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For you who pass by June 8, 2010

Posted by eyegillian in change, life.
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UPDATE:  Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoy this blog.

I’ve decided to keep this site open as an archive (and, well, because I think some of these posts are worth keeping). The “unwound road” has now taken a new turn; I moved back to my hometown Saint John in 2009.

For the continuing story,  I invite you to visit my photoblog: Tin Can Beach.

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Where is Canada’s Obama? November 24, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in analysis, Canada, change, history, life.
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canada_flag_barack

There was a major wave of excitement when Obama was elected as President of the United States. Since I live in Canada, this meant two things:

  1. my friends were all thrilled in a genuine, earnest and polite way
  2. everybody secretly (or not so secretly) wishes Obama was running for Prime Minister of Canada instead.

Compare the exciting campaign south of the border with the recent federal election in Canada. Ho-hum. The intelligent but not-so charismatic Liberal leader Stephan Dion failed to win the confidence of voters, so we have the dubious pleasure of listening to the stolid sweater-vested Stephen Harper for the next four years. Why can’t we have a leader who is smart, energetic, young and inspiring? Why don’t we have a leader who is even one of those things?

Pierre Elliot Trudeau

Whenever there’s a survey asking who the best prime minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau is at or near the top of the list. Trudeau, who was voted Newsmaker of the Century in 1999 and the Greatest Canadian of the Twentieth Century in 2002, was certainly one of Canada’s most colourful and memorable prime ministers; he was also arrogant, controversial, and brilliant (not to mention smart, energetic, relatively young and inspiring), among other things. Other PMs considered top picks include Lester Pearson, William Mackenzie King, Wilfrid Laurier, and John Diefenbaker. No doubt people remember these names from their high school history classes, and have already forgotten more recent prime ministers — and whether history will have much to say about Paul Martin, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, John Chretien, Kim Campbell and Joe Clark is a matter of conjecture.

the first Canadian-born Prime Minister)

Name this man. (Hint: he was the first Canadian-born prime minister)

So now the Liberals are picking a new leader. Will it be Bob Rae, a lawyer and former NDP premier of Ontario; Michael Ignatieff, an intellectual and writer; or Dominic LeBlanc, a New Brunswick MP. Ironically, a survey conducted last month showed that Canadians would prefer as leader someone who isn’t ready to run for the job… yet. Someone with big shoes to fill: Justin Trudeau. Well, he’s young and energetic, at least, although he’s just started out on his political career, so it’s too soon to tell whether he could (or would want to) follow in his father’s footsteps.

But I would still rather vote for Obama. I’m tired of the endless procession of old white men — are there no other candidates for PM? What (or who) would your ideal prime minister be?

Oh, and who was the first Canadian-born prime minister? Sir John Abbott (PM from 1891 to 1892). Yes, of course you knew that.

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Related links:
Washington Times Editorial: “Obama’s America is Canada”
Vancouver Straight: “With Barack Obama president-elect, what’s next for Canada?”
Maisonneuve: “Where’s our Trudeau?”
Angus Reid Poll: “Trudeau best, Mulroney worst for Canadians”
Prime Ministers of Canada
— take the PM Quiz
National Post: Justin Trudeau top pick for Liberal leader: poll

A view to the future November 18, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in change, creativity, learn, life, technology.
Tags: , , , , ,
6 comments

picwomencameraCameras capture time. Whether film or digital, still or movie, they are recording the profound or insignificant moments of our lives.

As I recognize how much I feel at home behind the viewfinder, and begin to gain a sense of the stillness at the centre of each photo, I am also seeing how — even as I watch — the way I think of photography is slipping into the stream of time. Photography, like the printing industry it is still mostly dependent on, is becoming outdated and antiquated.

There have been so many changes in the history of photography, from calotypes and Daguerreotype to magic lanterns, from the first mass-produced box cameras to the sophisticated computers with glass and mirrors we are used to seeing today. Now it is commonplace for people to take photos with their cellphones, and shoot videos with their digital cameras.

Of course, these days you can also buy a miniature camera no bigger than a thumbnail if you’re in the spy business, or if you want to snap the martians at play and don’t want to spend two years and a few million getting to Mars, you might be able to afford a monster-sized 1700 mm (5-1/2 foot) lens for your camera instead.

But I’m trying to simplify my life. I’m fascinated by convergence, by the iphone approach which incorporates music, phone, camera, organizers, becoming an electronic catch-all for the stuff you used to keep at the bottom of your purse or wallet or desk drawer. My cellphone can take photos (I’ve used it twice) and play music (I haven’t tried that function at all) as well as store task lists, phone numbers, and I’m sure it has many other bells and whistles I haven’t bothered to explore. But the fact is, I want to use it as a phone. Period.

browniecameraI have the same relationship with my camera. I use it to take pictures. I’m glad it’s digital, so I can see the images right away, and don’t have to pay for film and processing. But many cameras now are designed to do so much more than take pictures. Even the new high-end cameras are beginning to feature high-definition video capability, along with all the other must-have doohickeys. How many functions does your camera have? How many do you use?

I don’t want to be a luddite about this, but I’m afraid that what I see as the point of photography is getting lost in the race for bigger and better equipment, in the competition for the electronic-savvy consumers who want a camera that’s fully-loaded, whether or not they possess the will and skill to master it.

I’m not a camera purist. I don’t think that you have to use a square-format view camera and shoot in black-and-white (and process it in your own darkroom) in order to be considered a serious photographer. But I do want to draw a line between photography and videography, between single eloquent images and multi-frame movies. For me, photography is about stopping and seeing, about observing and contemplating a moment in time. I’m talking about still photography, plain old-fashioned pictures. Come to think of it, I prefer plain potato chips, too.doo-lough-ireland

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Related links:
Geist Magazine: “My Father’s Hands”
New York Magazine: “You must be streaming”
Jacki Schklar: “Video vs Still Images”
Technology Review: “Crossover Camera”

Waiting for fall to drop November 9, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in change, life.
Tags: , , ,
14 comments

fallen

Fall has always been my favourite season, full of anticipation, the promise of renewal and new beginnings. For most of my formative years, that new beginning was a new school year. Even after many years of full-time work, I still rely on the reviving tang of cold autumn air to wake me up after a somnolent summer.

But this year is different. This fall feels like sorrow.

Nobody close to me has died. I haven’t lost my job, or my partner. On the surface, at least, everything is the same. But I have been grieving, because my colleague did lose her job, and it feels like everything I have worked so hard for has been lost as well. I have poured nearly eight years’ worth of effort, love, inspiration and creativity into that job. And now it feels as if the organization has devalued my work, eviscerated the programs, the publications, the vision I helped to nurture.

Ironically, I’m the change person at our office. I’m always coming up with new and different ways to do things. Put an obstacle in my way, and I create a different way. I take on any challenge with optimism (sometimes over-optimism) and energy.

But this time, change has broadsided me. I’m caught off-balance by a reactionary circle-the-wagons “cost-cutting” decision that puts security ahead of vision. Of course, there has always been that tension between the seers and the scoffers, the doers and the heel-diggers. But I never thought the naysayers would cut off the visionaries, that the small-minded would win. So much for optimism.

In the midst of all of this, I have been trying to prepare for other changes, good changes. But I feel tired, angry and sad. I’m struggling to find the energy and creativity to meet the future; I’m missing my optimistic reboundability.

So, that’s fall, falling, fallen. Now the season is changing again, winter is a-coming in, and with it a bareness that’s feels like a kind of release. The simplicity of bare branches appeals to me now. And now I’m thinking about taking photographs, and writing. By the time the snow flies, maybe I’ll be ready for something new.

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