Monday, October 31, 2011

Thematic Photographic 169 - Bricks and mortar

Old growth
London, ON, May 2011

I've been staring at buildings a lot lately (I'm odd that way), so I thought the stuff that makes them up - bricks and mortar - would make for a fun Thematic Photographic topic.

There's a certain charm in the way a brick building ages that concrete simply can't match. It's got a kind of texture that never fails to make me want to reach through the screen so I can feel it with my fingertips. I know I can't do that, of course, but that doesn't mean I can't head out again and find some new (old) buildings to shoot.

Your turn: Take a picture of anything with bricks in it. Or mortar. Or both. Post it to your blog (or, alternatively, find something you may have already shared online) and leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants to share the Thematic joy. Repeat as often as you wish through the week. Click here for more background on how Thematic, our weekly photo-sharing activity, works.

Two garbage cans in a park

London, ON, July 2011
About this photo: I found these garbage cans in the park near my office and immediately thought they'd serve nicely to wrap up this week's metallica theme (click here for a last-minute addition. Or pop back tonight at 7:00 Eastern when we launch our next theme, bricks and mortar.)
After dragging my camera around for years on end and looking for new ways to look at the world, I've learned a number of truths about photography. One of them is this: Not every photo is heroic. They aren't all epic scenes destined for the front page. You're not always going to capture the penultimate moment - the goal, the shot heard round the world, the elusive something that couldn't be recreated even if you tried.

Some photos are simply quiet reflections of the world around us, humble slices of life that so often go unnoticed because we're too busy with too much other stuff. They don't claim to be anything more, and they don't beg for any kind of spotlight. They just are. And when you slow things down just a bit - sort of like getting off the highway and taking the back roads for a little while - you see things that might have otherwise been a blur in the rear-view mirror.

Sure, you get there a little later. But you have so much more to take with you from the journey.

Your turn: What is it about simplicity that appeals to you? How do you define "simplicity" in the first place?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Save me

Over my head
London, ON, August 2011

I've captured medical choppers before, but this is the first time I've pointed a lens at a Ornge (no, not a typo) bird since Ontario's air ambulance service began the transition from the Sikorsky S-76A to the new Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter. I'm just enough of an aero-geek that stuff like this excites me, as the Westland is kinda like the Porsche of the medium-lift chopper world.

Likely thanks to the funky composite rotors, they make a distinct sound, enough so that you just know something's up whenever you hear them. In fact, they're felt almost as much as they're heard, and living about 3 km as the crow flies from one of the helipad-equipped hospitals makes this a familiar sound in my neighborhood.

I hope I never need the services of one of these birds, but just knowing they're there brings me comfort. I stop whatever I'm doing whenever one flies over and I smile to myself.

Your turn: Things that bring you comfort. Please discuss. And for more metallica-themed goodness - either in the sky or at a somewhat less lofty altitude - click here.

Bird on a wire

Low level flight
St. Laurent, QC, October 2011

In the late-afternoon light in the parking lot of the Place Vertu mall, I found myself shooting seagulls because, well, I'm not entirely sure why. But here's the thing: There doesn't always need to be a reason. Sometimes, it's enough to pull the camera from its bag and shoot because having that delightfully hefty chunk of electronics and glass in your hand is exactly what you need at that moment. Because it feels absolutely right. Because you know as soon as you get everything dialed in, photographic moments will just happen.

The psychology of photography. Who woulda thought?

Your turn: Do you ever shoot - or write, or otherwise create - simply because it feels right? Do you necessarily need a reason? Why do you create in the first place?

One more thing: What does this have to do with metallica? I'm thinking that Hydro Quebec monstrosity in the background might qualify. Sneaky of me, huh? Head here to share your own.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From ashes to ashes...

...and dust to dust
Komoka, ON, September 2011
About this photo: It's Thematic's metallica week, and you're invited. Just go here. It won't hurt.
There's a cruel irony to anything new and shiny: With few exceptions, it begins to degrade the moment it's made. Sure, we do our best to keep it looking showroom-fresh, but the sad truth is that it'll never be as lovely as it is the day you first bring it home. It's all downhill from there.

My take? We buy stuff to use. The value isn't necessarily in the thing itself, but in the value it delivers through its use. For example, my camera has more than its share of dings and scratches. Some of its corners are almost ground down from years of being pulled in and out of its bag, exposed to some of the worst weather Canada can throw at it, and more than a few errant kids and distant relatives.

Still, it couldn't be lovelier to me, because it's helped me record years of my family's life, moments I otherwise wouldn't have been able to capture. I'm sure I could have stuck it in a big glass case on a big glass shelf, and I'm sure doing so would have kept some of the white labels from flecking off of the black body. But what would be the point of that?

And then there's this rusted-out combine. It looks derelict now, but how much corn did it harvest over its lifetime? How critical was it to the family that owned it, that relied on it to keep the farm profitable? How many of us did it feed?

The metal may be returning to the form from which it came, but I'd argue it's more beautiful now than it's ever been.

Your turn: Things that get lovelier as they age. Please discuss.

On dogs and fools

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."
Samuel Butler
Now, why can't people be more like dogs?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dead fish on ice

I'm not above having a little borderline-tasteless fun with the fish display at the local grocery store. The fish don't seem to know the difference, and the legions of catatonic shoppers seeking deals on store-brand bread and imported artichoke hearts couldn't be bothered long enough to even notice what I'm up to.

Mind you, by the time I had set up this scene, my wife and daughter had already scurried away, hoping a little distance would prevent anyone from connecting them with the weird guy waving the smartphone around.

The things we must do for our art. Or whatever passes for it.

Your turn:
Fishie needs a name. What should it be?

One more thing:
What does this scene have to do with metallica? Silvery fish scales, indeed! Follow your mouse here for more metallic goodness.

A photo contest...with a twist

If you live in or around London on Windsor, this could be for you. CTV News is asking viewers to stalk them. No, this is not a's a real contest.

If you're out and about and see them covering a story, take their picture and send it in. You can win one of ten 50 gift certificates to Henry's - a major photo store - or one of five $1,000 gift certificates. Which will, of course, help you raise your paparazzi-cred even further.

I like the concept of a contest-with-a-difference, and I like the store that's sponsoring it: Henry's is where I've bought all my gear since time immemorial. The folks who work there are also photographers, and going in to shoot the photographic breeze reminds me of how all stores might have been run in a more customer service-driven age oh so long ago. (And no, this isn't a sponsored entry...I just like them.)

Contest link is here:

Your turn: If you're a southern Ontarian, please help spread the word by reposting, linking, Tweeting or Facebooking this. $1,000 would buy some lovely gear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Almost legal

Growing up
Laval, QC, July 2011

Seventeen years ago today, a tiny little man battled his way into the world and in the process turned me and my wife into parents. As you can see from the picture above, Zach is no longer a tiny little man. He's an almost-man. A man-child. He's now taller than I am. He shaves. His voice is probably - ok, definitely - a little deeper, and his world view, once limited to the bassinet over which we hovered like the deer-in-the-headlights new parents we were, now extends over an ever-growing life.

Zach moved away to London with us when he was two, and later became a big brother to Dahlia and Noah. He's evolved a wickedly sharp sense of humour and a kindness that touches everyone he meets. He can still torment the little sibs with ruthless efficiency, of course, but he's always there for them when they need him most.

He recently finished shooting his first movie for one of his classes, and watching him on-screen was kinda like watching myself. The voice, the mannerisms and the all reinforced just how neat this whole circle-of-life thing can be, and how glad we are that he's our kid.

A year from now, he'll be allowed to vote, to drink (in the land of his birth, anyway) and to get into R-rated films without our permission. He'll be able to legally sign contracts and get picked for jury duty. He'll probably be able to pilot an experimental Czech-designed aerobatic plane, too. But for now, he'll still be our lovable, delightful, ever-entertaining kid. Bigger than we are, but still our kid.

Happy birthday, not-so-little man. May we have countless more happies to share, and may your future be as bright as the candles on the cake we just ate.

Your turn: Your birthday wish for Zach is...?

You've all got mail

Laval, QC, October 2011
About this photo: It's Thematic's metallica week. Just click here to get involved.
The U.S. Postal Service has been making all sorts of noise that it's at risk of shutting down if it doesn't stop bleeding money. I get it, as most of its former business of delivering letters to pen pals and mail ordered Garden Weasels to octagenarian gardeners has been hoovered by the Intertubes.

Still, it's more than a little sad to see yet another physical business fall victim to the creeping expansion of virtualized infrastructure. Email may make it to your brain infinitely faster than snail mail, but the Internet lacks a friendly mail carrier who knows your kids' names and checks up on you on his daily rounds.

All of which makes me wonder whether scenes like this one - this is the wall-of-mailboxes at my in-laws'/mother's condo building* - will even exist in a few years.

Your turn: Is actual mail destined to disappear? Do we lose something if it does?

* Yes, they all live in the same building. Rather convenient when we come to town, as it cuts down on the driving. And it gives the kids another excuse to ride the creepy elevators.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On love and imperfection

"We come to love not by seeing a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly."
Sam Keen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thematic Photographic 168 - Metallica

More bars, please
Laval, QC, July 2011

Do you ever stare at something and mentally calculate all the materials that went into its production or construction? Right now, for example, as I type this on my laptop I'm wondering if the screen is made of plastic or glass, and the not knowing part is kinda bugging me.

Wandering around the burg where I grew up, I came across this cell phone tower and thought it would make for a neat picture. And as I walked around it looking for the right angle that wouldn't blind me for life, I realized just how much metal had gone into this thing. Aside from the plastic boxes holding the communications equipment, it's pretty much all steel.

So for the coming week, I'd like us to explore metallica...basically, if it's made of metal, please take a picture of it and share it. That's it. Seems simple on the surface, but I know you'll all have some serious fun with it.

Your turn: Take a picture of something made of metal - or find an already-posted pic online - and leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants and feel free to share multiple metallic-themed pics through the week. For more info on how Thematic Photographic, our weekly photo-sharing extravaganza, works, please click here.

It's more than just green Jello to him

Little man's treat
Laval, QC, October 2011
About this photo: Today's the big day when we wrap up our week-long edible fest. It's been a great week, and you can still share your own by clicking here. Otherwise, our new Thematic theme, metallica (if it's made of metal, we want to see it), launches tonight at exactly 7:00 Eastern.
Jello is one of those foods that seems to have no purpose. It has no nutritional value. It's full of sugar - okay, it essentially is sugar. And it's quite possibly the most highly processed food you can find at the grocery store.

Yet our youngest son loves green Jello. And not just any green Jello: His bubby has to make it for him. I'm not quite sure how this all began - indeed, it doesn't really matter how a grandchild's connections begin...we're just privileged to have them at all - but it's become a must-have every time we visit. From the first moment he squirts through the door and hugs them hello, he's asking my mother-in-law if she's already made it, and if not, when she'll be doing so. He times how long it'll take to prepare, and makes sure he's around as she gets it ready.

Anyone else could easily make green Jello, but somehow it's not the same for him if it doesn't come from his bubby. Which is as appropriate a way as any to end this week's theme, as food is far more than something we simply eat. It's a touchstone of life that sticks with us long after the dishes have been cleared.

Your turn: Do you have a special food? Or a special food connection with a special someone?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

On chaos and change

"All great changes are preceded by chaos."
Deepak Chopra
As I scan the headlines screaming about debt crisis in Greece and the rest of the EU, revolution in Libya and the ongoing season of the Arab Spring, this quote seems to strike home. I wonder if everyone involved appreciates where all this could be taking us, and how much change awaits us in the process.

No one ever said life had to be easy. I guess that's what makes the eventual rewards so sweet. I guess that makes me a bit of an optimist.

Your turn: Do today's headlines frighten or encourage you? Why?

Your goose is cooked

Friendly fowl
London, ON, June 2011

These lovely Canadian Geese aren't quite dinner in this pic, but I'm guessing that at some point they could be.

I try to avoid such thoughts whenever I chow down on a chicken wing. Or a burger. Or anything else that was once a living thing. I like the occasional steak way too much to ever want to give it up and become a vegetarian. But sometimes, I still wonder...

Your turn: Are you a carnivore or herbivore? Are you a vegetarian or have you ever been one? Why/why not?

One more thing: Please click here for more edible craziness. We're still sharing edible-themed pics, and you're invited to play along. New theme launches tomorrow.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Return to the Dirty Bakery

Breaded Bliss
QC, October 2011
About these photos: We're celebrating edible week as part of our latest Thematic theme. Please click here to share your own.
We've been here before. Indeed, my wife and I practically grew up here, as this is the bakery in the middle of the neighborhood, a place known as Chomedey, where we both grew up.

My parents used to give me money on Sunday mornings, and I'd walk the few blocks to this once-upon-a-time-residential-duplex and buy bagels, salt sticks, and other core components of our family brunch. The place was always packed, and the combination of little, quiet me and a boisterous crowd of hungry customers often meant a long wait until some kind-hearted staffer took pity on me. Eventually, they put in a number-ticket-queuing system, but I still got lost in the bagel-seeking mosh pit.

Quebec being what it was back then, there was no Sunday shopping. So the stretch of Samson Boulevard, normally so busy during the week that I'd never be allowed to walk there alone, was virtually empty. As I gathered my bags of baked goodies in my arms and headed for home, I remember feeling how warm everything was as I tried to resist the urge to grab a bite before I got home. Resistance was usually futile, and I'm sure my parents often wondered why the baker's dozen was often 11 when I did the shopping.

The place is officially known as Boulangerie Premiere Qualite, or Best Quality Bakery, but no one ever called it that. It always was, and likely always will be "The Dirty Bakery", which the current owners proudly echo in the corner of the sign. My in-laws and mother still live nearby, so whenever we visit, it's a must-stop spot for us after we leave them and turn the car toward home. We'll load up on bagels, danish and anything else we can think of and sneak a few bites in before we buckle in and hit the highway.

The kids always come inside with us, and we always step back a bit as they walk the same dusty linoleum floor that we walked - and waited on - so long ago. Back in London, a place where "bakery" doesn't grab the psyche of the community to the same degree that it does here, they get their bread from the baked goods aisle of the supermarket. They don't know what it's like to have time-worn businesses like the Dirty Bakery a short walk from the house. They don't get to walk through the doors and go back in time, to a place where the same oldish ladies clucked over the little ones after finally picking them out of the crowd, where every fixture seemed to be as old as time, where everyone in the place - customers and staff alike - seemed perfectly content that nothing ever really changed.

I'm sorry that my kids don't have access to the same experiences that we did. That they don't get to walk nearly-empty streets while the world took a much-needed one-day breather. That they didn't get to nibble surreptitiously on the warm end of a sesame-seed salt stick before turning back into the cold for the lonely, quiet walk home. As we finally pack our overstuffed bags of bagels into the hatch and leave this unassuming yet pivotal piece of our shared history in the rear-view mirror, I wonder what experiences our own kids will eventually try to share with their own children. I wonder what other Dirty Bakeries they'll get to hang onto - and pass along - as they become the parents that we are now.

Looking back, I wonder if my own parents ever had similar thoughts as they carefully prepared the package of money and instructions for my weekly trips to this place. I hope I was able to bring back everything they expected.

Your turn: Do you have an important place like the Dirty Bakery in your own history?

Friday, October 21, 2011

On dreaming like Superman

"At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable."
Christopher Reeve
The most famous character that Mr. Reeve played flew with the help of well hidden wires and pulleys. Yet later in life, he managed to fly in ways no camera could ever record. As the week draws to a close, his words are bouncing around my head a little more energetically than usual.

Something's up, I think. I can't quite put my finger on it, but an inflection point seems to be looming. Time to dream a little harder.

Your turn: What are you dreaming of?

Buns of steel

London, ON, July 2011
About this photo: If it's edible, we want you to share it. We call it Thematic, and the fun starts right here.
There's something about the texture of a hamburger bun that gets me every time. It's not that these things taste particularly good. Nor are they remotely nutritious: They're simply vessels that keep the messy stuff from your burger from getting on your hands. But that's all irrelevant as far as aesthetics are concerned. Yes, I am indeed that shallow.

Looking at this bunch of buns awaiting their fate at a summer BBQ, I had to resist the urge to poke them in the middle, Pillsbury Doughboy-style. So I took this picture, instead. It'll have to do for now.

Your turn: What ever happened to the Pillsbury Doughboy? Got a favorite television ad character floating around your memory?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On change

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."
Jim Rohn
I'm thinking change is good for the soul. You?

Fast food in farm country

I'm lovin' it
Exeter, ON, August 2011
Your turn: Thematic. Edible. Here.
It had been a grand day at the beach. We took our kids and our daughter's friend to Grand Bend not because we had any kind of plan, but because we had an unscheduled day and this seemed like the ideal way to spend it.

I spent most of the day hovering over the kids - partly my old lifeguard legacy kicking in, and partly because watching them reminds me that the things that really matter to a kid should matter to me, too. They played so well together, the two older girls seamlessly accepting our youngest son into their day, that I found myself wishing I could somehow stuff the day into a bottle. It might come in handy on a cold, sad winter's day, I thought.

Soon enough, the shadows on the footprinted sand grew longer and it was time to head home. We reluctantly packed our gear up and walked over to the boardwalk, little wisps of sand stubbornly sticking to our feet as we stepped onto the wood and slowly meandered back to the car.

We drove through the spectacular agricultural hinterland between the lakeside resort town of Grand Bend and London, the car quiet with the kind of contentment I wish we could experience more often. As we approached a small town called Exeter, the golden arches loomed in the distance. I'm hardly a fan of fast food, and am counting the days until our kids are old enough to leave this nasty excuse for food behind. But at that moment, it seemed like the right thing to pull in and grab something to eat.

We took our time eating, enjoying the spectacle of this icon of urban existence planted right next to farmer's fields and a line of tractors. On the surface, I think we were all a little bit hungry. A little deeper down, I think we all wanted to prolong the day just a little bit.

Your turn: What does a perfect day look like to you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On appeasement

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last"
Winston Churchill
I've always appreciated the man's ability to put impossible-to-comprehend adversity into perspective. Not that I want to overstate it, but he led his nation through a period where it stared into the abyss of a new dark age, and fought back.

Amazingly, his words seem align as cleanly with today's world as they did back then. I wonder what he'd think if he could see today's leaders in action.

Or maybe I don't want to know.

Who are you calling "Butterball"?

All I need is some bread and a knife
Rigaud, QC, July 2011
About this photo: It's Thematic's edible week, and you're invited to share your own edible vision. Just click here to get started.
When I was a munchkin, my uncle lovingly referred to me as "butterball" (it was #2 on my first 100-things-about-me list.) I was chubby, red-headed, and cross-eyed, just right for some bizarro-Gerber marketing materials, I suppose. I've thinned out since then, but the term has stuck in my mind ever since, because no one else ever used it, and it's always been one of those neat things that connects me to him.

So every time I see butterballs like these, I take a picture. I do so partly because it's in my nature to capture the strange, and to give strangers around me a reason to smile. I also do so because everything, no matter how routine it might seem, has some meaning to somebody. For me, one of those things is the lowly butterball. What's meaningful for you, and are you doing everything you can to hold on to it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On self improvement

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."
Ernest Hemingway
I keep looking at my former self, and I keep wondering if I'm being superior to who he was. Not sure I'll ever know the answer to that one - sometimes, it sure doesn't feel like it - but I'll keep trying.

Your turn: How do you raise the bar?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thematic Photographic 167 - Edible

Let them eat cake
London, ON, July 2011

I'll leave it up to you whether the subject of this particular photo is, in fact, edible. I'm not entirely sure what goes into cake icing, but I'm quite certain it's as far from natural as you can possibly get without enlisting the assistance of a team of Iranian nuclear scientists (who will swear it's all for peaceful purposes, but that's an entirely different story.)

Whatever. It was our son's birthday. And you can't have birthday without cake. So there we were. And we ate it. And we were happy. Most importantly, he was happy. Which is the only thing that matters.

Which brings us to the whole point of this week's theme, edible. Food isn't just a nutrition/survival thing. It's a happiness thing, too. Preparing and consuming food has become the core of an extensively complex modern sociological reality. It's easy to understand why the kitchen is such a central component of the modern home, and why life seems to revolve around this pivotal space.

So for the next week, let's celebrate all things edible. If we put it in our mouth, let's shoot and share it. Then eat it. Because I'm hungry, and I'm pretty sure you are, too.

Your turn: Please share a pic on your blog that reflects the new theme - or simply point to something you may have already posted online. Leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants to spread the photographic happiness. New to Thematic? Click here to learn more. Otherwise, dive right in and have fun!

BlackBerry meltdown

Remember when your BlackBerry went blessedly silent last week? When a highly publicized service outage stopped email and BBM traffic in its tracks for millions of users first in Europe, the Mideast and Africa, and later in Latin America and North America? Sure you do: It gave us all a long-overdue opportunity to put our electronic leashes down and head outside. Lovely, wasn't it?

Well, somewhere in the mix, I was lucky enough to appear on CTV's Canada AM on Thursday morning. I chatted with Omar Sachedina, and the interview is here.

Later that day, I got to meet John Vennavally-Rao, a reporter with the CTV National newscast, and his report aired that night. Here's the video. I also chatted with CTV News Channel's Jacqueline Milczarek and Dan Matheson, and did a live hit with CBC Radio's Wei Chen, host of Ontario Morning, as well as AM980's Jeff McArthur.

The next day, the fun continued, as the Toronto Star published my op-ed piece, Crunch Time for RIM. It's my first op-ed article for them, so it was a bit of a happy moment to see it in print. Sadly, this will not get me invited to RIM's Christmas party. Bummer: I was looking forward to being there.

Wind power

Green transit
Grand Bend, ON, August 2011

About this photo: It's been a great week for triangles, but all good things must eventually come to an end. If you're still on the geometric fence, click here. Otherwise, we're back at 7 p.m Eastern - tonight! - with our new Thematic theme for the coming week. What will it be? How does edible grab you?
I learned to sail when I was 13 years-old. My logic? What better way to get around the lake than by letting the wind shove you around? The lazy kid in me felt pretty darn smug as I tacked back and forth and watched the canoeists and rowers work themselves into a sweat.

I haven't sailed in years. Life got in the way, and not living near a major body of water pushed my dreams of Laser ownership into the distant past. But that doesn't mean I don't get a twinge every time I see a sailboat cruise past the beach. I wonder if the folks on board have similar dreams of easy, inexpensive transport. I wonder if they get that same feeling of almost magical control when the wind fills the sails and begins to move the boat. I sure hope so.

Your turn: Did you ever do the boating thing?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On birds. And brains.

We just pulled into the driveway after a long day of staring at an endlessly unfolding ribbon of asphalt. Since I'm typically the one behind the wheel on days like this, I end up with a lot of time to ponder the meaning of life. In between keeping everything safely between the appropriate lines and not bending any metal in the process - a challenge today, given the pretty intense winds that followed us from start to finish - I got to listen in on the kids' observations of the blurred world outside.

The London-to-Montreal-to-London trip is old hat to them by now, but they still manage to find new ways to paint the experience. Our daughter, for example, provided a running commentary on a very angry-looking, wind-whipped sky. She kept finding shapes in the clouds, and although I couldn't spend a whole lot of time enjoying the view, it was nice to see the experience through her eyes.

Our journey takes us through one of the busiest migratory flyways on the continent. We saw lots of birds flying south, and a few misguided ones heading north (would love to know what's going through their heads) and as I watched them instinctively adapt their vees to accommodate the ever-changing wind, I thought of this quote:
"A bird only flies. It does not turn to another bird and ask 'Am I doing this right?'"
Mary Anne Radmacher
Your turn: What three words come to mind when you see birds in flight?

Before the fall

London, ON, October 2011

About this photo: We're slowly bringing our week-long celebration of the humble triangle to a close - but we're not quite done yet. We've got until 7 p.m. tomorrow (Monday) to raid the archives for similarly geometric pics. Head here if you're still feeling pointy.
I probably shouldn't have taken this one. It was windy, with fading light and a seemingly endless series of yappy dogs being walked mere feet from my feet. Not ideal conditions for anything, much less taking a closeup picture of a leaf.

Mind you, if you wait for the planet to align before you take out your camera and start shooting, you'll never actually take the camera out. Sometimes, you just have to get started, anyway, imperfection be damned.

Your turn: Please head outside when you have a moment. Find a leaf, any leaf, and bring it inside. I'd like you to take a picture of it, then stick it in a book. Pop the pic onto your blog...kinda like a "before" photo. We'll come back to it later. Yeah, I'm odd.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Touch the sky

Broadcast standard
London, ON, August 2011

London isn't exactly a city of towering skyscrapers. A sleepy southwestern Ontario burg surrounded by farmland and cow pastures isn't going to challenge for the planet's top metropolis anytime soon. But that's kinda the way we like it.

Being relatively small doesn't mean we don't have neat things going on in the sky, though. We get our fair share of hot air balloons floating overhead. And lots of migratory birds. And Diamond Aircraft planes. And we've got this, the third-tallest broadcast tower in the country. The very top is 1,030 feet above ground. I couldn't verify this, of course, but based on the intensity of the nausea I felt as I walked close to the base and looked waaaay up, I'm going to ask you to trust me regardless.

This remarkable piece of engineering is 50 years-old, and stands just out back of CTV London - my broadcast home away from home when I do interviews. I wanted to get a closer look to make sure it was good for at least another 50 years. Once again, my untrained eye says all looks well.

Your turn: What's the tallest thing near you? What's the appeal of looking up, anyway?

One more thing? What does this pic have to do with "triangular"? The angle of the shot makes it hard to tell, but this is a triangular-cross-section design. I know, such a thrill. If you're still feeling like sharing a triangle or two, head here. We're still at it.

On those who change the world

As some of you may have noticed, I like to share quotations. I like how words of others can settle into our souls and inspire us to do more, to do better. I hope you're enjoying them.
"History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses."
John Eliot
Your turn: Who changed your world? Who inspires you?

Friday, October 14, 2011

On life as a comedy

"Our life's a stage, a comedy: either learn to play and take it lightly, or bear its troubles patiently."

This old house

Don't forget to set the parking brake
Quebec City, QC, July 2011

As we continue to explore the world of triangles - click here for more - I find myself thinking back to this house that I found while walking alone on a tiny side street in Quebec City. Within the walled city - the only such community in all of North America - there are homes that are hundreds of years old, all lovingly restored, all being used today.

My own home is decidedly younger than this one. It sits on a flat piece of land, and has actual grass around it. I love it because it's my home, my family's home, the center of our world. But standing outside this one house, I thought of how many others have said the same thing about this place in the centuries it's been around. And suddenly I felt a chill wind on this otherwise hot and sunny day. A reminder, perhaps, that we're all just passing through.

Your turn: Who lives here now?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On adventure

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Helen Keller
I'm digging the late Ms. Keller's words tonight. This week's been a particular adventure for us, and I'm still not sure where this big wave I've been riding will end up.

Your turn: What's your adventure?

In the land of the big iron

Bridge to somewhere
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, July 2011

About this photo: It's Thematic's triangular week, and you're invited. Just go here and all will be explained.
There's a reassuring quality to old engineering that I just can't get enough of. I dig old bridges and buildings, built long before the era of supercomputers turned building stuff into a lowest-common-denominator process. They were overengineered, and as a result many of them not only still stand, but they continue to carry massive loads central to a modern world their builders never envisioned.

In this case, one fully loaded freight train after another rumbled over this phenomenally beautiful structure while our family explored the canal and locks below. It was humbling to stop whatever we were doing and feel their vibrations passing through our feet.

Whenever I have the time, I like to linger alongside creations like this one to not only admire the visuals, but to also feel that intangible force that makes them special. Because we truly won't see anything like this again.

Your turn: What's the appeal of something old?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BlackBerrys go dark...

...which makes for a busy evening and morning for me. Whenever tech news happens, I tend to get calls asking for my take on stuff. And since Research In Motion is having a bad week with a spreading global service outage that's affected email and messaging traffic from Europe and the Mideast to Latin America and now North America, I'm getting a few requests for comment tonight.

Stay tuned to CTV's Canada AM tomorrow morning just after 7:00 Eastern. I'll also be on CTV News Channel just after 9:00 a.m. And because a little radio is always fun to toss into the mix, I'll be speaking with CBC's Wei Chen at 6:40 a.m., and 570News's Jeff Allan at 10:00 a.m.

Along the way I've also spoken with CTV London's Tara Overholt and CTV Kitchener's David Imrie. I'm sure there's more in there somewhere, but I've got to power through some writing before I can digest it all.

Interesting times.

Your turn: Do you own a BlackBerry? How has this outage affected you?

Do bikes belong here?

Road trip
Komoka, ON, September 2011
About this photo: Thematic explores the triangle. Do you want to join in? You can, you know. Just click here.
I was on a tour of the countryside to the west of our burg when I came across a ratty old tractor with a for-sale sign on it. I shared its story here.

As I finished shooting and turned back to to my bike, I decided I rather liked how my pink machine looked parked on the gravel shoulder. It wasn't an ideal position - I was almost shooting into the sun - but I wasn't about to rearrange the machine to suit the conditions. The entire point was to remember the scene as it originally presented itself.

The traditional double-diamond bike frame has always been a thing of beauty to me. Repeated attempts to get my wife to allow me to mount one on the wall as a sorta-work-of-art have been rather firmly denied. I'm OK with it, though, as I realize sitting on a couch with a bike frame hanging over your head can be somewhat disconcerting. My wife, she is wise. And lovely.

And she tells me to ride my bike. That makes her perfect, too.

Your turn: Do you ever wander?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On understanding genius

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Albert Einstein

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thematic Photographic 166 - Triangular

Good things come in threes
Quebec City, QC, July 2011

I think we're in for a pretty interesting week with this theme. I chose it because it's simple, and the planet's been anything but simple in recent weeks. So while Athens burns and Wall Street gets occupied, I invite you to take a few minutes to share a triangular view of your world.

Your turn: Take a picture that includes a triangle - or even suggests one - and post it to your blog or website. Already got one online? That'll work, too. Leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Visit other participants and feel free to return as often as you wish throughout the week. Thematic Photographic is our weekly photo theme sharingfest, and we're always happy to welcome more Thematicaddicts to the fray. For more details on how Thematic works, click here.

Jobs clips & coverage

The period from Wednesday night through much of Thursday was quite a blur. I found out about Steve Jobs's passing when the producer of CFRB's Friendly Fire called me and asked me if I'd heard the news. I hadn't - I was walking the dog, which is naturally not conducive to reading on my BlackBerry given the physics of a neurotic schnauzer - and a few seconds later found myself on-air sharing my very immediate feelings.

Not my best radio performance, but such is life.

Soon after, I was in a studio talking to CTV News Channel's Marcia MacMillan as my phone and inbox exploded with activity. I was back in the same studio early the next morning for a rapid-fire series of interviews, including:
  • CTV's Canada AM with Bev Thomson (video)
  • CTV News Channel with Jacqueline Milczarek and Dan Matheson (roundup page here, including a link to the first of 2 hits)
  • Business News Network (BNN) with Martin Cej and Frances Horodelski (video)
I managed to speak with a bunch of radio folks, too, including AM980/London's Jeff Macarthur, CJOB/Winnipeg's Richard Cloutier, and the CBC Radio One national news desk. On the print/electronic side, I was quoted in the Toronto Star (Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew), Agence France-Presse (Glenn Chapman) and ReadWriteWeb (Scott Fulton).

The latter piece is notable because Mr. Fulton isn't just some guy who calls me for quotes. He's been a good friend since I became an analyst, and talking about my earliest back-of-the-high-school-biology-lab memories of the Apple II was a moment amid the chaos that helped me catch my breath and put the whirlwind of discussion into a broader context.

I've been privileged to get to know some amazing people because of the work that I do, and as sad as being part of last week's coverage was, I'm lucky I was able to connect once again with the best of the best as I worked through what was clearly a trying day for many. This is what great journalists do, of course, but it's a soul-stirring reminder to experience it firsthand.

A cathedral where nobody prays

Big tree country
London, ON, October 2011

I thought I'd sneak in one last view of autumn before this week's Thematic theme wraps up*. I had about 20 minutes to spare yesterday in between two sets of running-the-kids-around-town errands, and decided to take a fast-walk loop through the lovely meadow barely two blocks from our house.

Sadly, this is a place that I always want to visit, but never actually do. In between life, life and more life, there's just never enough time to enjoy it. I'd walk the dog here in the evening, but my fear of skunks wandering out of the darkened forest keeps me away. I like seeing them from far away, thanks muchly.

So on this no-time-to-think afternoon walkabout, I finally decided to plunge in. I had my DSLR slung over my shoulder, but it was this one, a test shot taken with my lowly BlackBerry camera, that stuck in my mind. Everyone on Facebook seemed to love it, so I thought you might like it, too.

* Pop on in at 7:00 p.m. Eastern (OMG, that's tonight!) for the new theme, triangular. If you've got any threesies hiding in your archives, we want to see 'em.

Reaching for the sky

London, ON
September 2011
About this photo: It's Thematic's autumn week, and everyone's invited (even you, Beav). Head over here to get your seasonal licks in before the new theme, triangular, launches tonight at 7:00 Eastern.
Like all seasons, autumn eventually comes to an end. And when it does, we're left with a stark landscape of bare branches and wide-open spaces. There's no canopy, no shade to cover the increasingly cold ground. Even the sound is different, as the wind no longer has leaves to rustle.

I don't say this to be negative. It is what it is, and how we perceive the end result - positively, negatively, or somewhere in between - is entirely our call.

"End result" may not represent ideal phrasing, mind you, as it'll all be changing yet again in just a few months. Which, in a certain way, is what makes the whole season thing such a kick. For all the familiarity each season seems to offer, there's enough variation along the way that we never quite know what we'll get the next time we look up.

Insofar as this tree is concerned, I'll come back to it over the next year or so, as I'm pretty sure it'll keep offering up enough variations in growth, lighting and mood to make it worth my photographic while.

Your turn: Seeing the same things, only differently. Please discuss.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Under a blood red canopy

London, ON, October 2011
About this photo: It's not too late to get your autumn-themed photo submitted as part of our latest Thematic. Click here to celebrate the season.
A whole bunch of years ago, I shot my first roll of film. It was black-and-white, and I recall feeling an immense feeling of power at my newfound ability to capture snippets of the world. I even saw the lack of color as an advantage, a limitation that forced me to rely on composition to tell the story.

To this day, b&w is kinda my soft spot, and I'll often flip the camera into b&w to force myself into that mode. I like how it becomes a very different art when you remove color from the equation.

But sometimes I'll just let the color do the talking. Like here. I was rushed - had to get back home because everyday life awaited - so I wasn't thoughtfully composing as much as I was rapidly grabbing whatever snagged my interest. I like fast-shoots like this because you get to rely on your gut instinct. And as soon as I saw this tree, my gut told me the color was the story. And if I waited so much as another day to take it, the magic would be gone.

Your turn: How does color touch you?

Painted with color

Forest in transition
London, ON, October 2011

I haven't had a lot of time to wander the neighborhood this week, so I've been grabbing snippets of color wherever and whenever I possibly can. I noticed this scene in a place known as Snake Creek. I had passed it on the drive home from work, and the fading sun gave it a color/tone that almost begged to be remembered. Since it's barely a couple of blocks away from home, I parked the car, grabbed the camera and walked back before the light was gone for good.

I know there aren't a whole lot of days like this left before the leaves are down for good, so I'll try to take some more walkabouts in the days ahead. I hope you do the same, and I hope you'll share your results, too.

On enemies

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
Winston Churchill
Your turn: Ever stand up for something and end up paying the price?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Things I'll miss...

One last bloom
London, ON, September 2011
About this photo: We're sharing perspectives of autumn, and you can, too, by going here.
There's a more than a little bit of bittersweet mixed into autumn, as much of what you see here is on the verge of disappearing for a while. Sure, the flowers and leaves will grow back next spring, but not these particular flowers. It'll be another generation, and you wonder if they'll be everything you remembered in the old one.

This is, of course, how life works. But knowing it logically doesn't mean we can't take a moment or two to ponder its meaning, to wonder if we're truly appreciating the gift of life not only in the things that grow all around us, but within ourselves, as well.

Your turn: What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Shades of orangeish

Mapled brilliance
London, ON, September 2011

About this photo: Thematic. Autumn. Here. Go for it.
It's been a rough week capped off by a rough couple of days, and I need to look at pretty things to compensate. I'm still running on the proverbial treadmill, so it'll take me a day or two to catch y'all up on the rather eventful day I had yesterday. For now, I hope this tree is enough to brighten your day.

Your turn: How do you find comfort when the world offers none?

One more thing: If you're atoning for anything you've done over the last year, gmar chatimah tovah. Whatever you're celebrating, may the coming year bring only goodness to you and your family. May we all find the health, happiness and life that we deserve.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Saying goodbye to Steve

Every generation has its innovator. We’ve just lost ours.

You don’t have to be an unabashed worshipper at the Apple altar to appreciate the impact Steve Jobs had on not only the tech landscape, but the world in general. Even if you’ve never bought or used a Mac, iPhone or iPad, your life has been touched by Mr. Jobs and his company in some way. Any computer, smartphone, tablet from any vendor has been influenced by one of Apple’s creations. Jobs was obsessed with how things looked, worked and felt. His drive to make everything he touched insanely great made him a leader of our time, unafraid to introduce products that carved out new markets or diverged radically from anything that had been tried before.

Before Jobs came along, no one used personal computers in their homes or offices. The PC actually existed on various forms, but it was an ugly, clunky, kit-like thing that came in a box and needed to be assembled. It probably had no keyboard, and was instead programmed using various switches and buttons. Likewise, the display was either a printer or a series of lights.

When Jobs and his co-founder Steve Wozniak built the original Apple I in Jobs’s family’s garage, they kickstarted the PC revolution by turning inelegant, expensive technology into something everyone could use and afford. You didn’t have to be a hobbyist or an expert to derive value from the experience. Wozniak may have been the engineer, but it was Jobs who figured out how to convince the rest of us that we needed these things in our lives.

The next product from the two Steves, the Apple II, changed everything. With a case and a brand, it allowed mere mortals to bring a fully-assembled, fully-capable machine home and be up and running before bedtime. Homes and offices were transformed by a computer whose basic fundamentals ultimately became the blueprint for virtually every other computer sold since.

The Macintosh, introduced in 1984, similarly took existing technology and turned it into a populist reality. Contrary to popular belief, the Mac was hardly the first computer to sport a mouse or a window-like graphical user interface. The Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) could rightly take credit for these technologies. But it was Steve Jobs who, after a visit to Xerox, realized their potential and told his team they needed to build a new computer for the masses that was radically different from the green-screened, text-heavy machines of the time.

Once again, the Mac changed everything and once again it was Steve Jobs plucking an existing technology from obscurity and figuring out some way to elegantly package it and sell it to you and me. It was a process later repeated in music players (iPod), smartphones (iPhone) and tablets (iPad). Jobs saw not what was, but what could be, and wasn’t afraid to break with market convention if he thought consumers would benefit.

With the music industry awash in red ink and declining sales in the late 1990s, Jobs saw an opportunity to turn it on its ear. The iPod and iTunes rewrote how we consume content and broke the record distributors’ former stranglehold on the industry. More notably, they managed to convince legions of Napster-loving consumers who had been stealing tunes online to come back into the fold. Jobs built a dominant business around legal music downloads, creating a market where previous, more conventionally minded players either could not or would not.

The same model, extended later to other forms of content like movies, television and software, is now an established industry standard, and Apple’s online distribution capability has become a critical pillar of its growth over the last decade.

It’s easy to say Jobs wasn’t a follower. But being a leader and being a visionary are two very different states of being. Within the halls of Apple, Jobs could be a micromanaging, difficult presence. He fretted, some would say obsessed, over every last detail of every device and service that went out the door. Nothing was too small to escape his attention, and it was easy to ridicule him for being as tightly wound as he was.

But genius takes many forms. And being a radical force of change in a world that often punishes those who dare to be different requires stepping off the conventional, easygoing path. Steve Jobs never accepted the current state as good enough, and wasn’t shy about pushing whatever buttons necessary to move the bar to another level. He was a once-in-a-lifetime leader, and the shoes he left behind won't simply be filled.

We can’t, of course, replace a Steve jobs any more than we can, say, a Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. But if we can learn to focus on what can be instead of on what already is, we’d be well on our way to raising the bar in our own lives, too.

Ontario Provincial Election Night Links

Hi all. I'll be at CTV London's studios tonight to participate in their coverage of the Ontario provincial election. I'm part of a small team of social media experts who will be tracking Twitter, Facebook and other resources to see what people are saying - and help decipher what it all means.

Here's a quick list of links for the evening's festivities. Feel free to suggest more by leaving a comment. Thanks:

Main websites:
"Like" us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter:
  • #CTVElxn
  • #VoteOn

On a Steve Jobsian life lesson

‎"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
Steve Jobs

The man had a way with words. I'll be sharing some of his most memorable ones in the days and weeks to come.

Your turn: Who inspires you?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs dies

Never wanted to write these words, but it's now been confirmed that the iconic founder of Apple has passed away.

More soon. For now, I don't think I have a whole lot of words to share. In many respects, an era has ended. Godspeed, Mr. Jobs. And thank you.

Your turn: Thoughts?

On simplicity

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Leonardo Da Vinci
Your turn: What does simplicity look like to you?


When the leaves are almost gone
London, ON, September 2011
About this photo: We're welcoming autumn as part of this week's Thematic. You can, too, by clicking here.
You can choose to see autumn as a season of endings, or one of clearing the decks so you can see the beauty that lies beneath. As you can see, I tend to lean towards the latter state, because even forlorn, twisted branches possess their own beauty. You just have to wait around long enough in the year to see that beauty - and you need to be willing to open your eyes to a different view of things.

Not everything has to be lush green, after all. And not everything has to conform to someone else's definition of perfection. Sometimes, your own definition is more than good enough.

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

It's about services, stupid

I wrote this piece, Hardware is irrelevant in the iPhone/iPad age, for Yahoo! Canada that may put this somewhat prickly entry into perspective. Or not. Either way, hope you enjoy the read.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S - does it suck?

So new Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the company's next-generation smartphone, the iPhone 4S, at its "Let's Talk iPhone" event at its headquarters in Cupertino. The company also unveiled updated iPods and reaffirmed the slick new software (iOS5) and services (iCloud, iTunes Match, etc.) that will make the new hardware come alive.

And the fanboys yawned. And they complained. And they tweeted their disappointment. And they ripped their ComicCon t-shirts in protest.

Because it wasn't an "iPhone 5". Because its Siri voice control didn't understand Labrador Retriever. Because it lacked a Star Wars/Princess Leia-like hologram projector. Because it wouldn't make a poached-egg-and-English-toast breakfast, complete with marmelade and juice. Because it wouldn't rescue them from mommy's basement.

I had to blink a few times when I first heard the online equivalent of catcalls. I'm no unabashed Apple cultist - every company has flaws, and I don't believe in drinking anyone's Kool Aid - but it seems somewhat ridiculous for nerds the world over to bash the company for not meeting their lofty expectations. To clarify, the company never actually set any expectations. For months on end leading up to today's event, the nerds were only too happy to whip themselves into a frenzy without Cupertino's help. Blaming the company is a laughable response on a good day.

So, dear nerds, here's the deal: You either like the phone or you don't. You'll either buy it or you won't. The things that it does have precious little do to with what it's called. At the end of the day, it's just a phone. It won't solve Greece's debt crisis, cure an unmentionable disease, make you smarter or funnier or get you a date. It might make it easier for you to update your Facebook status while you're waiting for the bus, but I'm guessing your mom isn't even on Facebook, and she'd rather you just call her. A dowdy old iPhone 4 can do that just fine.

In other words, get a grip, some perspective, and maybe even a life. I suspect you'll buy the damn thing, anyway. After you finish your online whining, you always do.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Thematic Photographic 165 - Welcome autumn

Temporary colors
London, ON, September 2011

The inevitable transition of green to brilliant color to emptiness gives us all a very temporary opportunity to appreciate things that do not last. Autumn plays out differently depending on where you live, but the common theme seems to be its blink-or-miss-it nature.

Which is why I'd like to devote a week-long Thematic theme - "welcome autumn" - to it. Because what better excuse to record the season than an online fall foliage photo share-fest?

Your turn: Take a picture that supports the autumn theme and post it to your blog - or find one you've already posted online - and leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it. Drop by other participants to share the photographic joy. Repeat throughout the week, and don't hesitate to pull your friends in, too. For more info on Thematic Photographic, our weekly theme-based celebration of photographic goodness, please click here.

Your wish is my command

The key to it all
London, ON, May 2011

I'd like to close out this week's "it's in the details" Thematic theme* with this close-up view of something I spend a lot of time with. Wherever I am or whatever I'm up to, I'm never far from a keyboard. And if the stars are aligned, it's an Apple-branded keyboard. I don't mean to sound like a fanboy, but they've always made the best 'boards, and the flat-topped, Chiclet-like ones are about as good as it gets.

It's a little detail of everyday life that sticks with me, because it lets me share words without getting gummed up in the process. And it lets me write at night without disturbing my wife (backlit keys. Yay.) And it makes me smile. Because on closer inspection, little things aren't as little as they first seem to be.

Your turn: A little thing that makes a big difference to you is...?

* Our new Thematic theme, "Welcome autumn", launches tonight at precisely 7:00 Eastern. I wasn't sure when it made the most sense to go all seasonal, but I've been seeing enough mentions both online and in the real world, so I figure now is as good a time as any.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Roadster at rest

Black car
Grand Bend, July 2011

As we continue our week-long look at details (click here for more), I realize I've been leaning rather heavily toward the automotive end of the spectrum. At first I wasn't sure why, but after churning it for a bit, I think I get it. Looking back at my photo shoebox - you have one, too, don't ya? - I realize my car-themed pictures are rarely wide-angle compositions of the entire vehicle. Instead, I tend to isolate a relatively small chunk of the car, a feature that catches my eye.

Again, no reason for this. There doesn't need to be, after all. Shoot what you like and let the rest kinda figure itself out. But for this week's "it's in the details" theme, it aligns nicely.

Which brings me to this rather imperfect example of a BMW Z3 roadster. The paint's seen better days, and the owner needs a lesson in waxing. But that's just me being green, as I'd jump into this car in a heartbeat if given the chance. Top down, lovely day...I'd even forgive the unforgivable sin of having an automatic transmission.

Of course, had I actually jumped in, I'd have been arrested. So I did the next best thing: I backed up waaaaaay across the street and stole this shot instead. Between the tire tread, alloy wheels and cowl vents, I knew it was a smile-inducing detail to remember.

Your turn: How do you decide what to shoot? What pushes you to the point of picking up the camera, composing and shooting?


Making connections
London, ON, August 2011

Ever wonder who decides what qualifies as extraordinary and what qualifies as merely ordinary? If such a person could be identified, would we know the process by which he or she achieved this lofty role?

Which is my way of saying there can never be such a person, and the whole concept of extraordinary should never be left to others. Rather, it should be left up to us.

Case in point, these paper clips I found hanging around my wife's desk. They're ordinary, forgettable appendages of the modern pre-paperless office, not typically worth a discussion let alone a photo and a blog entry. Yet for some reason, at this particular moment in my otherwise ordinary existence, I felt the need to optically record them. It's one of those little details of typical life that seem to give it that much more texture.

I still can't explain precisely why I did so. I'm just glad we live in a world that allows this kind of self determination and expression.

Your turn: Why does ordinary matter to you?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Warning signs are everywhere

Reflective pattern
London, ON
September 2011
About this photo: If it's in the details, we're hoping you've got a picture of it. Or at least an idea you'd like to share. Head here to get started on this week's Thematic theme.
I hate driving unnecessarily. I bought a car because the life we currently lead - kids, work, school, suburbia, the whole modern-family enchilada - almost requires it. I'm not happy about it, and would much rather ride my bike to get where I need to go.

But bikes don't work so well in the middle of a Canadian winter. Or on a sultry evening when you've got to show up at the studio looking minty fresh. Nor are they ideal for carting kids everywhere. Even if I tried, my wife would, ah, be very unhappy with me.

So I drive. Still, whenever we go somewhere, I give the route and the schedule some thought so I can avoid as much back-and-forth as possible. This sometimes means taking a laptop with me and spending an hour or two working in the parked car while I wait. Or, when I'm feeling a little less studious, I grab the camera and go for a walk.

This Sunday morning was a camera day. Munchkin had choir, so I grabbed the Nikon and went for a stroll on a nearby bike trail. The colors were just, just starting to turn, but I figured a bit of early-season exploration would get my head in the right space. I figured right, and ended up with some lovely autumnal pics. I'll share those in the days to come, and if you're looking for a hint for our next Thematic theme, you've just seen it. But I digress.

This shot is of something we whip by in our cars countless times per day, yet never even wonder what it might look like if we slowed down and walked right up to it for some quality one-on-one time. As I stared at the usually-invisible pattern, I resolved to spend more time slowing down and enjoying sights like these.

Your turn: How are you planning on slowing things down in the days, weeks and months to come?

One more thing: Where are my manners? Happy new month! I know it sounds a little odd, but since New Year's Day comes only once per year, I believe that marking the months can increase our celebratory fun by a factor of 12. Who's with me?