Friday, May 31, 2019

Really strange architecture way above my head

Curves and lines
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Another day in the big city, another oddly turned view of one of the many buildings that marks my way to and from the office. I figure if I'm walking past them regularly, I may as well shoot them - and the weirder the angle, the better.

This one is a fairly new, super-tall addition to the Yonge Street streetscape. And is often the case in architecture these days, it's relatively thin. I hear it's a fashion thing.

Be that as it may, I kept bracketing the cross-section with my fingers, looking for ways to shoot it without it looking like it would blow away in the wind. I'm sure the engineers have figured all that stuff out, of course, but aesthetically, I wanted to look at it in a way most folks have not. Because doing my own thing is, apparently, my thing.

I don't know if I've succeeded, but I like how this little architectural story of mine has started. I think I'll be back on this stretch of sidewalk before long.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travelphotography #streetphotography #mirror #reflective #urban #yonge #street #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 30, 2019

On the permanence of photography

"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do."
Andy Warhol
I think Mr. Warhol was definitely onto something here. Photography freezes moments in time, and allows you to revisit them long after they've faded into history. You can't go back, of course, but a simple photo can make you feel as if you can.

Shooting from a speeding train

Barnyard find
Brantford, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: I'm speeding home on the train after a day in the big city to the east, I spot threatening storms bubbling up far to our south. I've got the wrong camera for the job, the windows are covered in soot, and I'm moving at 150 km/h. Oh, and I'm being glared at by my seatmate. Probably not the best ingredients for a proper landscape shoot.

So I resist the little voice inside of me that says, "Do it." There will be other opportunities. Perhaps on another trip home. More clouds on the horizon. More forlorn barns. More storms barely-dodged on the way back to the fam.

But it bugs me. Because what happens if the next time the conditions aren't perfect, as well? What if I've got another dirty window? Another scowling train-neighbor? Another wrong camera for the job?

After a few minutes of quiet, defiant reflection, I crack a tiny smile as I reach back into my bag and pull the camera out. I can't control the conditions, or make them any better. But I can at least make the effort and see what happens.

As I raise my camera and wait for the speeding vista to line up just so, it occurs to me that my newfound shoot-despite-imperfection mantra isn't limited to photography. I'll let the guy next to me figure it out for himself. Because I'll be a little occupied for the next few minutes.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #viarail #train #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #barn #farm #weather #wx #travel #photography #travelphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Why we take the time to stare up at reflective buildings

So many stories here
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
When you spend the vast majority of your life staring at glowing screens a couple of feet in front of your face, you relish the opportunity to get outside and take in a wider view.

That partly explains why my archives are stuffed with pics like this - I'm guessing you don't want close-ups of my laptop monitor - but there's more to the story.

The world around us is filled with mini-scenes like this one, tiny subsets of the planet crammed with limitless detail. Make a rectangle with your thumbs and index fingers - I'll wait - and you'll see what I mean. I do that finger/thumb thing all the time, because it reminds me to stop what I'm doing and appreciate what's in front of me.

I'm sure you've seen reflective, glass curtain building facades before. But probably never this one. From this angle. In this light. I pass this spot regularly, but never before had I looked up in quite this way.

What does that mean? It means we're surrounded by wonder. It means that wonder takes on many forms. It means we miss out on so much if we spend too much of our time staring into glowing screens. Or walking with our heads down, our eyes averted.

So consider this vignette my commitment to staring at odd-looking faraway scenes a bit more in the days and weeks to come. I hope you'll consider doing the same. It's better for our eyes, and I'm pretty sure it's better for our souls, too.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travelphotography #streetphotography #mirror #reflective #urban #yonge #street #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, May 27, 2019

Where I ride with new friends

Have a seat and we'll get going
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's #BikeToWorkDay both here in London - where we have our own hashtag, #Bike2WorkLdnOnt - and in other cities across Canada. I'm already a bike commuter, so I don't need a special day, but it's heartening all the same to see one set aside to celebrate this transformative means of getting around. Especially cool: Seeing hundreds of other cyclists converge on the bike paths downtown for a critical mass ride that ended with a celebratory breakfast in Victoria Park. If I didn't feel alive before, I do now.

So what was different about today? Unlike most days, when I ride alone, today I was immersed among my own. When it's just you in the middle of endless car traffic, it's easy to feel isolated, exposed, in danger, because you're the one defiant soul who had the gall to add another 14 seconds to drivers' commutes as they turned into the @TimHortons drive-through for their first double-double coffee of the day.

But today, I was surrounded, protected by countless strangers with a common goal, vision, and culture. I normally hate crowds, but being among like-minded riders made it easy to strike up conversations with complete strangers - who a few minutes later would never be strangers again.

I met folks who volunteer to help others in the community repair their bikes - and learn the skills necessary to do so on their own. I met others who advocate for better cycling infrastructure, folks who consciously build community through cycling culture and action.

We need more days like this, where the goodness of neighbors dominates the day, where a collective sense of Tikkun Olam - repairing the world - results in tangible, positive change that anyone can be a part of with a simple decision: Today, I'll ride. Life well lived is all about making those critical decisions, and today I got to experience first-hand what that feels like.

Ride on, y'all. I'll wave when I see you out there.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #wheel #wheels #specialized #pink #photography #auto #vehicle #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A pink, temporary reminder

Remember the fallen
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I probably have better things to do at 6 a.m., like sleep. But life with a schnauzer means the day starts early, usually with a wet nose worming its way into my ear.

I should be annoyed, because, you know, sleep. But once I get on my feet and out the door with her, it's anything but annoying. And more often than not, I end up seeing things I would have otherwise missed.

Like these fallen blooms on the sidewalk beside our house. The tree has been there forever, and every year around this time it blooms a stunning shade of pink. The spectacle lasts for a few days, tops, and we're usually too busy to notice. All that zipping back and forth, to and from the responsibilities of an adult life, means little time to appreciate temporary pink blooms. That time thing again.

But when I'm rubbing cobwebs out of my brain and sucking in the first taste of the morning with my little furry buddy, time doesn't seem to matter as much. I've got bandwidth, breathing room, even, to notice the things I usually can't. Or maybe it's won't. Even Calli seems to appreciate the difference, as she behaves differently on our morning walks - quieter, more patient. Which is weird, because she's usually the very antithesis of quiet and patient.

Yet on this morning, she allows me to crouch down on the ground on all fours to take in the spectacle of fallen blooms. Which, if I don't capture them today, will be gone just as soon as they first showed themselves. And while I line up the shot - clearly looking like an idiot to anyone else who might come across us - she quietly stands to the side, not pulling on her leash, not chasing after the rabbit chewing the grass on the lawn across the street. Just watching me, as if she knew this was something both of us needed to do this morning.

Time moves faster than we'd like, and if life has taught me anything, it is how easily moments like this can slip unnoticed into the past if we don't try a little harder to grab onto them. This quivering ball of fur is my built-in alarm clock, and guide, who ensures I never miss moments like this. Smart little girl, she is.

After all, I can always find other times to catch up on my sleep . But these blooms will be gone with the first wind.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #urban #street #photography #Calli #CalliTheSchnauzer #dog #puppy #schnauzermini #minischnauzersofinstagram #schnauzersofinstagram #minischnauzer #miniatureschnauzer #dogsofinstagram #instapuppy #actofdog #pets #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Where's Waldo? In Toronto, of course!

Rush hour
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I like to call this my "Where's Waldo?" shot, a perfect mess of urban reality that played out through the window of a train leaving Toronto at the end of the day.

While I've written often about my general dislike of crowds, I'm a little more tolerant of the chaos when I'm slightly removed from it. Let's all take a moment to say thanks for the miracle of long lenses.

Virtually everyone in this photo is, like me, trying to get home. Everyone's journey is unique, as is the life story that led each of them to be in this place, at this point in time. There's no way to know all of those details, though - just imagine the pile of data! - but sitting by the window and imagining the enormity is, to me, just as much fun.

The gridlock only adds to the feeling that everyone in this scene would likely rather be elsewhere, that they're all looking forward to putting this place, this moment, behind them. I can't stop staring at it, and them, as I seem to discover something new every time.

As much as allowing my eyes to roam over this scene gives me a bit of a headache, however, I imagine the folks here all have something better waiting for them at home. And that brings me a certain sense of comfort.

May we all have safe journeys and welcoming destinations. May we all have moments along the way that remind us how lucky we are to appreciate them in the first place.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #viarail #train #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #travel #urban #street #photography #travelphotography #streetphotography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #zoom #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Friday, May 24, 2019

On hiring the right people, the right way

"Hire character. Train skill."
Peter Schutz
I've been having a lot of conversations with friends and colleagues lately about hiring, and it's gotten me thinking back to the chapters in my career where I was responsible for leading others. Of all the things I did as a leader, recruitment ranked at the top of the list. It allowed me to bring people on board who "got" the mission as much as I did, who taught me more than I could ever teach them.

It also taught me how limited conventional recruitment processes could be. The process of rooting through resumes, ticking off boxes for each requisite skill, was, to be kind, a joke. Behavioral traits were far more likely to determine overall in-role success, and time and again I leaned toward the behavioral side of the process.

Peter Schutz was at the helm of Porsche for much of the 1980s, a pivotal period for the storied automaker, so I'm pretty sure we'll want to heed his sage advice. Because anyone can be trained in anything. But character is a whole other story.

Reflections on Yonge Street

Look up. Waaaay, up!
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Let's be brutally frank for a moment: I hate crowds. Walking down one of the busiest downtown streets in the country makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong: I like people. A lot. But I get thrown off when there are so many of them, so close to me. I guess big cities just aren't my thing.

Be that as it may, my role dictates that I spend a good chunk of time in the Big City to the East - aka Toronto - so I can't be a baby about it. Or, as my late dad would have said, I've got to suck it up.

So on this perfectly sunny and warm spring afternoon, I decided to skip the subway and walk back to the train station. I left a bit of slush time in the schedule to accommodate stops along the way. And as it turned out, ducking out of the spawning salmon-like crowds to steal photos here and there was a perfect antidote to my urban squeamishness. Because nothing says "stay away from me" more than a guy pulling out a camera and pointing it skyward. Maybe I'm onto something here.

The scene here fascinates me, as Yonge Street is increasingly being built over with massive, gleaming condo and office towers. They cast huge shadows on a streetscape once dominated by three-storey walkups with mom-and-pop retail on the ground floor. And as the old-style architecture gives way to the new, it seemingly opens up opportunities to view the landscape in new ways.

Not better. Not worse. Just different.

But we've got to be willing to time-out from the day-to-day and allow ourselves the opportunity to take in scenes and moments like this. I hope the next time I decide to take the slower route home that I'm not the only one looking up and wondering what scene will reflect back at me.

#toronto #yyz #ontario #canada #downtown #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travelphotography #streetphotography #mirror #reflective #urban #yonge #street #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sliding doors - part 4

The waiting is the hardest part
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I like to play with lines. And I'm hoping you're into lines, too.

As background, sometimes as I wander through the course of a given day, my brain locks in on something I happen to see - a shape, a shadow, something that stands out from the norm - and I stop what I'm doing so I can take a closer look.

I don't always have the time to stop - life awaits at the other end of the journey, and the world doesn't stop spinning just because I've been distracted by a thought-provoking scene. But I stop anyway, because it would gnaw at me otherwise. Because I don't like missing an opportunity, however fleeting it might be, to freeze a memory in place. Because I'm a lousy manager of personal time, but I'm strangely comfortable with that.

This particular memory reflects the realities of public, urban architecture. On the surface it's a subway platform, cast in concrete, virtually always ignored by the thousands of people who pass through here daily. All of its perfectly laid out lines made it cheaper to build, easier to maintain. But they also gave me room to play with angles for a couple of minutes on this otherwise-grey morning before I had to get back on my way.

The world awaited, geometry notwithstanding. And, not to worry, I arrived with plenty of time to spare.

#toronto #ontario #canada #downtown #subway #ttc #train #rosedale #station #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #travel #urban #photography #travelphotography #streetphotography #yellow #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everythıng

Eating ice cream on a cold, blustery day

Real family, virtually shared
St. Thomas, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
On a cold, grey, windy day, we took the kids to Port Stanley, a beachside community on Lake Erie's north shore, about 45 minutes from home.

The weather virtually guaranteed that no one was going in the water. But that wasn't the point of the day, anyway. Sometimes life just weighs on you, and sometimes the only answer is to get out of the house and explore a bit.

So we dug our toes into the cool, damp sand, closed our eyes to avoid the worst of the wind, and ate food that would make a nutritionist cringe as it soothed our soul. Because food can kinda do that if you let it.

Mostly, we just drank the day in, and spent the kind of time together that just hasn't been possible for much of the past few months. It's easy to forget to breathe when you're so focused on making it to the next day. It's easy to stay inside, literally and figuratively, when all you want to do is withdraw.

So we stepped out and reconnected with the things that make our family tick. We bantered. We laughed. We got lost (correction: I got lost, and Debbie and the kids patiently reeled me back in, or simply waited.) We took pictures. Many pictures. We were simply ourselves, and it was glorious.

I'd like to think when all is said and done, what we leave behind are seeds, traces, echoes of moments that mattered, moments that reminded us that life can be sweet. I'd like to think that days like this are what our kids will hold closest to them as they continue to grow into the incredible people they're destined to be.

I'd like to think a lot of things, but sometimes I think I just need to stop thinking, and instead get in the car and point it toward the beach. Thankfully my favorite people seem to agree.

#port #stanley #portstanley #stthomas #shaws #mackies #beach #great #lake #erie #ldnont #wind #weather #wx #nature #travel #travelphotography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #instagood #photooftheday #nofilter #nofilterneeded #ontario #canada #lifeinthemargins #parenthood #family #everything

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

On Carl Sagan's prescient wisdom

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."
Carl Sagan
I'm just going to leave this here...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sliding doors - part 3

Safety first
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
They say good things come in threes, and I've never been one to argue with whoever these "they" people may be. So here's a third view of the very eye-friendly Rosedale subway station not far from our Toronto office*. I think my lens has more work to do in this often overlooked place.

I'm also a fan of intelligent use of yellow. Slight clarification: I'm a fan of all colors, but especially yellow. I wish I could explain why. Perhaps in an upcoming photo vignette.

* View #1 & View #2

#toronto #ontario #canada #downtown #subway #ttc #train #rosedale #station #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #travel #urban #photography #travelphotography #streetphotography #yellow #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Sliding doors - part 2

This time, empty
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
So many friends and colleagues have come forward with their own stories of Toronto's Rosedale subway station since I first wrote about it yesterday that I wanted to share another - albeit similar - scene from my visit there last week.

This one was taken one minute before two trains slid into the station and completely changed the view. It's an example of small changes making a significant difference, and a reminder to me to continue to revisit familiar places in the hope that I'll find new ways to see them.

For some of us, today marks the start of a shortened, post-long-weekend workweek. As we ease out of chill mode, maybe it's worth reminding ourselves that the places, things, and even people we know incredibly well are always worth a second - or even a third - look.

Because there's always a new story to tell, always a new way to look at the world around us. All we have to do is open our eyes and take the time to take it all in. Will we?

#toronto #ontario #canada #downtown #subway #ttc #train #rosedale #station #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #travel #urban #photography #travelphotography #streetphotography #repeat #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everythıng

Monday, May 20, 2019

Sliding doors in a Toronto neighborhood

Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
We become creatures of habit, almost always without even realizing it's happening.

This weird little thought occurred to me last week as I was on my way to the office in Toronto. Of course, living in London means long commutes when I spend the day in the big city to the east - namely a couple of hours on a train, followed by a quick subway ride up Yonge Street.

Normally I exit the same station, and walk the same half-kilometre route that's now so familiar I could probably navigate it with my eyes closed. But this time was different. I suddenly found myself examining the neighborhood closely on Google Maps, wondering if perhaps there was another way to work.

There was: The next subway stop is virtually the same distance from the office. Except it's an outdoor station. And the walk takes me past a park instead of a dense pack of dusty buildings and construction zones.

It isn't an earth-shattering change, but any change is good for the soul. This time it involved seeing the same subway trains in a place and a context I never had. Next time? Who knows. But I promise you there will indeed be a next time. Because life is too short to spend it with our eyes closed.

#toronto #ontario #canada #downtown #subway #ttc #train #rosedale #station #commute #commuter #transit #landscape #building #travel #urban #photography #travelphotography #streetphotography #monochrome #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everythıng

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Montreal bagels for the win

Eat me
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I left Montreal for good almost half a lifetime ago, but the city still resonates in my soul for many reasons, many of them food-related. From poutine to smoked meat to Orange Julep to bagels, there's no shortage of foods that define this city and spark adamant debates between natives and non-natives alike.

I have little patience for foodie debates - and, if we're being brutally honest, I can't stand the word "foodie", and am amused by folks who refer to themselves as such - but I do admit missing Sunday morning walks to the bakery for freshly made Montreal bagels. There's nothing quite like walking into a bakery in winter when the wood-fired oven is churning out piles of black- and white-seed* confections and you have to wait a bit to nibble on them lest you burn your mouth. Bonus points if the place has been open since before your parents were born, and hasn't been renovated within your lifetime. The handwritten-in-black-Sharpie prices and frayed notes stuck on every shadowy shelf only add to the charm. But I digress.

These are not Montreal bagels. They're the antithesis of what made bakery runs special. The ones you see here are round rolls with holes in them, pre-fab creations of a national chain, with as much (sorry, little) charm as a soulless franchise can muster. There is no wood-fired oven here. Stories will never be written about these generically re-warmed impostors.

But here in London, it's what we've got. And when you have an opportunity to snag a quick photo while you wait for your lunch order to be ready, you take it. I may be far from my original hometown, but we've managed to create other traditions in our adoptive city that resonate just as strongly. In the end, all that matters is that each one of us knows where to look.

* Montrealers don't call them "poppy" or "sesame". It's how we can tell real Montrealers apart from posers.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bagel #bagels #timhortons #macro #montreal #mtl #quebec #breakfast #foodie #foodporn #food #lunch #bread #foodgasm #brunch #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

This is why I ride

Look forward, look back
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Every time I manage to ride my bike to the office, I give myself a little high-five. Because it's a victory, of sorts, a politely defiant screw-you to a universe that more than once tried to end my two-wheeler journey long before I had a chance to return home.

I've been chased by an angry pickup truck driver, and plowed into by a guy arguing with his wife. I've flattened wheels in potholes, boo-booed myself after greasing out on an unseen patch of sand, and torn an artery by turning my head wrong.

You'd think by now I'd get the message and either stay home or find some other way to get around. Indeed, I'm lucky I've got options: a city bus line that takes me virtually door-to-door, a wife who would happily drive me anywhere, a car of my own that I strangely adore. No disrespect meant to any of these alternatives - or my beyond-incredible wife - but they aren't the same.

Because nothing feels quite as right as propelling myself nearly silently across the city - the meshing of the gears and the wind in my ears providing the perfect, hushed soundtrack. Nothing comes close to disconnecting me from the rush-rush world - no notifications, no conversations, just me and my convoluted brain, free to churn new things to write about when I get to my destination. Nothing feels quite so freeing. Nothing makes me feel as alive as this.

So I'll deal with the risks, the dangers, the texting, disinterested London drivers who despise me for having the temerity to want to share the road. Because moments like this, on a bridge over a burbling river, on a bike path, when your legs feel capable of taking you anywhere, feel indescribably rich within my soul. Because life without cycling is something I never want to imagine, let alone experience.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #bike #bicycle #bikesofinstagram #cycle #cyclist #cycling #mirror #blue #sky #wheel #wheels #specialized #pink #photography #auto #vehicle #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 18, 2019

This one hurt my neck

Lines to the sky
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
In my ideal world, it's entirely normal to stand on a downtown street corner and stare directly up the facade of a building. In my ideal world, this would be considered somewhat normal instead of somewhat weird.

But I don't spend much time worrying about it, because then I'd miss out on cool little scenes like this, where the sun paints the sky blue, then reflects it off of an otherwise dull mirrored building. But in this light, on this day, at this moment, it takes on a certain life of its own, all because of what's going on around it. I get the physics, but it's still neat, still magical.

And to think I might have missed out if I hadn't looked up.

Indeed, in my ideal world, I never lose the strange sense of curiosity that puts me on street corners like this one. And in my ideal world, I never lose the urge to look up, scrunch my eyes just so, and wonder if there's a story to be told.

Of course, in my ideal world, there's always a story to be told. But we have to be willing to tell it. You know I am, but what about you? What story will you be telling? And where can we find it?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #urban #street #photography #building #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #blue #sky #glass #mirror #lines #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Waiting for the sky to catch fire

Why I stare out windows
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I keep reminding myself to look out the window more often, because sometimes the stars align and you see something neat.

In this case, one particular star, our sun, was preparing to make its daily return to the horizon. And long before sunrise, it was already painting the sky over the eastern edge of Lake Ontario a ridiculously intense shade of orange. Or maybe it's salmon. Or pinkish salmon.

This scene appeared outside my hotel room window, and I used a long lens to capture the first glimmers of light just above the horizon. The time stamp says 4:40 a.m., about an hour before sunrise, and the Port Lands in the foreground are Ground Zero for Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs's Quayside smart city project. Right now it's all industrial, otherwise-wasted waterfront land that the digital futurists hope to transform into a Jetsons-esque showpiece featuring revolutionary urban technologies, many of which are still being invented. I don't think the flying bubble-topped cars and loopy in-the-sky apartments-on-stilts are part of the deal, though. Bummer.

I stared through my lens and wondered how technology would transform this still-gritty neighborhood, and what it might look or feel like after the bulldozers leave and the nerdiness gets switched on. I wondered whether its future residents would ever turn away from their tech-jacked reality, if they'd take the time to just stare out at the adjacent lake and appreciate the moment.

Because technology doesn't solve every problem or otherwise scratch every itch. And nature still has a role to play in helping us lead lives of purpose. A few minutes by a window watching the skies come alive was all I needed to learn this particular, albeit small, lesson.

#toronto #ontario #canada #InfoTechLIVE #hotel @westinharbourcastle @InfoTechRG #downtown #sunrise #sun #sky #nature #landscape #morning #travel #urban #photography #canon #canon_photography #canonphotography #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Reflecting by the water

Journeys yet to be taken
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
It's 6:57 a.m., and I find myself leaning on the fence surrounding an outdoor patio overlooking Lake Ontario, staring at the gentle waves and feeling the slight breeze on my face.

Conference days are always big days, and getting to the venue before everyone else gives me lots of time to calm my jangled nerves and get a feel for how the day will play out. It means less sleep, but who am I kidding? I'm not sleeping this week, anyway.

The ferry terminal is front-and-centre, and as the boats rock gently beside their docks, I stare into the water-sprayed windows and think about the journeys they've been on, and the people who've looked through them. I think about how genteel it must be to live in a place that has a ferry at all. To be able to get on a boat and go somewhere else, just because, strikes me as a pretty neat way to live.

I decide whoever decided to build the hotel in this particular spot was a genius. Every hotel should be near water. It's calming. Cathartic, even.

Soon enough, though, I have to head back inside. The day waits for no one, after all, and I came here to make good things happen. But a few quiet moments before kicking things into gear seems like a perfect way to springboard into a day of purpose and opportunity.

We all need more moments of quiet and refection. We all need to find new ways to make those moments actually happen.

#toronto #ontario #canada #InfoTechLIVE #hotel @westinharbourcastle @InfoTechRG #downtown #lake #water #waterfront #boat #marine #window #windows #reflection #travel #urban #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Grapefruit juice is my superpower

More than just a drink
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I know what you're thinking: A glass of grapefruit juice? What can possibly be so interesting about a glass of juice that would merit an Instagram post? Hear me out.

I took this last Wednesday morning, as Day 2 of our conference was getting underway. Right around that time, my aunt was undergoing the latest in a series of chemotherapy treatments. In her case, she drinks what she jokingly calls a cocktail. I've joked right back that she should put little umbrellas in it and wear Hawaiian shirts to her appointments.

Her cocktails are typically lemon-flavored. And I imagine they'll finally be strong enough to lick a disease that's been hovering over her for far too long. It's what I hope. It's what everyone hopes.

Which is what brought me to Wednesday morning. As I prepped for the day and settled into my spot near the stage, I thought it would be fun to find a cocktail of my own and send her a picture of it. Why? No real reason. You don't need a reason to think of someone. Nor do you need a reason to snap a silly picture and Facebook-message it to them. Technology in 2019 has done lots of lousy things to the way we live, but it's also given us a near-miraculous ability to send any message to anyone, anywhere, at any time. I've got to believe that's some kind of superpower we all carry around in our pocket, and one we'd do well to use a little more often.

So on this morning, when my aunt was busy fighting a demon no one wants, I sent a silly pic of a glass of grapefruit juice a few thousand kilometres south. Like everything in this hotel-home far from home, it was delightful. More importantly, maybe it has a superpower all its own. Maybe we all do.

#toronto #ontario #canada #InfoTechLIVE #hotel @westinharbourcastle @InfoTechRG @ShirleyWolfeld #downtown #random #travel #juice #glass #photography #cancer #fuckcancer #sorryiswore #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #health #family #everything

Monday, May 13, 2019

Scene from a hotel room

While everyone else sleeps...
Toronto, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: a 19th-floor hotel room overlooking the east side of Toronto's waterfront port lands. I've been working on my laptop most of the night, making sure the day's run-of-show is as perfect as can be. In a few short hours, I'll be standing on-stage in front of hundreds of people - colleagues, CIOs, other senior IT leaders, members/clients, etc. - and I don't want to let even one of them down.

The windows have been dark since my alarms went off 3 hours after I got back from the previous day's adventure. But suddenly, out of the very corner of my left eye, I notice a flicker of light that wasn't there previously. I stop what I'm doing and see a perfect sliver of salmon-orange color on the horizon that begs for a photo. Life is slowly returning to this massive city, and soon enough I'll have to head downstairs and make good stuff happen.

I can almost hear the clock ticking, and I don't have the time for spontaneous photography. But the calendar says it's May 8th - my birthday - and if ever I should remember the moment in a photo, now's the time. The windows are filthy, but I find a clean enough stretch way above my head, press my phone against the glass, compose the shot, and shoot.

All it takes is one frame, and I quickly return to the keyboard. Thankfully, the day plays out as it should, and while it's a little odd to be so far from home on this day, I'm surrounded by an amazing team, and they make the day a special one. I'll celebrate with the fam jam when I get home the next day.

The lesson? Life doesn't follow a set schedule. Do what you need to do to support your family. Take the time to celebrate, even if it seems like a weird time or circumstance. And never miss an opportunity to look out the window and wonder, because the universe is always standing by to remind you why you matter as much as you do.

#toronto #ontario #canada #InfoTechLIVE #hotel @westinharbourcastle @InfoTechRG #downtown #sunrise #sky #landscape #building #construction #architecture #architecturephotography #design #buildingporn #architectureporn #travel #urban #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day sucks - again

The very centre of my world
Dryden, ON
July 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Disclosure: I'm not a fan of Mother's Day. Like every other manufactured "holiday" designed to sell greeting cards and stuff we don't need, this one rings somewhat hollow to me.

Don't let me wrong: I was lucky to have had a mother who managed to get me to adulthood without poisoning me or otherwise inflicting permanent damage. I'm even luckier to have crossed paths with a woman who agreed to become my wife, and proceeded to show me and anyone else who knows her what wonderful motherhood looks, sounds, and feels like. Having a front-row seat to Debbie's adventure through motherhood has been the privilege of my life, and our kids adore her not solely because she gave birth to them, but because she has given everything of herself to them since the moment we knew they were on the way.

And while the basic sentiment of Mother's Day - celebrating moms - is laudable, it doesn't come without its downsides. Not everyone is a mom. Some can't be. Some, like mine, have lost a child. Some moms are no longer with us. Some struggle day-to-day. Perhaps some shouldn't be moms at all. In fact, any defined "-Day" holiday - Father's, Valentine's, whatever - has its own dark side that often gets lost in the commercial push to sell us more crap and adhere to commonly accepted norms of behavior. Card? Check. Flowers? Check. Gift. Check. Good; done for another year.

I'm not really this cynical in real life, but I'm troubled by the complete disregard of the mainstream zeitgeist toward those who don't fit the Mother's-Day-ad ideal. Face it: Humans suck at appreciating those who fall outside preconceived notions of normative lifestyles, backgrounds, and behaviors.

We celebrated Debbie today because she richly deserved to be celebrated. We'll celebrate her tomorrow for precisely the same reason. Indeed, we'll do so every day for however long we're given. We didn't - and never will - need a radio ad to tell us we needed to.

#ldnont #london #dryden #ontario #canada #throwback #mothersday #mother #mom #holiday #photography #levy #parenthood #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Monday, May 06, 2019

Where I spend the week on a stage

London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The week ahead promises to be action-packed. The brilliant people I get to work with every day at @InfoTechRG are hosting a conference for a few hundred of our closest friends. It's called #InfoTechLIVE, and it essentially involves getting top CIOs and IT leaders into a few very large rooms for a few days so they can hear directly from our freakishly accomplished analysts.

If you've followed my adventures of late, we held LIVE in Las Vegas last November, then Orlando in February. Now it's Toronto's turn, and by the numbers, it'll be our biggest one yet. Here's the funny part: I'm the MC.

Scary? Of course. Because I'm used to doing my thing in quiet studios where you don't see the folks you're talking to. Being on-stage is an entirely different experience, and I'd be lying if I said it was well within my comfort zone.

But that's kind of the point to this life thing. We weren't always meant to be in our comfort zone, because that's not how we grow as people. Or influence others around us. Or get to feel, at a visceral level, what it's like to truly live.

So I said goodbye to my little fam last night, and will spend all day today prepping and rehearsing with our dream team before we go live tomorrow morning.

And if I feel those butterflies deep in my tummy as the lights get bright and I begin to speak, then I'll take it as a sign that I'm exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do for my peeps back home. It is, in the end, why we never stop striving.

Let's do this, shall we?

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #stilllife #life #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #InfoTechRG #InfoTech #itrg #InfoTechEvents #workhardplayhard #bestjobever #family #everything

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Butterfly at rest

Beauty in an unexpected place
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The wonderpuppy and I took a bit of a different route on our morning walk today. As we left the house and approached the first corner, she pulled right instead of our usual left. And since I wasn't in the mood to leash-wrestle 14 pounds of feisty Mini Schnauzer, we went right.

Along the way, we came across a big old tree with a pair of impossibly colorful butterflies clinging to opposite sides of its massive trunk. They were just chilling in place, slowly opening and closing their wings. If I didn't know better, I'd swear they were waiting for us.

Somehow, Calli remained calm as she sniffed around the base of the tree, carefully avoiding our two new friends.

Somehow, I racked off a few pics before they continued on their epic journey.

Somehow, our bouncy pup knew that this was the way we were destined to go on this sunny Sunday morning.

Maybe dogs are a lot more perceptive than we think. Maybe I should just drop the maybe.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #butterfly #butterflies #nature #urban #street #photography #texture #sun #shadow #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Looking for the rest of the puzzle

So many unknowns
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The scene: I'm walking back to the car after a long day of trying to outrun time. I spot a single puzzle piece in the middle of the sidewalk beside a busy downtown road and walk a few steps past it before my brain hits the brakes and forces me to head back.

I stand over this forlorn piece of cardboard and wonder where it comes from, what the full puzzle might look like, who might have owned it, and what their reaction will be once they finish the rest of the puzzle only to realize they're one piece short.

At least that's what I imagine, because the more likely scenario is that no one cares, that this is just another piece of discarded modernity among countless such pieces I've walked wordlessly past my entire life.

Because not everything has a story despite my idealistic wishes that it might.

But just in case, I crouch down and compose a few frames before continuing my journey. I think most of my photos lately have been of the just-in-case variety. Sounds like a reasonable enough excuse to record whatever trivialities the universe decides to throw across my path.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #road #downtown #queens #avenue #urban #street #photography #grey #concrete #texture #monochrome #puzzle #game #lost #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Spring has sprung

Life begins anew
London, ON
May 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Every spring, there seems to be a moment where we look up and realize the trees, which had been completely bare the last time we looked, have suddenly exploded with life.

I think today was the day, when Mother Nature decided to finally lay off the clutch and give it some gas. And when I needed to look at something other than an LED-backlit screen today, the trees lining the riverfront path were more than happy to offer up enough energy and color to lift my spirit. I'm pretty sure my writing for the rest of the day was better than it would have been had I remained inside.

We don't always remember the power a walk among the trees can have. Working away in an office, juggling deliverables and deadlines, it's easy to forget about the subtle things just on the other side of the window.

Today I didn't forget. I'll try not to forget tomorrow, as well, because something tells me the show in the trees by the river might be even more inspiring. We just have to give ourselves the room and the time to get outside for a bit.

I hope to see you there. I'll be the guy shooting weird photos, but I suspect you already knew that.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #tree #trees #bud #buds #leaf #leaves #life #spring #green #nature #light #stilllife #photography #bokeh #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Never again means never again

Be the light
London, ON
April 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I sing in a choir. "Sing" is probably stretching it, as I don't read music, wouldn't know a C from a G, and only my rubber duck thinks I can carry a tune. I do my best to avoid tripping up everyone else, and so far they haven't shown me the door. So far.

Last night we sang a song at our community's Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) ceremony. We remembered the 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazi regime and its collaborators, and bore witness to our own responsibilities to carry the victims' and survivors' stories forward and ensure the lessons of this dark era are taught, learned, and applied.

The song we sang was Ani Ma'Amin (I Believe), and what made it special, aside from the haunting tune and arrangement, was the fact that this wasn't just another tune. It was often sung by victims as they were marched to the gas chambers. In spite of the terrible atrocities that surrounded them at that moment, in spite of the darkness that was about to swallow them, in spite of the complete lack of hope, they sang I Believe, en masse, as they walked to their deaths.

I shot this photo after the ceremony was over. After 91-year-old survivor Elly Gotz held us spellbound with his detailed story of how he and his parents stayed alive. After the hundreds of people who packed the community centre had begun to return to their lives.

I chose to shoot the memorial candles (okay, light bulbs, but still) because I couldn't stop looking at the light. On a night where we remembered the darkness that lurks in the deepest recesses of the worst of humanity, we also spoke of the light that banishes the darkness, the light that survivors like Mr. Gotz carried out of the ashes of Eastern Europe and used to build lives of purpose, accomplishment, and kindness.

Light is the revenge of the victim on the evil that would have snuffed us out. Light is the ultimate sign of victory, and we must never allow ourselves to lose sight of it.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #holocaust #memorial #yom #hazikaron #survivor #history #light #stilllife #photography #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #everything