Love Survives

In 2013, Pierrette died. Each year a few of us get together for a celebration of life. This year, we did something special. We went and said hi.

As the event photographer I captured the whole day in images. Link below. Being a fully licensed drone pilot, I multi-tasked, putting my piloting skills, experience, and equipment to use to capture the emotion of this special private moment with friends and family.

It’s under three minutes long. I cut to a backing track that I’ve been wanting to use for years. Multiple shots, single takes. This was a live event with a lot of moving parts (that’s funny, you’ll see why when you watch), so there was zero chance of ‘do-overs’. One chance to get each shot.

Side note: A surprising amount of work goes into making difficult things look easy. As the sporting quote goes, ‘You say I’m lucky. It’s funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get’.

As with any event, planning is everything. Not knowing the route until we started, I scouted possible approaches and locations ahead of time for safety, legality, and suitable filming angles. Accordingly, I was able to be in the right places at the right times to get the shots I needed to pull this off.

I brought the footage in to Adobe Premiere Pro for assembly and editing. I had far more than I needed, intentionally. That gives freedom to make editing choices. I added some stills I took down on the ground. No fancy effects. Fade to black. Simple, effective. I am very happy with the result. I hope the video speaks for itself: Love survives.

Originally released in 1080P for a fast turn around for the attendees, last night I finally got around to re-cutting it for release in the 4K goodness it was originally filmed in. I wanted to make a few tweaks, which I made. And I think it looks great. I like to think Pierrette would have approved.


Photo Album

As mentioned above, when not piloting my drone to create this short film, I was also the photographer for this event. I captured the far less sombre spirit of the day in this album HERE. Please check it out.

A related article…

This is not the first post I have written about this year’s event. Ahead of it, I created a collage poster, proceeds from which went to charity. That is another story, and an inspiring one.
You may like to read it. It’s HERE.

Life. Funny thing, life.

Four years ago today, our good friends Juice and Sweets (Brad and Kim) were married in a beautiful, noisy, and brief biker ceremony on a fantastic, sunny day. Surrounded by those they loved. It was a beautiful day. Here is the video I made for them. It raised a smile.

It was a good day.

While this was happening, Nikki and I were waiting to hear if our offer had been accepted on the house we now live in. I got that call as they spoke their vows. Three quiet buzzes while I fumbled my silenced phone from my pocket, a few whispered sentences, and the deal was done! The house was ours! High five and a quiet happy dance on a table, while our friends sealed their own deal with a kiss.

Five minutes after that, while we were still happy dancing, I got another call. Literally, five minutes.

I smiled when I saw it was my daughter calling from the UK. I stopped smiling when she told me why she was calling. My 15 year old grandson, Kyle, had just died in a tragically avoidable accident: Electrocuted while climbing around on freight trains.

I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say, it wasn’t quick. Cousin Liam ran for help while cousin Cameron performed CPR. Liam soon returned at a run with Kayleigh, Kyle’s sister. Together they kept CPR going and fought on until the ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. Never give in. Never surrender. They didn’t.

They did everything right. Couldn’t have done more. But sadly, some fights just cannot be won.

Four Years On

In a twist of fate, this tragedy struck on Cameron’s 16th birthday. Today is Cameron’s 20th birthday. I’m wishing you a Happy Birthday, Cam, even though I know you don’t really celebrate it any more.

On the first anniversary of Kyle’s death, Cam’s birthday, Cam arranged to meet friends and family at a local park to release balloons in remembrance of Kyle. They do that each year. That says a lot about Cameron. I can’t imagine what he and the rest of the family, particularly Liam and Kayleigh, went through that day, and during the years since. Or how they and the rest of the family have coped. One fractured day at a time.

Honestly, I can’t claim to have known Kyle, and I won’t. I left the UK a long, long time ago when he was only a boy. I have not seen any of the family in person since then, though we stay in touch online. As well, of course, as the occasional – now dreaded – phone call. But I will say this. Kyle left a huge hole. The entire family was rocked by his untimely death. And no parent should ever have to bury a child. That’s not the way it is supposed to be.

A wedding. A new beginning. A life lost. All in five minutes. Five. Minutes.

On that same day, around the world, there were thousands of births and deaths and marriages. Millions of happy and unhappy events. That day, and every day since. The world keeps turning.

Live life

What is the point of all this reflection? The point is this: Life is neither all good, nor all bad. In the midst of life we are in death, it’s true. But in the midst of death we are also in life. Enjoy the good, and smile through the tears. Live life to the full. Never give in. Never surrender.

There is much pain in this world, balanced, usually, by much joy. Love and live while you can. Live and love like there is no tomorrow. Because one day, there won’t be. And, when you are nearing the end of your own journey, those good memories will help get you through. You will need them.

So, make some. Go and hug someone. For no reason. Just do it. Put a smile on another person’s face. It feels good. Really. Give yourself, and someone else, a happy memory. Do it. Right now.

Or, maybe, at least within the next. Five. Minutes.

Pershing Square

New York, New York.

Two years ago I was alone in New York shooting a conference in Times Square. I promised Nikki that one day we would go back together, and visit the top of the Empire State Building.
Sleepless In Seattle style. She smiled.

Some day has come. We’re heading out.

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US cash

Cross border shopping, and fun with gas

Being the proud possessor of a freshly minted Canadian passport opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Not least of which is the chance to hop over and take advantage of the cross border differences between New York State and Ontario fuel pricing.

As I type, one litre of fuel costs CAD $1.23 at my local outlets. Across the border, it’s USD $2.50 per US gallon. My tank holds 18.5 US gallons, or 70 litres. Napkin conversion math says I could fill my tank for $86, or nip over and fill it for $67. Saving $21. That’s almost a third off. A free lunch. A no-brainer.

Or so you would think. Read more

The unseen benefits of Apple Air Pods

I have been an iPhone owner for several years. During those years I have replaced the wired headphones, on average, every three months. Which, apart from being a hidden expense of ownership is also annoying. The phones are great, don’t get me wrong, but things seem to happen to them with a depressing frequency that you could almost set your Apple watch by.

Reasons vary. It is usually wear and tear, or more accurately heavy use. I never take them out. As a result, cables wear and odd behaviour emerges – only one ear bud will work, or the mic stops working. Sometimes the phone starts or rewinds audiobooks. Sometimes it opens apps or sends emails and text messages because Siri thought you were talking to her, when you were in fact yelling playfully imaginative invective at the driver that just cut you off… that can take some explaining. I hear.

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I'm Back

It’s been a while

I used to author blogs. A lot of blogs. Several times a day I would research, write, and then post articles on a range of subjects as diverse as mental health, hardware, software, and security, for a group of companies based in New York. ‘Thought Leadership’ in action. I would push SEO optimised content out on schedule across all available channels, and measure the metrics so I could report back to those I was writing for. Fun stuff, for the most part. Highly challenging and highly rewarding in equal measure.

That changed a couple or three years ago, for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with here. My productivity dropped. Off the map. I have redirected myself into other channels. Simply, been too busy with other challenges: I run a host of training platforms, manage servers and Sharepoint document repositories, and keep things ticking over for a dozen web sites with thousands of user accounts. Busy times. Since that change of pace I write blogs infrequently.

Blogging has become a personal activity rather than a commercial one, and almost dried up completely. In many ways I was and am glad of the respite. I have nobody to answer to. No deliverables to meet. No stats to analyze. No metrics to report. The constantly hungry beast that is corporate social media no longer needs to be fed. Well, at least, not by me. And I can use the Oxford comma to my heart’s content which gives me more joy than you can imagine. Neither the AP nor Chicago Style Guides now dictate my output. Which means I am free to spell optimise the way the English language intended it, with an ‘s’, and ignore that red underline with a smile.

I took a sabbatical. And it was fun.

I’m now feeling the need to express myself again, this time purely for myself. I have opinions, insights, knowledge and fun things running around my head, and a new-found hankering to share them.

Perhaps it’s the warmer weather. Perhaps it’s Spring Fever. Perhaps I just want to do something. Whatever combination of reasons are responsible, they have conspired and combined to drive me to the point of finally picking up paper and pen (monitor and keyboard?) again to write blogs.

So here I am.

Time to write. The void shall be filled. Onward.