where they come from, if they travel to the United States,” Carmi Levy, a technology research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group Inc. in London, Ont., said yesterday.


Carriers will also have to deal with a huge volume of queries if an injunction comes down.

“What’s going to end up happening is there will be this crush of last-minute questions, and they will not be able to handle that load,” said Levy. “From a business perspective, it’s going to be very disruptive for end users.”
The Washington Times
Technology analysts said it was impossible to determine the workaround's viability until they have seen it, but doubted that RIM would tout the solution unless it works.
"They wouldn't announce this unless it was ready for prime time," said Carmi Levy, an analyst with the Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ontario.
RIM wants the case to end and does not want any more bad publicity, said Mr. Levy, who is not a BlackBerry user and whose firm does not work with the company. Many of his clients and co-workers who use the e-mail devices are not worried, buoyed by the fact that RIM's stock price has held up throughout the legal battle.
"If the market [and end users] were truly worried, it would've tanked a long time ago," Mr. Levy said

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I'm still on a bit of a seagull kick. I know the world is populated by more glamorous birds. But a day at the beach just wouldn't be the same without these agile scavengers of the sky.

Every time I come across this picture in my library, I can't stop myself from staring at it and wondering. I like to imagine how neat it would be to be as free as this.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Transient color

In the few seconds between their being squeezed onto the palette and shmushed into a multicolored mess by the paintbrush of a child, these dabs of paint become a highly temporary microworld of color and texture.

The surface texture in the dying light of a late afternoon sun adds a final touch.

I'm glad I was able to capture this before it became not much more than a memory.

Your turn: I hope you'll capture your own color-and-texture image and post it on your own blog.

Why? Because winter continues to drag on in my neck of the woods. It seems to wash the color out of our daily lives. So anything that injects life back into the visible world around us is a good thing. All I ask is that you post a link to your own work in a comment here. Happy shooting.

Click the image to zoom in. I promise it'll be fun.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Morning necessity?

I almost needed a jolt of this to get myself out of the house this morning. I ended up going with a somewhat more genteel mug of tea that I nursed on my walk to work. For some reason, it always tastes better when my wife makes it.

Such are the perils of writing late into the night. Must learn to sleep more. Any hints?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Firefighter pay

I did the unthinkable in this column: I kinda said something not 100% supportive of our city's firefighters.

Those who know me know how I feel about emergency services workers. I'm not one of those who jumped on the bandwagon after September 11, 2001. I've been singing the praises of police, fire and ambulance workers since I first became a lifeguard when I was a teenager. They backstopped me and my team more times than I wish to remember.

It's easy for the rest of us to forget the personal sacrifices these people make so that we can lead safer lives. But when we need them, we know exactly how to reach them. They're heroes. Period.

So it was with a bit of fear that I wrote this. London's firefighters have been negotiating for a new contract over the last little bit. And the issue of retention pay stuck in my craw as a bit of a grab for cash. I tried to balance it by making it clear that my budgetary concerns had no connection to my fundamental respect of their goodness to and for society.

I hope they understand that when they read it. (And for the record, I didn't write the headline. Editors have final say on that component.)
Firefighters getting greedy
Published Saturday, February 18, 2006
The London Free Press

I don’t quite understand the logic behind London firefighters’ demands for retention pay.

They want the city to give them a bonus each year to keep them from leaving London to work elsewhere. The police officers’ union negotiated a similar deal last year, and now the firefighters want the same treatment.

I’m having difficulty with this since we don’t exactly have a huge shortage of firefighters. London has plenty of folks willing to join the ranks. We hardly need to pad their paychecks to keep them from jumping ship.

I have limitless respect and admiration for the firefighters in this and every city. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. They deserve proper compensation.

But asking for retention pay simply because their colleagues in the police force got it smacks of sibling rivalry.

Out in the real world, salary is driven by simple supply and demand. Employers crack open the vault when they need to attract new talent. They close the purse strings when applicants are abundant.

Why should firefighters be treated any differently?

Your turn: Am I being too harsh on London's firefighters? What's a city to do when it's trying to save money and keep its unions happy?

Update - Feb. 22: The Free Press published this letter to the editor in response to this piece:

All firefighters want is parity with police

In a round-about way, Carmi Levy got it right in his Ink Blog, Firefighters getting greedy (Feb. 18) when he asked, "Why should firefighters be treated any differently?"

This is the question we have been asking ourselves over the last 26 months that we have been without a negotiated collective agreement.

Several years ago, and in subsequent freely negotiated agreements, city council has recognized wage parity between London firefighters and London police. Now, the mayor and the rest of council seem to have cast this by the wayside. Our question to council is, "What has changed?"

The duties and the dangers of firefighting have increased, as evidenced by the ever-expanding list of work-related cancer deaths.

We have never used the retention pay argument in any submission at the bargaining table, even though a comparable percentage of firefighters has left London for other firefighting opportunities. This is simply about maintaining historical wage parity with London police.

Striving for wage and benefit improvements has nothing to do with sibling rivalry. We highly respect our brothers and sisters in the other emergency services and applaud their advancements through the negotiating and arbitration process.

Jim Holmes


London Professional Fire Fighters Association

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Rub that body

As I look back at the five columns I published this week (This is #4. 1, 2 and 3 are here, here and here, respectively. #5 will hit the site tonight) I can't help but think that I was on a bit of a rant-fest.

I also realize I managed to use some pretty nasty language in the process. To wit, this column includes such phrasings as purveyors of porn, sanctioned house of smut, and my personal favorite, get your jollies. I must not have had enough calming tea when I wrote 'em.

Alas, cretin was massaged out of the published piece. Next time.

Anyway, I originally thought this topic could be wrapped up in one word: NIMBY ("Not In My Back Yard") and initially dismissed it from consideration for that day's column. But as I thought about it more, I realized that there were no back yards anywhere where a body rub parlour would be acceptable.

The thought of an owner of a pseudo-porn shop using zoning loopholes to open up in a neighborhood while city hall shrugged its powerless shoulders dug deep into my brain. I ultimately wrote this:
Body rub parlour toxic for London
Published Friday, February 17, 2006
The London Free Press

Body rub parlours have no place in London’s business community.

They contribute nothing worthwhile to society and serve as vectors for all the things we don’t want in our own backyards: prostitution, drug use and other types of criminal activity.

Despite this, a new parlour proposed for an east London neighbourhood is using a zoning loophole to flout public opinion and set up shop. If there is any sanity left in city hall, this will be stopped.

Body rub parlours – as well as other purveyors of porn like adult video stores and strip clubs – destroy neighbourhoods and the lives of those who live within them.

There is no moral reason for London to have a 24-hour body rub joint. Grocery shopping, maybe. But a sanctioned house of smut, not so much.

To city hall: get a backbone and figure out an effective way to fight off those who threaten to destroy the very fabric of our city.

To anyone who might consider becoming a customer: get your jollies somewhere else.

Your turn: How does a city fight back against the barely-legal sex trade? How does a city fight back against the illegal sex trade, too? Is there a difference? Should there be? Is prostitution a given on our streets? So many questions...

Publish Day - Ink Blog - the f-word

I marked a bit of a milestone in my writing career with this column: I came as close to publishing a profanity as I have ever come.

Please note, I didn't actually use the full f-word. Instead, I used the hyphenated, dashed-out short-form for "for unlawful carnal knowledge," better known as the word, fuck. There, I said it. Whew, that was tough. That ought to get the search engines wagging. Along with porn, sex with breadsticks, and floam. But I'm digressing.

But I felt that the preoccupation with whether our not-so-esteemed former leader's testimony at an inquiry into the death of a native protester a decade ago took away from his family's tragedy. It bothered me that something so traumatic to one family could be so co-opted by an ex-politician who has clearly had more than enough time in the spotlight.

I guess politicians just bug me. Here's the piece:
Who cares if Harris used the f-word?
Published Thursday, February 16, 2006
The London Free Press

Somewhere amid the circus that now masquerades as the inquiry into the death of native protester Dudley George, the events that led to an immense tragedy for his family and community are being glossed over.

We are instead – and somewhat bizarrely – fascinated by whether or not former Ontario premier Mike Harris used the f-word in reference to the protesters who were occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park in the days before the 1995 shooting.

We get to watch what amounts to a high-level hissing match between Harris, who denies having a toilet mouth, and one aide who swore – on a Bible – that he heard the then-premier say, “I want the f---ing Indians out of the park.”

As if Harris’s purported use of the f-word – or any other form of profanity, for that matter – matters at all. It shouldn’t.

Ontario taxpayers are paying untold thousands of dollars per day to learn that their former premier may or may not have had a potty mouth.

Dudley George deserves better. So does his family.

Your turn: Would you have a disgraced ex-politician over for tea if he promised to check his potty mouth at the door? What would you serve him? (Yes, I said, "him." Only male politicians seem to have an active profanity gene.)

Burst of color

The world outside my window is cold and dark. The streetlight casts a dim cone of light over a snowy landscape. Back inside, as the electronic thermostat gradually brings the house temperature down to its energy-saving nighttime low, I snuggle inside my giant red-hooded sweatshirt in a vain search for warmth.

I thought a little color might brighten our collective mood. Did it?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hunters respond

I published this column in our city's daily newspaper earlier in the week. I used the whole Dick Cheney circus to throw the question of hunting-as-sport into question. Since then, I seem to have attracted the ire of a number of hunters who forcefully disagree with me. I've can conclude a few things about the kinds of responses I've received thus far:
  1. They have a lot of free time on their hands.
  2. They seem incapable of discussing anything outside their narrow world view.
  3. They don't read and respond as much as they simply spew.
  4. They're rather angry and rude.
To wit, someone included this line in his note:
You're probably one of those bleeding hearts which would like to take fighting out of hockey?
I'll ignore the sophisticated use of grammar for now. I'll also ignore the fact that the note was sent from a work account during business hours.

But nothing topped this next one for sheer entertainment value. I've posted it in its unadorned entirety. Sure, the guy's insulting me in a sad and juvenile way. But the structure of the note is illuminating, and illustrates the kind of thing a columnist deals with when some folks decide to engage not in spirited debate, but personal name-calling. Here's the note:
London Free Press contributor Carmi Levy arrogantly admonishes us to
"ditch the gun and go grocery shopping."
Nice of him to tell us what's best for us.
He voices this concern because "it's infinitely safer."
How considerate.

First of all, "infinitely safer" is a mathematical impossibility here.
Getting into vehicles results in 80 times more deaths (1999) than gun
accidents (not all of which are from hunting).
Of course, taking a vehicle to go hunting increases your chances of
getting killed but I'm fairly sure that the odds aren't infinite and
could be calculated by someone with a better grasp of mathematics than
either myself or (more certainly) Mr. Levy.

As if hyperbole weren't enough, Levy makes a shocking assertion that
"one death is too many, especially since it's been generations since
we've needed to shoot wild animals for food."

Well, we don't need to go rock-climbing or sky-diving or any number of
activities that Levy may deem too risky or politically incorrect but
the obvious fact that seems lost on him is that the odds that any
activity will result in death more directly relates to the manner in
which that activity is conducted than any imaginary risks he dreams up.
That's why I haven't been hurt in over 35 years of hunting and that's
why the statistics don't back him up.

It's simply a matter of personal prejudice.
More to the point, the beauty of our human soul is that we are free to
choose any legal activity that gives it pleasure.

I personally don't see that it's necessary to ride a bicycle to work
with cars whizzing by, mere inches away, when there's perfectly good
public transportation with far better odds of keeping me from being a
I've had the hell scared out of me several times on one short stretch
of road by cyclists weaving over the shoulder line in front of me,
forcing me into a game of chicken with oncoming traffic.
There are crosses with flowers marking the spots where some of these
heroes got nailed playing this game a little too often.

But far be it from me to dictate personal choices.

I'm sure that "Urban Commando Cyclist" Levy's cycling friends would no
more enjoy being told to hang up their wheels than I do having him tell
me to give up a sport that puts me in such intimate contact with a
primitive, natural world - and the occasional, non-industrialized meal.

-----------------the following is not for publication-------
PS: I saw Levy's Blog - he flatters himself if he thinks he was ever on
anyone's Christmas card list.
PPS: I also note from Blog entries about such things as having waffles
for breakfast that Levy is more than a little self-absorbed - some
might say a pretentious so-and-so.

Your turn: Do I continue to publish what I think or should I cow to the narrow-focus responses of extremist and rude readers with an obvious agenda? Additionally, should I invite this individual over for tea the next time he's in town?

Final thought #1: I always thought "intimate contact with a primitive, natural world" was a little more acceptable when I attempted it with a lens and not a gun, but maybe that's just me.

Final thought #2:
Readers with a little more decorum have had letters to the editor published in the paper this week. I'd be happy to share those if you're interested.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Finding warmth in the sand

I'm still working my way through the pictures from our vacation to a warmer land. It's been over a month since we came home, but I find that spending time immersed in the images keeps the memories close. It also serves as a counterpoint to the extreme cold that whistles just outside the window as I write this.

That's our youngest munchkin, Noah, heading back to his towel to see his grandparents. I'm surprised that his little legs weren't blurred in the picture. He essentially has two speeds whenever he's moving between two places: running, and running really fast.

I'm tempted to say that I really like this picture because it was technically difficult to shoot. Generally, taking pictures into the sun and over reflective surfaces is usually a recipe for disaster, so I'm happy I was able to get anything.

But beyond the cold logic of the photographer, I remember that instant where I was surrounded by perfection. Everyone around me was blissfully happy as they enjoyed the simple pleasure of a beach on a warm day. Nothing mattered beyond that moment. That's peace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Fallout from an assault

My column in today's paper deals with the aftermath of this story, Sexual assault rescuer charged. I thought it would resonate with those among us who are tired of seeing victims of crime get the short end of the stick. I speak from experience (read about it here first, then here, and finally here.)

Here's what I wrote:
Protector's reaction understandable
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The London Free Press

It’s unfortunate that a man who rescued a sexual assault victim last week has himself been charged with assault.

Police say the victim’s boyfriend used excessive force when he attacked Marcel Ianni, who had allegedly attacked the female gas station attendant.

I wasn’t there, but I understand what he might have been thinking. Last year, a motorist assaulted me while I was cycling to work. He later pleaded guilty to assault and received a year’s probation.

As he walked back to his car, I felt torn about what to do next. I wanted to jump him from behind and pummel him until someone pulled me off. I wanted to do to him what he had done to me. I ultimately did nothing more than call 911 and allow justice to take its course.

I’m not saying citizens are justified in taking the law into their own hands.

I’m simply saying I understand what went through his mind when he heard his girlfriend had been sexually assaulted.

Who among us wouldn’t empathize?

Your turn: Thoughts?

Lightning strikes

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Cheney can't shoot

When I first read the news that Dick Cheney had accidentally (love that word) shot his friend (love that word, too) while hunting, my first thought was what a complete idiot he has to be. My second thought was that this is the second most powerful leader of the most powerful country on the planet.

Damn, that dichotomy scares me.

Here's what I published in today's paper. The direct link is here. Here's the text:
Tell Dick Cheney hunting's outdated
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The London Free Press

Long before gigantic supermarkets became our closest connection to the food supply, hunters roamed the land in search of dinner.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of his hunting partner on Saturday throws the need for modern-day hunting into further question. I doubt the second most powerful man on the planet was out shooting because he was hungry.

Cheney would call it sport. I'll politely disagree.

The International Hunter Education Association logged 850 hunting accidents throughout North America in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available. Of those, 89 were fatal.

Hunting advocates say the accident figures are acceptable given the millions of hunters who take to the woods each year. I disagree. Even one death is too many, especially since it's been generations since we've needed to shoot wild animals for food.

Urban expansion makes a bad situation worse as it erodes the buffer between hunters and the rest of us.

So what's the alternative? Ditch the gun and go grocery shopping. It's infinitely safer.

Your turn - 2 parts:
  1. Does the thought of Dick Cheney scare you as much as it scares me?
  2. Is there still room for hunting in our supermarket society? (I think I'm being yanked off the hunters' birthday card list after this one.)
Update - The Free Press published these two letters to the editor on February 17th. Original page is here. It's nice to see I can motivate folks on all sides of a given issue to pick up a pen and write in. Here's what they wrote:
More killed on highways

In his Ink Blog, Tell Dick Cheney hunting’s outdated (Feb. 14), Carmi Levy suggests that going to the supermarket is safer than hunting.

He further writes that there is no longer a need to hunt for food. He cites 850 hunting accidents with 89 fatalities in all of North America in 2002. What he doesn’t say is how many of those fatalities were non-firearm-related accidents such as ATV collisions, slip-and-falls and other mishaps.

By contrast, Transport Canada reports in 2002 that there were 2,936 deaths from motor vehicle collisions just in Canada. So, do you really think it’s safer to drive to the grocery store?

Levy also questions the need to hunt in this modern day. There are many things we don’t need today. We don’t need to drive to the grocery store in a luxury sports car with more than 300 horsepower. If Levy thinks hunting is only about the acquisition of meat, he truly has no idea about the topic. He could learn. But that would mean he would have to leave the city where everything is done for him and go out into the wilderness. And a man has to know his limitations.

Tony Morrison

Hunting controls wildlife

Regarding the Ink Blog, Tell Dick Cheney hunting’s outdated (Feb. 14) by Carmi Levy:

The unsafe actions, like those of U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, influence even more non-hunters against the traditional sport.

Levy is an easily influenced person who did not evaluate the true nature of hunting prior to writing his column.

The need for modern hunting stems from a decrease in animal habitat resulting from urban expansion. When wildlife overpopulation occurs, ecological habitats exceed their sustainability. The Ministry of Natural Resources organizes annual hunts to regulate wildlife numbers.

If Levy is so concerned with his close proximity to hunters, he should consider who exactly hunters are. Many hunters, including me, are urban residents who venture to rural areas to participate in hunting.

Hunting is also defined by more than just “shooting a wild animal for food”; although a legal and ethical hunter will definitely utilize their harvested animal. The sport of hunting encompasses many values, including respect, camaraderie, responsibility, conservation and safety.

Levy fails to note that the IHEA statistics include fatalities that result not just from firearms discharging but from any accidental hunting injuries. Hunting is actually safer than many daily activities that citizens participate in.

In 2001, StatsCan recorded that a total of 3,032 Canadians died as a result of vehicle accidents. Statistics provide a guideline to ensure that safety is taken seriously by all citizens. Evidently, fatality statistics do not influence Canadian residents to give up their vehicles, and fatality statistics should not have a negative influence on the continuation of hunting.

Lindsey Rawlings
(a woman, a hunter, and a UWO student)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Muted sky

First thing every Friday morning, I allow nurses to stick a largeish needle into my arm so they can suck some plasma out of me and use it for folks who need it more than I do.

As I am very much a creature of habit, I look forward to Fridays. I find the people who work there to be extremely kind and giving. I find the other donors to be inspirational. It's an ideal way to start the last working day of the week. I'd like to think that hanging around there for a couple of hours every week makes me a slightly happier person. And if it doesn't, then at least I'm trying.

This week, as I headed into the parking lot waiting for my ride back to the office - alas, no biking until the snow melts - I couldn't ignore the melancholy sky. Although the sun was out, it was a sun unlike any other. It was a mere smudge. It had no energy, no verve. It reminded me more of a Monday morning than anything else.

The sun's position relative to me put it immediately beside a couple of smokestacks that looked like they had been plucked from some post-industrial nightmare. I liked the composition, so I reached into my bag and grabbed the camera.

It isn't that it's a world-beating action shot. But every picture says something to the person who views it - and often different things to different viewers. Whatever this one is saying, it whispers it in muted tones.

Your turn: What is this image saying to you?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The icicle works

The bushes beside our front door often wear a full head of snow when winter rolls in. When the sun comes out and gradually warms the snow, interesting things happen in this cold little microworld.

I don't often get to take pictures of the results because the kids usually get to it before I do. By the time they're done playing with it, there's precious little left.

This time out, however, a brilliantly sunny day coupled with temperatures near zero resulted in a rapid meltoff of the canopy. I worked quickly to grab whatever pictures I could.

The light that diffuses through ice under a bright sun is something I've always wanted to capture. It's elusive, but I'll keep trying until I succeed.

Your turn: I'm still playing games with my titles. Anyone want to guess?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And in the morning, I'm making waffles

Did I mention my aunt makes the most frighteningly good waffles from scratch? I can never have an Eggo again.

I figured a great dish deserved a little attention from the camera lens. Do you agree?

Click the picture to enlarge. Written Inc. is not legally responsible for any hunger that might ensue.

Your turn: From what movie did I steal the title of this entry? Extra points for character and scene description.

In his own world

I just love watching him play. He was so absorbed in his game that he had no idea I was even there.

As I watched him in rapt silence, I caught a fleeting glimpse of myself in grainy, washed-out pictures from a generation earlier. Playing in the sand. By myself. Unaware of the world around me.

To say I suddenly felt very connected to this smaller version of me would be an apt description of what was going through my mind at that moment.

It was a great day for us both - for very different, yet related, reasons.

A similar image/entry can be found here.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Long before I started shooting digital, I would waste film (at least that's what the naysayers who wouldn't pick up their own cameras would say) on some of the more odd sights I came across in a given day.

Closeups of cake icing, dying leaves and couch fabric filled (and still fill, come to think of it) my photo albums. I was on a first name basis with the folks at the local photo lab, and they knew my color temperature preferences better than I did.

I'm still strange like that. I can be in the middle of a conversation when something either catches my eye or pops into my head. I will either make a mental note to go back to it, or I'll stop what I'm doing right there and reach for my camera. It's maddening to my wife and kids, but I think they're used to it by now. At least that's what they lead me to believe. My wife even has her own little head shake combined with a barely-hidden smile. That's my sign to shoot, but shoot fast.

Today's image is a simple one, but it evokes strong memories of a very comforting day spent with our brood. I was drawn to it by the transition of light across its surface. Then my wife did her head-shake.

Your turn: Can you guess what it is?

The answer: I posted this as a comment earlier today, but a few folks seem to have missed it. So I'm going to paste it here as well. Thanks to everyone who took the time to take a guess. I'll be posting more photo mysteries soon.
Wow, you all are amazing guessers!

It is a...

Painted concrete post at the outdoor pool near my aunt and uncle's home in Florida. I noticed it because it the way the setting sun cast a differential light across the curved surface.

It reminded me of the planet's dividing line between night and day, and I tried to get some of that gradient into the picture.

This remains one of my favorite object-type photos from our entire vacation. I've got more, and will post them in the days to come.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Interviewed - a voice in the ether

I was interviewed earlier today - by radio stations in Montreal and Ottawa - after Research In Motion (the BlackBerry company) announced a technology workaround that gives it an additional - and critical - option in its ongoing patent battle with NTP.

What's worse - for you poor readers - is that I'm going to try to link to the MP3 file so that you can hear what I had to say. The file for the Montreal interview (940 Montreal) can be found here.

Just for the record, this is the URL: http://www.savefile.com/files/1488468

When you get there, look for this graphic and click the Download button:

Then click on the "Download the file now" link to save the file to your hard drive. Load into your favorite MP3 player (Windows Media Player, WinAmp, whatever moves you) and enjoy the listen.

I've never done this before, so please cross your fingers.

But wait, there's more...

The Ottawa (CFRA) interview is here: http://www.cfra.com/interviews/index.asp
Scroll down to this block (or, alternatively, click the link below to auto-load the sound file.)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Biz @ Nite - Blackberry Work-Around
February 9th 2006 - Rob speaks with Carmi Levy about Rimm's "Work-Around" for the Blackberry.
mp3 (click here to download)
Your turn: How was it? Did it work?

Next up:
As you may have noticed, the process in both cases is a little involved - sorry for the inconvenience. When I have a bit more free time, I'm going to try to automate the process of feeding MP3s off the site. Yes, I'd like to be a podcasting geek. At least I'm going to try to be a podcasting geek. Any suggestions/tools that you've come across in getting this going on a humble Blogger/Blogspot site are amply welcome. Thanks in advance.

Low-level flight

Seagulls have always been, and will always be, scavengers. Everyone knows someone who has had an unhappy experience with one of these animals. Often, it involves a hot dog, an unexpected drop-in, an empty bun and a crying child. Nasty stuff, but no one ever said that life in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom would always be pretty.

Still, they're beautiful to watch in the air. Unlike many birds that frantically flap their wings to stay tenuously in the air, seagulls are masters of the sky. They glide with an agility and ease that would make even fighter pilots jealous. Every time I go to the beach, I find myself spending at least a bit of time watching them alternate between the converging environments of sand, surf and air. It's hard to not wish that we could be as adept in all three.

I know: on the surface, it seems somewhat ridiculous that I'm fascinated by a species of dirty birds. Sometimes it's the little things that inspire.

Your turn: Elegance can be found anywhere. In what other unexpected places have you found it?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Ever since I was first laid low with the flu two weeks ago, I've been wrestling with a vexing problem: I lose my voice first thing every morning and again just before tuck-in, and I end up sounding like a dying amphibian when I try to speak.

It's hugely amusing to our kids but somewhat distressing to me. Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal. But when I need to speak that day - or worse, speak on the radio - it kinds freaks me out that I sound like Phyllis Diller after she's stuffed 125 cigarettes simultaneously into her mouth before lighting them en masse.

This past Friday, I awoke with the now-traditional non-voice. Problem was I had an interview scheduled for that morning. I nursed a giant mug of tea until the moment my cell phone rang, and ended up sounding more or less human when I spoke to the reporter.

Which reminded me how much comfort I've been deriving from tea since I first got sick last month. I've been spending a lot of time enjoying the genteel benefits of boiling water and letting it steep in a lovely old pot on the kitchen table. Just watching the wisps of steam is often enough to set everything right with the world no matter how busy life might be at that moment. And if I have to leave the house, the warmth of a mug through my fingers helps lower my blood pressure as well.

This image takes me right there, even if I'm nowhere near a kettle. I never thought condensation and color could be so fascinating.

Your turn: Tea is all about ritual. What other rituals do you engage in to slow the rest of the planet down? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Marching in sequence

London's Harris Park is home to scads of Canada Geese. So pervasive are these beautiful - but potentially hissy-fit-pulling - birds that bikers familiar with the path that runs through this inspiring stretch of riverfront land know to slow down lest they wipe out on the droppings. Yes, it's gross. No, I haven't experienced it first-hand. But I have come close. I'll say no more.

I took this on my recent lunchtime walk to the park to observe the flooded river. On this gray day, a huge pack of birds alternated between lounging on the lawn and swimming in the fast-running brown water. I approached slowly so as not to startle them, but as you can see from this image, they were already on to me by the time I raised my camera and tripped the shutter.

I like the symmetry of this picture. I like the moment that it represents, when I was alone by the water on a miserable, melancholy day with a bunch of birds.

I guess that's what photography ultimately means to me: moments.

Your turn: What does photography mean to you? Why are frozen images in time so meaningful?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Childhood in the surf

I'm slowly working through the 1,300+ pictures we took when we were in Florida over the Christmas/New Year's holiday. My eventual goal is to get the majority of the worthwhile ones posted onto my Flickr photo site (see photo strip to the right or click here.) But all this is taking time that I do not currently have. Skipping from one bout of flu/cold to another doesn't help, either.

Still, I do want to share some of the cooler moments from our adventure. This one qualifies. All I did was stand in the surf and watch our kids be kids. It was one of those moments of parenthood that I hope I remember forever; one where everything was just right, and I didn't want it to end.

There's something magical about the exuberance of a child, and I think I saw it in each of our munchkins that day. Here, Noah practices his running-through-water skills as only a five-year-old boy can.

I was seriously worried we'd never convince him to get out of the water.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Flatulent propulsion

A good friend of mine has mounted this on the back of his car. Every time I see the vehicle, I smile. And I wonder how cool it would be if it were true.

Yes, Mom, it says, "Powered by fart gas." No, Mom, I'm not going to apologize to my high school English teacher for posting this.

Your turn: What's your favorite bumper sticker slogan?

Hidden color

I took a walk at lunch this week. It was cold and gray outside, and I had no expectations of capturing anything worthwhile with my camera. Days like this tend to suck the color out of most scenes, rendering them washed-out, dull and melancholy.

But the river that defines this city had flooded its banks, and I wanted to see it up close before the water receded. So off I went with an iPod in my ears (playing the score from Jim Carrey's Truman Show) and my camera in my trench coat pocket. Not even my woolie hat, scarf and mitts could ward off the chill.

My hunch turned out to be correct: the flood scenes were decidedly mundane. I snapped some pictures of the Canadian geese and turned for home. As I walked past one of the towering trees beside the flooded banks, I noticed a stab of color in the bark and thought it would be neat to explore. Here's the result.

Your turn: Can you see anything in this image? I once again find myself thinking that there's something there. But I can't quite put my finger on it. What do you think? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006


The just-opened grocery store near our house still exudes the new-car patina of a place yet to be discovered by the masses. Little elements of its design make it a slightly less creepy place to be when the sun goes down. For example, the cart garage area in the front of the store is bathed in abnormally intense light, an effect amplified by the day-glow yellow shade of the carts.

I thought the artificial light made the yellow paint look somewhat surreal. And even if I'm wrong, it added a little spice to an otherwise boring trip to pick up milk and OJ.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Neon world


My office is situated on the very edge of a stately neighborhood of old houses. Some have been restored to their former, glorious beauty. Others, on the other hand, wear their faded beauty in plain view of all passers-by who are just a bit curious.

When I'm feeling the need for some architectural inspiration, I like to take a stroll through the nearby streets to drink in what was, what is, and what might be.

Something tells me the diamonds in the rough are infinitely more fun to photograph.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Asthma

My wife has asthma. I'm sure I bug her to no end with my constant reminders to take her inhaler with her wherever she goes, and to always have it reachable, just in case.

Sure it's common sense. Sure, I'm paranoid. But I don't want to lose her.

So when I see statistics that show skyrocketing rates of asthma, my usual fear grows even more. Something's going on, and we're not even remotely close to understanding what's driving it. That should keep more people awake at night.

Tying it in to our almost-prime minister and using it as an opportunity to get a shot in on his policy positions was a nice by-product.
Asthma epidemic prompts fear, action
Published Saturday, January 28, 2006
The London Free Press

Prime minister-designate Stephen Harper’s hospital visit this week may have ended up being due to a chest cold and not asthma, but a wake-up call has nevertheless been delivered.

A report released yesterday by the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Co-operation says childhood asthma rates have quadrupled in the past 20 years. About 20 per cent of Canadian boys and 15 per cent of girls aged eight to 11 have been diagnosed with it. Harper is among 2.5 million Canadians who suffer from asthma.

Frighteningly, we don’t yet know what causes it. Indoor and outdoor air quality plays a role, and skyrocketing rates of atmospheric pollution make a bad situation worse. Southern Ontario’s record-setting smog puts us at additional risk. We've become the proverbial canary in a coal mine.

Our PM-to-be, who ironically has promised to review Canada’s plans to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, can breathe easy for now. But our failure to actively reduce emissions and prioritize research into a cure means Canadian asthma sufferers won’t be doing so indefinitely.

Your turn: How has asthma touched you? Do we as a society do enough about it?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - teen murder

When some people get angry, they punch holes in the nearest wall. When I get angry, I reach for a keyboard and start to write.

The murder of a 17-year-old girl in a Montreal gas station was tragic enough. What set me off was a spokesperson for the company she worked for saying she should have kept the door locked. I was watching the news on Wednesday night when I heard the clip.

And I saw red as I reached for my PalmPilot and jotted down my thoughts. How callous of an unfeeling corporation to shift the blame to the murder victim. The cowardice angered me. Another column was born. Here's the result:
Late-night workers dying needlessly
Published Friday, January 27. 2006
The London Free Press

You’ve got to hand it to Shell Canada.

A 17-year-old girl is stabbed to death while working at a Shell station in Montreal, and the company’s first response is that she violated company policy by unlocking the front door.

Brigitte Serre’s murder early Wednesday has sparked a national debate over the widespread practice of staffing convenience and other all-night retail outlets with only one employee.

Owners, often billion-dollar conglomerates, say it would cost too much money to run late-night shifts with multiple employees.

They’re missing the point. The cost to this girl’s family is incalculably larger than the minimum wage paycheck she never had a chance to bring home.

Shell claims its sole responsibility is to enforce provincial legislation. Forgive me for thinking an employer’s responsibility must go further than the letter of the law. Young, vulnerable employees deserve better.

Alberta enforced new rules after Tara MacDonald was murdered at a Calgary fast food restaurant in 2000. How many more teenagers need to die before the rest of the country follows suit?

Update: All four suspects have now been arrested. Nothing can ever bring back a lost girl's life, but it's comforting to know those who did this will ultimately pay some price.

Your turn: Please take a moment to reflect on a life lost far too soon (her death notice can be found here.) And if you have kids of your own, never miss an opportunity to give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. I know it may sound corny, but any parent who's lost a child would give anything to engage in this simple gesture just one more time.