Entries from September 2002

Expeditious Sustenance

There must be some kind of wacky synchronicity at work. Today, McDonald's announced that they would try to reduce the amount of fat in their French fries.

Presciently, The Onion posted this piece.

"With Americans becoming increasingly health-conscious and litigious, the restaurant industry felt it necessary to protect itself with a self-imposed cheese cap," said Paul Conklin, president of the National Association of Fast-Food Retailers. "Gone are the days when we could load a burger with seven slices of fatty, cholesterol-laden American cheese without fear of reprisal."


School’s In!

Well, if I was a good, reliable blogger (which I'm not, and I hate the word 'blog' anyway), I'd post photos and a long, musing entry about how today was the first day of school.

There would be gorgeous photos of campus frippery (masterfully framed and expertly shot); there would be photos of Manitoba's premier (Gary Doer) and Winnipeg's mayor (Glen Murray) doing the obligatory photo-op and shaking of hands; There would be laconic descriptions of unnamed students and the astounding youthfulness of it all (and the looks of joy on some of my student's faces when they received their school laptops)... and there would be coffee and mugs.

But, I've got a headache this big, I can barely keep my eyes open, and I've a fairly early class tomorrow morning to be reasonable awake for. So it will have to wait for another time.

Of learning, and of life

It's been a while since I last taught anything, and this week has reminded me: teaching is hard, exhausting work. At the school I work full-time, but the actual amount of contact time I have with students teaching is just a small percentage of the time I'm on campus.

After my first full week of teaching I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what life could be like for an elementary school teacher who teaches 6-7 hours per day, five days a week. Working with students is exhausting, depleting work, balanced by the sense of fulfillment one gets at the end of a good day.

Still, I now can completely understand why full-time teachers require the summer off. After nine to ten months of instruction, of patience, of learning, and of life, teachers must have a prolonged time to recharge and rejuvinate the mind and body. It would be nearly impossible for them to come back in September to start all over from the beginning without it.

Posts about school may start to slowly disappear from the site for a while, until I feel out the situation. Because I'm teaching Web courses, I know it's only a matter of time before the bulk of my students discover this site (one already has).

That said - to every single teacher I have ever had in my life: I apologize. I apologize. I apologize.

Cat and Mouse

Raj 'n Mouse


iCal iConAs anyone following (even casually) knows, the creator of all things cyber-chic has released another beastie from the "i" family: iCal. It's possibly one of the most beautiful calendaring applications I've ever seen; calls it elegant, and it is.

(Note: Did I mention that it only runs on Mac OS 10.2? Pity.)

The problem is it's astoundingly sluggish. Even on my fairly speedy Quicksilver Powermac it runs frightfully slow in areas. Let's not even talk about importing Microsoft Entourage calendars: it's nigh comatose.

I'm hoping will work the bugs out in the inevitable update, as this could be a very easy, fun way to stay organized; an area I always need improvement with. <heaves mighty sigh>

One cool use for iCal has already popped up: Morbus Iff has worked out a rather nifty conduit between Movable Type and iCal, which I'm fiddling with for the site.

For your calendaring pleasure, try reading BeatnikPad journal entries from within iCal by subscribing to the BeatnikPad journal iCalendar. Kind of neat.

This joins some more orthodox methods of syndicating the Beatnikpad for your reading enjoyment - namely, the BeatnikPad RSS and RDF feeds, readable using RSS parsing software like the worthy NetNewsWire lite. Word up.

Also: my September 11th index page is now archived here.

dooce redux / this rambling iPod

Travelin' iPodHer acerbic wit may have been sorely missed, but never fear: dooce.com is back on the air. Put them hands in the air and exult to the sky...

(Hosannas to Sour Bob for the tip.)

Have iPod, will travel: this reminds me so much of the "Garden Gnome's Travels" from Jean-Paul Jeunet's splendorous Amelié. Creepy (I mean geeky) and awesome.

a small adjustment

Now, I'm not inherently a lazy person. In fact, I think I've got a rather healthy work ethic: I work hard when I need to, and when I don't, I sit on my ass and enjoy the inaction. I think that's healthy.

But this is the thing about teaching that requires a small adjustment on my part: I can't slack. I can't come into work after a long night of partying, or staying up late watching horribly dubbed kung-fu movies, or after abusing my body in ways that isn't worth getting into detail here, and go through the motions.

In my old life as a semi-willing corporate slave it was quite easy for me to simply bury myself in the depths of my cubicle, headphones blasting Frank Sinatra's i got you under my skin, and fake it. Corporate work is at least partly about that; becoming more anonymous, faceless, and cog-like.

I'm convinced that most of the management of any given company I've worked at consisted of people who excelled in just that - willful slackism, anonymity, and excellent Dammit-but-am-I-busy-over-here-or-what bullshit skills.

At the school, however, I need to be on. Students are often coming by my office asking for help with their computers, or a project that they're working on, and I need to be there. Half-assed instruction is obvious, transparent, shaming, and not something I want to be known for.

I can't slack anymore, and that's pretty great. I finally have a job that not only requires mental exertion; it requires me to be me. What a strange feeling.

A favour

U.K.-based BeatnikPad readers:

webUser coverI need a small favour. It seems the BeatnikPad was mentioned in the September 19th issue of the Brit Web mag Web User. The article is called "Dear weblog", on page 30 from issue #40. Because it's a bi-weekly publication I highly doubt it'll be available here in Canada, and I'm dying to found out what it says.

Can someone over the big pond stop by their local news stand and see what it says? They also seem to mention Lee's site Bluezfire; I'm sure she'd be interested to know what they said about her, too...

a reddening of the face

This is why I love the Web.

Less than eight hours after I asked for information on the Web User article that seemed to mention this site, Paula Jeffrey posted an excerpt from it in the comments.

Then, Chris Eades followed that up thirty minutes later with a scan from the magazine.

You guys rock the house!

And then it was fall

A chilling wind blew into Winnipeg over the weekend, ripping summer's humid grasp from the forefront of daily thought. Last night I went for a quick run to the corner store (I am so addicted to ginger ale), and, as the full moon glared down at me, I felt my first shivers of the season. How delicious.

I love fall. It's my favorite season by a long shot. To me, fall is heavy with a sense of transition; change, like the blaze of fallen leaves, is everywhere. And I like change.

The main problem with fall, especially in Winnipeg, is that it constantly has winter nipping at its heels. As much as I enjoy fall, winter depresses me, and Winnipeg winters are notoriously gloomy. Let's not even go there yet.

Still, I'm going to enjoy this year's installment of fall. Winnipeg winters finds us so bundled up with parkas and mukluks only the Michelin man would find us sexually appealing. We spend more time in spring jumping to avoid being soaked by cars plowing through knee-deep puddles, or the dog poop landmines that seems to be ever-present. And summer? It's hard to look swank when you've got pit stains for miles and sweaty butt checks virtually plastered to a sad pair of Adidas shorts.

Fall, though, is a time to look good. I've already pulled out all of my old man cardigans and swank fall jackets that I've been hording all summer, ready to hit the fall catwalk. It's going to be fun.


My brain is swooning in germs. Yesterday afternoon, right in the middle of class, I was sure the shakiness in my head was going to spill over the edge, swamping everyone in aches, sneezes, and virulent pestilence.

It's a vicious flu / cold / bug that I've been fighting off all week. Damn.

Today, all day, it was Introduction to Computers, and with my bleary mental state I thought I was going to send the class into flatline; it's hard to teach when all you can think about is I want to be horizontal.

I finally gave up and sent everyone (including myself) home. Now I'm running a hot bath, and then I'm going to find a comfy place to recline, read, and try to clear the fuzzies out of my head.

See you on the other side.

beatnikPod and other thoughts

Client invoices are paid, money is in pocket, MP3s need to be listened to, contacts need to be organized, and calendars need to be synced:

I succumbed.

(Oh, and I'm feeling better; thanks for the get-well emails.)

Other recent thoughts about products:

  1. The school got in a bunch of Apple's eMac. Considering how acclaimed Apple's industrial design work has been (iMac, the Titanium Powerbook, and the aforementioned iPod for starters), I expected the eMac to look better in person than the photos I'd seen. Nope - the eMac is an ugly, stubby machine. They're also very chinzy and cheap-feeling, with loose plastic everywhere. A disappointment.
  2. Since I've got an iPod to play with, I downloaded the iSync beta to sync up my contacts and calendars to my laptop and desktop, as well as the iPod. For a beta, not bad: it worked, it did what it was supposed to do, and it didn't break anything.
  3. I tried switching from Entourage to iCal, Mail, and Address book for my productivity needs, but eventually switched back. iCal is just too slow for daily work, and Mail is still a very immature program. Will any programmers out there finally built the ultimate e-mail client? Please?

That's that. Enough one-track-mindedness for one day.

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