Monday, May 15, 2017

Thematic Photographic 412 - Architecture

Toronto, ON
February 2017
If you find yourself staring at buildings because you find them neat, know you're not alone. Any structure of any era has to offer at least one redeeming reason for a stare or two. Even if it's a glass-and-metal box, there's got to be something there that connects with your soul.

And because I've been shooting human-created structures with alarming frequency of late, I'm hoping you'll consider doing so, too. If anything, it eases my guilt for missing Thematic last week. In the party atmosphere that was my birthday, I forgot to hit the Publish button. Bad Carmi.

Your turn: Take a pic that ‎evokes, supports or merely suggests this week's theme, Architecture. Leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Already posted something online or in your archives? Share it, too! Visit other participants to raise the fun quotient and feel free to post more contributions through the week. For more info on how Thematic works, head here. Most important of all, have fun with it!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sitting in the subway late at night

All angles
Toronto, ON
February 2017
The scene: Valentine's Day night. I'm in this city a couple of hours from home because of a work thing. The team has already had dinner and we've all headed back to the hotel to shift gears for an evening of extended shmoozing. I'm not much of a party person or a drinker, and I'm the world's least effective shmoozer. So I politely decline invitations to go clubbing or sit in the hotel lobby bar. Instead, I reach for my camera and head out for a walk before tuck-in. That's me, Mr. Social.

Before long, I find myself descending into a subway station, because nothing says Valentine's Day like a subway station. My goal is simple: Sit on a bench for a few minutes, and watch the comings and goings. As I settle into a spot, I notice the stairs, and how institutional, public-space architecture like this always seems to speak to me.

Later on, when I review the pics from this walk, I have a bunch of random snaps of strangers in the varying stages of forced Valentine's Day bliss - ranging from overt public displays of affection to what I'm pretty sure was a breakup-in-progress - but it's this one that keeps taking me back, that paints a picture in linear slashes of blue tile and germ-infested chrome, of what it felt like to be looking for some kind of inspiration on a night when all I really wanted to do was hang with my family.

Related: This photo on Instagram.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

On reading - and life

"Read in order to live."
Gustave Flaubert
So if anyone's looking for me, I'll be in the corner over here, reading. I'll leave it to you to guess what. Suggestions always welcome.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The 10 things I HATE about social media

We're a little over a decade into the so-called social media era, long enough that's it's now a normal, everyday thing for most of us. It's also been around long enough for some of us - I'm not judging, pointing fingers or naming names; not yet, anyway  - to have built up more than a few annoying habits along the way.

With that in mind, here's a quick list of some of the things that elevate my blood pressure when I thumb past them on my smartphone:

1 - Posting selfies, and only selfies. While there's nothing wrong with a selfie or two thrown into the mix here and there, Every Single Picture need not be of you. Look, I get it: I'm an occasional-selfie-taker, and they are a fun addition to the photographic toolkit. But they aren't everything. Point the lens outward and tell the story instead of constantly being the story. You're interesting, but not that interesting.

2 - Turning your timeline into a real-time vacation travelogue. First of all, anyone who posts pics while they're on vacation is an idiot (hey criminals, please rob my empty house!) Second, isn't the whole point of a vacation supposed to be that you get away from social media and other tools of everyday technology? Instead of a never-ending, one-at-a-time stream of unedited and badly composed photos posted while you're away, why don't you enjoy the moment, then edit and post a carefully curated summary once you get home? Combining wall-to-wall selfies with real-time vacation pics is even worse. So please stop.

3 - Sharing a list of 10 concerts. I don't think you much care about who I've seen perform live on-stage, and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. Wait, I'm completely sure. I don't care that this is the latest hot meme that's sweeping Facebookistan, and why everyone else is falling all over themselves is beyond me. Unless you really like being a sheeple, I guess. Try coming up with something original instead. It's a little more work, but it makes for better reading.

4 - Participating in a meme. Those endless "Let's see who reads this..." posts are so far beyond being played out that I can't believe they're still a thing. When half my feed is filled with cut-and-paste sameness because no one can be bothered to share an original thought, I begin to wonder if any of us has a future. If you want to write something close to the heart, sharpen your virtual pencil and write it yourself. Why would I be bothered to read and respond if you can't be bothered to think?

5 - Sending game invitations. If you can't learn to turn off notifications and invitations when you play an online game, perhaps you don't deserve to have a social media account. I know it sounds harsh, but someone needs to have the courage to tell you your endless game invites aren't merely annoying. They also make you look lame.

6 - Overshare. I know way too much about the intimate lives of way too many people, all because they insist on posting longform accounts of their child's latest outburst at home, their most recent run-in with the crazy neighbors on the other side of the fence, their trials and tribulations at work, and their years-long efforts to have that baby boy they always wanted because three healthy girls simply weren't enough. Look, I love the way social media gives us insight into the lives of people we care about. And the social media space is filled with lots of examples of people who do it right - with grace, sensitivity and class - and I will never get enough of the good kind of sharing. But holy cow, people, learn where to draw the line. The difference between appropriate and inappropriate levels of sharing should be obvious to us by now. Sadly, they aren't.

7 - Using your timeline as a scheduler. Blog posts, Facebook status updates and other publicly-shared messages are best served as focused summaries of things that matter to you, not comprehensive, excruciatingly detailed accounts of your day that make me wonder why you feel the need to share it all. I'm exhausted enough managing my own day in 15-minute increments that trying to follow yours in blow-by-blow format is damn near impossible.

8 - Write everything in one long, endless paragraph. Did grammar go out the window with the advent of social media tools? Do we no longer know how to communicate in bite-sized chunks? Considering the increasingly attention-deficit nature of digital messaging, you'd think the 5,000-word-all-in-one-graf Facebook post would be a thing of the past. You'd think wrong. Use that Enter/Return key, people. I beg you.

9 - Announcing periodic cleanups of your friends lists. Passive-aggressive much? If you're going to unfriend or unfollow someone, just do it. Don't pre-announce it. Don't post it to all your friends and ask them to beg to stay in your good electronic graces. Don't post again, after the fact, to let your remaining "friends" know how lucky they are to still be in your orbit. If you do, and you suddenly find me absent from your timeline, now you know why.

10 - Sending unsolicited group messages. There's a reason there are laws against spam. Wait, there are TONS of reasons. But what's now taboo in email seems to be perfectly acceptable on social media. If I didn't ask to be on the recipient list for your mass Facebook Messenger message, then don't put me on it - especially if you stuff it with weird emojis and animated GIFs.

I'm pretty sure this makes me sound like the old codger standing on his lawn whining about those darn neighborhood kids, But when we're gifted with some of the most sophisticated communications technology ever conceived and we choose to waste it on Candy Crush and Donald Trump memes, I can't stand silently by the wayside.

Your turn: What bugs YOU about social media? Let me know in a comment...maybe there's another list - or two, or three... - in our collective future.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

On making the world a happier place

"There are two ways to spread happiness; either be the light who shines it or be the mirror who reflects it."
Edith Wharton

Monday, May 01, 2017

Thematic Photographic 411 - Gardens Galore

Colors of nature
London, ON
April 2017
I don't know a whole lot about plants or gardens beyond the sad fact that I tend to kill them. It isn't intentional, but of all the people born with the innate ability to nurture plant-based life, I'm not one of them.

Doesn't mean I can't appreciate it photographically when it grows on its own, though. So when this particularly colorful example of hen and chicks - or sempervivum - presented itself in the garden underneath our kitchen window, it was an easy call to point the lens down and have some fun with it.

We had some fun with this pic on Instagram and Twitter. For the next week, I hope you'll do the same here on the blog. And on yours!

Your turn: This week's Thematic theme is gardens galore. Feel free to take a picture of a garden. Or a garden plant. Or a garden of plants. Or anything that's alive and lovely - remember, it's all about how you choose to interpret the theme, and there are non wrongs here. After you're done shooting, post the pic to your blog, website or social media presence, then leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Did you already post something long ago? Share that, too! Visit other Thematic participants to share the Thematic goodness - we'll be at it all week. New to Thematic? Here's the lowdown. Thanks!

On volunteerism and Muhammad Ali

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
Muhammad Ali