Friday, August 31, 2007

Summer draws to a close

Basking by the lighthouse
Grand Bend, Ontario, July 2007 [Click to embiggen]

In my book, summer ends as soon as we move into September. It's no longer summer after everyone's gone back to school and the world has returned to its more sober, vacation-free routine.

I find this more than a little depressing because I really like this season and hate to see it end. Even though I've been working continuously through the last few months, just knowing that it's summer outside somehow manages to lighten my mood as I tap away at the keys.

I like knowing that we can throw our huge blanket into the trunk and head to the beach on the weekend. I like how the sun sets late into the evening, and how the kids have that much more bounce in their step because they're not weighed down by books and assignments. I like how things seem simpler when it's sunny and warm outside. I guess I just like the attitude of the season.

So when the days get short and the kids load up on homework, I look back at pictures like this in the hope that for a fleeting moment, I'll be taken back to a moment when my biggest worry was when I would dip my toe into the churning surf.

Your turn: What's going through your mind as summer draws to a close?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dora the Explorer: the root of all evil

We have, thankfully, moved beyond the Barneys, Teletubbies and other characters that appeal to toddlers. Now that I think of it, our kids were never huge fans of either (though I do haul around a tiny Po doll as a sort of travel gnome on my camera bag) so we escaped the scourge relatively unscathed.

Dora the Explorer, never a major fan favorite around here, has long been a particular target of my scorn. Annoying only begins to describe her. I've been known to get headaches just from hearing her voice.

Which is why when Saturday Night Live ran a spoof of Dora, called Maraka, I found myself rolling on the floor with laughter. If you haven't yet seen this destined-for-classic SNL TV Funhouse short, prepare yourself. And don't drink milk before you do: I speak from experience. Enjoy the show:

If you had trouble seeing the embedded video, click here to go straight to YouTube.

Your turn:
Annoying children's characters and the parents who despise them. Please discuss.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Parked curves

Exotic in the shade
Laval, Quebec, August 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Exotic cars don't really do much for me. I view them as icons of self-indulgence, the kinds of things that overgrown kids with too much money would buy simply because they want everyone else to know that they have too much money. There's an inherent immaturity in having something so outrageous, and I simply can't understand the blatantly look-at-me mindset.

Then again, maybe I'm just jealous of those who can buy these things without batting an eyelash. Perhaps I'd be the first in line if money were no object. Whatever, it's easy to see the aesthetic appeal of a no-compromise design that does one thing exceptionally well. It goes fast. It doesn't carry groceries or kids or go far on a gallon of fuel. There's purity of form in this kind of car that, say, a Toyota Corolla just can't match.

Which means that one can admire something without coveting it. Strange, that.

So when I saw this yellow Ferrari Testarossa (yes, it's similar to the model that Don Johnson drove in the wretched old Miami Vice series) sitting in the deep shade of an enclosed parking garage, I knew I had to take at least one picture of it. But the light was so bad that I needed a tripod if I was going to bring back anything better than a dim, grainy image. So there I found myself one afternoon, setting up my tripod in the middle of the garage, receiving strange looks from passers-by.

Your turn: Rare objects that we can't stop staring at. Please discuss.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


In the shadow of the planet
London, ON, August 28, 2007, 5:53:57 a.m.

The experts were saying we won't have a lunar eclipse this deep, this dark or this long for a whole lotta years to come. So before bed last night, we spoke about the eclipse with the kids and asked them if they wanted us to wake them up. They seemed excited about seeing something so mysterious and rare, and they all agreed to be roused at an ungodly hour. Bedtime was a cacaphony of questions about how it worked and why it was happening now. They all drifted off to sleep, thinking about waking to to something cool.

Here's my hastily-captured recollection of how the morning played out:

4:45 a.m.: My alarm goes off six minutes before the sun's shadow is set to begin to eat into the moon. I look out the windows and freak a little when I see clouds. Not just a few clouds. A sky filled with thick, patchy clouds. So many that I can't even find the moon. Apparently, clouds are bad for eclipse-watching.

I go outside and manage to catch the occasional glimpse of our only real satellite through little openings in the cloud deck. I silently will the clouds to go away. When that doesn't work, I go inside and think about it at the kitchen table - well, I try to think, because my early-morning brain is feeling decidedly sleepy. So I head back to bed and set the alarm for another 20 minutes of blessed rest.

5:30: Okay, I end up hitting the snooze bar a few times too many. When I finally roll out of bed and wander over to the window, the sky looks brighter and the clouds are dissipating. I run outside. The moon's hanging in the sky and the eclipse is well underway. Showtime. I skip back into the house and gently wake everyone. They seem to smile in the dark as they fetch their shoes and sweatshirts and head for the door. The dog, weirded out that we're all getting up while it's still dark, follows us silently.

5:40: We gather in the street in front of our house. Frasier thinks he's going for a ride in the car. Not so much. Dahlia holds him as he continues to look at us as if we're nuts.

5:43: I take this picture of the fam as they look up at the otherworldly sight in the sky.

5:46: Little man has to pee. Deb takes him in and Zach, Dahlia and I head around the corner for a better look. The dog comes along on the adventure. The clouds are now completely gone, and the kids are buzzing with chatter about what they're witnessing.

5:52: Dawn approaches. The black sky begins to turn deep blue. Impromptu planetary physics lessons continue as we discuss how the Earth is now between the moon and the sun. I throw the camera onto the tripod and shoot with the remote control. I realize a wandering puppy doesn't help when you're doing longish exposures.

6:10: Everyone's yawning, but we're all excited about what we've seen. The moon is now deep in shade and the sky is brightening by the second. We decide to head in so we can get some more sleep before the kids go to camp. Dahlia consents to one last picture as we slowly walk back to the house, stealing more than a few glances over our shoulders to ensure what we just saw wasn't an illusion.

Something tells me they'll remember this morning for a very long time. So will I.

Your turn: Ever have a rare early-morning adventure with folks who matter?

Bleak view from a bleak parking lot

Man on a mission
St. Thomas, Ontario, June 2007

Have you ever stood in the parking lot of a nearly deserted, run-down old department store at the end of a nearly deserted, run-down old strip mall in a bleak corner of a rough-at-the-edges town and taken the time to really remember the place?

Up until this June evening, I hadn't either. But as we loaded the kids into the car for the drive home, I found myself looking back at the sad-looking sliding front doors of this altogether sad-looking place and thinking they there was a picture there.

Then this man showed up, and suddenly it wasn't a story about architecture as much as it was one about people and the lives they lead. Or so I thought. Before my head got too deeply involved in this conundrum of modern life, I snapped quickly before the moment passed.

Your turn: What's his story? Feel free to give him one. Anything goes.

One more thing: Big lunar eclipse happening later this morning. The kids have consented to being woken up before dawn to watch the fun. Blogging will ensue, I suspect.

Update - Tuesday, 6:38 a.m.: The clouds cleared just in time, so we woke the kids and headed outside to watch the sky put on a show. Surprisingly, I took pictures. I'll post 'em online later today. For now, I need more sleep.

Sticky post - Carmi's other blog

This post will stay at the top of my blog for a bit.
For the latest non-sticky post, please scroll down.

Why the sticky? I hope you'll visit
Words@Work. The deal is simple: By day, I am Senior VP, Strategic Consulting for AR Communications, a Toronto-based marketing communications firm. We started this new professionally-focused blog to explore how this new medium can be leveraged in a business context. Yup, I blog at work. Cool!

The blog URL is

Please drop in and have a read. I'd be tickled if you'd leave a comment, subscribe to the site, possibly blogroll it and otherwise spread the joy. I'll continue to write here, of course, so you'll have twice as much Carmi to read.
Thanks! Go on over. I'm eager to hear what you think.

Update from Aug 28: I've added a link to the top of my sidebar, and have pulled the stickiness off of this entry. Happy reading!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Please take your seats

Reserved seats
London, Ontario, June 2007

I like patterns. I also like to catch glimpses of places that are often packed with people when they are empty. I especially like when I get to do the pattern/empty thing together. I guess I just like a lot of things, then.

These are the seats at TD Waterhouse Stadium, the football/track facility at the University of Western Ontario. I was looking for color on an otherwise gray day, and found it here.

Your turn: Every fan who would sit in one of these seats has a story. Care to share one?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Caption This 33

Please name this image [See below for details]
Grand Bend, Ontario, July 2007
[Click to enlarge]

We were just getting ready to leave the beach after a great day spent beside Lake Huron. The kids were tired and happy. We were looking forward to a leisurely drive home through some of the most beautiful farmland imaginable.

I noticed her long before she got close. She never raised her eyes to anyone around her, preferring to instead focus, singly, on her pursuit of buried treasure. She clearly knew what she was doing, methodically covering the beach in a tight grid pattern, expertly avoiding everyone still playing around her. She seemed to exist in her own world.

Your turn: Please use your creativity to come up with a caption - or two, or three, or more - for this image. Winner will be announced next week. New to Caption This? Click here for the sorta-rules.

Last week's image of a canoe was taken by our son, Zach. He's become quite the photographer who's far more patient to think through a scene than I am. Awareness touched a chord with "Late August afternoon nap....." It just speaks to me.

Others that also got me thinking include:
Heidi: "Just waiting."
MissMeliss: "When there is no wind, row."
Sara: ""George still hasn't gotten the hang of docking the boat!"
Joy T.: "Reflections from the pier."

Good luck with this week's Caption This, and thanks to you all for playing along!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Red guard

Flash of color in an unexpected place
London, Ontario, June 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I've always had difficulty keeping myself occupied while filling my car with gas. I've never figured out the secret to keeping the trigger thing locked, so I stand there like a doofus, squeezing the handle and trying to avoid overflowing the tank and starting an environmentally nightmarish chain reaction.

While I wait for the tank to fill, I inevitably stare at stuff. Which, in the case of a typical gas station isn't really that visually compelling. Today's filling stations are cookie cutter designs. An Esso in Kentucky looks pretty much like an Esso in Toronto. The key difference is I wasn't at an Esso that sunny June morning. I was at one of the rapidly disappearing independent vendors, the kind of corner gas-kinda place that was built fifty years ago and still wears its dustiness with pride.

As I paid the cashier - no high-tech credit card-swiping pumps here - I looked around and silently added this place to my must-explore-with-a-lens list. To satisfy myself as I got back into the car, I pulled out my ever-present camera and captured the guard rail. It'll have to tide me over.

Your turn: Places that remind us of yesterday. Please discuss.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Roadside reflection

The view from the side of Regional Road 2
Just outside Woodstock, Ontario, June 2007 [Click to embiggen]

On my way home from Toronto after a couple of days of business meetings, I learned what it was like to park in the middle of Canada's largest highway. As I was cruising the 401, traffic came to a complete halt after someone was killed in an accident just ahead of me. I didn't sweat the delay, mind you. I had my GPS, some tunes, and time - not to mention my life. I counted my lucky stars that I wasn't in the poor victim's shoes as I settled in for a long wait.

By the time they cleared it all away, I decided I didn't really want to be on a superhighway. I handed myself over to the satellite-linked genius of my GPS unit and headed for the regional highways instead.

It took me longer, of course. But I needed a little relaxation after my midtown adventure. Cruising through one small town after another got me thinking about the things we miss because we're always in such a rush to get where we're going. So after I got through Woodstock, I stopped by the side of the road to take it in for a few minutes.

Your turn: Stopping to smell the roses. Please discuss.

About this picture: I thought I'd try shooting into the shiny blue paintwork of my rented Dodge Caliber. Isn't it wonderful how clean they keep their cars?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cherubs under a tree

London, ON, April 2007

While out for a lunchtime walk with a colleague, we came across this neat little piece of garden art. The lighting was a challenge because the only viable composition placed the brightly overcast sky immediately behind the subject. Backlit, in this case, was bad.

But I shot it anyway because I'd figured a tough shot was better than none at all. Yet another lesson for my own photographic journey: you can't always wait for ideal conditions before triggering the shutter.

Your turn: Aren't they adorable?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Waiting at the gate

Shanghai, China, May 2007

Just before pushback, I sat in my port-side window seat and thought about the 15-ish hours I was about to spend in this plane while the planet rotated halfway below me. An American Airlines 777 sat in the adjacent gate, doubtless being prepared for a similar journey to a similarly distant place.

I had always appreciated the branding of this airline, so iconic and timeless and easy to spot from far away. I originally set out to capture the curve of the fuselage against the angled straightness of the ultramodern terminal in the background. After viewing the partially cropped text, I realized the message was decidedly different than I had intended.

Inspiration from an airplane seat. Who woulda thought?

Your turn: Icons of aviation. Please discuss.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Water. Falls.

Blurry, falling water
Westminster, Colorado, November 2006 [Click to embiggen]

I like long exposures of flowing water because they look so soft and dream-like. It's the kind of effect that the camera sees, but the naked eye never will - which I find neat.

Your turn: Do you find water neat, too? Why?

One more thing: I posted another image from this series last November (click here to see it.) I sometimes like to revisit old themes. It brings me comfort.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Caption This 32

Please suggest a caption for this image [See below for details]
Laval, QC, August 2006

Our son, Zach, took this picture outside his grandparents' place last summer. One morning, we were walking around the riverside paths, looking for whatever scenes captured our attention. I think he did a deft job of composition on this shot, and I'll betray my bias when I say I'm impressed with his ability to see the story in a simple scene.

Your turn: So what would you call it? Leave a caption (0r two, or more...) in a comment and I'll pick the best one next week. Is there a prize? Not really. But you'll get a big happy from me. And from my future-photographer son. Isn't that enough?

About Caption This: Click here for instructions on how to play. Click here for last week's look into a trash bin at a fast food restaurant. Rob, who pens the brilliantly irreverent Fuquad! blog from Turkey, takes it with this fresh take on fast food: "In a bold move to corner a growing market of pessimistic consumers, McDonald's has launched it's new 'Truth In Advertising' campaign."

I was also tickled by a bunch of other submissions, including these lovelies:
Someone last week said I have some very thoughtful readers and commenters. How true indeed.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Plated inspiration

Here in Ontario, motorists have the option of replacing their government-assigned, sequentially-numbered license plate with a vanity plate. For an additional $225, you, too, can festoon your vehicle with a non-profane, up-to-8-character saying of your choosing.

Typically, they're either incredibly self-serving or so convoluted that even the driver doesn't understand the meaning. And even if they're not, who wants their car to be easily identified by complete strangers? Either way, I've long contended there are better things to do with a couple of hundred bucks.

But sometimes, you come across a plate that makes you pause and wonder about the person who chose it. And often you feel better than you were already feeling. This one inspired me to capture it and share it here.

Your turn: Do any license plate messages stick out in your mind as particularly memorable?

Friday, August 17, 2007


That industrial glow
London, ON, April 2007

The scene: Our daughter's Medieval Days recital one evening in April. It's being held in her fourth grade classroom as parents and sibings crowd on chairs and benches that have been hastily arranged around the edge of the room.

I've taken as many pictures of her performing as she'll allow. As she heads backstage - OK, behind a castle-like barrier that the kids put up in their classroom - I look upward and see a shadowy strip of fluorescent track lighting. My curiosity is piqued.

There's something so, I don't know, industrial about the scene. So I shut the flash off and take a fast shot. My wife smacks my elbow and admonishes me to pay attention. I return my gaze and my lens to the stage as our daughter takes her position and begins to speak once more.

Your turn: Do your eyes wander at important moments in time?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A study in wet tile

Ceramic fantastic
London, ON, October 2006

The kids have been spending a lot of time in swimming pools lately. Between camp, friends and grandparents, it often seems that there isn't a pool in eastern Canada that they haven't graced with their presence this summer. I say that with a smile, because few things are happier to watch than little folks at play.

I snapped this last autumn while the kids had a swim lesson. The ex-lifeguard in me always seems to find comfort in these places. Maybe it's because I always felt so at home in the aquatic world. Whatever it is, I think it's worth trying to capture in a picture.

Your turn: What's your place of comfort? Why?

One more thing: Today marks thirty years since Elvis Presley died. Do you think the Elvis-is-alive theorists could finally put it to bed?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hay, you, get off of my cloud!

Bale out!
Parkwood, Ontario, July 2007 [Click to enlarge]

I've been venturing out into the agricultural hinterland that surrounds our burg. It's pretty easy to get to from our house, actually, as we're barely a mile away from the edge of the city.

Every time I get into this peaceful slice of the world, I always manage to see something I hadn't previously seen. The camera comes along every time, because you never know when a color, a shape, a texture, a something will ask to be remembered.

Your turn: The appeal of farmland. Please discuss.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Valve job

London, ON, July 2007 [Click to enlarge]

A little while back, I had a slight crisis of artistic conscience as I wondered whether I could find anything interesting to photograph in the supposedly soulless suburbs. (Click here for the earlier post.)

I need not have worried. While sitting in the middle of a mega-big-box development where huge freestanding stores are separated from each other by gargantuan parking lots, I noticed the natural gas fittings in the back of an adjacent building. I'll admit they're not in the same league as hundred-year-old handcrafted stone, but they're worth some camera lovin' all the same.

Your turn: What other treasures can we find in the middle of a parking lot?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eatin' in the street

Feeding trough
Shanghai, China, May 2007

We've already explored the fact that I am not an adventurous eater. If I can't identify it, it's a no go. And if I can identify it and it grosses me out, no deal as well. So in a place where the palette of potential choices was, um, larger than it was back home, I found myself sticking to vegetarian dishes. And even then, I watched every morsel before picking it up with my chopsticks.

So when I came across this street-level food stand, I had no intention of partaking in the fun. I didn't even want to smell it because you just never know. You know? So I zoomed in as far as my lens could go and captured this everyday Chinese moment.

Your turn: Do you eat stuff bought on the street? Why/why not?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Caption This 31

Please name and/or caption this image [See below for details]
Cambridge, Ontario, July 2007

Late on a hot summer's night, I found myself making the two-hour drive back to London on Canada's busiest highway with three sad kids in the back of the minivan. We had just dropped my wife off at the airport in Toronto. She was on her way to Montreal to help after her mom was hospitalized.

To cheer them up, we stopped for ice cream at a service stop. Our luck, they had a McDonald's. I know purists will be aghast, but their soft ice cream is just the ticket when the little people need a quick dose of happiness.

The good news is, it worked. They enjoyed their late-night ice cream break in a McDonald's by the highway, and they actually smiled a bit despite the hour and the circumstances. As we were finishing up, the garbage bin caught my eye. I found it ironic. But "ironic" doesn't make for much of a caption, now, does it? What does? That's your job.

Your turn: Please name this image. Click on the Comments link below and go nuts. Click here for the Caption This rules. I give brownie points to folks who drag their friends along for the ride. Just sayin'.

One more thing: Last week's Caption This featured a picture of a duck. Judy (aka Kenju) takes the cake with her very sweet - and thoughtful - caption: Harold had been taught to follow the leader.....and then he discovered he was it!

I loved these captions as well:
  • Mike Althouse: In serenity's wake
  • Yaeli: Going with the flow
  • Lori: Swim of solitude
  • John: No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to out-paddle these ripples
  • April: Our past whispers us forward with mysterious symmetry
I do hope you'll take your best shot this week, too. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sugar and spice, anything but nice

Sweet, dented
Pompano Beach, Florida, December 2006

Some daily objects wear their trials and tribulations on their sleeves. They get dropped, picked up, and tossed back into the ebb and flow of everyday life, often without being fixed along the way. The scars that accumulate over the years serve as testament to a life that isn't necessarily always sweet.

Some folks feel compelled to capture the results of the silent drama.

Your turn: Things that get knocked around by life. Please discuss.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Full of hot air

Up, up and away
London, Ontario, August 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Another London Balloon Festival has come and gone. We took the kids one night to see the launch. It was quite a show: as we arrived, a dozen or so balloons were laid out on the grass of Harris Park, a beautiful piece of land framed by the Thames River on one side and a steep river valley wall on the other. Thousands of people converged on the site, gathering informally around each balloon as the ground crew carefully unrolled the envelope and prepared the equipment for flight. Of all the festivals we have in this burg every summer, this is easily the coolest one.

Organizers sent about a dozen brightly colored airships into the sky that evening. I took over 550 pictures of the proceedings (I know, I'm insane), but what stuck in my mind more than the balloons themselves was the way our kids watched them. They've seen these things before, but this year they weren't afraid of the burners and the billowing balloons. They asked countless questions about hot air balloon flight. They picked up my wife's camera and took their own pictures. They drank in this spectacle that seemed to overwhelm the senses long before the first balloon headed into the sky. They grew.

Their horizons expanded just a little that night, and I got to watch.

Your turn: A childhood experience that stands out for you would be...?

More links: Facebook event, Wiki entry, old Balloon Life article, photo gallery.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bricks on King Street

Windows on the downtown neighborhood
London, ON, July 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I took this image two minutes and five frames after this one. I quite literally stood in virtually the same spot, only instead of pointing north at the red metal tree, I shot south at the really beautiful old brick building. I was walking with my wife on a gorgeously sunny afternoon. She gets that I often - and very suddenly - "see" things as I'm walking. I guess part of me is always looking for the unique and the memorable, and when I see it, I almost always want to lock it in my camera and bring it home.

This afternoon was no different. We were on a street corner, King and Talbot, that's possibly one of the most interesting spots in London's downtown.
  • The northwest corner, where I was standing when I captured these frames, is home to the very new and expensive John Labatt Centre - think a really large arena/multipurpose facility where the city's London Knights hockey team plays when washed up musical acts like Stevie Nicks aren't testing the sound system.
  • On the northeast sits the similarly new and expensive Covent Garden Market. It's a great place to grab some non-fast food, then sit on the patio and watch it all go by.
  • Both southern corners present a different perspective. To the southeast sits a funky snack-style restaurant, J-Dees, with old-style windows overlooking the time-worn sidewalk. The resulting tone on this corner is much dimmer than the brilliantly-reflected concrete by the market and the arena. Dimmer, but more fascinating in so many ways. I think this stretch has so many more stories to tell than the newer stuff across the street.
  • Finally, the southwest corner is home to the lovely old building pictured above. The second and third floors of so many downtown buildings are abandoned, likely no longer up to code. It is for this reason that I traditionally don't look up when walking downtown: the old facades often seem too far gone to be worth capturing. But on this brilliant day, the bricks seem to be telling a different story. Perhaps they point to a brighter future for this building, for this neighborhood, and for the rest of the folks in this town who seem to look to this rundown/in-transition street corner as a barometer of the entire city's future.
Funny how a couple of minutes on a downtown sidewalk can unleash this rambling narrative that hopefully hasn't put you to sleep. I think I'll be bringing my camera back here on another day, if only to see what other stories this multifaceted convergence point of our city wishes to tell.

Your turn: Crossroads. Please discuss.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fake Steve Jobs: My real connection

Have you heard of Fake Steve Jobs? This blog - a Blogger site, no less - was started anonymously by someone who used it as a forum to poke fun at Apple's CEO.

It gradually built something of a cult following in geek circles. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Mr. Jobs himself both admitted reading the site - and being amused by it. Well, the fun came to a screeching halt earlier this week when FSJ, as he's come to be known, was outed (click here for the ritual outing.)

Weirdly, I've got a personal connection to all of this. It's convoluted, so bear with me:

Brad Stone is a reporter for the New York Times. He broke the story that FSJ was actually Daniel Lyons, a writer for Forbes. My connection? Both of these individuals have, at different times, interviewed me for stories they've written. Mr. Lyons quoted me in a piece on IBM and Lotus Notes, while Mr. Stone included my comments in an article on Motorola's crashing fortunes. Here are the two links to the earlier blog postings:
Your turn: Does this mean I should start wearing black jeans and turtlenecks like the real Steve Jobs? Ever had a bizarrely tangential brush with fame?

Bonds breaks home run record. Carmi yawns.

I'm posting this not because I'm some great baseball fan or because I'm immensely proud of this sport. I'm not. But Barry Bonds hit home run #756 last night to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time major league list. So in some respects, I guess it's news.

Technically, Bonds isn't #1. That honor would belong to the great Sadaharu Oh. He hit 868 throughout his career in Japan. But because he never played in North America, fans here like to pretend that he never existed. Makes me wonder why they call it the World Series if it doesn't include, you know, the world. Whatever.

The whole Bonds thing has me feeling quite ambivalent about his achievement. He is not a role model in the same vein as Hank Aaron or Sandy Koufax. In my jaded anti-modern-sports-fan eyes, he does not inspire others to greatness like the true sports heroes of decades past. His shadowy conduct in and around the BALCO steroid scandal that rocked the baseball world earlier this decade renders him a fairly lame role model for the stars - sports and life - of tomorrow. I wouldn't want my kids to take after him.

So perhaps the Barry Bonds story is one of how today's sports stars are not heroes like the old stars whose records they now surpass. Perhaps society's tendency to worship high performance athletes as inspirational spirit guides needs a rethink.

Your turn: Sports stars...heroes or drugged-up misguided airheads? Go nuts...

More links that suggest perhaps I'm not alone in my lukewarmness (oops, new word):

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Quick timeout for some important geek-news. The World Wide Web is 16 years-old today (OMG, it can drive!)

On this day in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee told the world - actually, the folks who read the Usenet newsgroup alt.hypertext - that the first pages resulting from his WorldWideWeb projet were now publicly accessible. The rest, as they say, is history.

Your turn: Please share one thing about the Internet that has changed your life.

Links: entry, Time article, Copy of original WWW posting from 1991.

London's metal tree controversy

Seeing red over tree sculptures
London, ON, July 2007

The fruit-wearing hat-wearers of the relentlessly milquetoast burg we now call home are all in a tizzy over the city's decision to install 15 metal tree sculptures in and around the downtown area. The installation, the brainchild of artist Bill Hodgson, has raised the ire of purists who say we ought to be planting real trees instead.

Quick time out: London is known as The Forest City. They take their trees pretty seriously here. In other cities, citizens write letters about sewage line reconstruction, tax rates and transit schedules. Here, they write about trees. They also duke it out in Facebook (click here for a little Carmi-funny. I'll wait...)

I've watched this little controversy with amusement. I love how wound up some folks can get over stuff that really isn't serious at all. I'd like to tap them on the shoulder and remind them that they really do lead charmed lives if this is the biggest issue on their plate. But I suspect they wouldn't appreciate my smarminess. So I have remained silent.

Until, that is, I saw one of the new trees, resplendent in bright red under a brilliantly clear blue sky, while walking across from the Covent Garden Market with my wife. I happened to have my camera with me, so I snapped this colorful, simple view.

Your turn: Do people blow little things way out of proportion in your town? Do tell!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Skyline bathed in smog

Camera takes in the murky view
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Of all the photos taken from my studio in the sky (see here and here), perhaps none illustrates the air quality better than this one. That's smog out there. Lots of it. I heard it's like smoking two packs of cigarettes every day. Which is good, because I really needed to find a new vice.

Your turn: Breathe deeply. Ah, there. Doesn't that feel good?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Caption This 30

Please suggest a name and/or caption for this image [See below for details]
London, ON, July 2007 [Click to enlarge]

When I took our two youngest to feed the ducks in a local park (see here, here and here), they reminded me to take my camera before leaving the house. They know me so well.

I took lots of pictures that day. Many of them looked like duck pictures I've taken on previous trips to unload our stale bread (recycling, after all.) But this one spoke to me. I'm not sure what it's saying, though. Which is where you come in...

Your turn: Please suggest a caption for this image. Suggest many captions, if you wish. Anything goes. Well, nothing profane or racist, but you get the picture. Go nuts and have fun: I'll post the winner next week. If you need a Caption This primer, click here for the sorta-rules.

About last week: Many of you tossed in some very creative captions for last week's chain link picture. As always, I had a rockin' good time deciding. Also as always, I had difficulty choosing just one. These made me both laugh and/or think:
  • Bob-kat: Holding on.
  • MissMeliss: To communicate through silence is a link between the thoughts of man (Marcel Marceau).
  • John: Together we are one.
  • Vid Digger: We were made for each other, and nothing will tear us apart except bolt cutters.
In the end, the winner was the first to submit: "They had a bond that could not be broken" from Carli. She's not only my almost-name-a-like; her blog is a consistently great read. Please drop by and wish her a happy.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I'm a litte teacup...

Spot of tea?
Laval, QC, December 2006

When I set up my tripod in front of my parents' china cabinet, I found myself going back in time, capturing glimpses of my family's past (see here for another image from that shoot.) As I moved in for a closer look, I thought about the artistry it took to create these three-dimensional pieces of art all those years ago.

Your turn: Do family heirlooms matter to you? Why/why not?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Field of painted green

Field of green
London, ON, July 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Do you remember Bob Ross (home page, wiki entry), the painter and host of a longtime PBS program? He always said that everyone had talent, and with enough time and effort, we could all become accomplished artists. I believe there's merit in his theory, and it's one of those little snippets that teaches us an important lesson in life. If you're curious, read his wiki entry. I'll wait.

There. You're back. Let's continue...

Mr. Ross, who sadly passed away in 1995, had a very ethereal style of painting. I tend to view his work as the visual arts' equivalent to music's Enya. And as I recently sat on a bench watching our kids play in a nearby playground, I looked behind them and saw this field of green a couple of hundred feet away. Bob Ross popped into my head.

Well, not literally. His memory. I'm odd that way. But I digress.

I thought of this soft-voiced painter from so long ago, and how this scene seemed to have been painted by a careful hand. And it was quietly asking to be remembered.

Your turn: Everyone has talent. Please discuss.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Talking head - and some cool blog news

I was a talking head earlier today, speaking with Business News Network's Pat Bolland about Nortel's just-announced earnings. If you have the stomach to watch me on television, click here to see the interview.

What I really want to talk about, however, is the new blog that we've launched at work. Yup, I've got another blog (!) It's called Words@Work, and it's hosted by my firm, AR Communications. This blog will allow us to explore the world of corporate blogging, and will allow us to help our clients determine whether blogs and other new media make sense. And if they do, we'll help them figure out how to incorporate these evolving resources into their corporate communication infrastructure.

I'll be posting to it a couple of times a week, and invite you all to drop your thoughts in a comment whenever you feel the urge. We've got a few entries up, and we're in the process of moving beyond our initial soft launch phase (read, we're telling the world about it now, and I won't complain if you help spread the word.)

I hope you'll come along for the ride, and consider adding Words@Work to your list of regular reads.

Key links:
Your turn: I don't think the gee-whiz feeling of being on TV will ever go away. Why is that?

One more thing: Written Inc. isn't going anywhere. It will continue to exist, strongly, as the personal blog of a guy named Carmi. Words@Work will be a professionally-focused resource.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pause for sobering thought

As I write this, the magnitude of the collapse of the I35W bridge across the Mississippi in Minneapolis is becoming apparent. I find myself thinking about the six souls so far confirmed dead, and hoping the number doesn't skyrocket. I am fearful that it almost inevitably will.

When an overpass collapsed near my childhood home of Laval, Quebec last year and killed five, I thought then that it was a wakeup call. We've been hearing for years how government cutbacks in maintenance budgets were putting the continent's infrastructure at risk, how of the tens of thousands of structures we cross over or under every day, that at any one time a frighteningly high percentage was at risk of imminent collapse.

I live in a city forked by a river, and I can hardly go anywhere without going over some sort of bridge. As you think of your own town, I'm sure you're reaching a similar conclusion. Structures that in some cases are as old as we are - or our parents or grandparents - are being asked to carry ever increasing loads, but are being given less care and attention than a rusted out 1967 Chevrolet Impala. The bridge in tonight's collapse was built the same year as that sorry old car.

Your turn: I think we know the cause of this failure - society's inability to prioritize basic upkeep. How do we fix this? Are we willing to foot the bill?

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