Thursday, June 30, 2011

Past, present and past

If you're even half as nostalgic as I am, you'll love this web site. It might even inspire you to create an image of your own and submit it.

The site is called Dear Photograph.

This is how it works - find an old print of yourself or of someone you know or knew, and bring it back to where it was originally taken. The older the image is, the more dramatic and fun it can be. Then you position the image as closely as you can to overlap the real scene in front of you, and shoot. Including your hand and arm makes it even better, rather than making the picture you take look like something altered in photoshop. Plus it gives it a more human element.

Here are some other examples of what people have created and submitted. Some of them are very amusing, while others nearly make you want to cry, especially when you read what the person submitting the images has written below. I've added in the original comments with the following images.

Dear Photograph,
Thank you for everything we had.

Dear Photograph,
Any idea where them dinosaur shorts are at?

Dear Photograph,
I wonder which parent let us up there?

As someone who loves to travel and take photographs and document my life as well as those around me, I'm always looking back through travel and family photos and reminiscing. It's wonderful to see where you've been, how you've changed, but it's also humbling to recognize that no matter how hard we try to live in the present, time always marches on.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pump My Ride

Not every day's a holiday (boooo goes the crowd), but there’s nothing saying that you can't find adventure in every day life, even on days where you find yourself commuting to work. I think anyone would agree that it's annoying to be stuck in the city in summer on a beautiful day when you’d prefer to be heading out of town with a kayak or bike on your roof, rather than sitting in your car in traffic, listening to yet another classic rock station, waiting for traffic lights to turn green.

That’s why, when I can, I ride my bike to work. 

This is me and my trusty steed at The Forks National Park in downtown Winnipeg. My bike’s about 15 to 17 years old, has thousands of city and back-country trail kilometers on it, has many well earned scratches, but no matter what abuse I put it through, it always loves a good adventure, even if it’s just getting me to work and back.

We're living in a 'green' world and there are many ethical and green reasons to commute to work by bike: your fitness, your health, and your finances (gas prices are more of a pain in the ass than even the worst bike seat). I love riding to work. I have many different routes I can take to the office - some short, some long, some that follow along river paths, some that sneak their way through neighbourhoods and down quiet tree-lined paths. Whatever the day, you can choose a route to suit your mood (kind of like the difference between listening to ABBA or listening to Aerosmith - you can cater to your own inner extremes).

And hey, zipping down the road on your bike, not only do you save time by speeding by long lines of cars at the lights, but maybe most importantly, you LOOK good. Especially if you’re wearing some flashy cycling clothes, and if you show off those quick-reflex stronger-than-steel muscular calf muscles, brimming with sweat at the opportune moment (okay, this may sound like a little bit of vanity, but I've always felt that cyclists are rewarded with svelte looking legs to compensate for the usual lack of under-development that happens with their upper body since when cycling it isn't employed to do much more than steer, shift gears, brake and give the occasional single-fingered 'hello' to passing motorists).

And that brings me to another reason why I ride my bike. This.

Meet my Volkswagon Golf. Year of birth, October 2002, purchased after my VW Jetta (1991 – 2001) went on to a better place. Like my bike, it gets me from Point A to Point B as any other car would. But unlike my bike, it’s not the sexiest of cars out there. There’s no sunroof, no fancy ‘sport’ package – heck, even the windows are ‘roll-down’ (for those of you raised on power windows, this is where you have to use your arm strength to move the windows up and down - cycling does not build muscles for this action unfortunately). Plus, no matter how you flex your calves while driving this car, no one will see you. It’s like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear. So sad.

I know it doesn’t sound that bad, and thankfully being a car in its 10th year of driving, there isn’t even any rust. But take into consideration what my business partners drive to the office, the cars that I park by every day at the office.

This is Dean’s car, an authentic 1971 MGB. Even when it’s quietly parked on the street, it just oozes style and elegance. Even the idling sound has a hint of a British accent along with a slight hint of the smell of high quality single-malt scotch.

This is Oai’s car, a Pontiac G6. As a hard top convertible that folds into the trunk and as a vehicle with sleek curves, you know people are looking at the driver wondering if he's an international spy, an NHL player, or even more exotic and mysterious, the owner of a Tim Horton’s coffee/donut franchise.

When THESE guys drive down the street, THIS is who’s waving to them.

When I drive down the street, THIS is who’s waving to me.

Their cars should out "Adventure! Speed! Sexy!" Meanwhile, my car shouts out "Practical! Ample trunk space! Good for getting groceries!"

So that’s why, when I can, I stick to my bike. Green living or no green living, it's my best action plan that just happens to benefit mother earth. I'll keep using it as my primary means of commuting, at least until the days grow short and the mornings begin to consistently dip below zero, usually by mid-October. At that time, I’ll put the bike and lycra away and reluctantly switch back to the Golf.

Besides, when you’re taking the time to commute by bike in the fall, enjoying the season, the leaves, the cool fresh air, but no one can see your calf muscles because you're forced to wear a double layer of cycling tights, really, what's the point?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Adventure travelers - find your inner couch potato

Lust for travel isn't a 9 to 5 kind of thing - for me, it's 24-7, as they say. But packing up and heading out on a vacation at any time of the day on any particular day usually doesn't work because:

1. even the simplest trip takes at least some planning
2. not everyone in the family enjoys packing as much as I do (my shaving kit is always ready to go at a moment's notice...)
3. uh, I've got this work thing I need to show up for
4. your kids' teachers seem really fussy about when your kids are gone weeks at a time (likely has something to do with the only being able to travel at peak periods when airlines max out their prices and change your reservation more times than Lindsay Lohan has court appearances)

So for those times when you have that travel bug, but really can't get away, here are some travel movies to 'get you in the mood'. Outside Magazine, one of my favourite reads, recently posted an on-line article with the best 5 adventure travel movies ever made. I'm not sure they all would have made my list (believe it or not, there is NO reference to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure or Ferris Bueller's Day Off - so so sad). But there does seem to be some quality choices there that might actually satisfy that inner yearning to be far far away.

So tonight, if you wish you were jetting off to cycle through the alps in France, or to ride the class 4 rapids on the Bow River in Alberta, maybe these movies will help quench that thirst, couch-potato style. All from the comfort of your own living room, with no passport or full body cavity search required.

Travel on Ted...