Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Publish Day

In my twisted head, writing is all about ritual. To that end, I have evolved a weird one surrounding the publication of my work: When anything I write gets into print, the day it's published is called Publish Day.

If it's my newspaper column, I run down the stairs at first light to be the first to grab the paper out of the mailbox. I then scan it into a PDF file on my computer before the cat has a chance to walk all over the still-pristine newsprint.

Publish Day is, by definition, a happy day. Good things always happen when my work hits print. I'm not sure why. It just is.

Speaking of which, today's a Publish Day (yay!) Here's today's Free Press column. An archive of my most recently published articles is stored on my columnist home page on Canoe, Canada's highest-traffic media Web site. Happy reading!

Blogging squared

The process of reading blogs can be either brilliantly rewarding or, as is most often the case, unbelievably useless.

I'm privileged to work alongside some incredible writers, some of whom blog, and blog well.

Check out Paperback Writer's blog for an additional perspective on a writer's life, a parent's life, and the intersection of the two.

Fascinating, fun stuff from a good writer and a good person. Don't be surprised if you recognize pieces of your own life in PBW's blog.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Little person, repaired

It is often said that parenting can either keep you young, or make you really old. Some would argue it can even do both simultaneously.

As I write this, I tend toward the aged perspective, because my wife and I spent the better part of the day in the hospital with our daughter. Thankfully it was minor, scheduled surgery. But any parent of a child about to undergo general anaesthesia for any reason knows that feeling of rampant vulnerability as the bed continues past the threshold into the long hallway down to the OR. You have to stop at the door and wave uselessly as your little person becomes littler. Finally, the doors close and you have no choice but to entrust your treasure to a group of complete strangers, and hope that everything will turn out fine.

My wife told me point blank the night before, "I need her to be OK."

This time, thankfully, she got her wish. I pray it is always so.

I also pray for parents of kids whose reasons for making that trip down the hallway are far more serious than our daughter's. I have written about seriously ill children and their families in the past, and I hope we - and you - never learn their pain first-hand. They are real, if unwilling, experts in the true value of a life well-lived.

Our little munchkin returns to day camp tomorrow and will spend her day making cookies and telling stories of her adventure to her friends. I wish there were some way for the strangers who cared for her today to understand how much that mundane little snapshot means to her Mom. And to me.

The perils of democracy

Canada went to the polls yesterday (June 28th) to elect its next federal government. Latest results show the incumbent Liberals turning in a better-than-expected performance, and clinging to a minority government. The next few months promise to be interesting as they broker their way to power.

As a crusading journalist who fights for the rights of the little people, democracy is a pretty critical thing to me. We are privileged to be able to democratically elect our government - especially when we don't need to look far for examples of countries whose citizens so clearly lack those - and many other - rights.

Indeed, publishing this blog - trivial as it may seem - could land all too many of our fellow citizens of Earth in a state-funded, earth-floored prison cell.

So it was important to involve the kids in the process. So when I got home from the office, we loaded up the stroller and headed over to the polling station near our house. Our three-year-old, Noah, mis-heard the word "vote" and wanted to know where the boat was. He perked up when he and Dahlia got to help me stuff the ballot into the ballot box. Then he and his sister played the piano in the hall on the way out. Such fun!

Democracy starts young. They have no idea how lucky they are that it's all so easy for us.

Tune into this week's London Free Press column (updated Wed. June 30) for more on why this stuff really does matter. And if you didn't bother to vote this time out, you now have a bit more time to think about why you're such a slack-jawed troglodyte.

Carmi Z.

BTW, can you guess where that last cultural reference comes from?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The writers I read

I've long contended that writing is nothing more than the targeted blowing out of everything one consumes. In that respect, it's very much like eating and, well, you can imagine where this is going.

The bottom line in this wretchedly obtuse line of thought is writers need to read. It's how they stay in touch with their world and how they convince themselves - without too much difficulty - that their work compares as favourably as that Lada parked next to the CEO's Lexus. It's a humbling process, but one I hope will ultimately help me improve the quality and relevance of my own work.

To that end, I regularly scour the Internet for the latest missives from my favourite media writers, and drop their readings onto my Palm Pilot (more on the technology of writing and researching in a later post) for later reading.

I'll be using this blog to share some of the best. If you want to see what inspires me - or what simply ticks me off - read on:

Joe Fiorito - Toronto Star columnist. No one paints better human-scaled pictures of the city.
Rosie Di Manno - Toronto Star columnist. Straight-shooting writer who stands down for no one. Always a thinking read.
Christie Blatchford - Globe & Mail columnist. A superb storyteller. Like Di Manno, stops at nothing to get the story behind the story.
Steve Tilley - Edmonton Sun media columnist. One of the sharpest-penned and most envelope-pushing writers I've had the privilege of reading.
Scott Feschuk. Currently on leave from his TV critic slot at the National Post to write speeches for possibly-soon-to-be-ex-Canadian-Prime-Minister Paul Martin. Best read alone - when laughing out loud won't compromise your professional image.

There's lots more. This should get you started. If you want to suggest more, e-mail me:

carmilevy AT gmail DOT com (and if you need to ask how this bizarro antispam strategy of mine works, sending e-mail from a link in a blog likely wouldn't be your thing anyway.)

Happy reading!

Carmi Z.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

And so it begins...

Welcome to my first pathetic attempt at blogging. Actually, I lie. This is my second such attempt. The initial site is, I believe, lost in the electronic ether, somewhere between my ISP's FTP server and the cracked green switchbox on my neighbor's lawn that supposedly manages our neighbourhood's network traffic. I couldn't get the initial site to work, so I abandoned it and started over.

So here's the deal: I'm a journalist with a knack for technology (except for blogs and FTP sites, mind you.) After graduating j-school (Montreal's Concordia University. Yes, that Concordia) and spending a few years interviewing politicians, bureaucrats and other crackpots for Montreal's top FM radio station, I detoured into the somewhat more anonymous wilds of information technology. I have spent the better part of the last decade launching and managing helpdesks for large insurance companies, then more recently managing projects and leading tier 2 technology support teams.

Along the way, my wife and I (OK, my wife...I just stood around and tried to be helpful) had a little munchkin - now a much larger munchkin - and moved to London, Ontario, where we added two more little people to our family. Through it all, I've nurtured this dream of building a career solely based on my ability to string words together. Make that my perceived ability.

How I got back into writing in earnest is as bizarro as the rest of me: A couple of years back, I started doodling on my laptop while waiting in an airport lounge early one morning. I was flying to Montreal to be with my father, who was having surgery that morning. The resulting column was published in the London Free Press, my city's daily newspaper. It was such a cool experience that I kept sending stuff in. It has since grown into a biweekly Op Ed column for the paper.

You can find my most recent stuff at the follwing address:

I also pen business/technology features and columns for eLondon Magazine. My tech-rantings can also be found on, an American tech newspaper for geeks like me.

Anyhoo, the writing thing was such a rush that I decided it would be fun to pitch the whole insurance-IT-kiss your-moronic-leader's-behind thing and toss words around full-time. So last October, I left my comfortable, staid, conservative IT/PM/Financial Services world and joined a top technology research firm here in London. I'm in the process of finishing up my first major project, a really cool methodology all about IT infrastructure. I know, scintillating for you all, but nevertheless a serious kick for me to write!

This blog will serve as my personal journal as I delve deeper into the dark recesses of a professional writing career. Along the way, I'll drop in snippets from the various corners of my life. You'll meet my very understanding, patient and wonderful wife, our unbelievably cute kids, our psychotic cat who has thumbs, and our fish (well, as long as our gilled friend sticks around, that is.)

So welcome aboard for what promises to be an interesting ride.


Carmi Z. Levy
London, Ontario
June 26, 2004