Friday, November 30, 2007

Perspective in brick and mortar

Not so plain after all
London, ON, August 2007

I had gone out to pick up one of our kids from a birthday party at a local bowling alley. I was a bit early, so while the little folks consumed every last morsel of unnatural-looking icing and ran around the room a few more times just because they could, I went for a stroll outside.

There wasn't much to see in this place, a busy strip mall that occupies one of the busiest corners in the city. The plain-looking facade was like that of any other strip mall in this city that's defined by a surplus of forgettable architecture.

Yet as I stood in the late afternoon sun and took in the scene, it once again occurred to me that even the forgettable can be memorable if we choose to frame it just so. The basic subject matters less than how we choose to view it.

Your turn: Something plain that became less so when you chose to look at it differently. Please discuss.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cover me with warmth

Grand Bend, ON, September 2007

Nesting or cocooning are behaviors often associated with preparing to endure another long, cold winter. We hunker down and hold onto things we hold dear, that bring us warmth and comfort.

So as the winds outside blow increasingly cold, I find myself spending a bit more time looking over pictures I took when the breezes were warmer. I linger over them and let the images get absorbed into my psyche. This image in particular warms me. I see little snippets of family life, taking in what was likely the last visit to the beach before everyone returned to school and work. It's pictures like these that remind me of my own childhood experiences in these places where the land ends and the big blue sea begins.

It's the photographic equivalent of a bowl of hearty soup, a rocking chair and a big, soft comforter.

Your turn: What do your nesting rituals look/feel like when the weather turns? Why do they matter to you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's a media whore?

That would be me. It's a title I wear without shame. Why be ashamed of something I enjoy?

So after last week's getting-my-name-online/in-print festivities (see here), this week seems to be continuing the trend:
Your turn: Media whoredom. Good? Bad? Please discuss.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Don't look away
London, ON, November 2007 [Click to embiggen]

The irony of posting this image so soon after posting an entry on beauty isn't lost on me. I came across this sad scene as I was walking home recently. I hovered for a bit on the sidewalk, wondering if I would dare take a picture. After pacing back and forth at least half a dozen times - and likely prompting passing motorists to think I had overindulged in an old bottle of Baby Duck - I pulled the camera out and started shooting.

Why on earth would I take pictures of a dead rodent? Simple:
  • Photography isn't always about beauty. Sometimes, the lens captures less glorious views of our world. For better or worse, occasionally we need to get a stark look at reality, too.
  • If I hadn't taken this picture, I doubt anyone else would have. Imagine living a life, then being completely forgotten.
  • Shouldn't the arts provoke us to think a little? If this photo jars you a bit, then it's done its job.
So there you have it: I've taken a picture of a dead critter and left you all wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Your turn: What the hell was I thinking? What the hell are you thinking as you ponder this macabre scene?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Caption This 46

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

Toronto, ON, May 2007 [Click to embiggen]

One of the things I loved about being a globetrotting analyst was the flying. One of the things I hated about it was flying alone. Hanging out in strange airports and having no one to interact with for hours on end gave me lots of time to stare out the windows with a sense of fascination and wonder not too far removed from that of our children.

I was on my way to China on this morning, moving through Toronto's Pearson International Airport to catch the second of three flights that would take me further from home than I had ever been. For some reason, my eye kept falling on things that said "Canada". I guess I really am a homebody after all.

Your turn: Please suggest a caption for this image. Submit as many comments as you wish. I'll announce the winner next week.

About last week's image of an alleyway in London: A mysterious bricked-in pathway just off an old street resulted in some compellingly brilliant and diverse suggestions. Heidi takes it this week with this wonderful phrase: "But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it."

Honorable mentions also go to:
  • Judy: "This way to The Really Secret Garden!"
  • Wendy: "Gateway to adventure"
  • Mom: "Enter at your own risk."
  • Terri: "May your path be long...and not end with a closed gate."
  • Miss Meliss: "Urban Hideaway"
  • Moon: "It's the simple paths that lead us to the most magnificant of places."
  • d.o.m. dan: "Where the streets have no name"
  • BreadBox: "Forbidding gate, secret garden...."
Thank you again, everyone, for playing week after week and turning this into a highlight for me and my family. We love reading your creative suggestions. Here's to many more...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The BlackBerry controversy continues

I've stepped in it again. Earlier this week, I was interviewed for a piece on the next generation BlackBerry platform (the 9000-series, for the geekier-inclined) by Dan Jones of Unstrung. The article, RIM's Touching New BlackBerry Plans, was published late Tuesday.

As things go in the world of the Internet, the piece was picked up in some notable places. In some cases, it's sparked some, um, not-very-nice responses from largely anonymous blog commenters. Here's a rundown of some of the more fun ones:
  • Boy Genius Report. This is my favorite of all. You've got to love when teenaged fanboys in their mothers' basements get all hot and bothered by something I've said. Funny how no one has the guts to actually post a real name or link. Imagine that.
  • Gizmodo. Another notable geek-gadget blog.
  • ZDNet. Where Russell Shaw calls me a clued-in analyst (whew, at least one person knows how to be nice!)
  • And others: PC World, ZDNet UK, and even a blog in Australia.
Another notable media hit: Chris Sorensen of the Toronto Star published an article, Internet 'brownouts' feared by 2010 as user traffic soars, where I was quoted debunking the claims of Nemertes Research, a small U.S. outfit. I did a number of interviews with CBC Radio stations across Canada as well, and as a result I suspect I won't be receiving a Christmas card from the Nemerteites anytime soon.

(The piece was reprinted in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and the Hamilton Spectator. The Electricity Forum also picked it up. I know, I'm still scratching my head over that last one.)

Your turn:
Does it take courage to slag someone from behind the wall of anonymity? Do you think folks would be a little more diplomatic if they had to attach their names to everything they post online?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Urban mural

Trees on brick
London, ON, October 2007
[Click to enlarge]

I'm a big fan of anything that takes the endlessly repetitive landscape of a built-up, run-down city and tries to make it unique and memorable. Even when it's done on a small scale, like this mural on an old building in London's east end, I have to believe that it improves the life of the neighborhood - and of its residents - in some way.

I don't know who painted this. But whoever it was clearly saw a reality that extended well beyond the dusty brick and empty glass storefronts that surrounded this place. A sliver of hope where there previously was none: I like the feel of that. I hope you do, too.

Your turn: Something small that gives hope. Please discuss.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beauty redux

Isn't she lovely?
London, ON, November 2007

I take lots of pictures of things. But I'm never happier than when I'm taking photos of the people who matter most, who I love, who love me, who surround me and make me what I am.

I took this one as we set off on another grand family road trip. The kids were belted into the wondervan, everyone was happy and fed, and suddenly my wife was there, and I had to remember that moment.

This picture reminds me that sometimes you just need to pause and remind yourself why the life you lead is infinitely better than anything you ever hoped for. Or deserved.

Your turn: You're lucky because...?

One more thing: I often take pictures of my family. Just because. Here's an earlier one of my wife.

Crossed wires

The local grid
Shanghai, China, May 2007

If the devil is supposed to be in the details, then one has to wonder why we don't pay more attention to the little things around us.

When I was in Shanghai, I took big pictures of the skyline (see here and here), but it was the little pictures that sealed my memories of this remarkable place.

The so-called small views have an attainable reality that the big ones often lack. The people who live here don't spend all their time staring into the distance. Rather, they spend their days navigating the blocks near their workplaces, their homes, their schools. The things they encounter as they go about their lives make up a much smaller vista than the tourist books would have you believe.

These otherwise forgettable overhead wires may not merit any kind of extraordinary attention. But they're real, they're local, and they help me remember what it felt like to stand on the street corner and shoot this. Somehow, the broad vistas failed to accomplish this.

Your turn: Small, local, real. Why is this important to you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Craggy

Climb this
London, ON, October 2007

Some photos remind me of my mood when I took them. Yes, even I have gray days.

Your turn: I know this is Wordless Wednesday and all, but I'm a journalist. Ergo, I'm anything BUT wordless. So what do you think of this photo? Is it moody to you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Letter to the supermarket weenies

Way back in September, I posted an entry about a couple of teenaged grocery store employees who shot a satirical video and were subsequently fired and sued by the good folks at the A&P (click here to read it and see the video.)

The company sued them for $1 million, saying this was the amount of business they lost because of the video. I found that laughable, and tossed it around my head for a bit. After about a month of stewing, I was feeling somewhat self righteous one evening. So I wrote a nasty letter to A&P and e-mailed it to them. I thought you might find it an entertaining read:
To whom it may concern,

I find it amusing that you use value of lost business as validation for the size of your lawsuit against these two young men. Do you really think that you lost $1 million in business immediately following the release of this video?

If you were managed by individuals who were perhaps more aware of how companies should adapt to the new social media-aware economy, you might have seen this video as a marketing opportunity. Instead, you've betrayed your old-school approach to management and convinced the next generation of grocery shoppers that you really have no clue.

If anything threatens your bottom line, it is the substandard way in which your stores are run. To wit, I went shopping at the store near my home here in London, Ontario a couple of weeks ago. From afar, I noticed a stand of blueberries and thought on impulse that I should bring home a basket.

As I approached the stand, I noticed the entire area was infested with swarming fruit flies. I alerted an employee and was greeted with a shrug. I escalated the issue to the manager on duty, and was told that's how they were received. Needless to say, I didn't buy the blueberries. Or anything else.

A parody video by two young men with a future isn't going to keep me from shopping at A&P. Fly-encrusted fruit displays will.

Carmi Levy
London, Ontario, Canada
writteninc AT gmail DOT com
I e-mailed this note at 8:41 p.m. on October 10 of this year. I haven't heard back from them, nor do I expect to. Great customer relations, A&P.

Your turn: Do you complain to companies? Why/why not? Got a story to share?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Please don't squeeze the Charmin

Sad news from the grocery aisle: Dick Wilson is dead. Folks of a certain age may remember him as Mr. Whipple, the curmudgeonly grocer who in hundreds of television commercials begged shoppers not to squeeze the Charmin.

No cause of death was listed, but one presumes it had nothing to do with his little TP addiction.

I always thought that squeezing the toilet paper somehow violated some sort of unwritten supermarket law, that some things simply didn't fly in the once-genteel grocery stores of a now-forgotten age. Either way, the phrase was a cultural touchstone for much of my childhood.

Here's a peek at the classic franchise:

Additional links of note, because I know you have so much free time to read this:
Mr. Wilson was 91. Shopping won't be the same without him.

Your turn: Do you squeeze it? Come on, be honest!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A little birdie told me

London, ON, November 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Our little community is home to some remarkable talent. Recently, a noted artist, Erica Reshef, opened a studio in our area. Known as ArtVenture, it's the answer to my wife's longstanding desire to take an art course and explore her potential. We've also registered our kids here, and this bird awaited our youngest son when I dropped him off earlier this month.

The studio faces west, so the late-autumn sun casts a brilliant light into the front of the studio. When it became clear that the weather would cooperate on this day, she set up these small birds on the floor and had the kids work with the shadows that they cast on the paper below.

My kid gets to explore this world laid out by an artist whose creativity and ability make most visitors' jaws drop when they see her work. Lucky him. Lucky us.

Your turn: An artistic experience that meant something to you. Please discuss.

Caption This 45

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, October 2007
[Click to enlarge]

Sometimes, I wander the streets of my burg and deliberately look for scenes that make me think. I usually seek out older areas, where the buildings aren't necessarily high-rent. As a rule I won't peek into windows - the whole peeping tom thing, after all - but stealing a look down a forlorn alleyway seems to be socially acceptable.

I liked this view as soon as I reviewed it on my camera's screen, but over a month after I first took it I'm still having difficulty figuring out what to call it. Simply put, I don't know what stories this place might tell.

This is where I turn it over to you...

Your turn: Please caption this image. Submit as many suggestions as you wish.

About last week's image - drinking and driving in Shanghai: Of all the pictures I brought home, this one more than most illustrated the social and cultural differences between our respective societies. I guess some things get overlooked as a society that's been suppressed by communism for generations suddenly discovers the lure of capitalism.

BreadBox takes it with this sardonic take: "In an attempt to curb population growth, China encourages drinking and driving"

Honorable mentions go to:
  • Scottenvonrotten: "The problem with having a Dewars in China is 3 seconds later you want another one."
  • Carolyn: "Highway HopScotch"
  • Sister AE: "Now THAT'S what I call a drink for the road!"
  • Anne: "The directions say 'exit before scotch' (hic), not after."
More next week. Until then, happy captioning!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Waiting for battle
Laval, QC, November 2007 [Click to enlarge]

Our kids like chess. They started playing it at my parents' house, and I took this image after they finished playing there during a recent visit. I like that even at their age, they can find common ground around a game that has nothing to do with video game consoles and wireless Internet connections. I also like that it gives them another opportunity to connect with their grandparents. It's often the little things that matter most.

Your turn: What is this scene saying to you?

Friday, November 16, 2007

More tea, please

A peek into my mother's tea box
Laval, QC, November 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I'm notorious within my extended family for suddenly zoning out in the middle of a conversation as my eye catches something. Sometimes, it isn't something I see as much as something that pops into my mind, an idea that I think would be cool to somehow turn into a picture.

Visiting my parents gives me ample opportunity to explore with my lens. As time passes, they're becoming more supportive of my oddball approach to photography, often encouraging me to take pictures of things they find interesting.

And so it was with my mom's tea box. I liked the lines of it, so I scooped it up from the dining room table and brought it to the couch for an impromptu shoot. All the while, my parents sat nearby and watched, smiling. It was a moment I'll remember more for their reaction than for the picture I took.

Your turn: How do you share your photography with others?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Curved atrium

Let there be light
Seattle, WA, May 2006

I look up a lot. I think most folks spend so much time staring down or immediately ahead that they miss a whole lot of interesting stuff going on just above their heads.

I took this one at the base of Seattle's Space Needle as I wandered around the gift shop. It struck me as a particularly cheery place, with the kind of view that, while not as overtly spectacular as the ones from the top of the structure, was memorable in its own way.

As I squeezed the shutter, I smiled to myself as I realized that everyone would be taking pictures from the top, but only I would be taking this particular scene home. Sometimes, it's comforting to be contrarian.

Your turn: You're different. How?

One more thing: I did take a picture from up top. Click here to see it.

Peace Tower

The center of the country
Ottawa, ON, August 2006

The Parliament Buildings are home to Canada's elected government. They are the spiritual focal point of the country, the place you come to when you want to understand how democracy works in this country. Canadians are somewhat reserved when it comes to expressing their sense of patriotism. But when you walk around Parliament Hill, you can almost feel the pride that folks have in these tangible icons of the country.

This was our kids' first-ever visit to Ottawa. We had stopped here for a couple of days on our way home from Montreal. Our youngest son kept craning his neck, trying to see to the top of this structure, the Peace Tower, that is the most prominent feature of Centre Block. He was six at the time, obviously impressed by the sheer presence of these structures.

He was also hungry and cranky at the time, and wouldn't let me take his picture. So I did the next best thing by trying to capture the scene from his perspective.

Your turn: What do you see when you crane your own neck and take in this scene. Look deeply and think big.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Colorful

They melt in your mouth, not in your hand
Toronto, ON, September 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Your turn: Does a jolt of color help offset the seasonal descent into grayness?

One more thing: I'm apparently becoming addicted to taking pictures of brightly colored candy - Smarties, Glosettes, Reese's Pieces, Peanut M&Ms, you name it. If it's edible, I'll shoot it. If you're hungry, you may want to pause before following these links. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tea time in London

Spot of tea?
London, ON, November 2007 [Click to embiggen]

The room was filled with friends and family. They'd come to celebrate our son's bar mitzvah, and were now gathering one last time for brunch before going their separate ways home. The background buzz of smiling voices sharing a recent, happy memory was accompanied by the clatter of plates from the buffet tables. It was a happy, relaxed sound.

I was using my camera to capture faces I hadn't seen in months or years, and possibly wouldn't see again for a similar length of time. And in the middle of it all, I saw a single cup and saucer on an empty table. Somehow, I thought this captured the warmth and light that pervaded the room.

Your turn: When a picture of an event isn't a picture of the event at all. Please discuss.

One more thing: More bar mitzvah entries are posted here, here and here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Caption This 44

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

Shanghai, China, May 2007

I'm guessing that Mothers Against Drunk Driving hasn't set up shop in China, yet. Something tells me they'd frown on advertising this blatant.

Your turn: Got a caption for this scene? Share it in a comment and win not-so-valuable prizes. Okay, you won't win any prizes. But you'll make everyone who visits this site happy. Isn't that reward enough?

About last week's image of streaks of light on a foggy night: I'm still eating crow for posting it late, so allow me to thank you all for still participating despite my being at least two days late in getting it uploaded. You're all very kind.

The image struck me as particularly poignant when I shot it. There's something about fog that changes the way I relate to the world around me. It softens my immediate surroundings. I slow myself down as I try to remember what this very temporary environment feels like. It forces everyone to become conscious of their surroundings, to become hyper-aware, to stop rushing to wherever they were going. In short, it messes up with our usual sense of time and place.

Which is why Superchai's quote felt so appropriate: "Standing still while time passes by." Please visit her blog (click here) and congratulate her for being so creative.

As usual, my comments overflowed with solid submissions, including these honorable mentions:
  • Joan: "Stop that train, Superman!"
  • Linda: "To Infinity and BEYOND!"
  • Dan: "Too fast to focus"
  • Sara: "Supersonic"
  • Ginny: "Time Traveler"
  • jc: "Road Runner blows by Wile E. Coyote yet again"
Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We remember

It's easy to forget. Every year, fewer and fewer old men in perfectly turned-out uniforms brave the cold, gray weather that seems to descend on the cenotaph. Those that do make it are often enfeebled by age, by the ravages of time that never had a chance to wrap itself around comrades who never made it home.

They are the last witnesses of an event that shaped our modern world, of a turning point in history that could have just as easily landed us into the 20th century equivalent of the dark ages. They are ordinary folks who stepped forward to do the extraordinary, then came back home and built ordinary lives despite all they had been through.

Soon, we will lose this tenuous, precious connection to history. And remembrance will be all we have. History, so often forgotten in the rush to advance society, holds the lessons we need to better shape whatever awaits us. We often forget that a solid building starts with a foundation. If we forget what's underneath, we may as well be homeless.

Thank you seems inadequate, yet it is all we can offer these fading icons of our past, present and, one hopes, our future.

Your turn: We remember because...?

One last thing: Caption This will be posted tomorrow. I'm not feeling particularly frivolous today.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Which way wing

Rolling left...or right?
Over the South China Sea, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

I've often written about the engineering wizardry that allows a carefully shaped slice of metal alloy to pull hundreds of thousands of pounds of machinery and people off the ground, and carry them near the speed of sound miles above the earth before landing very far away...sometimes across entire oceans and continents. Yes, flight is routine now. That doesn't make it any less miraculous.

As we descended into Shanghai, I found myself staring at the wing of our Air Canada 767. It had brought us clear across the largest ocean on the planet, and all I could think about was the cool-looking arrow graphic that covered its innermost upper surface. I wondered if it helped wayward pilots and flight crews figure out that the wing worked best if the air flowed backward. I had never seen this display on any other wing before, so I thought maybe it was a Canadian thing. We DID give the world Bob & Doug McKenzie, after all.

Or maybe I just liked the composition of this image. When I'm really tired from major travel, I often make strange decisions with my camera. Whatever the case, I hope you like this one.

Your turn: Care to explain the arrow thing? Or guess? Go nuts!

One more thing: Other wingy entries can be found here, here, here and here. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Little brother watches

Playing on the edge
London, ON, October 2007

Major events in a family's life tend to affect each member in different ways. It's easy to forget that simple fact. It's easy to forget that, as you run around getting everything ready for the biggest moment of your eldest son's life, his little brother and sister are being buffeted by the same stresses that keep you up at night, staring at the ceiling.

At 7, Noah seems to have already figured out how to handle whatever's going on around him. In this image, he plays quietly at the edge of the synagogue's sanctuary while his brother practices on the bima - the raised platform in the middle (see here for earlier entry). I wish I had his ability to focus, to block out confusion, to hold onto the little things that matter in a little boy's life no matter what the context may be.

As I quietly reached through the doorway with my lens and took a no-flash, slow-speed memory of that small moment in a small boy's life, I reminded myself to pay closer attention to the tertiary effects of life on each member of my family. I wondered what he was thinking as his attention meandered between his own temporary playground and the sounds of his older brother preparing for something big and unknown. I wondered what he was remembering, what color it would be in his mind, what it would feel like to him years later when he would be the one in his brother's place.

I wanted to ask him. But it didn't seem right to intrude in this moment. So I put the camera away when I was done and went back to the chaise lounge in the lobby. I don't think he ever suspected I was there, which is as it should be.

Your turn: Childhood memories from the periphery. Please discuss.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Have a seat
London, ON, October 2007

The week before Zach's bar mitzvah (see here for more) was a blur of activity for all of us. I think I spent more time in the car, shuttling everyone back and forth, than I did at home. At one of his final rehearsals at the synagogue, I didn't want to disturb him as he practiced in the sanctuary with our cantor. So I sat quietly in the entryway outside, listening for encouraging sounds from the other side of the door and wondering about this place I had so often been in but had never really taken the time to appreciate.

I thought about all the people who have sat in that chair, looked out those windows, come to this place looking for an opportunity to reflect back and project forward. I'm glad I took my camera out, because every time I see this photo, I'm reminded of a peaceful moment in the middle of an otherwise busy time in our family's life.

Your turn: What are you thinking as you take in this scene?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Caption This 43

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, October 2007

I captured this image the same night as this one and this one. I've always wanted to try long night-time exposures beside a busy street, so when the fog rolled in, I knew it was time to play.

The question is, how would you name or caption this image?

Your turn: Come up with your best one, two, three or however many captions and share it/them in a comment. I'll announce the winner next Sunday.

Last week's image - Propane-powered van: The picture of the moron who strapped a propane tank to the back of his van garnered some incendiary responses. Sara almost read my thoughts with her excellent "Have Bomb, Will Travel." Interestingly, she participated with her colleagues, sharing a number of excellent suggestions along the way. Yes, that's a big hint! Please drop by her site and congratulate her.

Honorable mentions go to:
  • Jadedprimadonna: "This cutting edge hybrid model takes fuel efficiency to a whole new level!"
  • Tommie: "Have propane.....need grill"
  • Smiler: "Honey, where did you put that tank of gas?"
  • Joy T.: "If you can see the writing on this propane bottle...chances are you're about to explode."
  • Sara: "Bombing down the highway"
  • John: "Ahhh, traveling the open road! Isn't it a gas?"
Good luck with this week's caption. And thanks for your patience in waiting an extra couple of days for it to appear on the blog. It's been a busy time around here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Coming to a TV near you

If the stars align in just the right way, I believe I'm going to be appearing on CTV's flagship newscast at 11 o'clock tonight.

Michael Hainsworth of Business News Network interviewed me earlier today on the Google mobile alliance announcement (click here to see the interview). Now, if I understand correctly, some of what I said will apparently be rebroadcast for all of Canada to see tonight.

Coming on the heels of a really cool interview for the CBC Business News (more on that in a future entry), I think it's turning into an unbelievably good media week!

(Now I'm going to drive home and try to calm down a bit. I'm so excited!)

Update 11:30 p.m.: The stars didn't align. I got my parents and in-laws all excited for nothing. Now they'll disown me :) I'll keep my eyes peeled over the next day or two in case it turns out to be a bumping case. These things apparently happen in news. Who knew?

Yet another update: Richard Martin of InformationWeek has published this piece, IT Pros Anxiously Await Google's Android. Here's what I said:
Still, many view Google's long-awaited debut on the mobile stage as an industry-changing development that will inevitably alter the landscape for enterprise IT managers as well as the employees whose mobile devices they support.

"If you're a CIO projecting a five-year road map, and you want to understand where your mobile strategy needs to be within that overall road map, this changes things significantly for you," said Carmi Levy, senior VP of strategic consulting at Toronto-based consultancy AR Communications. "You will have to make allowance for this new entrant, which is not only going to do something that hasn't existed before, but will influence the incumbent players to reinvent themselves in the process."
Your turn: Is Google the 21st century equivalent of The Borg, or is this company's rise a good thing for society?

Nov. 8 - The last word (I hope!): The package was distributed to CTV's affiliates across the country. It aired on each regional/local station - not on the main newscast. My mistake. Oops! I guess these things excite me a little :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Becoming a man

Mentor and student, getting ready
London, ON, October 2007

Anyone who's ever experienced the responsibility of caring for and raising a child knows that parenthood isn't easy. The answers, from staying up late with a cranky baby to teaching the basics of solid morals and empathy, never seem to be straightforward. There's no book to read, no universally understood set of performance benchmarks to target.

So when your own child marks a major milestone and does it better than you could have ever hoped, it's easy to sigh a happy sigh and think, just for a second, that you're all heading in the right direction.

Our eldest son, Zachary, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah this weekend. It's an important milestone in a Jewish boy's life, where he becomes a responsible adult. To mark the occasion, the bar mitzvah boy chants from the torah - the Old Testament - and for the first time in his life actively and officially participates in the prayer service. It's rooted in ancient history, and it's often an occasion for entire families and communities to come together to celebrate.

Zach studied for his bar mitzvah for months, befriending our synagogue's near-legendary cantor in the process. He and his wife welcomed Zach into his home week after week, and teacher and student worked patiently, methodically to get him ready for his big day. His reading was the longest one in the entire torah, and it would have been easy for Zach to simply do a small part of it. But he persisted through challenges that included breaking his leg and missing weeks worth of school, studying when he really would have rather been doing something else.

Yesterday, he got up in front of a congregation of friends and family from London, Montreal, Toronto and other parts of Canada and the U.S. He stood up on the central platform and ripped through his performance without skipping a beat. For the first time in his young life, he rose to a large challenge and flew on his own. He made us immensely proud in the process.

Sometimes, you wonder if you're doing all the things that you need to do. Yesterday, my wife and I blinked back tears as we watched him, confident that on at least some levels, we've been following the right path.

Your turn: On becoming an adult. Please discuss.

About this picture: Zach studies with our cantor this week, using the sanctuary to get a feel for what the real thing would be like. Not wanting to disturb them - but still hoping to capture some of the spirit of this time - I quietly walked around the perimeter of the sanctuary and captured this. More to come...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Scene from an alley

Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

The texture of a place is what sticks in my mind long after I've returned home. I try to take pictures that remind me of what I felt like not when I was standing in front of some tourist trap, but of how I felt when I stood on a typical sidewalk like a typical local.

I grew up in Montreal, which has long had the reputation of being a cosmopolitan, tourist-friendly town. Indeed, the downtown core is on any given day jammed with folks from all over, snapping pictures and wandering from one must-see landmark to another.

But I never saw any of these places. I didn't take the elevator to the top of the Olympic Stadium tower. I didn't shoot the Lachine Rapids in a jet boat, nor did I take a tour bus to the top of Mount Royal. It dawned on me that a resident's view of the city always seemed to be very different than a tourist's perspective. And then it hit me: no one ever seems to take the everyday-resident kind of pictures.

Which is a little sad, because they miss scenes like this, where the fabric of the life of a city and its people is laid bare by a quick glimpse down an alley, at tired stucco walls that have seen their share of everyday, unflashy, routine life. The story of these walls is infinitely more interesting than that told by bright, shiny so-called attraction.

Your turn: How does this image make you feel?

One more theme: This photo continues a theme I've been revisiting somewhat infrequently. Other entries are here, here, here, here and here. I hope you like 'em.