Spare a thought for the men who sleep in the Somme

Canada Day 2016 is also a moment of great reflection and commemoration. July 1st, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of one of the most traumatic and devastating battles in the history of civilization and among the worst of the moments of the Great War: The Somme.

In 1916, the normally placid and verdant fields along the river Somme would become a 34-kilometre-long charnel house of human misery, degradation and trauma. The Somme offensive was intended to end the deadlock on the Western Front by breaking the German lines and relieving the French forces at Verdun. At the close of the 141-day campaign, the Allies had advanced nearly 10-kilometres across a 32-kilometre front line.

Fought between July and November 1916, this battle was the largest battle on the Western Front, with both sides suffering over 1 million total casualties. On the first day alone, almost 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were in killed in action, with another 37,000 wounded. Just under half of the total number of soldiers engaged in battle survived Day One.

July 1st became the deadliest day in the history of the British army, and an apocalyptic moment in the history of Newfoundland. The Newfoundland Regiment was nearly wiped out. Only 68 members were standing at first light for roll call on July 2nd; 90% of the regiment had been killed or wounded at Beaumont-Hamel. CBC will air Newfoundland at Armageddon tonight at 8PM to commemorate the terrible legacy that is the Somme.

Most casualties at the Somme and particularly on Day One were the result of The Devil’s Paintbrush: the machine gun.

Armed with rifles and bayonets, carrying up to 66-pounds of gear, the Allied soldiers were ordered out of water-logged, rat-infested trenches to go over the top in broad daylight. The German lines lay ahead, uphill and across churned-up land where a week-long artillery barrage had failed to destroy most of the barbed wire and the German fortified trenches. The Germans had hidden in deep dugouts during the shelling and when their spotters sounded the alarm that the Allies had launched their attack, their machine-gunners took up their positions once more.

It was hell on earth.

Most soldiers across the Somme on July 1st were killed or wounded within minutes of leaving their trenches and mostly by machine gun fire. For one unit, even before they had advanced 18 metres, 123 of its men were killed or wounded in the first 3 minutes by the Devil’s Paintbrush.

Snipers picked off many of the wounded in No Man’s Land.

Tomorrow on Canada Day, please spare a thought for the men who sleep in the Somme; 72,000 officers and infantrymen have no known grave and still lie interred where they fell in 1916. Their only memorial is their name, inscribed on the monument to the missing at Thiepval.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.


The Washington Post: Deadly diseases can jump from animals into humans. These maps show where that might happen next.

Excellent article exploring predictive analytics and geomapping of zoonotic diseases. Researching spillover is so important to epidemiology!

I will have to toddle off to UofT or TorRef library to read the actual article, but here’s link to Post article:

Deadly diseases can jump from animals into humans. These maps show where that might happen next.

Fine wines make me nicer.

So I spent a lovely Saturday hitting 8 wineries in 7 hours with some good friends.

That’s just how we roll.

There’s a great song by The Cardigans called “I need some fine wine (and you need to be nicer)” I love that has this great line:

“Sometimes we talk over dinner like old friends
Till I go and kill the bottle,
I go off over any old thing,
Break your heart
and raise a glass or ten.”

These are not the wines you’d use for that but they are truly fine. Just like Ontario Wine Country. 😉

I’m a big fan of the Bench, which is where my Saturday was focused. The limestone and varied terrain (lakeside, hillcrest, red clay, chalky white clay) creates great, diverse wines that can be polar opposites in flavour.

Continue reading

Computers: Toxic Relationship Takeaways

Computers and humans: the ultimate toxic relationship. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them!

My Work Wednesday was a total write-off thanks to my work laptop.

Long story short: hardware driver failed on my less than 9 months’ old laptop. IT updated driver. Encryption software malfunctioned and encrypted hard drive and wouldn’t accept decryption key.

It’s still not fixed. We had to call the supplier to send a specialist to our office to fix it.

While I await lemon aid, I basically couldn’t do much at work, even with the loaner laptop provided by IT. Ironically, it reminded me why I enjoy my job: I was sad and frustrated that I couldn’t do my work. I enjoy it that much despite the things I dislike.

Lemons. Lemonade.

A nice little lesson in perspective!

It’s Friday the 13th – are you ready? #emergencypreparedness

It’s Friday the 13th.

I’m not a Knight Templar, so I’m sure I’m safe as houses. Or am I?

Stepping into my professional persona for a moment, the insurance industry is first and foremost composed of your friends, neighbours and family members. We want you safe, healthy and to live long, happy lives.

Emergency preparedness is a big part of the safe, healthy and long-lived part of life.

Personally, I always expect the worst but pray for the best. I see no reason not to be ready and my life experiences with emergencies have backed up that view.

I live in Canada, the best country in the world, in Toronto, one of the safest cities in the world. Yet I have an emergency plan and kit ready in case the worst happens.

I’m not going to repeat everything you need in a kit; the Government of Canada has an excellent guide available here  and the Canadian Red Cross has a great planning site.

However, my personal experiences have led me to add a few things to my kit over the years.

Here are my 10 must-adds for emergencies:

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Jane’s Walks 2016: 3 Walks, 7 Lessons #longread

As you know from Friday’s CTA Mission, there are lessons to be learnt from Jane Jacobs; these lessons are readily available to those willing to walk their city.

I chose to focus more on active, outdoors walks this year to see what learning moments I’d find. Also – stay tuned for a future post on the impact of nature in encouraging and supporting wellness initiatives!

7 Lessons to Leverage from the 2016 Jane’s Walks

Lesson #1 – Smartphones matter. A lot. 

Jane’s Walk does not have an app and their website is not what I view as user-friendly.

While the channel should never supersede the message, we must remember this:

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Can the OMB be fixed enough to be saved?: Oakville mayor | Toronto Star

Reblogging this opinion piece from The Toronto Star because it strikes at the very heart of problems caused by the OMB.

A developer managed to slip a 43-storey building in my neighbourhood past them, which is problematic for the air ambulances coming into St Michael’s Hospital. Another developer on Mutual Street is trying the same thing now.

Can the OMB be fixed enough to be saved?


The Weekly Op-Ed: See Jane Do – Complex Disruptors

Jane Jacobs was passionate about cities not because of buildings but rather because of the people in them. Jane was, after all, the undisputed master of citizen engagement and successful calls to action, much to Robert Moses’ chagrin.


Her observations and common-sense approach to understanding why certain urban environments work, why some don’t (and how to fix those that don’t) rewrote the landscape of city livability. Here in #the6ix, I just have to look at Toronto’s thankfully non-existent Spadina Expressway or the now-thriving areas of Regent Park or the Distillery District to see Jane’s vision as a happy reality.

There are many lessons we can learn and leverage from exploring how Jane Jacobs disrupted and innovated urban planning to meet the needs of a diverse, high-density population of end-users. Continue reading

Welcome to I Capture The CASL.

Welcome to I Capture The CASL, a blog about marketing. I work in the insurance industry (stop hissing, we are very much here to help you!) so a lot of what you see will likely be reflective of that worldview.

The goal of this blog is to share different perspectives of marketing. This blog won’t focus so much on the technical side of marketing, but rather on the everyday consumer.

You may find opinion pieces about industry issues. You may find advice and how-to guides by people in different areas of the industry.You may find lots of fun and fantastically useful information about #the6ix. You may even find the droids you’re looking for here.

Enjoy! And if there is something you are curious about, ask!