Wednesday, February 19, 2020

One bird. One wave.

Surveying her domain
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A single bird cruises over the dying waves as morning light gradually returns to the beach. We should all be so comfortable in our environment as she is in hers.

#cocoa #beach #cocoabeach #florida #fla #atlantic #ocean #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #sunrise #waves #water #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Watching the waves roll in

Patterns in nature
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Note to self: Spend more time staring at - and listening to - waves as they roll into shore. Bonus points if it’s just after sunrise or before sunset. Even more bonus points if the occasional bird drops in.

Life really should be this simple. Except, when you look really closely at the forces that make moments like this possible, it’s rather complex.

But when you get to imprint moments like this into your mind forever, nothing else matters. Thanks, Mother Nature.

#cocoa #beach #cocoabeach #florida #fla #atlantic #ocean #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #sunrise #waves #water #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Small boat. Huge ocean. Orange Sky.

Somewhere to go
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
As I stand alone on the edge of the planet waiting for the sun to reappear, I spot a boat in the distance under the brightening sky.

The sight makes me wonder about who wakes up this early so they can race along the edge of the horizon in a giant ocean.

And it occurs to me...

Everyone's on a journey.

Sometimes they decide where they go and how they get there. And sometimes they don't.

Sometimes their path is smooth and predictable. Sometimes it's rough and challenging.

Sometimes what awaits at the other end is warm and welcoming. Sometimes it's decidedly less so.

Sometimes they're surrounded by those who give them strength. Sometimes they must deal with those who stand in their way. Sometimes they're all alone.

Sometimes we know their story, but more often than not we don't.

Something to keep in mind, I think.

#cocoa #beach #cocoabeach #florida #fla #atlantic #ocean #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #sunrise #horizon #boat #photography #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, February 17, 2020

The thousand-mile stare

Are you going to walk me or what?
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
She's a difficult one to ignore. I mean, that face.

The frightening thing is I'm pretty sure she knows it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheachnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #monochrome #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Old orbiter. New code.

Atlantis poses for another closeup
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Never underestimate the power of software to influence our day-to-day lives. This is true for all of us, of course, but it seems to be especially so with creative folks.

Although the only time I'm ever going to be called an artist is in the middle of an insult-comedian's set, I treasure the apps I use to create stuff. Writing, photography, editing, shaping...mess with my software and you may as well mess with my life.

For years, I had been using Apple's Aperture to manage my photographic workflow. It was as comfortable as an old shoe, and it made it easy to rip through large volumes of raw photos and turn them into smaller sets of lovelier photos.

Then Apple decided to get out of the photo-editing business, and announced Aperture would be shutting down. Now, it's an app I paid for and downloaded, so in theory I should have been able to keep using it. But here's the thing: It was a 32-bit package, and Apple's newest operating system for Macs, Mojave, dropped all support for 32-bit code when it went live last September. The writing was on the wall: upgrade to Mojave and say goodbye to Aperture for good.

I pushed off updating my Mac for as long as I could, but eventually, I had no choice. In 2020, we don't run older OSs.

So I've switched over to Adobe Lightroom, and it's taken me a few weeks to get comfy with it. That old shoe and everything. Today was the first day where the tool finally felt right, and I've been busy ripping through my large backlog of pics.

Here's Atlantis's left OMS pod against the rear cargo bay as backdrop. More to come.

#kennedy #space #center #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #florida #fla #spaceshuttle #shuttle #atlantis #ov104 #rocket #science #rs25 #aviation #avgeek #spaceflight #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #Nikon #nikonphotography #nikon_photography #dslr #zoom #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

The promise of urban renewal

Rich past. Hopeful future.
London, ON
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
88 York Street has seen better days. This rambling yellow-brick building looms over a gritty block on the edge of #LdnONT's downtown, a nearly forgotten fixture in a nearly forgotten neighborhood.

The view across the street from this forlorn structure is a dismal one. Between the Greyhound bus station to the left and a liquor store to the right sits an abandoned lot, the rusting, empty sign hovering over the sidewalk echoing back to a time when some people lived and worked here, and others came here for a legitimate reason.

Today, everyone just passes through. Or sets up camp in the brush beside the tracks. Or buys booze before disappearing for good.

I can never tell if 88 York is alive or not. An optometrist has set up shop just out of frame to the right, but the rest of the building seems abandoned in place. Like so many other heritage properties in the core, the clock is ticking here, as well.

New residential towers already cast fresh shadows from the west, and cranes have popped up all over the place, signals of a new chapter, perhaps.

History paints a troubling story for the future. This isn't a city that values its heritage. Developers wield the balance of power over a city too afraid to challenge them. Heritage designations mean little, and enforcement cycles endlessly between non-existent and laughably inept.

We've learned to record buildings like this while we have them. Because on York Street, like everywhere else, nothing is ever guaranteed.

#london #ontario #canada #519london #519ldn #519shooters #random #urban #downtown #york #street #photography #building #architecture #ruinporn #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Ridout Street Bridge, Redux

Empty this time
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is the scene I was trying to capture the other night before a passing car so rudely crossed into the shot.

I'm not sure which one I prefer. Maybe both, because not everything needs to be a competition.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #ridout #street #road #bridge #photography #car #carporn #speed #traffic #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, February 14, 2020

Unvalentine

Her
Toronto, ON
November 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I don't need a manufactured holiday to tell me how I should feel or what I should do. If being told by advertising is what it takes to get us to show affection, we may need to re-evaluate how we define affection in the first place.

Still, it's never a bad thing, today or any day, to stop what we're doing and wonder about who matters most to us, and why. Once we're finished with the wondering part, it's never a bad thing to let them know.

So in case you haven't yet been introduced, this is my wife, Debbie. She finishes my sentences, laughs at most of what I have to say, and puts up with my weirdness.

She's also the very centre of our world, the pillar of our family, and the reason our house is home not only to us, but to anyone we know. The universe smiled on me when our paths first crossed, and it's been smiling on me ever since.

So, yes, today matters to us. But not because Hallmark says it should.

And tomorrow will matter even more, because that's the way this life and love and family thing is supposed to work. Of course, I won't be able to buy a February 15th Day card for her, but it was never about the cards, anyway.

I'll just have to find some other way to let her know. In other words, just like any other day.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #valentine #valentinesday #holiday #live #laugh #love #levy #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Lightning strikes local swimming pool

Freeze it whenever you can
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The planet feels a little more grey than it usually does, so I find myself looking for vibrant colors. Call it my one-person campaign to find joy.

You're welcome to join me if you wish. Because we could all use a little more color in our lives.

#delray #beach #delraybeach #florida #fla #swim #swimming #pool #water #blue #light #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Rushing home under a darkening sky

Crossing over
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
At the end of an intense day of writing that reminds me why I Iove writing for a living, the 15-minute walk back to the car is a perfect opportunity to decompress.

I can feel the cold air settling into my lungs as I walk along the icy sidewalk. As I cross over this rusting old bridge that's scheduled to be replaced, I stop and look around because it suddenly occurs to me that I've been crossing this structure for years, but I've never taken the time to really look at it.

I decide I don't do this enough. We move from here to there, yet can't be bothered to remember what it looks like along the way. We're so focused on the destination that we fail to appreciate the things we encounter in between here and there.

Which means we're missing so much of the story of us. Perhaps too much.

So as I line up a simple geometric composition, traffic picks up and I end up rather unexpectedly capturing a speeding car in the frame, its owner headed, I guess, home. Just like me.

Whoever it is, I hope they're also taking the time to soak in the journey. I hope they're enjoying being in the middle - of work and home, of two banks on a river, of day and night, of whatever - as much as I am.

#london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #ridout #street #road #bridge #photography #car #carporn #speed #traffic #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Same tower, shadowy perspective

Make your influence felt
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Toronto’s CN Tower is as iconic a civic signature as you’ll ever see. Like New York’s Empire State Building or Paris’s Eiffel Tower, you instantly know where you are when you see it.

That iconic presence means it finds itself front-and-centre often. Some might say too often. Aren’t there enough other buildings in Toronto equally worthy of a little visual love? Is there such thing as overkill when it comes to sticking a giant phallic telecommunications tower into the middle of Every Single Picture?

I guess it all depends on perspective. If every one of those pictures is taken from the same vantage point, in the same light, with the same composition, then, yes, it can quickly get to be a little much. Or even a lot.

But what if you shake it up a bit. What if you find new ways to look at something that isn’t so new? What if you squint your eyes just so and force yourself to see - or feel - it in a way you never had before? What if you turned the storytelling on its ear and told a different story? An unexpected one?

Never assume that a particular story can ever be fully told. Or an iconic, or familiar thing can’t be looked at through another lens, in another light, from a different perspective. There's always another way.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #CN #tower #cntower #concrete #shadow #reflective #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, February 10, 2020

Pick a direction

Whatever you do, don't turn right
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I know a lot of people rage on Mondays, and they probably have good reason to do so. Who knowingly wishes for weekends to end, after all? I sure don't.

But time's going to move forward whether we like it or not, so I'm choosing to use photography for a little new-workweek inspiration. This long shot of Toronto's iconic CN Tower poses a number of interesting questions:
  • Which road will we take?
  • Will we take the direct route?
  • Or will we turn off, and take the road less travelled?
  • Will we stop at the greens at all?
  • Will we follow the rules?
  • Or will we push them, just a bit?
  • (No, I'm not advocating you burn red lights.)
  • How will we choose our destination? Or, more likely, destinations?
  • Will we even have a destination in mind when we set out?
  • Will we take the time to pause and take it all in?
  • Or will we just set off and figure it out along the way?
  • Either way, how will we know when we get there?
  • Who will be along for the ride with us?
  • How will we improve the journey for them?
So many questions. Never as many answers as we'd like. Still, sounds like the right recipe for a productive week. May everyone's journey be charmed.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #photography #CN #tower #cntower #concrete #glass #reflective #mirror #building #architecture #architecturephotography #buildingporn #architectureporn #urban #streetphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Old door. Lost stories.

On Colborne, near King
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On a desolate corner in a neighborhood no one chooses to be a part of, a weather-beaten door slowly loses its paint under a blinding winter sun.

No one's passed through this doorway in years, the plywood covering the nearby windows betraying the story of a building that no longer has a life of its own.

I don't ever remember a time when this building wasn't abandoned, so I'll probably never know about the stories and the lives that played out here. That thought saddens me, and I wish personal history wasn't as tenuous as it seems to be.

As I compose the shot of a place whose backstory eludes me, I imagine what it would be like for someone who was here before the plywood went up and everyone else moved on. What would it be like to be on the outside looking in, with memories of what happened here dancing through your head?

We've all passed through places like this on our respective life journeys, structures that imprinted themselves on us before fading into the distant past.

Standing outside them doesn't accomplish much. But whoever said reflecting on where we've come from and where we've been needed to be about accomplishment in the first place?

Perhaps it's simply enough to stand quietly and reflect on where we've been - and who we were with - along the way.

If a cracked old doorway can take us back there, even for a moment, then I'll consider it time well spent.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #street #photography #building #architecture #ruinporn #texture #monochrome #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Finding light in a lifeless canopy overhead

The things we find when we look up
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The dog and I have been staring at snow-covered trees again. More precisely, I’ve been staring at the snow-covered trees while she’s been sticking her head into every drift within her reach.

This is her third winter, so you’d think the magic would have worn off by now. That, like human children who evolve into adults, a few more times through the seasonal gauntlet would erode the newness of it all somewhat.

But dogs, thankfully, don’t seem to work like humans, and for them every walk, every moment at the end of the leash, is something to be explored. And held onto. Well, as much as a dog can hold onto a moment.

So that’s what we do. She follows her nose close to the ground, sniffing everything within reach in search of, well, I don’t really know. But it’s baked into her DNA, so she happily pursues it. Meanwhile I’m looking up and around in a never-ending quest to maintain adequate separation from cars, other dogs, and skunks, and pretty much anything that moves.

We come across some lovely sights along the way, which she blissfully ignores while I pause to take them in. It’s a gift, you see. Because if we didn’t have her, I’d probably never see this, at this time, in this way. I wouldn’t have these opportunities, morning, night, day after day, to get out and take it in.

As she shakes the snow from her snout one last time before we head in, she has no idea how thankful I am to have her. I’m already looking forward to our next adventure, and I’m pretty sure she is, too.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #night #light #dark #contrast #photography #tree #snow #frozen #winter #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Finding joy in the white stuff

Snowy schnu nose
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone had a little too much fun in the snow this morning. As if there's even such a thing as "a little too much fun."

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheachnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #winter #snow #weather #onstorm #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, February 07, 2020

Seeking light in the darkness

Not so abstract after all
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When it rains, we have a choice.

We can either lament the fact that Mother Nature got rid of the sun and wiped out our picnic, or we can celebrate the fact that we had the opportunity to see tiny droplets of water on the hood of a white Toyota Prius.

Because, quite literally, everything we experience and feel ultimately depends on how we choose to see it.

Sounds like a reasonable way to start the final workday of an eventful week, doesn't it?

#delray #beach #delraybeach #florida #fla #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #stilllife #car #carporn #water #monochrome #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Arsonists need not apply

There's mystery in these flames
Orlando, FL
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
You don’t have to be an arsonist to appreciate the fundamental beauty of fire. For the record, despite some questionable childhood moments, I am not an arsonist.

Definitions notwithstanding, I’ve been staring at flames in one way or another for much of my life, and my photo archives are dotted with pics - shot very carefully, often from far, far away - of fireplaces, fire pits, oven burners, candles, pilot lights, and anything else that burns or supports combustion.

Shooting open flame is always something of a crapshoot in that you squeeze the shutter and hope it’ll turn out. Even if you’ve dialed in the right settings for exposure and focus, the multicolored beast simply moves too fast for thoughtful composition. Press and pray is as close to a photographic strategy as you’re going to get here.

And so it was on the first day of the new decade, as I hung out with my fam jam beside a massive lake in Florida and waited for the fireworks to begin. Florida being Florida, the giant torch heaters had been lit, and they cast a warm, orange glow over the gathering crowd.

While we waited, I thought I’d warm up with some practice shots of the dancing flames. I didn’t count on being surprised, but sometimes the universe works in surprising ways.

Can you see it, too?

#orlando #florida #fla #road #trip #disney #disneyworld #waltdisneyworld #epcot #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #fire #fireworks #mystery #zoom #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Ready Player One

Would you like to play a game?
Toronto, ON
July 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I've never been much of a pinball wizard. Or even a lesser-wizard.

But pinball machines remain objects of fascination all the same. Beneath the glass lies a world governed by forces we largely understand - gravity and technology, mostly - influenced by other forces (like flippers, nudges, and uncontrolled profanity) that are similarly known.

But once that ball is in play, the way the game evolves is largely out of our control. It might careen off a bumper and hit the bonus button just so. Or it might make a beeline for the dead zone right between the flippers before you so much as have a chance to touch it.

We can wish for a high score all we want, but nothing we do, however heroic, can ensure the outcome we want.

Kinda sounds like life, doesn't it?

We may know the rules of the game, the layout of the playground, the tricks available to us. But even then, there's a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that virtually guarantees we'll never be able to fully script the story that unfolds as soon as we release the spring-loaded plunger and send the ball on its way.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't play, though. Because what's life without a bit of uncertainty? And would the high scores feel as good to us if they were pre-ordained? Shouldn't we all spend at least some of our time on this planet wondering against wonder what comes next?

Maybe this is my way of convincing myself that uncertainty isn't necessarily a universally dark force. Maybe there are some shades of grey in between that merit exploration.

In the meantime, while everyone mulls the possibilities, I'll be over here trying to keep the silver ball in play.

I'll never be a wizard, but the game draws me in all the same.

#toronto #ontario #canada #pinball #game #gaming #arcade #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Where magazines refuse to die

So much to read
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's a scene that has played out countless times in countless stores over countless decades: Someone stands in front of a magazine stand, and ponders the possibilities.

Digital content distribution has, of course, ruined the party for traditional magazines. The very idea of killing trees, turning them into glossy mags, then trucking them cross-country so you can toss them into the cart alongside your OJ and greek yogurt is increasingly laughable. While regular old books are managing to hold off ebooks, it's a different, more troubling story in the magazine space. Indeed, "magazine" barely registers as a media type now.

So when I came across this scene on my way to the OJ and greek yogurt aisles, I had to steal a fast photo. Composition was haphazard - the geometry is all wrong - but I needed to shoot before a) the magazine-seeking stranger caught on to me; and b) store security caught on to me. Spontaneous shooting in public doesn't always afford us the luxury of time.

As I tucked my phone back in my pocket and headed toward a date with some OJ, I thought about why this particular photo needed to be taken on this particular day. The answer is, again, time. We're running out of it. Someday, perhaps soon, I'll walk back into this very same store and the magazine aisle will be a fraction of what it is now. Or it won't be there at all.

Maybe I'll remember what was once in this spot, or maybe I won't. Because stuff like this tends to slip into history with barely a whisper.

And that, honestly, frightens me. We're losing our sense of place, the experience of browsing along an endless wall like this, of picking up a dog-eared copy from a waiting room table.

Which, I think, largely explains why moments like this seem to matter to me as much as they do. If we don't remember experiences like these, who does? And what do we lose in the process?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #magazine #rack #spontaneous #retail #grocery #store #photo #shoot #media #dying #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Peanut butter M&Ms, of course

Sweet and colorful
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The world needs more color. So ask yourself what you're doing to make that happen.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #color #colors #peanut #butter #junk #food #junkfood #stilllife #foodporn #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Don't look in the back room

Connections
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
There's a delightful burger joint near my aunt's and uncle's house that's been something of a staple for us all since our kids were old enough to have a favorite restaurant. Every time we visit, it's a given that we'll end up chowing down in this otherwise unassuming eatery, and over the years we've accumulated some richly nuanced family memories there.

Carmi being Carmi, however, I forgot that gravity is the law, and needed a washroom, stat, to make myself look more like a suburban dad and less like a murder victim.

Once I was done cleaning myself up (well, almost), I made the mistake of pausing in the long hall in the back. I'm no electrician, but even I can tell this is a little odd, and probably not even remotely optimal. Or safe.

Sometimes you should just eat the darn burger and not peer too deeply behind the curtains. Ignorance isn't always such a bad thing.

#delray #beach #delraybeach #florida #fla #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #stilllife #lindburgers #restaurant #electricity #store #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, February 03, 2020

That's enough sportsing for now

Pass completion in the dessert section
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So the giant #SuperBowl sportsing orgy is over for another year, and all the folks who jumped on the bandwagon for a few hours have safely jumped back off it and tucked their pristine pairs of Nikes back into the front hall cupboard. They'll reappear in July when the Olympics kick off in Tokyo.

You may have guessed I'm not the world's biggest football fan. Come to think of it, all professional sports seem to rub me the wrong way. I'm a fan, to an extent, but the idealistic vision of child-Carmi who grew up in Montreal and idolized the Expos, the Habs, and the Alouettes disappeared in a puff of cynicism as heroes were traded away, labour disputes erased entire seasons, and teams were systematically gutted before being moved elsewhere.

I'd also rather get out and participate rather that stay in and just passively watch.

So watching the NFL's over-the-top display of faux patriotism was difficult, if only because the league has traditionally been unwilling to address its long-festering dark side. Make that dark sides, plural.

Including OJ Simpson in the tribute-to-history opening montage was, frankly, sickening. This wasn't remotely moving. It was a celebration of everything we don't want our children to become. Wrapping it up in love-of-country, legacy, military, family, and community-esque themes made the disconnect even more cringeworthy.

Yet I so enjoyed watching the game with my fam. We bought tons of snacks, ordered pizza and had a ball taking it in on the big screen. I even managed to sneak in this still-life from the local Loblaws. Within that bubble, or context, a good time was had by all, and I wouldn't trade those few hours for anything else.

But let's not fool ourselves. Football, like most professional sports, is a pretty dark place beneath the overhyped facade. Something to keep in mind as we look for ways to celebrate the best facets of modern life. Sorry, football fans, but the NFL's recipe is long past its best before date.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #superbowlliv #football #sports #cake #dessert #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Home, for some

Scene from a bus
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I took the city bus to work one day last week, and along the way I got it into my head that I should take a picture to remember the journey.

The bus passes through a neighborhood that’s seen its fair share of socioeconomic challenges, largely revolving around the public housing you see here. I shot quickly, smartphone pressed tightly against the filthy window, then tucked the device away before anyone noticed me.

London isn’t immune from the accelerating pressures pushing more and more of its citizens toward, and beyond, the margins. While the so-called haves have traditionally used geographic distance to lull themselves into believing the status quo is acceptable, it’s increasingly evident that hardship can no longer be hidden, that it isn’t something that happens exclusively to the so-called have-nots, in some other place.

Indeed, it touches us all. Everywhere.

You see more of it when someone else is driving, when you’re not at the wheel trying to keep the half-dozen distracted motorists around you from imprinting their vehcles’ logos into your sheetmetal. Or on your bike, trying to avoid becoming a hood ornament.

Maybe I should take the bus more often. I seem to learn more about our city when I do.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #city #street #photography #limberlost #ltc #transit #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, February 02, 2020

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - Football's Inconvenient Concussion Thing

Today's #IfYouReadOneThingToday comes to us courtesy of #SuperBowlLIV.

OK, I lie. The @NFL isn't about to let those bothersome concussions or CTE ruin its testosteronegasm in #Miami. So I'll just leave this right here:

Youth Football Is a Moral Abdication
By Kathleen Bachynski
The Atlantic

Shooting trees in the dark, redux

Trees, snow, and sky
London, ON
February 2020
This photo was originally shared on Instagram
I had such a good time shooting trees in the dark last night that I thought I'd share another pic from my spontaneous dog-walk photo session.

Redundant? Yes. But it was a moment that brought me silent joy. And moments like these deserve a bit more time in the spotlight. Because maybe they'll bring others - you? - joy, as well.

At least that's the hope.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #night #light #dark #contrast #photography #tree #snow #frozen #winter #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Shooting trees in the dark - and light

Finding light in the darkness
London, ON
February 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: 10:05 on a Saturday night. I'm out with the pup for her last walk of the day. It's been snowing for a while, and she's happily sticking her nose into every drift she can find.

I don't think I've ever met a dog who loves the snow as much as Calli does, and watching her explore the fresh stuff can't help but make me smile. Pure, unmitigated joy is something to behold, and I wish some of hers would wear off on me.

Walks with her aren't so much walks as they are occasional forward progress marked by frequent and prolonged sessions of her sniffing something. Schnauzers have been bred to hunt, so this one follows her nose religiously. Which leaves me lots of time to stand around and watch her. Or, just as likely, what's around us.

It was during one of these breaks that I noticed the tree whose trunk she was forensically examining. Leafless branches newly covered with pristine, bright snow, held up by a dark, foreboding trunk. The perfect contrast on a night seemingly scripted for thoughtful moments like this.

Because there's always some kind of light to counter the darkness. We just have to look a little harder for it.

And on this evening, I had a time- and attention-challenged dog to thank for putting me in the perfect spot - and giving me the time - to capture it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #photography #tree #snow #frozen #winter #monochrome #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, February 01, 2020

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - On Craniotomies

I'll admit today's #IfYouReadOneThingToday, Frequently asked questions about your craniotomy, is a weird one. The theme is, frankly, beyond bizarre. But the writing, by Mary South, is, simply put, sublime.

Hit up the link and enjoy the read. And if you're reading something neat, feel free to share it in a comment.

Looking through Columbia's windows

Shattered
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I still remember it like it was yesterday. 17 years ago, a quiet Saturday morning just like this one.

I had woken up before the rest of my fam to catch the shuttle's return from space. The avgeek in me follows launches and landings like some folks might stalk sports teams, musicians, or film fests. Astronauts and engineers are my rock stars.

Columbia was coming home after a rare and groundbreaking 2-week science mission. Like launch, re-entry has always been one of the highest risk moments of any mission. But this was Columbia, the matriarch of the shuttle orbiter fleet. Everything was supposed to be routine.

We soon learned, again, that nothing is ever routine. She shattered high in the atmosphere, her wreckage raining over Texas, her rock star crew gone. Just like that.

Seeing the windshield frame here in Florida, not far from where she left Earth for the final time, was, Iike viewing the Challenger wreckage nearby, a haunting experience. This was once a crucial part of a billion-dollar national asset. And all it took was one small hole to render it absolutely vulnerable to the relentless forces of physics and nature.

Once again I stood transfixed not so much by the artifact, but by what it represented. Seven now-lost souls had once peered back at the planet through these openings. Their commander, Rick Husband, and pilot Willie McCool sat just inside them, fully expecting to bring their crew home safely.

We know what happened, but it'll never seem normal or fair. Heroes deserve better rates. The rest of us deserve to have our rock stars around just a little longer, because they're never quite finished exploring, or inspiring others to kickstart their own journeys.

#kennedy #space #center #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #florida #fla #spaceshuttle #shuttle #columbia #ov102 #accident #spaceflight #monochrome #photography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, January 31, 2020

Of dads and daughters

A grand day at the office
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Look, it's spontaneous take-your-kid-to-work day!

Seriously, I haven't kidnapped her, or forced her into doing my work for me. She's spending the afternoon with me here, churning through her uni coursework while I type away next to her.

I have no words to describe what it's like to have a kid like Dahlia (immensely proud comes to mind), and to be able to spend time working alongside her here. I also have no words to describe what it's like to work for an organization that's so family-centric, and so supportive of moments like this.

In other words, this is a good day, and I'm thankful.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #345ridout #infotechrg #InfoTech #itrg #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #parenthood #dahlia #peanut #girl #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Jack of hearts, dirty and forgotten

Bad hand
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Noticed this forlorn scene on the sidewalk as I was walking the dog early Wednesday morning, and all I could think of was how we're all dealt a hand of cards, and it's entirely our call how we choose to play them.

A dirty card on a dirty, frozen sidewalk probably shouldn't be much of a theme for an Instagram post, but I can't see in advance what will trigger me as I move through the day. On this morning it was a discarded playing card. Some other day it might be a giant root. Or a butterfly, or some cracked pavement. I'm weird that way.

It's been two days since I took this, yet I'm only sharing it now. Some things take time to settle. Your brain needs to percolate them first, figure out what they mean, if they mean anything at all. Even if they're seemingly trivial things like dirty cards on dirty, frozen sidewalks.

There's beauty in the trivial. I have to remind myself to keep looking for it. Or, as increasingly seems to be the case, to allow it to keep finding me.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #stilllife #photography #card #cards #jack #hearts #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Old bridge over a swollen river

Engineering that (still) works
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I finally figured out what the bridge over troubled water looks like.

Sorry.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bridge #bridgesofinstagram #weather #thames #river #flood #composition #lines #zoom #random #urban #street #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Not quite Homer's monorail

Surprise!
Orlando, FL
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When a passing monorail photobombs your picture of the giant golf ball in the sky, your only choice is to shoot first and figure it out later.

I know it's a theme park, where everything is programmed and calculated to deliver a specific experience in a specific manner. I know this isn't reality, that the Utopian vision baked into every facet of this overwhelming place is barely sustainable outside the main gates. I get that all of Walt Disney's outsized optimism was ultimately designed to do one thing: Sell us more stuff we likely don't need.

But still, this place makes you think about what could be if we manage get our collective act together, if we decide global interests matter more than regional, national, and individual ones. If we decide to finally look at our differences as reasons to connect instead of separate.

Overly optimistic? Of course. But optimism never hurt anyone.

The monorail, in particular, still feels like a future transportation vision come to life, a nod toward sustainable placemaking where communities are designed around collective transportation networks that don't start and end with the car. Again, this is uber-commercial Disney, but the fact that something conceived in the 1950s still looks and feels current in 2020 is remarkable.

Wouldn't it be nice if more city planners came to this place, then returned home with heads full of ideas for a better future? Don't we all need some kind of spark? And shouldn't those sparks be as diverse and wild as can be?

Maybe there's more to a place like this than Fast Passes, Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears, and overpriced junk food.

#orlando #florida #fla #road #trip #disney #disneyworld #waltdisneyworld #epcot #monorail #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Saying thanks to the Challenger crew

Shattered
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
34 years ago yesterday, a shining example of the best technology humans could create blew itself to pieces in the cold, blue skies above the Florida coast.

The Space Shuttle Challenger accident was a turning point, the end of an era when we believed technology was largely invincible. It opened our eyes to human factors, and taught us they mattered as much as - or perhaps more than - the greasy bits.

I was privileged to visit the Kennedy Space Center last month, and was moved by the memorials to the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews. Seeing the wreckage was hard, and more than anything drove home just how thankful we should be to those who choose to explore on our behalf.

I've never believed in simply lamenting what's been lost. There has to be a takeaway, some good from the bad. 17 astronauts died for a reason. Progress always demands sacrifice, and we can't use risk as an excuse to stop pushing for more.

We've come so far since each of these tragedies. We've (largely) learned from each of them and fed that knowledge into future space systems. We just marked 20 years of continuous human presence in orbit, in a vehicle larger than a football field, built and maintained by experts from many nations. SpaceX and Boeing will soon launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. Mega Moon and Mars ships are already being built. The very seeds of humanity's eventual expansion beyond Earth are starting to bear early fruit. And they were planted by the crews of these three ill-starred craft.

So as I stood on the other side of the glass and lingered over the shattered remnant of a ship that once carried our hopes into the heavens, I found myself wishing her crew could somehow know that their journey didn't end on that awful day over the Atlantic. Thanks to them, we've gone further than we ever could have dreamed.

It seemed appropriate to whisper a quiet thank you before I headed for the exit.

#kennedy #space #center #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #florida #fla #spaceshuttle #shuttle #challenger #ov099 #accident #spaceflight #iss #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Let's talk, for real, about #BellLetsTalk

Sick, not weak
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It’s a big day for #mentalhealth here in the Great White North, as our nation’s largest telecom company, Bell Canada, blankets the airwaves as part of #BellLetsTalk Day.

All you need to do is tweet, retweet, watch the video, use the Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, or if you’re a Bell customer, send a text or make a mobile or long distance call. For each one, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health initiatives.

Awesome stuff all. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can sling around a hashtag for a few hours and call the problem solved. Slacktivism hasn’t cured war, eliminated terrorism, ended racism, or rebalanced historic gender imbalance. And it won’t “fix” this, either.

Let’s also not subscribe to the notion that Bell, which regularly sends HR teams to offices across the country to fire people simply because the accountants need better margins this quarter, is somehow not qualified to do this because it’s a lousy place to work.

Disclosure: I worked for Bell Media for a few years before resigning. I remember well when the HR folks showed up and called folks, one-by-one, into the conference room. I remember what it felt like to work for a company where individual performance had zero correlation to your career path. The depressive shockwaves buffeted us year-round, as otherwise loyal employees wondered when their time would be up.

It feels disingenuous for a company that summarily abuses employees’ mental health to wrap itself in the kumbaya flag of mental health awareness. But life isn’t black-and-white. And if Bell doesn’t underpin this campaign, who will? Who else, at this scale, is out there pushing toward a better future where mental health is finally, justifiably viewed on the same plane as every other kind of health?

I grew up in a house where those who suffered were “cuckoo”, where mental health professionals were derisively called “shrinks”, and those who suffered were shunned. Bell may indeed suck as an employer, but it deserves our support in ensuring all of us can seek mental health care just as easily as we get treated for cancer or heart disease.

Until that happens, #BellLetsTalk is our best hope to #endthestigma.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Shattered illusion on a downtown street

No, not really
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Cities often struggle to put their best foot forward when the rest of the world comes to town.

To wit, #LdnONT’s attempts to make the downtown core look festive and vital in advance of Country Music Week in 2017 and the Juno Awards last year. With thousands of industry heavyweights descending on the city to celebrate the best of the best, a fresh coat of something was needed to hide the usual warts that normally cover this neighborhood.

On a streetscape pockmarked by empty storefronts often populated by members of the city’s burgeoning homeless population, it’s a tough illusion to pull off. And now that the events are long over and the glittering crowds have returned to wherever they came from, the remnants of these times look even sadder than they did then.

The only thing worse than a sad scene is a sad scene punctuated by half-baked attempts to make it look less sad. Which, as we know, only amplifies the sadness.

Such is the case here. No one, especially the individual looking for warmth in the barely sheltered doorway, would realistically read the slogan and buy what its creators are trying to sell, especially in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that crowds into - and beyond - this frame.

You can load up a pig with a decade’s worth of lipstick, and no one will be fooled into believing there’s anything but a pig underneath it all.

The completion of the slick-looking flex street only adds insult to injury. Tens of millions of dollars worth of fancy grey-and-black-shaded pavement stones, but still countless souls live outside, on those very stones, in torment and addiction.

If only a liberal dose of makeup could fix what ails this place.

#london #ontario #canada #random #urban #downtown #dundas #street #photography #building #community #crisis #hope #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, January 27, 2020

Rocket science, up close

Five bells
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Nothing much to see here. Just the business end of 3 Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25D (Block II) engines - aka Space Shuttle Main Engines, or SSMEs.

These reusable closed-cycle, cryogenic liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-powered monsters were known as the Ferraris of rocket engines, and they set all sorts of records for their class when they were first designed in the late 1970s. In fact, they’re still flying, sort of, almost 9 years after they were last fired in anger, on the last shuttle mission ever, Atlantis's STS-135.

16 leftover RS-25s from the shuttle era are, 4 at a time, being built into the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, and as we speak the first flightworthy core stage sits in the B Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center. The Green Run campaign will see all four engines light off and run the full 8-minute launch-to-orbit flight profile while bolted solidly to the ground.

I'll bring the popcorn.

Unfortunately, reusability isn’t part of the deal with SLS, with the engines and rockets burning up on re-entry after their job is done. After the 4th mission, new-build RS-25Es will slot into place.

But all that was theoretical. On this December day with my family, it was enough for me to stand beneath the bell nozzles at the back of Atlantis and stare for a bit. As a child, I used to watch these same nozzles come to life on TV and online, so it was rather unreal to be This Close.

What does any of this have to do with the price of eggs? Aerospace, space, science, rockets and such may not have much of a direct connection to my day job, but when the world gets choppy, these become refuges of sorts, virtual places where I can immerse myself in engineering that opens up opportunity for us all, in ways we can't even begin to imagine.

We all need a bit more wonder in our lives. This is some of what I consider wonder. What’s yours?

#kennedy #space #center #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #florida #fla #spaceshuttle #shuttle #atlantis #ov104 #rocket #science #rs25 #aviation #avgeek #spaceflight #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

The dangers of forgetting about Auschwitz

Always follow the light
London, ON
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
As the world marks 75 years since the liberation of the #Auschwitz death camp, the largest killing grounds in history, I can't let the day go without saying something. A few thoughts:

The #Holocaust can happen again.

In fact, the conditions for the rise of Nazism - or something terrifyingly like it - are ripe.

The signs are all around us. Ignore them at our peril.

Those who survived the Holocaust are reaching the end of their natural lives, and the number of living witnesses to this unfathomable atrocity is moving inevitably toward zero.

Their story must continue to be told even after they are gone.

The storytelling is our responsibility. Every single one of us.

Anti-Israel, BDS, and anti-Zionism are all anti-Semitism. Full stop.

Those who practice it, and deny it is anti-Semitism, are anti-Semitic.

The Token Jew excuse doesn't hide that fact.

Jew-hatred was around long before Hitler.

He and his henchmen raised it to industrially, massively scaled levels.

Jew-hatred isn't going anywhere.

It is the canary in the coal mine of hatred.

It touches us all.

We are all barely removed from someone deciding we are worthy of being singled out. Of extermination.

Jewish. Or not.

We are more alike than not.

Hitler was elected to office.

Those who follow his ideologies are being elected to office as we speak. Check the European map. The American one, too.

It's not much of a jump between random spewing of racist thought to participation in national policy implementation.

And it's happening now.

We say "never again".

The world seems to be ignoring this.

Silence is not an option. For any of us. Jew or not.

Tell their story. Stop history from repeating itself. Be the light.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Walking on air

Where to next?
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Two dogs on a green bridge on a grey day.

Because moments take place all around us, all the time. All we have to do is look up. Or look far. Or just look at all.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #dog #dogs #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #weather #green #bridge #composition #lines #zoom #random #urban #street #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Blue neon at night

That nostalgic glow
Orlando, FL
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instgram
As neon slowly, almost imperceptibly disappears from the landscape, I feel even more compelled to grab a photo when given the chance.

Whatever replaces it is doubtless higher-tech, more efficient, more marketable. High-res screens can scatter endless kinds of content across the nighttime sky. And then the daytime sky for good measure. They can plaster our eyeballs with gigapixels of ads we never knew we needed.

But they'll never look, or feel, quite like this, where the soft light almost seems to brush the darkness aside, each one seemingly unable to coexist without the other.

Pity that.

Who ever said progress was always a good thing?

#orlando #florida #fla #road #trip #disney #disneyworld #waltdisneyworld #hollywood #studios #night #neon #light #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #zoom #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

#IfYouReadOneThingToday - Negative Space

My latest #IfYouReadOneThingToday isn’t a read at all.‬

‪Negative Space is an Oscar-nominated, stop-motion animated short, and beyond the breathtaking production, it is an achingly beautiful story of family.‬

‪Please watch, the YouTube vid (link here), and share:


Foggy doggy morning

I don't think so, Dad
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Someone wasn't happy with this morning's fog.

I tried to explain the wonder of it all to her. But she whimpered the entire time we were out, and kept trying to turn around and pull back toward the house.

We may not speak each other's language, but goodness does she ever do a great job making herself understood.

I reverted to the old standby trick of picking her wiggly form up and carrying her partway down the block for just long enough that she'd forget her original angst and be distracted by some other bright shiny object along our path.

This one, of course, forgets nothing, so that plan didn't quite work out. But she did pose for me just before we got back to the house. So I won't call the morning a total washout.

And yet, we love her limitlessly. Funny how that works, no?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #calli #callitheachnauzer #dog #dogs #schnauzerpuppy #schnauzersofinstagram #schnauzergram #schnauzers #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #winter #snow #weather #fog #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, January 24, 2020

Don't look down

Frozen in the middle of the river
London, ON
January 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Yesterday's lunchtime adventure:

1 - Take a walk.
2 - Find a bridge over potentially troubled, partially frozen waters.
3 - Shoot downwards. Carefully.
4 - Return to the office, refreshed.

Okay. Your turn now. Go...

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #random #urban #street #photography #ridout #bridge #thames #river #frozen #winter #monochrome #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Someone's selling seashells by the seashore

Transience in the sand
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Every visit I make to an ocean beach ends with a pocket full of seashells. Or more than one pocket.

It's not like I actually need more dirty ex-crustacean exoskeletons in my life. But somehow it makes me feel better knowing I've held onto a piece of the sea, that I did something tangible to remember having been at this particular spot on this particular day. That feeling of random, wet, sand-covered shells clicking and clacking as I wander off the beach and head back to the real world? Priceless.

The scene you see here, captured in the intertidal zone where waves wash the sand flat as they remove any evidence that anyone was there, has stuck in my brain since I took it on the morning of the last day of the last year of the last decade. At first glance, it looks like randomly scattered shells. But it's the tracks in the sand that stick with me.

Because they'll be here only until the next wave rolls in and redraws the landscape. And shifts the shells a tiny bit. Soon enough, another wave rolls in and does the same thing - new tracks, slightly moved locations. Then another wave, and another, all part of an endless back-and-forth of energy, matter, and what once sheltered life. Stick around long enough to see the longer-lead erosion of the shells themselves. Or even the sand. Because these cycles are timeless. And relentless.

This dance in the shallows takes place largely unnoticed by the few humans who have come to this beach to take in the sunrise. Even when the beach is packed later on in the day, I doubt anyone will take notice of the subtle show playing out at their feet.

Far be it for me to dictate the behaviors of others, but I wish they would. Because they're missing quite the show. And all they have to do is look down.

What does this have to do with the rest of our lives? Still figuring that out.

#cocoa #beach #cocoabeach #florida #fla #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #sunrise #waves #shells #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Staring down at the pounding surf

Temporary texture
Delray Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Every once in a while, I like to wade into the surf, point my camera down, and see what I can come up with.

Like so many of my little, um, peculiarities, there isn't a whole lot of rationale behind this one. If I were asked about it, I suppose I'd explain it as follows:

I like water. Ocean water tops the list, but fresh water from the Great Lakes fits the bill, too. Okay, any water, really.

I like what it does when it tumbles into, over, and across a sandy beach, powered by the energy of a manta ray deep underwater thousands of kilometres away. Or a puff of wind. Or some other force I can't identify, but trust that it exists.

I like the randomness of it all.

I like how it makes me feel, both from the powerful rush of the crashing wave, and the foamy massage I get when the water reverses direction and heads back to sea.

I like the feel of the wind in my ears, and the smell of the salt in my nose. It makes me feel alive in a way few other experiences do.

I like the way nothing else matters while I'm shooting here - as if the rest of the world gets put on hold while I play photographer in the surf.

I like knowing that somewhere else, also on another beach near another edge of the planet, some complete stranger is likely doing exactly the same thing. Because we're never truly alone.

I like it, period. And we should all be spending the limited time we've been given doing things that touch our respective souls.

If you end up with a decent picture at the end of it all, so much the better.

#delray #beach #delraybeach #florida #fla #road #trip #travel #travelphotography #travelgram #vacation #explore #waves #atlantic #ocean #water #texture #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

The warmer side of (space capsule) cool

Gemini 9A, post-descent
Merritt Island, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A not-so-funny thing happens to things when they slam into the Earth's atmosphere at 25 times the speed of sound: They burn to a crisp. So spacecraft designers use every trick available to them to keep that from happening.

Ablative heat shields - like the ones found on the blunt ends of early U.S. capsules like the Gemini 9A you see here - are designed to literally disintegrate as the vehicle descends deeper into the ever-thicker air. That carries away excess heat and keeps the inside as cool as a cucumber.

The space shuttle orbiters used more sophisticated non-ablative materials - together they formed the thermal protection system, or TPS - that, along with a bunch of other technologies, allowed these winged wonders to be reused. Old-style or new, the Columbia accident proved just how critical these technologies are, and just how lethal the high-speed, high-altitude regime in which they operate can be when they fail.

So getting up close and personal with the business end of a capsule that NASA legends Gene Cernan (later Apollo 10 & 17) and Tom Stafford (later Apollo 10 & ASTP, and instrumental developer of the F-117 Nighthawk and B-2 Spirit) flew in before I was even born was quite the rush, and I lingered over the heat-scarred heat shield for a while. Plasma can do some incredible things to human-made objects, and it's not a bad thing for any of us to see it first-hand.

It's weird how that works. You can study the physics and the engineering, and understand at a detail level how the shape of a vehicle and the materials used to build it can keep its occupants safe amid the harshest environments ever encountered by humanity. But until you can stand Right There, you'll never appreciate just what an achievement - even 53-plus years later - it was, and is.

Perhaps that's a lesson for the Digital Age, when we seem to think experiencing something on-screen is sufficient. Not always.

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