Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Euro ads

Just a couple for now...

Love the subbuteo characters.

Part of ESPN's ad campaign.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I just set up Twitter yesterday to see what all the fuss is about. I'm going to post this to my Facebook account so perhaps I can find some other friends on Twitter to follow. In short, I think it takes the fun mini-feed feature of Facebook and simply focuses in on that with support for some quicker updates tools. You'll also notice that my Twitter updates are showing in the right column. An early warning for new users - my Twitter profile is currently public and I've already received porn-like spam followers. I'm not sure if I should be flattered.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Unwritten rules about blogging*

  1. You shouldn't have to sensor your blog.
  2. You shouldn't have to be politically correct.
  3. If you need to swear, swear. Let people know how you feel.
  4. Listen to your audience, but don't let them dictate your content.
  5. Spelling and grammar mistakes are only important if you're confusing the reader.
  6. Lighten up.
  7. Don't edit too much, the best content is often the first stuff that streams from your inner thoughts.
  8. It's just your opinion, you could be wrong.
  9. Not every rule list has to have 10 rules.
*All these rules are for the ideal world. I live in the real world.

Heightened senses on the subway

I just took the subway back from a customer meeting and had a few nervous moments with some urban hip youngsters. Three kids got on the subway one stop after I got on and quickly got to "joking" around with one another. The white guy was a little nervous about the body language from one of his black friends. I've got my head down reading the paper, but my spidey senses were tuned in to the situation. As the white kid retreats, the black kid reaches into his pocket. I'm a little nervous about the worst-case-scenario, but the kid pulls out a pencil, which he then continues to threaten his buddy with like a small hidden shiv. The banter then changes to talk of inappropriate black comments which raises the tension a little. I get off at my stop without any any further escalation in the situation. I expect it was all a little playacting between lads. In the old days it would be a little friendly wrestle or play slap, but in these times of racial tensions and "random" events, and you're in a busy subway car with a mix of shoppers, biz people, foreigners and children, you can almost see tomorrow's headlines. I think these street wise kids are smart enough to know what they are doing and like the power they have in these situations. Unfortunately, with a few stabbing events in the city this week and a drive through a dodgy neighbourhood a few days ago, I was far from my normal relaxed urban self. It doesn't happen too often, but occasionally I'm a little uncomfortable in my city. I don't like it.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I'm wondering who was my first family relative to buy a camera and take a photograph ? Whether if it was that original family camera pioneer or perhaps, the first one that took a photograph for artistic reasons, it's nice to think that photographs could be seen as a chronological artistic link within my family.

I'm not sure when I first saw photography as an art form and not just as a way to document an event or record pictures of the family. I don't mind taking the odd photo during family events (except the banal dining table or gift opening poses), but I make the best of having a camera in my hands and look for the more unusual shot, the candids, the unusual perspectives, close-ups, etc.

I'm happy to say, photography is a family hobby.

  • My Dad was a keen photographer and taught me how to use an SLR.
  • My uncle was a photographer with an artistic eye.
  • My brother has taken his fair share of artistic shots.
  • My cousin is the first in the family who has made a living through photography, see www.sportarts.co.uk.
  • My sister-in-law spends a lot of time behind the lens shooting for her blog - Pedestrian Typography.
  • My wife is always looking to capture the elusive sports action shot.
  • My daughter is the latest photographer in the family, her favourite subjects being animals, nature and food.
  • And I'm dabbling in it again too, see my photostream on flickr.

I'm still undecided on the best way to organize, edit and share my photos. At the moment, I'm using a combination of Picasa and Flickr. Flickr seems to have a better online experience and is a better known cyber destination for photographers, while Picasa's desktop application has some easy to use, but reasonably powerful management and editing tools. I should point out at this time, before my wife completely blows her stack, that she is a consultant for Creative Memories and uses Memory Manager software to organize our family photos at home.

For quite a while I've been drawn to online photography galleries and photo blogs. My favourite is a local photographer who I think does a wonderful job of transforming everyday places (many right by my office) and people into lovely works of photographic art. I think this is one thing that draws me to photography - you can walk by a building or park everyday and not notice it's beauty, but when an artistic photo is taken of that place it helps tune your eye to all the beautiful things around us. His photo blog is Daily Dose of Imagery. I can spend a lot of time wandering through the cyber galleries on Flickr, but also love to spend a little time with news photo galleries.

As a lover of tech and toys and always looking for technology upgrades (much to my wife's annoyance). I've been researching new cameras and indirectly finding some great online sources of information, whether you're looking for new equipment or getting the most out of your point-and-shoot digital camera. For instance, after learning a little more about white balance, I've now started to use settings other than auto and getting much better results. I won't go into the technical definition, but it's basically how the colour of your subject is influenced by the light source. I'm pretty sure the concept isn't anything new in photography, but now with digital, the white balance can be adjusted in-camera or left to post processing in your editing software. For an amateur tip, white balance settings are pretty easy to set and are typically designated by words (or images) related to weather or lighting, e.g. cloudy, sunny, tungsten, etc.

The other catalyst to my recent rekindled interest in photography is the Contact Photography Festival that's currently happening here in Toronto. I took my daughter to visit some of the exhibitions at MOCCA a few weeks ago, but we enjoyed our informal visit to the downtown west galleries just as much, especially when you get to ask the photographer a few questions about their work. We especially liked Lucy Molnar Wing and Ramesh Kamath (978 Queen Street West).

A few other favourites:

Robert Burley's photo Demolition of Buildings 65 & 69 has been a key image during the festival and one whose story says a lot about the world of photography today. We saw the print at MOCCA and it has also been reproduced as a mural in the courtyard outside (some of my Flickr pictures show closeups) for the festival. When I first saw the image, it looked like something from 9/11 or The Kennedy Space Center. When I read that it was actually a picture of the demolition of two of Kodak's large manufacturing facilities in Rochester, the picture was clear. Viewed by hundreds of people, the event surely tells the story of change in the digital age.

Friday, May 16, 2008

An ingredient of a Lifelong Friendship - The In Joke

For me, one of the most valuable elements of a lifelong friendships is the "in joke". That humourous part of your life you've shared with a friend and one which you'll both remember for the rest of your life. That funny event that you can easily reproduce in your minds eye and one which instantly triggers the laughter button. When the joke re-emerges in the presence of friends in on the joke, the convo track could either take a simple knowing pause or veer into raucous group fits of laughter. But unfortunately, not everyone can share in the joke without a lengthy explanation. The great thing is that new ones are often created, especially with the introduction of new friends, friends with a sense of humour of course !

Here are a few that at least one of you will connect with:
  • There's this guy...
  • There's a teetering mound of crockery...
  • Octopus ? Yes, an octopus...
  • You're bending my tubes
  • Overcome by strong fumes
  • I beg you, make a giraffe sound
  • The media family
  • Not like that, just like that
  • There's a monster...
  • Doctor
  • Would you like a cup of tea darling ?
Please feel free to add those that have escaped me, I'm ready !

Another blogger in the family

My wife started her blog My Life is Like a Song this week and is already on a role with a set of topics she plans to write about and is already introducing theme days. I like the bit in her latest post where she says...perhaps if others are interested, they would find my blog useful or entertaining and maybe they will want to start a blog of their own that I could enjoy. That's an interesting angle and is perhaps a characteristic of the web 2.0 world.

By incorporating content from our favourite sources, like
friends and family blogs, or collaborating and sharing with those personalities that have become part of our online lives, it feels like we're creating our own personalized entertainment and information source.

This is pretty cool stuff folks. Join in. Share your thoughts, contribute and be heard.

Love Lyrics

In honour of my wedding anniversary this weekend, I thought I would share some of my favourite lyrics about love (not that our anniversary or love are frivolous but sharing favourite lyrics may become a regular fun thing for me to do).

With all your faults, I love you still
(It Had To Be You by Harry Connick Jr.)

When the chips are down I'll be around
With my undying, death-defying
Love for you
(Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood)

I hope all my days
Will be lit by your face
I hope all the years
Will hold tight our promises
(Atlantic by Keane)

There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be
(White Flag by Dido)

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and
With every breath
(Somebody by Depeche Mode)

I love you more than I could ever promise
and you take me the way I am
(The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson)

Love is the answer
for most of the questions of my heart
(Better Together by Jack Johnson)

it's the heart that really matters in the end
(Little Wonders by Rob Thomas)

So put your arms around me and then stay there forever
Let it always be this way, you and me forever
(Put your arms around me by Natasha Bedingfield)

Hope you enjoyed and have a wonderful Victoria Day weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brilliant Graffiti Animation

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Found on http://www.thethinkingblog.com/.

How to be an ambassador for your city

I've had a few blog notes on this topic tucked away for a while, but as it happens, there's been some related items in the news this week about the decline in tourist satisfaction when they visit this fine metropolis.

Here are a few tips on being an ambassador for your city.
  • Know the facts, e.g. Toronto was originally called York and is 174 years old...
  • Relate some special things that you won't find in the tour books
  • Quote book, song and movie references for your city, e.g. Toronto without it's trees is like a hooker without her smile.
  • Have some favourite city stories, e.g. the film set cleanup story
  • Offer assistance to anyone who looks like they're in need of directions
  • Provide good driving instructions, with efficient alternative routes
  • Know best restaurants and bars in most areas of the city, e.g. Shoeless Joes on King West for Toronto FC pre-game pints...
  • Provide a walking tour on demand
  • Know which way you're facing at all times
  • Support your local sports teams
  • And most importantly, be proud of your city

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another reason to hate China ?

How quickly the media manage to spin on global headlines...

As I've been reading more about the massive death tools mounting in China and
Myanmar (Burma) this week, I've noticed a few different spins occurring.

One is the issue with delays in getting foreign
aid to Myanmar and the other is blame for the Chinese deaths on corrupt government. It kind of reminds of the Katrina disaster.

What use is this side story of blame for the loss of thousands of lives ? Is it to fire up our collective global consciousness or to rally against scrupulous foreign governments. If diplomatic missions fail, are they reasons for embargoes and war ?

One thing is clear, we know who the victims are.


How do you manage your reminders and to-dos ? See the new poll feature on the right-hand-side-panel.

Quite a few people seem to use their email inbox for reminders, tasks and to-dos. Most email applications have some way of tagging, flagging or starring individual emails so they stand out when quickly glancing at your inbox. Other more business focused email applications can also have automatic pop-up reminders for emails based on a set date and time. Although this works well in desktop Outlook, it doesn't work when you're looking at synchronized emails on your Blackberry.

Now the trick is keeping the mail box items email count low ( I try to keep mine below 50) and getting emails in there to fill in missing action items.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Well deserved Champions

I have to say Manchester United deserved to win the Premier League Championship today. I'd say they are probably the best team in the world right now with one final game (Champions League final) in a couple of weeks to nail it home. Although I became an Arsenal fan this year, I have to say I enjoy Man United's attacking football, wonderful skills and a great bunch of characters. Congratulations lads - I had a big grin on my face watching the post-game celebrations as they raised the trophy - you've got to be happy for the lads.

The value of a Premier League promotion

For those that follow English football and have wondered about the impact of moving from the second division to arguably the top league in the world - how does £60million sound ? I'm doing a little surfing in preparation for the final day of the EPL and saw the story on ESPNsoccernet.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The week that was (rather annoying)

I had an ok week, but there seemed to be more than an average number of items that got to me - but fortunately they gave me some nice juicy things to write about. The noisy young dude on the subway. You know the type, that cocky attitude that will get him beat up when he's younger, but will ultimately give him the chutzpah to be massively successful in the business world. Aviator glasses; whiny and piercing voice; Gabe Kotter do; plus 4 annoying friends who thinks he's hilarious and agree with everything he has to say. Oh, come on.

The electric guitar busker at Yonge and Eglinton. Hey, I love music, but I do have a limit and this guy's way over the line. The dude's trying to do one long guitar solos at a blaring volume. I like some good heavy rock and metal as good as the next guy, but I don't recognize anything this guy's is trying to play. Dude.

Tax forms. I'm not a great money man, but I don't mind manually filling out my tax form every year
(actually there seems to be something rather comforting about the old fashioned way of doing your taxes - rough copy with a pencil a calculator and some intricate instructions). But when I get to an unfamiliar section and venture down a hopeful path of new found refund discovery and then find out that your net income is to be subtracted from the promising sub-total. Result: a big fat zero, agh, that's pretty annoying. Couldn't they give me a clue upfront that a person making a reasonable income shouldn't even bother with the section ?

Note that my current domestic contract does not permit me to elaborate.

A hair on my sandwich. What can I say, I was hungry and I know if I'd made a big fuss about it, nothing would change. Side note - while I was eating said sandwich, one of the "sandwich preparation team" snuck up on me as she was trying to clean the window sill and touched me leg - quite a surprise. Nice eventful lunch break eh ?

People who drive less than 8 blocks to work. And I'm assuming the person is able bodied and has enough time to get a little exercise and enjoy their neighbourhood. However, I obviously can't assume they're paying attention to, or care about, any of the environmental topics smothering the media today.

The Toronto Blue Jays. A bumped into a buddy of mine the other day and he said he was looking forward to having a quiet night in and catching the Jay's game. Ahem, NHL, NBA playoffs ! But the one that put this annoyance in the list is the story of a two recent autograph signing events. Last week I was overjoyed to meet my favourite Toronto FC lad
Danny Dichio at the opening of the new Adidas store at Yonge and Dundas. He was there with two other teammates (who I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't recognize) and no one else was there asking for autographs. Not only did I get 2 nice personalized autograph cards for my son and I, but I had the luxury of having a chat - I could have had time to have a beer with the guys ! Compare that to the site of hundreds of people lined up in Sears by my office to get an autograph from Matt Stairs a few days later. (No I didn't know who he was either, I had to ask the security guard). Hundreds ! Zan says it was because of better marketing. Another mate said it was because all the TFC fans have jobs.

Escalators under a constant state of "proactive maintenance". The worst one is at my subway stop - Yonge and Eglinton
(photo below shot this morning). I don't think they've had both escalators running for a year now ! But there are many more around the city that just choke the regular flow of the growing commuter foot traffic in this fine city.

I'm not sure where Jenny Yellow Top is trying to go !

The ankle. Ok, I am now back as a functional member of the walking humans club, but I'm far from being game shape for ultimate. My physio says I'm probably overdoing it. He's probably right - ultimate practice on Tuesday, a little footy with the kids yesterday, three 2km+ runs last week, a few hoops and lots of downtown walking.

Losing stuff. In this case, a windows folder called "demos". You can image it had a lot of valuable stuff in it. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I'd deleted it. But it was gone ! I went about my business with that horrible nagging feeling of "you-idiot" with me for about 6 hours until I finally found an old (February) backup. Backup your valuable computer data people !

But to end on a nice note, I walked into my lovely office this morning to find a nice potted hyacinth on my desk for Mother's Day. As Zan just said, a thoughtful touch for the forgetful Dad (not that I'm one of those). Yes, I brought it home !

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rocketing to number one on the PJMixer Hot Music List

The Last Shadow Puppets with the album the Age of the Understatement.

Fantastic new collaboration from Arctic Monkey's front man, Alex Turner and old mate Mikes Kane. Great melodies, great songwriting. Poignant lyrics with same Monkeys rhythms set to orchestral soundtrack. Brilliant. Thanks to Dink for first tuning in the radar.

Lots of vids and liver performances on youtube.

Monday, May 05, 2008

PJMixer lists

I just added two lists on the right which I intend to keep up to date as a quick reference to my music and movie recommendations. I don't go the movie theatre very often so the movie list mostly includes recent DVD releases and movies I'm watching on The Movie Network. I watch a lot of movies, but the ones I'm listing are the ones I've given high marks to. Mini reviews are available on my Facebook profile.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Getting stood up in business

The 1pm meeting didn't happen today. Our host had an "internet emergency", but apparently had also completely forgotten we were meeting today. Hence he didn't provide any cancellation notice. This customer isn't one of our best and with actions like this, things don't look good for a rosy relationship any time soon. The result, my sales mate and I wasted approx. 2 hours of our business day and guzzled 37 kms worth of liquid gold. There's an unwritten rule in sales, that if you call to confirm a meeting, you risk the chance the customer will wiggle out of the meeting with some lame excuse. This approach typically works, but about once a quarter we have a fumble and wonder if the rule needs a special corollary for the sly, self-important, middle manager.

Controversial thought of the day

Just got a few quiet moments sitting in my car waiting for my 1pm meeting...

I was listening to some great tracks from the Timbaland album on the drive here. Some great lyrics and a fab urban hip hop beat.

But as I found myself singing along to the explicit lyrics I had a natural hesitation on the buddy use of the N word.

Am I allowed to say the N word as I'm singing along ? Should I sensor myself ? Am I dissin' anyone ?

Concerned and confused.

Controversial thought of the day

Just got a few quiet moments sitting in my car waiting for my 1pm meeting...

I was listening to some great tracks from the Timbaland album on the drive here. Some great lyrics and a fab urban hip hop beat.

But as I found myself singing along to the explicit lyrics I had a natural hesitation on the buddy use of the N word.

Am I allowed to say the N word as I'm singing along ? Should I sensor myself ? Am I dissin' anyone ?

Concerned and confused.