Saturday, April 30, 2011

Does food make you happy?

Have eggs instead
Delray Beach, FL, January 2011
Click here for more "Happiness Is..." goodness

Mornings and I have come to an agreement: I don't like them and they don't like me. There's a comfort and warmth in the cocoon of sleep that I'm just not willing to give up when the sun rises, the dog stirs and the house begins to transition from silence to daily life.

If I'm already up, though, I'm not so insensitive as to miss the beauty of the moment: There is, after all, an amazing sense of spirit associated with watching the world around you shake off the night and get ready for the day. I delivered newspapers when I was a kid (another lost opportunity for today's kids, but that's an issue for another day) and I vividly remember how it felt to quietly slip out of the house well before sun-up.

I'd walk the dead-silent streets under the ever-so-slowly lightening sky. Sounds - mostly birds and rustling leaves - seemed sharper, and sights I'd miss seeing on my way to school suddenly snapped into sharp detail as I walked past and noticed them for the first time. As I returned to the house, I often wished I could turn the clock back and experience that quiet time on the street again. It brought me comfort.

But sleep still rules, so just about the only way I'll willingly get out of bed on a non-deadline, non-working, non-parental-obligation day is when there's the promise of food at the end of that first stumbling walk to the kitchen. And when my beloved aunt makes omelettes, sleep can wait. It's not just that it's happy food - it is - but that it's made by someone who loves gathering around the kitchen for a morning chat as much as I do, who gets that the real joys in life are often found during those quiet times when the world transitions from one state to another.

If you take the time to observe and to listen, you see and hear things more clearly. And the food always tastes better, too. Definitely a recipe for happiness.

Your turn: How is it that food can make people happy?

Friday, April 29, 2011

QOTD #26 - On darkness and light

This one struck me for a whole lot of reasons, not the least because a week of widespread loss across much of the U.S. ends with that same country just a few days shy of sending a small team of heroes off the face of the planet. Tragedy followed by triumph: It's comforting that life always seems to find a way to prevail. Go Endeavour: you carry so much more than mere cargo.
"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars."
Og Mandino
(And what of Will and Kate's Excellent Royal Wedding Adventure? Dispense with the royal over-the-top-ness - commemorative his-and-hers tea-stirrers, anyone? - and you have a young couple starting their life together. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters. Much happiness to them both.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thematic Photographic 144 - Happiness is...

Come on, get happy
London, ON
May 2010

Like the good ex-Montrealer that I am, I watched the Canadiens on television last night. Hockey isn't exactly in my blood - my playing career consisted of rag tag games of shinny on the questionably maintained outdoor rink in the park around the corner from my house - but I've always loved the feel of the game. It's the only pro sport in this country that remains rooted to its past to any degree, and no other game at this level feels quite as much ours.

So when the Habs lost to the Bruins in overtime, I felt the letdown and wished our iconic club could have gone further. But I didn't take to Twitter and Facebook to vent my extreme displeasure. I didn't march onto the street and rip my clothes in a Charlton Heston-esque display of overt, personal loss. When we wake up the morning after the season ends, we wake up, which is something that can't be said for many of us on this night.

I watched my dog watch the television and thought about how none of this - hockey, tornadoes, royal weddings and gas prices alike - matters to him. All he cared about at that moment was that someone was scratching him gently behind his ears and speaking quietly to him. He was happy.

And as I think about this sliver of birthday cake from last year (before the kids sang me happy birthday and demolished it), I can't help but think that whether your team, whatever team it may be, wins or loses is immaterial. As long as you're surrounded by those who would scratch you behind your ears, literal or figurative, you've got nothing to complain about. Charlton Heston would doubtless agree.

Your turn: I believe that happiness, as witnessed by my long-since-eaten cake, is a simple equation. What does happiness mean to you? We've got a week to explore it. Click here if you're new to Thematic. Otherwise, post your happiness-themed pic to your site (or point us toward something you've already shared), leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it, and visit other participants to share the joy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A chair by any other name

Watching the world go by
Grand Bend, ON, September 2009

The frenetic pace of our modern, Internet-enabled, wired and wireless planet almost seems to suck every last opportunity for stillness from our souls. The very act of sitting around doing nothing is seen by some as an affront to progress and productivity. Move, and move fast, or risk being left behind by those who do.

As you may have guessed, it's an ethos that doesn't particularly sit well with me. Because if you're so busy spending every waking moment running ever faster on the treadmill of life, when do you get a chance to appreciate the fruits of your investment? At some point, you've got to find some sort of balance.

I think these chairs overlooking Lake Huron would be an ideal place to find said balance. I imagine many sunsets have been enjoyed from here, helped along by many glasses of iced tea and many quiet moments with friends.

Your turn: How do you turn off?

One more thing: Thematic's please be seated week continues here. It's not too late to share your own.

QOTD #25 - On the future

"The future arrives too soon and in the wrong order."
Alvin Toffler

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Airport shooting

Please don't turn around
Minneapolis, MN, February 2011
Click here for more seat-themed goodness

There comes a point in every photographer's life when lines are crossed, and I'm pretty sure I hit that point in the Minneapolis airport. I don't know what possessed me to shoot these two information kiosk attendants from behind. I was sure one of them was going to spin around on one of those fully movable office chairs and give me a talking to.

I realize Minnesotans are very friendly people, and I may have gotten an invitation to a canasta game, instead. But I nevertheless felt more than a little hooligan-ish as I took this.

They never had any clue. Unless they surreptitiously read Written Inc. In which case I believe they may very well have begun plotting their revenge for the next time I come to town.

I've really got to find a new hobby.

Your turn: A lifetime ago, my mother taught me to people-watch in public places. These days, I clearly - and not-too-advisedly - do it with a lens. Do you? What's your most interesting people-watching experience?

Monday, April 25, 2011

QOTD #24 - On motivation and physics

"Nothing changes until something moves."
Albert Einstein
With all this largely unfounded talk about the Large Hadron Collider possibly finding the vaunted God Particle - or, if you're a Big Bang Theorista, the Higgs Boson - I thought a brief perspective from the man who rewrote the study of modern physics might be in order.

He was always my favorite physicist.


Seated for launch
London, ON, April 2011
About this photo: Thematic Photographic. Please be seated. You know the rest. Go here. Please. Thank you.
Being seated doesn't universally align with doing nothing. In Noah's case, he'll peg the energy needle no matter how his body is oriented. It's who he is, and it's a joy to watch and absorb - as I so often do when the weather's just right and we hit the park for some well-deserved runaround time.

I remember being similarly boundless when I was his age (oops, that both dates and ages me), and I wish I could teach him to hold onto that attitude as he leaves childhood behind and becomes the man he's destined to become. My word choice - specifically, "attitude" - is deliberate. He can just as easily find himself swinging for the sky when he's a grown man as he is right here. But only if he allows himself to not be dragged down by the shackles of adulthood that so often hold us back from exuberance as we get older.

I believe you can grow up and still keep your child's soul. But you've got to work at it. And you've got to learn to ignore the voices of others that suggest otherwise. May he always know to follow his own voice. And to reach for the sky.

Your turn: Following your own voice. How?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Canada votes. Will you?

I've been asked to participate in a fascinating media initiative, and as the pieces begin to pull together, I'll share the details with you here.

First off, if you're Canadian, you're no doubt getting ready for our big federal election on Monday, May 2. That's a week from tomorrow. A blink, really.

Our city's main television station is known as /A\, and is owned by Canada's largest private broadcast network, CTV. As part of its election night coverage, the station is using its satellite studio at our downtown market building to set up an Internet Cafe. We'll be a team of social media-aware members of the community, reaching out to voters in London and the general region to find out what's happening election night.

It's an exciting initiative that aims to bridge the gap between social/new and conventional media. There's no question that how we vote, and how we communicate around the vote, is being rapidly reshaped by the influence of social media. Our Internet Cafe team will be live from Covent Garden Market on election night to better understand just how profound those changes are. Should be fun.

If you're anywhere near southwestern Ontario, here's how to find us:

Twitter: Follow @atvnewslondon
Facebook: Like the "Canada Votes" page
Tumblr: Subscribe to our team's microblog at
/A\ London: Look to the station's homepage, for updates

Your turn: If you're Canadian, who do you think will come out on top on election night? Why? If you're not Canadian, why do elections matter?

QOTD #23 - On adversity

"Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records."
William A. Ward

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Digging deep

Boy underground
Delray Beach, FL, January 2011
About this photo: We're asking Thematic participants to please be seated this week. Learn more about this process - and how you can be a part of it - by clicking here.
It isn't entirely clear to me why children - specifically my children - feel compelled to dig holes in the sand when they go to the beach. They get dirty. Very dirty. And the hholes themselves almost invite adults to learn first-hand how fast 9.8 metres/second squared feels like as they face plant at the bottom.

But saying no to a child at play isn't really part of the plan when we're on vacation. Rules get relaxed. Things they wouldn't be allowed to do back home are, well, allowed. Please don't call Child Services on me.

And so it was on this brilliant afternoon as we wound down our vacation and slowly, reluctantly turned our thoughts toward a much colder home. We knew life and structure and routine awaited us at the other end of the flight. But for now, we were content to just let our kids do their thing.

So they did.

Your turn: When can the rules - of parenthood or of life in general, your call - be relaxed?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thematic Photographic 143 - Please be seated

Waiting for...
London, ON, February 2011

I often joke that my chosen career path - which involves pressing keys in relatively consistent order such that the letters form words and the words form sentences and the sentences form paragraphs and stories and documents for which I get paid - isn't the most physical in the world. I sit on my duff all day and I type. So I thought a Thematic theme that celebrates the art of sitting might be in order.

For what it's worth, I'm sitting as I write this. Where? Not relevant. But perhaps over the next week, you, too, will feel the urge to share your own photographic perspective(s) on seats, being seated, and the things we see and do when we're reclining. As ever, where you take the theme is entirely up to you.

I realize it's an oddball topic. But that's who I am. And I know you're up for the challenge.

Your turn: Please share a photo related to this week's theme on your own blog. Or dig into your archives and point us toward something that's already online. Leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it, then visit other participants to spread the visual joy. Repeat as often as you wish. If you're new to this Thematic thing - FWIW, it's our weekly non-competitive photo-sharing activity - just click here and all will be explained.

Drinking to excess in airports

The cutest bottle ever?
Miami, FL, January 2011

Once upon a time, backpacks came with meshy things on the outside that allowed me to tote along my stainless steel water bottle wherever I went. Flying is kinda bad for the whole hydration thing - airplane air is notoriously stale and dry - so being able to drink my way (come on, stop with the drinking jokes!) through my travels was an important means of arriving in somewhat decent shape.

Thanks to the usual band of ubiquitous cave-dwelling fundamentalist doofii (that's right, Osama, I'm coming for you, man) that luxury is yet another distant memory. Security being what it is, carrying fluids through the checkpoint has become the equivalent of holding a live grenade in your hand. Okay, maybe not so much. But it's enough to get the offending bottle tossed - and you pulled out of line and strip-searched down to your skivvies by Eudora the TSA Security Queen. Not so much fun. For me, anyway.

So no more water bottle. The meshy thing on my backpack is now empty. We buy our fluids now. After we get through security. At prices that approach the GDP of an emerging nation.

But I'm willing to overlook the captive-audience ripoff - "you'll turn into a prune if you don't buy our overpriced drinks" - if all bottles are as cute as this one.

Your turn: How do you cope with ever-tightening airport security? I'm back in the air in the not-too-distant future, so I'm all ears.

One more thing: New Thematic launches at 7:00 Eastern tonight. The theme: Please be seated. No, you don't have to be seated - not if you don't want to, that is - but that's the theme. It'll be fun. Really.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

QOTD #22 - On Leonardo (not the turtle)

"Art is never finished, only abandoned."
Leonardo Da Vinci
Your turn: How do you define "art"?

A tree of a different color

I thought I'd wrap up the tree theme with a somewhat different interpretation of the word. Even if it's made of steel and has as much to do with nature as Donald Trump does with good taste, we'd be living in the dark without it. So I figure it's still worth a moment of our time. Or, in this case, a moment of my BlackBerry's time.

Industrial fixtures like these dot the landscape, and I'm the first to admit I don't want anything like this remotely near my backyard. Most of us consciously shove stuff like this into our subconscious, ignoring it as we go through the day-to-day paces of our lives.

But threatening and post-industrial don't necessarily mean not worthy of a picture or two. Imagine what we'd see if we paid a little more attention to the forgotten - and sometimes rather large - puzzle pieces around us.

Your turn: What's another forgotten-but-still-potentially-compelling object? What makes it worth sharing? (And, yes, that's a hint to do just that. I'm sneaky that way.)

One more thing: New Thematic launches tomorrow (Friday) at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll drop a hint in the morning.

Waiting for life to return

London, ON, March 2009
About this photo: We're slowly drawing this week's Let Treedom Ring theme to a close. I'll post a new theme tomorrow (Friday)*, but it's still not too late for you to squeeze another tree pic in under the wire. Just click here.
It was a grey afternoon, the kind of day that normally wouldn't make for great photography. But between kidlings and life in general, I don't always have as much time as I'd like to simply walk around with my camera. So I can't pick and choose my photo days: Even if the weather's makes for lousy light, I've got to take what I've been given.

That's what I did on this day in between playdate dropoffs and pickups. I found a stretch of riverside bike path and went from there. No agenda or goal: Just shoot whatever looked worth shooting - and enjoy some rare quiet time in a place slowly awakening from a long winter. As you can see from this picture, life hadn't yet returned to this place, but I'm glad I froze it in time before it did.

Your turn: Who planted this tree? Why?

* I'll get back to a Thursday-to-Thursday timeline starting next week. My bad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

QOTD #21 - On the miracle of today

"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle."
Your turn: What miracle will cross your path today?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Welcome to the swamp

London, ON, March 2011

I was scheduled to pick our daughter up from a playdate and had about 15 spare minutes before the agreed-upon pickup time. The snow had just melted and I was itching to get out with the camera, even if it meant a rushed shoot in between the usual weekend kidlet dropoffs and pickups.

So I parked beside a still-soggy and very empty soccer field and hiked over to the little bridge over the barely-moving creek. I hadn't been here in a while, and in the interim it was clear that many trees had lost their battle with gravity and were now lying lengthwise across the water. Sad, yet beautiful in its own way.

I didn't have time to linger, so I grabbed whatever compositions I could before I headed back to the car. Deeper ponderings about the circle of life for trees - and what it might mean for the rest of us - would have to wait.

Your turn: Do scenes like this make you sad over what's been lost? Or hopeful for a rejuvenated future? Why?

One more thing. Thematic. Trees. Here. Enjoyable. Seriously.

Monday, April 18, 2011

QOTD #20 - On heroes

If everyone was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.
Mark Twain
Your turn: Who's your hero? Why?


What's left behind
London, ON, March 2009
About this photo: Thematic is letting treedom ring this week, and you can, too. If none of this makes any sense - or even if it does - just go here.
I always feel a little melancholy whenever I see a stump, especially one that formerly supported a huge tree. I get the whole circle-of-life thing, that nothing lives forever and at some point it makes decent sense for Mother Nature to simply move on. But nothing takes away from the forlorn feel of a cut-off stump. It makes you wonder what once was, and whether we're doing enough to replace what we've lost.

I live in a city that somewhat ironically calls itself The Forest City. Yet time and again, I look around stumps like this and see no new trees being planted to take their place.

I guess the circle is waiting to be completed.

Your turn: What are the first three words that come to mind when you initially see this photo?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Custer's last stand

Healthy or not?
London, ON, July 2009
About this photo: It's tree week all week long. Follow your mouse here to get in on the barked action.
I was on walking home after dropping the little man off at a nearby friend's house for a playdate. To avoid the mid-afternoon, mid-summer heat, I detoured onto a walking path that traces the route of a nearby creek.

It all sounded so idyllic until I realized I had no idea where I was. And GPS, so wonderful on mapped and marked streets, wasn't all that precise out here in the boonies.

So I wandered a bit, following the sun until I more or less recognized where I was. And as I wandered this anything-but-a-desert, I found lovely little scenes to shoot. Like this stand of trees that defied definition. Were they dying a slow, ugly death? Or were they defying the odds and starting to grow where before there had been no life at all?

Such a conundrum deep in the however-many-acre wood.

Your turn: So, which one is it? Dying or vibrant?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thematic Photographic 142 - Let treedom ring

London, ON, March 2011

Pardon the play on words, but it's been a tough week and I'm looking for humor wherever I can find it. We'll be exploring trees as part of our new Thematic theme. Why? Because spring is a big time of year for these wondrous chunks of life, and I think it's a neat challenge to explore them with a lens.

Of course, Thematic wouldn't be Thematic without a little - okay, a lot of - interpretation. So I'll leave it to your discretion to define what a "tree" actually is. As always, don't be afraid to take the theme wherever you wish. There are no rights and wrongs, after all. What matters is that we share photographic goodness and learn a thing or two in the process.

Your turn: Post a tree-themed photo to your blog (or find something you may have shared a while back) and leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants to spread the joy around. Feel free to share as many tree-ish pics as you wish over the coming week: We encourage photographic promiscuity around here. If you're new to this weekly Thematic Photographic sharing thing of ours, click here and all will be explained.

RIM's PlayBook: iPad killer?

In a word, no. And the BlackBerry maker's first attempt at a tablet has a number of glaring omissions as it hits store shelves next week.

But I still think it's a neat product that gives the market a refreshing - and much-needed - alternative. It won't knock iPad off its perch anytime soon. Indeed, at all. But its arrival makes an interesting market that much more so. And the world needs interesting. And competition.

It's been a lousy week - being sick has knocked me for a loop - but I managed to do a bit of media this evening, including clips with CBC The National's Havard Gould and Global's Sean O'Shea, as well as CBC Radio's national business guru Meegan Read. I'm dropping by the studio again in the morning (7:50 a.m. ET) for a live chat with BNN's Michael Kane and Patricial Lovett-Reid. Not about the PlayBook, though: This time we're covering Google's just-announced quarterly results.

I can always sleep and recover over the weekend. In the meantime, I had the kind of day that reminded me just how much fun life can be if you let it. I hope I always remember how to let it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

QOTD #19 - On voters

It's election time here in Canada as we get set to go to the polls on May 2nd. The federal party leaders - most of them, anyway - duked it out last night in the English-language debate. They're going at it again in French tonight, which is notable given that it was originally scheduled for tomorrow night. But after some hockey-loving citizens noticed it conflicted with, gasp, a Montreal Canadiens playoff game, the event was quickly bumped up a night.

Hockey over politics. Makes sense to me. It made this quote seem a little more...real:
"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."
Your turn: So did Sir Winston get it right? Are voters really too dumb for their own good?

Wondering what will be

Where do you want to go today?
Toronto, ON, December 2010
[Please click here for more window-themed Thematic]

Our kids like to look out the window whenever we travel. And when they do, I like to hang back and watch them take it all in. They're pensive, thoughtful individuals, just like my wife, so while I stand there I can almost see the wheels churning as they wonder about where we're going, what will be when we get there, and what adventures we'll encounter along the way.

On this morning, as I watched Noah observe the endless flow at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, I knew his wheels were spinning, and I knew we'd have lots to talk about in the days to come.

Your turn: So, where do you want to go today? Why?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

QOTD #18 - On space

Today's one of those memorable days in history, space or otherwise.

50 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, as his Vostok 1 capsule orbited the planet once before landing safely. 30 years ago today, John Young and Robert Crippen took Space Shuttle Columbia into orbit. Mission STS-1 marked the first time in history a spacecraft's maiden flight was manned.

It's hard to look back at both of these achievements without considering the courage it took these men to take the step and make the leap. It's hard to look back at both of these achievements and wonder what regular folks like us can learn from them. We may not be astronauts, but I believe we can indeed learn. Lots.

With this in mind, I thought this quote was somewhat appropriate:
"There has never been a statue erected to the memory of someone who let well enough alone."
Julles Ellinger
Your turn: What can we learn from those who choose to never leave well enough alone?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Windows by the pool

Microsoft Office
Delray Beach, FL, December 2010

The scene: It's 5:29 p.m. I've just filed a piece to my editor back home and am enjoying the view of the not-so-little folks in the pool (that's munchkin-the-elder making sure I'm still conscious of the fact that I am, actually, on vacation.)

My netbook (it runs Windows XP...a not-so-subtle reference to this week's Thematic theme) is sipping the Internet through an open WiFi access point. Thanks to the kind folks who decided to generously bathe the deck in wireless goodness, I'm as connected here as I am anywhere. Technology is indeed a wonderful thing: As long as the battery holds out. And as long as I remember when to shut it all off.

Which I do shortly after taking this picture. Because having the ability to work from anywhere also comes with a flip side: Knowing when to close the lid and call it a day.

Your turn: How do you set boundaries between mobile technology and your day-to-day home life?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

QOTD #17 - On inner beauty

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."
Ray Bradbury
Your turn: A new week beckons us all. In the days to come, how are you going to let the proverbial beautiful stuff out?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Who watches the sunset?

No one's home
Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2010
About this photo: It's Thematic's windows week, and we're focusing our lenses on windows of all kinds. Please click here if you'd like to share in the fun.
Disclosure: This is the development where my in-laws spend their winters. It's known as Century Village East (wiki), and at various times, many of their generation have made this place their winter home.

When we visit, I like to walk the grounds and drink it in. Not because it's great architecture. It isn't. Imagine 1970s-era concrete repeated, almost identically, thousands of times over. It was cheap to build at the time - Red Buttons, who was the development's advertising spokerperson back in the day, would doubtless agree - but it can be overwhelming to the senses, a sad comment on the victory of economics over common sense and basic humanity. A little creativity could have made places like this so much more than what they ultimately became. Oh well, live and learn.

[My mother-in-law reads this. I am so going to get an earful next time we speak!]

Of course, there's beauty in everything if you look hard enough. When we're here, I like to take walks late in the day, when the golden hour sunlight bathes the typically drab concrete in somewhat softer tones. On this particular night, I had been standing here on one of the outdoor walkways for a while. I'm not entirely sure why: I tend to linger in places when I'm on vacation and don't have a clock dictating my every move.

I must have been there for 10 minutes when it dawned on me that I had been completely alone the entire time. No one came in or out. No one passed by on the street. Even the birds seemed to have stayed away.

I stared at the line of windows - I said at, not in...I'm no Peeping Tom, folks - and wondered if anyone was on the inside looking out. In all our time here, I had never seen a face in a window. This isn't a place that invites residents to just sit by a window and take in the scene outside. Which is a bit of a pity, because on this night the sunset was lovely.

Missed sunsets. Life's too short for too many of those.

Your turn: Do you sit by the window and just drink it in?

Friday, April 08, 2011

QOTD #16 - On crocodiles

"Don't think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm."
Malayan Proverb
Ominous-sounding, isn't it? How do you find, and avoid, the proverbial crocodiles?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thematic Photographic 141 - Windows

Mirrors, mirrors, on the walls
Minneapolis, MN, February 2011

Whether we're on the outside looking in or the inside looking out, it's a safe bet that windows play a significant role in the way we see the world and how we feel while we're doing it. Their very optical properties have always amazed and challenged me as as photographer. Think about it: on a bright day, I can't see inside these tinted and glazed surfaces, yet someone standing inside can easily see me. Turn day to night and it's an entirely different story.

Which is my way of challenging you to spend the next week sharing your own diverse views of life through glass. You can hit up the same window at different times, or walk the 'hood and see what you find. As always, how you choose to interpret a theme is entirely up to you.

Your turn: New to Thematic? In a nutshell, Thematic Photographic is our weekly photo-sharing adventure. I post a new theme - in this case, windows - and my lovely visitors (you!) post pictures that reflect the theme on your blog. Then, return here and leave a comment letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants and share, share, share. For more background, click here. Know the ropes? Don't let me stop you. I can't wait to see what y'all come up with!

Living in another world

Masters of the planet
Miami, FL, January 2011

You don't have to look far for evidence that humans have rather spectacularly reshaped the planet. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends largely on your individual perspective. I don't have any preconceived notions, and I don't think it's a simple enough equation that we can assign "good" or "bad" labels to anything. Life is rarely that clean-cut.

These rather spectacularly linear spits of land just off Miami are a great example. They were definitely a wow moment for the kids as we flew over them. We wondered how they came to be, and what it must be like to live there. I pessimistically mentioned their vulnerability to hurricanes and sea level change. Our son agreed, but still said the coolness factor could outweigh the risks for some people.

I rather like his perspective. Life doesn't always have to be rational, does it?

Your turn: Does it? Why/why not?

One more thing: This picture wraps up our "By land, sea or air" Thematic theme. New one hits the airwaves tonight at 7:00 p.m. What will it be? What would you like it to be? I'm all ears.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Full of ship

Delray Beach, FL, January 2011

About this photo: It's Thematic's "By land, sea or air" week, and we're asking everyone - including you - to share whatever comes to mind. The fun starts here.
My daughter always spots them first. Dots on the horizon, slowly crossing the shipping lanes that run north-south just off Florida's coast. Where they're going is a mystery to us, as is their cargo. But for a moment on a sunny, sandy beach, I get to stand with her and wonder what is and what might be.

It's another one of those small slices of parenthood that make me glad I became a parent in the first place, because it shows me just how wide her eyes are, and how far she's learned to cast her gaze.

Your turn: Looking far. Why does that matter?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

QOTD #15 - On laughter

"I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful. ”
Bob Hope
I always liked Bob Hope. His humor had a certain gentleness to it that somehow managed to touch me from my earliest years. Now that I'm well removed from those early years, looking at perspectives like these gives me even more insight into why he was special.

Your turn: What makes a person - comedian or otherwise - special?

Destroyers of worlds

Delray Beach, FL, December 2010

When I thought of this week's Thematic theme, By land, sea or air - click here to share your own - I didn't think I'd be focusing on discarded cigarettes in a dimly lit pharmacy parking lot. But the more I looked at this picture, the more I realized how much it fit.

We really aren't such great shepherds of our land, of the tremendous resources we've been gifted. This moment in the shadowy light reminded me that there are others out there who still don't get it.

Your turn: How can we become better shepherds of our planet?

Monday, April 04, 2011

QOTD #14 - On beginnings and endings

"All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."
Mitch Albom
Mr. Albom is one of my favorite writers, a deft observer of humanity whose work never fails to move me. Every time I think about loss, I'm reminded of this quote. It may be hard to see the truth of it when you're floating through the foggy middle of life-chaos, but his words ring true when viewed through the broader perspective of history.

Your turn: How does time teach?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sealed under glass

Small world
Miami, FL, January 2011
About this photo: Thematic celebrates all things land, sea or air this week. You can, too, by pointing your mouse here.
I seem to remember there being far more of these models-under-glass in the world when I was a kid than there are now. The spread of virtual reality, wireless-everywhere and mobility in our pockets seems to have taken the magic out of these three-dimensional representations of what might be. Which is a pity, because I can still remember how much fun I had every time we stumbled across one in a lobby somewhere. I'd look at these microworlds and wonder what they'd ultimately look like when they were really built.

So when we saw this one while checking in at Miami's airport, I half-expected my Internet-savvy the kids to walk on past. How could plastic models of now-out-of-service aircraft (look closely, those are Lockheed L-1011 TriStars and first-generation Boeing 747s) possibly be compelling to them?

Yet they gravitated to the model like moths to light and excitedly explored it for what seemed like an age. They were so enamored of the thing that we finally had to tap our watches when it was time to head to the security line.

Maybe there's something to these supposedly outdated model-things, after all.

Your turn: What's the appeal here?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Thematic Photographic 140 - By land, sea or air

Crossing paths
London, ON, March 2011
[Please click here to learn how Thematic works]

I've been moving between places a lot lately, spending more time in airplanes, cars and other forms of transport than I usually do. Whenever I travel, I like to try to slow the process down a bit, to feel it more than I can see it. I realize that flying, for one, has become a bit of a cattle car-like experience. Okay, a lot like a cattle car.

We shuffle, herd-like, from one part of the airport to another, following rules adapted on the fly to meet agendas dictated by shadowy terrorists who live in faraway caves. As I strip my belt and shoes off in the security line, trying to keep moving fast enough to avoid the stink-eye from those behind me, I imagine those same shadowy terrorists laughing heartily at what they've done to us, at the ridiculous lengths to which we must now go to supposedly stay safe when we travel. It's a sad comment on the inhumanity some of us seem eager to foist on other humans. It makes me wonder why some of us choose to be so mean-spirited.

But the process of travel can inspire as well as disappoint. Like on this morning a few weeks ago when I walked outside and looked up. I saw other travellers, on their way to places unknown, their planes painting gorgeous, albeit temporary, pictures in the sky. The sun, unwilling to be left out of this early-morning atmospheric dance, threw some upward-facing shadows into the mix. Just because.

In the end, we can choose to see ugliness or we can choose to see beauty. It's up to us. I know where I stand.

Your turn: Over the next week, I'm going to choose to share the beauty of land, sea or air and I hope you'll do so, too. New to Thematic? Click here. An old hand? Just dive in by posting a similarly-themed pic to your blog - or pick something you may have already posted. Leave a comment here to let folks know where it is. Visit other participants to spread the joy, and repeat as often as you wish. And if you want to bring a friend along, we encourage that, too. We'll be doing it all week, so check back to see what everyone else is up to.

Friday, April 01, 2011

QOTD #13 - On imagination

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
Mark Twain
Your turn: If Mr. Twain is right, how are we supposed to get our imaginations in focus?