Thursday, January 31, 2008

Where sand meets sea

Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007 [Click to catch the wave]

As much as I enjoy being at the beach, I don't fall into line with the rest of the crowd when I finally make it to the sand. I'm not much of a sunhound, and the appeal of jumping in and out of the waves wears off after a while, especially when the purple flags hanging off the lifeguard towers warn of jellyfish swarms (more on that in a future entry.)

But I like to sit and observe. There's so much going on within this transitional zone between land and water, from the way the sunlight varies across the surface of the sand to the brilliant reflections in the ever-changing surf to the deep blues and greens further into the deeper waters. I guess if I lived here, the novelty would eventually wear off. But being a typical tourist, it's a little bit special.

So after the kids went back to the towel and I could relax my lifeguard-on-duty stance, I found myself staring at the spot where the water just washes up on shore. I liked the green of the water and the way it contrasted with the sand. I'm not sure I captured it perfectly, but this photo reminds me of what it felt like to be alone, seemingly at the edge of the world.

Your turn: You're alone with your thoughts in a pretty neat place. Where are you and what are you thinking?

One more thing: It's been a while since I posted any media links. It's been a busy time, but I'll get back to it at some point. Had a pretty good one today: David George-Cosh from the Financial Post (the business component of Canada's National Post newspaper) interviewed me for a piece on an upcoming new device - called the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway - that allows BlackBerry users to stream multimedia content through a home entertainment system. The piece, RIM to unveil BlackBerry music plug-in: Start of a campaign targetting consumers, is here. The piece has also been picked up on the main website, and in my old hometown paper, the Montreal Gazette (thanks to my in-laws for picking that one up!)

Even neater, Russell Shaw picked it up in his BlackBerry Beat blog on ZDNet. Click here for the entry.

So what did I say?
"This is huge," said Carmi Levy, senior vice-president of strategic consulting for AR Communications Inc. "This really is the first tangible evidence that has been bubbling under for some time, but RIM has been really quiet about bringing that to fruition."


"This is a pivotal moment in the history of the BlackBerry franchise," said Mr. Levy. "[The accessory] is now placing the BlackBerry as a front and centre entertainment-focused device."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Someone's toy

Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

When I go to the beach, I try to stay away from the crowds. I'm much happier walking a little further and finding a relatively open stretch of undisturbed sand. So as I slowly ambled further away from the maddening crowds, I came across this forlorn beach toy, long abandoned by an unknown child.

I figured it, like every other piece of garbage in this transitional place, had a story, a history. I wondered if the child who lost it even knew it was gone, if he/she was upset, if mom/dad/caregiver helped ease the pain with a scoop of ice cream and some soothing words - or a dismissive comment.

It's often said there are a million stories in the big city. I guess the same thing applies to this forgotten stretch of sand as well.

Your turn: Who lost this? Feel free to tell its story.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Friday Night Lights revisited & explained

Quick note from the future - February 2, 2009: Tim Best, husband of London, Ontario's Mayor, Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best, has been arrested and faces multiple DUI-related charges. If you've found my site via a search engine, please click here for the updated story.
A while back, I wrote a blog entry about the excellent NBC program, Friday Night Lights (click here to read it), which is based on a movie, which in turn was based on the book by H.G. Bissinger. Long story short: it's hardly about the football, and it remains, in its second, strike-abbreviated season, a shining example of the best that television has to offer.

Recently, I noticed something funny: folks searching for "Friday Night Lights" in Google were finding my site. Even more odd, many of the search terms included "London" and Ontario" as well. At first I wondered if there was an undercurrent of support for the show here in London. Then I dismissed the thought: Londoners don't "get" television more evolved than Deal or No Deal or The Price is Right. We like our culture served up in big box stores, cineplexes and franchised family-friendly restaurants, thank you very much.

It all fell into place for me last week when I read an article about the impending opening of a new restaurant in London. Name? Friday Knight Lights. Why the k? The London Knights are this city's Ontario Hockey League team. They play at the big downtown arena, the John Labatt Centre, and on game nights, the city is awash in green. Although it's decidedly small-town, this city takes its almost-big-time hockey team very seriously. As it should: it's a great team that's well-connected to its community.

The guy behind the new restaurant is none other than Tim Best, husband of our burg's mayor, Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best. I hope he's a fan of the show, and I hope his new venture flies. This city needs a little culture, even if it's cribbed from a fabled literary/entertainment franchise.

Your turn: What search terms bring visitors to your site? Got any stories to go along with them?

One more thing: Virginia Heffernan, who writes about television for the New York Times, wrote this superb entry, entitled Art in the Age of Franchising, in her blog, The Medium. If content quality and the evolution of media matter to you, she should be your first read.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Seeking warmth from the sun
Palm Beach, Florida, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

We met so many lovely animals when we visited the Palm Beach Zoo. I have to admit it was a lot more fun watching and listening to our kids' reactions to them than it was seeing the animals directly. I enjoy our children's lens on life so much more than the glass-based one I so often hold in my hand.

Your turn: Living vicariously through those who matter most. Please discuss.

One more thing: Today marks 22 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the midpoint of NASA's memorial week to the three major accidents which have blackened its history. I remember the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia not because any of us will realistically be going into space anytime soon. But because they lost their lives in the pursuit of advancing the state of the human race. Where would we all be without this desire to push the envelope? I wrote this blog entry a couple of years back and this newspaper column in 2004. Even today, my old words still resonate in my head.

Make that two: It's not too late to submit a caption to this week's Caption This entry. Click here to join in on the fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Caption This 55

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

Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

I generally try to avoid shooting people's faces in public. But sometimes a scene presents itself that's just too good to ignore. I wasn't sure what I wanted to call this photo when I snapped it, but I knew it would be one of the most memorable ones I captured while we were away - and I knew you would all love a chance to play with this one in your heads. I know, I'm bad. So be it.

Your turn: Please suggest a caption or two or twelve in a comment. I actively support multiple submissions. I'm still on my let's-grow-this-thing kick, so successful referrals to new players will result in shameless advantage come judging time. As always, winners and a new Caption This photo will be posted next Sunday.

About last week's image of stairs: I loved the lines of this scene when I first saw it from the sidewalk. Apparently many of you agreed, as you came up with countless words to describe it. Winning entry goes to Omykiss for "Stair symphony." Please visit this erudite scientist in New Zealand (click here) and share your good wishes.

Overall, I was amazed at the diversity of submissions this week (new record of submissions, btw...40!) The world of literature, art and music all played major roles in this week's captions. Cool! As always, lots of honorable mentions to share:
  • Awareness: "And he's finding his stairway to....heaven........."
  • Mama DB and David: "Escher."
  • Surcie: "Escheresque."
  • Anne: "Escher's muse."
  • Joan: "Save your breath! Eschew Escher."
  • Sara: "The culmination of all the 12-step programs out there."
  • Steve: "I think I'll take the elevator."
  • Judy: "Steppin' Out."
  • Robin: "Breathless."
  • Beverly: "Am I coming or going?"
  • Carolyn: "A journey of a thousand steps begins on this staircase."
  • The Bluest Butterfly: "Rhett, don't get lost carrying me up these stairs."
  • Jodi Cleghorn: "A surrealist stairway."
  • Heidi: "Up, up, and away! Or is that down?"
  • JC: "Panorama view."
  • Vanessa: "As I stare at the stair..."
  • MissMeliss: "One step forward, two steps back..."
  • Linda: "Up the down staircase."
  • Beth: "Life is full of ups, and ups and ups!"
  • Rainbow dreams: "It's making me dizzy."
  • Tiel Aisha Ansari: "The higher you climb, the farther you have to fall."
Have fun with this week's photo. As usual, new images get posted pretty much every day, and I'll have a Wordless Wednesday (click here for past WW entries) post up this...Wednesday.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Berry cold

Window to a different place
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007 [Click to enlarge]

By all accounts, it was the perfect day to be at the beach. Clear blue sky, friendly sun and temperatures in the 80s. But when I looked at my BlackBerry*, I realized the auto-generated weather update from back home painted a very different picture. So I thought it might be fun to juxtapose the two.

Your turn: What's on your cell phone/smartphone screen? Why?

One more thing: The photo on my BlackBerry was originally posted here.

* For background on my addiction, click here to read my second 100 Things list. See #59.

Misery loves company

So I thought all day Thursday that the impending feeling of unhealthiness building in my head was just that, a feeling. That I'd be able to fight it off. That I'd manage to skirt the same virus that at various points this week had kept my wife and two of our three kids home. That my usual sense of health-arrogance - "I'm too strong to get sick. I always eat right, exercise and take my vitamins..." - would help me avoid a weekend of head cold misery.

Fat chance.

I woke up yesterday and knew I was toast. My head felt like it wouldn't fit through the door, and even the smallest sound felt like a jackhammer.

But deadlines being deadlines, I wrote anyway because when you're a writer, magical fairies don't take over your laptop and generate prose on your behalf. I don't phone in sick any more. Rather, I can't.

So by the end of a day of tapping away at keys that often hurt my fingertips (no, I don't blame you, HP. I really love my skin just gets really sensitive when I have a cold) I was ready for some serious sleepy time.

Which, in between waking up at 3 a.m. with a headache so severe that I thought I was going to pass out and then spending the rest of the night with a worried dog pressing himself against me to ensure I was still breathing, is actually coming to fruition. Hopefully a couple of days of quiet R&R will give me a chance to evict the viral invaders once and for all.

As I wrap up this giant run-on blog entry - tapped out from my BlackBerry - it occurs to me that I almost never prattle on this extensively when I'm sick. So thank you for your patience and understanding. This process has been cathartic for me. Really!

Your turn: Got any ancient family cold remedies? I'm trying 'em all. Thanks in advance!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coral sea

Life on the reef
Atlanta, Georgia, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

I've woken up with the same cold that's already flattened my wife and two of our kids. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, but I am quite miserable to be around. Even the dog seems to be avoiding me.

To find some cheer as I will myself to get some meaningful work done before I fall into a 14-hour nap, I thought I'd post a photo that makes me smile, that's so literally bright and colorful - like a pack of Crayola crayons - that it would be impossible not to feel a little better after seeing it.

I'm not sure it's working. But it's at least worth a shot.

Your turn: The things that bring us comfort when we're sick. Please discuss.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Light from below

Efficiently simple
Atlanta, Georgia, January 2008

Ordinary objects seen from extraordinary perspectives can often take us somewhere unexpected. The kids were excited about staying here because it was a real hotel, with bellhops , valets and old, cushy, ornate sofas in the lobby. They spun themselves on the office chairs in the business center and left their fingerprints all over the brass accents and mirrors that lined the halls and elevator. The novelty of a hotel where your car wasn't parked just outside the room was too compelling to ignore.

The room itself? Smallish, if I must be realistic. But none of this mattered to them. They buzzed around our little temporary home, discovering neat little things about it that separated it from a more ordinary place: a minibar (off limits, even the chocolate bars), the ornately presented soaps and shampoos, the neato laptop-friendly desk, the super comfy bed with a bedspread I secretly wanted to take home.

Indeed, this place was special. This experience was special, and we knew they'd remember this room far longer than any other hotel/motel where we'd overnighted on this trip. So when my daughter mentioned to me that she even liked how the lamps looked, I wanted to remember them somehow. The low angle seemed like the "Carmi" way to do it.

Your turn: Ordinary things seen from extraordinary perspectives. Please discuss.

Wordless Wednesday - Hooked

Something's fishy
Boynton Beach, Florida, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Your turn:
The first three words that come to mind when you see this image are...?

One more thing: More images from the Boynton Beach Inlet shoot can be found here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dahlia by the water's edge

Watching the tide roll in
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

I spend a lot of my time watching my kids. From the way they bounce out of the car every morning and greet their friends in the school yard to listening to them speak to their grandparents on the phone, I enjoy seeing them go through their daily paces as they gradually figure out how to navigate the world around them. They won't be kids forever, after all, so either I take the time now or risk losing that opportunity forever.

So when we went to the beach and our daughter paused for some quiet observation time, I hung back and watched her take in the scene. I know how I feel when I stand next to a large body of water: I feel small; I wonder what and who is out there; I think about what it might be like to venture away from the safety of the shore. As I took this shot, I wondered if she was having similar thoughts.

Now I have a whole new bunch of questions to discuss with her. Neat.

Your turn: Watching the next generation grow up. Please discuss.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Help! Shark!

Cruising overhead
Atlanta, Georgia, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

As we stood in this magical place, virtually surrounded by a world we had previously only read about, I found it difficult to decide what to look at first. Countless fish, including this shark, cruised silently and effortlessly, seemingly ignoring the thousands of air-breathers who fogged the windows as they traipsed through day after endless day.
Quick pause: I know that sharks aren't technically fish. I suppose cartilagenous predators might be a little more appropriate. How's that? Good. Let's resume...
I learned that day that aquarium photography is more challenging than skateboarding under the influence. Sure, it looks easy at first, but the sheer impossibility of accomplishing anything without leaving a figurative piece of yourself splattered on the ground soon becomes all too apparent. I'm glad I had a big memory card that day.

Your turn: What would you name this critter?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Caption This 54

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

Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2007
[Click to embiggen]

It's late afternoon and I'm walking back to the wondervan after a really nice day at the beach. Because half of the free world had the same idea, we've had to park in another time zone. So I'm alone for the long trek, and will drive back to pick everyone up.

My photo-geek mind interprets this as a prime opportunity to shoot some fast scenes of whatever tickles my fancy before my understanding and lovely wife realizes I've been dawdling. So as I carefully balance the myriad bags on my shoulder, I hold my camera in my hand, stopping periodically to shoot.

The pastel-and-white painted concrete buildings stand out as a signature of this place, the perfect architectural antidote to hot days, breezy nights and the occasional hurricane. We don't have anything like this at home, I think to myself as I stand in the middle of the parking lot to capture this pattern.

Your turn: Please caption this image. Pull in co-workers, friends and family if you wish. This party's been growing in recent months, so may as well open the invitation list to the entire world. Your challenge for this week: please forward the URL for this entry - here it is for your convenience: - to someone you think might find it fun. I'll shamelessly favor folks who help spread the joy (I'm whorish that way!)

About last week's image of a median-sitting guy waiting for a handout: This photo saddened me for so many reasons. I often wonder why I have this much and others do not, why the world has to have so much need immediately adjacent to in-your-face gluttony. I thanked my lucky stars as I snapped this photo and continued on my way. Weeks later, I surmise he's still in a similar place, while I'm sitting in a comfy house watching the snow fall. Not sure what to make of the whole fairness thing.

Oops, ruminated a bit there. About the captions, yes. I couldn't pick just one (I know...the earth has stopped spinning.) Robin's "When worlds collide" and Steve's "Crate expectations" both stabbed at the nagging guilt I felt after taking this photo.

If you haven't read Robin's or Steve's blogs, you're missing out on a couple of major bloggy treats. Please visit Robin (click here) and Steve (click here) and congratulate them both. This week's honorable mentions list is a biggie:
  • Robin (yes, she wins AND she gets an honorable mention): "American Paradox."
  • Anne: "Take a load off, Manny."
  • BreadBox: "Okay, who stole the bus stop?"
  • ~Easy: "Here I sit, Broken Hearted..."
  • Judy: "Down, but not out."
  • Tial Aisha Ansari: "Just another day in Paradise..."
  • Mama DB: "Fixture."
  • Carrie: "Will smoke for food." and JunieRose2005: "Will work for smokes!"
  • Jenty: "Watching life pass by."
  • Sara (I'm a closet Diff'rent Strokes fan): "What you lookin at willis."
  • Joy T.: "I will not judge you if you do not judge me."
Have fun with this week's contest. And please don't forget to spread the joy...

Familial reflection

Watching her boys
Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2007 [Click to enlarge]

My lovely wife keeps a couple of eyes on part of her brood. One of those moments that often seems to be gone in a blink. I'm glad I caught it.

[I'll post this week's Caption This entry later today. I was feeling a bit reflective before tuck-in, so I hope you don't mind my indulging in a little self-portrait fun.]

Your turn: Look deep into this picture. What do you see?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Watching the tide go by

Boynton Beach, FL, December 2007

[Click all images to embiggen]

It's way past Zach's bedtime as my uncle pulls the car into the darkened parking lot of the Boynton Beach Inlet (click here for map and here for geotag.) It may be almost 11 o'clock, but this oceanside park and marina is a busy place. Genial folks my parents' age sit on a picnic table under the peaked roof of the services building in the middle of the park, lit like beacons by the yellowish sodium lights that pierce the darkness here and there throughout this place. Toward the edge of the park, fishing poles arch out into the darkened sky, disappearing into the black water as small groups of people pace behind them and debate the merits of different types of bait.

The channel to the north connects the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The tide's coming in, so even in the shadowy yellow light that barely paints its swirling surface, it's easy to see the fast-moving water below. Instinctively we stay back from the edge. I set up my camera and take a quick series of long exposures. Looking at this photo, I feel like I'm back there, smelling the salt air and feeling very small in the face of winds and tides that could easily sweep me away in a blink.

Your turn: The first three words that come to mind when you see these photos are... ?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Avian flight

Gull wings
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007 [Click to enlarge its wingspan]

Anyone who's followed my adventures for any length of time knows that I'm somewhat fascinated by flight. I often take pictures of airplanes (see here, here and here) and, when I need more natural inspiration, I turn my lens on birds (here, here and here).

So when we went to the beach to soak in a little sand, salt water and hideous-looking people in hideous-looking swimwear (more pictures on that front soon), I found solace in this feathered fellow who almost seemed to pose for me as he (she? Anyone know how to gender-identify a gull?) flew past.

Your turn: What's going through the mind of this bird? Have fun with it...


She sells seashells by the seashore
Deerfield Beach, December 2007

As the wind chimes out back sing furiously in the winter wind that's descended on our little corner of the world, I find myself seeking comfort in pictures that I took not so long ago in a place that now seems light years removed from here.

I often use pictures as a bit of a crutch, staring at them for a bit in the hope that they'll take me, however temporarily, to another time and place. It's a quiet form of personal escapism, and it gives me something genteel to both remember and look forward to as I get ready to tuck in for the night.

Your turn: Do you use photography as a means of escapism? How?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Things that make you go, "Huh?"

Appropriate language for seniors?
Delray Beach, FL, December 2007

One of the sad realities of modern life is that we're constantly bombarded by marketing messages. Everywhere we look, someone's trying to sell us something. There is a silver lining, however: not every message is going to be perfectly crafted. Some will even be downright funny.

For example, I did a double-take when I noticed this restaurant's menu. They're selling "Happy Endings" sundaes to senior citizens. They've even trademarked the term.

Maybe it's just me, but "Happy Endings" isn't the kind of message I'd be delivering to people of a certain age.

Your turn: Inappropriate marketing messages. Please discuss.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Monopolizing the car

Please click here for the JANUARY 23, 2008 WW post. My apologies for the inconvenience.

Driving around the neighborhood
Delray Beach, FL, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

Your turn:
Games people play. Please discuss.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apple's MacBook Air - Airheaded response

Warning: slightly nerdy entry. Enjoy the geekitude.

Every year around this time, the chief kahuna of Apple, Steve Jobs, delivers the keynote address at the Macworld Expo. This is a big deal for the world of Apple, because here is where the company's most significant, transformational announcements are made. For example, this is where the iPhone was first introduced last year.

At Macworld, the Apple faithful hang on Steve's every word, enveloped in the now-legendary Reality Distortion Field that turns otherwise ordinary folks into unabashed cheerleaders for the brand. Whatever new stuff Steve announces, it'll be the coolest thing ever, and they'll gladly line up ten deep to buy it.

To wit, the headlines from this year's keynote reveal a great deal of collective slobbering over a new ultra-small laptop known as the MacBook Air. It's super thin, super light and super sexy looking. Macphiles are already contemplating selling their firstborn to get one. FWIW, I want one, too.

Despite the fact that Steve announced a bunch of other stuff, the mainstream media is patently unable to take its eyes off the new uber-laptop. Many outlets are leading with this story (soldiers are dying, the economy's tanking but, hey, Apple released a new computer...don't get me started.)

They'd do well to rethink their sense of priorities. As sexy as the MacBook Air is, it isn't the big news. At the end of the day, it's a lovely machine. But like all lovely machines, it'll soon be forgotten as newer lovelier machines are introduced. The real news lies in Apple's deal with six major Hollywood studios to rent movies through iTunes.

More than a merely evolutionary machine, the movie deal potentially spells the beginning of the end for the neighborhood video store. Apple's been slowly building its iTunes world for a number of years, starting with music downloads and evolving into all media types, and this is the latest step toward iTunes ubiquity. The goal: renting movies through your TV running iTunes and controllable through a regular old remote control. It's coming, and Apple wants to lead the charge. Someday, when you're wondering when the tide began to shift away from conventional movie rentals, remember this date.

I'm barking into the wind on this, of course. Everyone's too blinded by the lovely laptop. For now, I'll be over here. Alone.

Your turn: Why do cool machines always seem to overshadow shifts in culture?

One more thing: As they're made available online, I'll post a few media links as updates to this entry. I've been yakking again. Here they are:

Monday, January 14, 2008


Palm Beach, FL
December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

When most people go to the zoo, they take pictures of the animals. I'm not most people, however. I march to the beat of my own decidedly personal drum. So while I also came home from a visit to the Palm Beach Zoo with plenty of animal photos, I also filled my memory card with scenes like this one.

My aunt noticed this tree and thought I'd want to take a picture of it. She had been spotting neat scenes for me throughout our visit, and thought there was something really different about this particular tree trunk (set of tree trunks? I still have no idea.)

She was right: I see something new every time I look at this picture. I hope you do, too.

Your turn: What do you see in this? Use your imagination. You know you want to.

One more thing: I was on television today, speaking with Business News Network's Kim Parlee about the Macworld Expo that Apple is holding this week in San Francisco. I gazed into my crystal ball and saw Steve Jobs in a Speedo. It was awful.

(Kidding about the Speedo. But the TV part was real. Click here to see me in moving color.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Caption This 53

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

Boynton Beach, FL, December 2007 [Click to embiggen]

It's a glorious day in South Florida. I'm on my way back to the fam after running an errand. Happy tunes waft out the open sunroof as I slow down for a red light on this broad, palm tree-lined boulevard. For as far as the eye can see, luxury cars glide past gated communities, their perfectly coiffed drivers chatting on cell phones, almost oblivious to the world around them.

And then this scene emerges out of the corner of my eye, a stark contrast to this land of supposed opportunity. I'm two lanes over, and my Canadian sensibility prompts me to check that the doors are locked and that I've got somewhere to go if this guy starts walking toward the car. Yes, I'm paranoid, and I feel a moment of shame as I let those thoughts leave as fast as they arrived.

But I'm not too ashamed to reach for my camera, preset it and snap off the fastest photo I can before the light turns green and he drifts into my rearview mirror for good. Something tells me I want to remember this moment of paradox with a picture, that it's a story I'll want to tell when I get home.

So here it is.

Your turn: What is the story of this individual? Please suggest a caption - one, two or as many as you wish - and I'll choose the top one by this time next week.

About last week's image of a mop leaning against the back of an old building: I think I need to spend more time hanging around decaying structures because this one generated a lot of diverse caption ideas. First, the honorables - and there are many:
  • Stacy: "If I just put the mop under the doorknob like so...."
  • Lil Knitter: "It's a dirty job but somebody's gotta do it."
  • Roth Family Adventures: "Lavatory of broken dreams."
  • BreadBox: "Cletis and LouannaBeth were proud of their matching his-and-hers out-houses."
  • David: "leaning heavily against the wall, she moped and dripped huge tears in the sad realization that the Swiffer Wet Jet had replaced her, forever."
  • JC: "Save the last dance for me."
  • Jenty: "If I leave it here long enough, do you think it'll clean itself?"
  • Robin: "When it's time to go..." and "Clean break."
  • Vanessa: "transamerica"
  • Kathryn: "Please clean up after yourself. The Management"
  • Mr. Althouse: "Blue mop holding up a lonely wall."
  • Joan: "Oh, where's my fairy godmother when I need her?"
  • Anne: "Mop and Glow."
  • Tiel Aisha Ansari: "Behind Door 1, the bucket of your dreams. Behind Door 2... a WRINGER!"
This week's nod goes to Mama DB for "Rode hard and put up wet." It made me smile and think, and it brought me right back to the very transient moment when I shot it.

One more thing: It's been just about a year since I started posting Caption This. Thank you all for playing along with me. It's been more fun than I ever could have anticipated. If you're curious and want to see more CT entries, click here. I'm already looking forward to seeing what 2008 brings us all. Enjoy...and thanks to you all for making it such a rewarding journey!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Energy oasis

Gas the Ford
Delray Beach, FL, December 2007

Gas stations are bleak, transient places where the ground is toxic and the people are sketchy. Yet when you're on the road at night, they're beacons to the bleary-eyed motorist, overlit patches of concrete that offer a bit of relief from the monotony of the darkened landscape.

I shot this out the window as we were stopped at a red light. I was challenged by the need to handhold the shot in an idling car with a longish exposure time. This continues my out-the-window photographic tour of the world (click here for another example.) I think there will be more, because I like how it feels to create moods without a lot of prep.

Your turn: Since I shot this quickly, I hope you'll comment on this quickly, too. What's the absolute first thought that comes to mind as you see this?

Friday, January 11, 2008


Half a heart
Delray Beach, Florida, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

I'm not a morning person. I need all the help I can get to transition from sleep to consciousness. A mug that fits comfortably in my hand, filled with something warm and soothing, is a critical part of my daily transition into the real world. If it's shaped just so, I can hold it for what seems like an age as I let the gentle heat soak into my fingers.

In the end, then, it isn't so much about drinking what's inside as it is about enjoying a quiet moment at the table before everyone zings off to work, school or whatever. We can't slow down time, of course. But a good mug and a kitchen full of good people can often make it seem like we can.

Your turn: Morning rituals. Please discuss.

One more thing: Please thank my aunt and uncle for patiently allowing me to macro-shoot their mugs at the breakfast table. They didn't seem to mind when I pulled out the tripod, rearranged chairs, displaced the dogs and held up breakfast. Yet another reason why I love them so.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caption This 52

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

Ocala, FL, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Oops, I'm a bit late to the party this week. I think I'm having trouble with the post-vacation transition back into the real world. Maybe part of me doesn't want to admit that the holidays are over. Then again, who does?

This photo is a result of my shoot-out-of-a-moving-car technique. It isn't highly evolved: I simply sit in the passenger seat and try to get a picture of whatever flashes by the window. No time to frame or meter or even think. Just preset the camera as best I can, then shoot when I feel inspired. (For the record, I'd never do this with film. I'd be broke by dinner.)

As we got back on the road after lunch in northern Florida, I took this as I unsuccessfully tried to guide my wife out of the parking lot of the local Lounge & Liquors establishment. This is the back view. Yum!

Your turn: Please come up with a caption for this image because I most certainly can't. Multiple entries are rewarded with my near-eternal gratitude. It would actually be eternal except for the whole mortality thing (a topic for another day, kids.) I'll announce the winner this Sunday. Enjoy!

About last week's photo of an abandoned big box store: This might have been my hardest choice yet. Waaaay too many great suggestions to pick just one. First, the honorable mentions:
  • SPWriter (Steve): "Future imperfect."
  • Anne: "There's no future in the past."
  • Craziequeen: "The future will one day be past."
  • BBS: "The future has come and gone."
  • Chris Holt: "They shopped till they dropped."
  • Joan: "Internet killed the Future Shop star."
  • Rashbre: "We can always make a better future."
  • Sage: "Nothing that's new remains that way."
  • SisterAE: "The Once and Future Store."
  • Lori: "Forgotten Future."
  • Robin: "Obsolescence in waiting."
  • Awareness: "The future's not so bright after all."
  • Bob-kat: "The shape of things to come."
  • Maura: "The shadow of future past."
  • BreadBox: "Past imperfect."
And since there can be only one winner, this week's nod goes to Jenty for her caption, "Ghost of the future." Jenty is a welcome new arrival to the Written Inc. family, so I hope you'll drop by her blog and send her our collective best.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Vision quest

Don't make a spectacle of yourself
Delray Beach, Florida, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Your turn: You view the world through a...?

(Yes, they're mine. I wear 'em for reading.)

Monday, January 07, 2008


Baby steps
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

Zach had another appointment at the hospital today. Almost four months since his accident (see here for the gruesome details and here, here, here and here for followup glimpses) he's gotten used to regular return visits to the crowded ortho clinic where they image his leg, assess his progress and figure out next steps in his recovery.

In this ADD-driven world where kids are taught to worship at the altar of instant gratification from the moment they can first suck on a pacifier, this months-long, agonizingly slow process has been an important growth experience in his young life.

Today was a good day. His surgeon cleared him to ditch the cast for good. I had his good sneaker in my knapsack, ready just in case. As he put it on and tied it, I noticed how perfectly white it was next to the scruffy shoe that had been his only footwear since September. He got up and limped away, the doctor's advice echoing in his ears as he took a few tentative steps, knowing he wouldn't be putting his air cast back on when he got to school.

He faces a couple of months of physio to rebuild his strength and coordination. He still limps and is still favoring the leg. All normal and expected. But he's closer to the end now, and that's a bit of a relief after all this time. Something tells me I'll never be fully relieved. A parent's lament, I guess.

Your turn: How do you get through marathon challenges?

About this picture: Taken at the beach a couple of weeks ago. He was worried about how he'd manage the surf, fearful of injuring himself. He tentatively stepped into the water, and I followed with my lens. I wish I could do more than just watch and hope.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Through a child's eyes

The wonder of it all
Atlanta, GA, January 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Sometimes, I wish I could hear what our kids are thinking as they're experiencing something extraordinary. I wish I could bottle up that knowledge and use it again in future, as if it could somehow help me be a better parent.

That isn't possible, of course. But it didn't stop me from musing over my daughter's shoulder as she took in this beyond-lifesize vista at the Georgia Aquarium (wiki).

Your turn: Wonders of childhood. Please discuss.

One more thing: As the dateline on the photo suggests, we're back from vacation. We were in Florida for a bit, and stopped in Atlanta on the way home for a quick trip to the aquarium. Since I don't pre-announce vacations on this blog - rob my house, please? - I now have a pretty huge backlog of photos and experiences from the trip. More in the weeks to come.

Make that two more things: I've got a Facebook page (click here to see my profile.) I've posted an initial batch of aquarium pics to a photo album imaginatively titled "Georgia Aquarium" (click here to see it.) I'll post more albums in the days to come if you want to see what I brought home from vacation. The photographer in me despises Facebook because it strips photos down to low-resolution snapshots. But it's a decent medium for quickly sharing batches of pictures.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4 Sucks

Are you a MGS4 fanboy? If so, please don't stress out. This entry is being temporarily back-posted as an SEO proof of concept. Every time I say that Metal Gear Solid sucks, I get all sorts of traffic from gamers like you. It's great Internet fun, I think.

I mean no ill will. Feel free to play your game as much as you wish.

Now go upstairs and ask your mom for some milk and cookies.


I think this must be the longest I've ever gone without posting something new to my blog. Two reasons:
  1. I made a conscious decision before the holidays to actually enjoy the time off. I wanted to spend time with my brood. I didn't just want to physically be there...I wanted to be a part of it all, of them. And that involved not getting a suntan from the soft fluorescent glow of my laptop's screen.
  2. To wit, my laptop's adapter decided to fry itself soon after the holidays began. The ensuing adventure to obtain a replacement under warranty rendered me computerless for a good long time. I decided to stay offline and enjoy the experience.
The good news is the strategy worked. The time off was cathartic for my soul. Unplugging for a bit turned out to be just the recharge I needed. Neat.

I've been taking lots of pictures and accumulating many stories, so the regularly-scheduled fun will commence imminently. For now, I hope you'll all tune into the sound of silence and get in touch with the stuff that really matters. I did, and it made me realize I need to do it more often.

Your turn: Disconnecting. Please discuss.