Entries from January 2003

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

 1. Love
 2. Listen
 3. Learn
 4. Swim
 5. Design
 6. Play
 7. Laugh
 8. Travel
 9. Relax
 10. Noodle

Haunted Hotel Brunch

Fort Garry HotelTonight, Renée and I are spending the evening at the historic Fort Garry Hotel, which was (I believe) the first hotel to open in Winnipeg.

Built by the Grand Truck Pacific Railway in 1913 (when Winnipeg was referred to as "the Chicago of the North"), the hotel has been a fixture of the Winnipeg skyline for years. It's a gorgeous example of turn-of-the-century architecture, but was nearly closed after falling into heavy debt in the early '90's.

Thankfully there was a drive to keep the hotel open, and after fundraising, a savvy marketing campaign, and extensive restorations, the Hotel is doing well.

The Hotel holds a special place for Renée and I, as it was one of the first places that we went out to when we first started dating. The main floor piano lounge, called the "Oval Room", is utterly gorgeous and never fails to leave me feeling like I've been transported to another age.

As with most heritage buildings, the rumours have been passed around for years that the Hotel is haunted. Workers have reported strange sounds, hotel guests have seen bizarre lights, and Room 202 is said to be visited by the long dead ghost in a white ball gown. We've never seen anything spooky there yet, but I have my fingers crossed...

What's even better is that the cost of a room includes brunch for two the next day. I am a brunch monster, and the Hotel has possibly the best brunch in town. I'm already getting hungry. Brunch is just so... decadent.

I'm hoping we can get a tour. I'll take pictures if we do - the ballroom is supposed to be magnificent.


Well, went and released its own browser, and completely confounding expectation, they didn't use the Gecko rendering engine.

What does that mean? Well, that means that for some reason I haven't figured out yet, Safari will sometimes load the BeatnikPad homepage and display just the background image (of the lovely lady). Yet if I hit "reload" a bunch of times, the page contents will intermittently appear and vanish, like a really nasty shell game. A-troubleshootin' I go...

It's still in beta, so I can understand the flakiness, but damn! What's with that godawful brushed metal that insists on besmirching their applications with? Thank god there's Demetallizer.

More Safari

Wow, I'm a bit flabbergast at the massive amount of coverage that 's new browser Safari is getting in the online world.

The good news is that David Hyatt, one of Safari's lead programmers (originally the head honcho of probably the most worthy Mac OS X browser out there, Chimera) has been very responsive to bug reports and criticisms posted online. He's chronicling some of the updates (and some of his responses) on his weblog. Very cool.

In other news (and I promise this will be one of the last Safari / geek posts for a little while), Daniel "Waferbaby" Bogan (aka "The hardest working man in cyberspace") has posted a quick 'n' dirty Chimera to Safari bookmark converter. If you're a Chimera user, this might be of use. If you're not (but you use Mac OS X), I highly recommend you give Chimera a whirl. It's just great.

Safari vs. BeatnikPad: Fixed

Okay, I lied: I still have more Safari babbling in me.

After an hour of scratching my head in confusion, I finally figured out why the BeatnikPad wasn't rendering properly in 's Safari. For some stupid reason that I can't remember why, I had a position: relative; in the selector for the body in my stylesheet.

How can the body be positioned relatively? Relative to what, the Sea of Fecundity? Anyway, other browsers ignored this rule, but not Safari, which is why the page was coming up blank.

This just encourages me even more to tear down this poorly constructed frankenstein of a web site, and start over from scratch.

Your tax dollars at work

cbcradio3.jpgThe CBC must have gone on a designer hiring spree recently, as I've been finding a lot of really nice work through their site.

The redesigned and relaunched CBC Radio 3 site is a perfect example of this: clean, crisp design, with some tasty use of flash and a nice magazine format.

Posts have returned to their bite-sized, low-fat portions while I try to wrestle with some class curriculum that just has to get done. This is a temporary thing, though.

For the last time

Well, if my stats are any indication, has a runaway hit on their hands with their new web browser Safari. People visiting this site using Safari has gone up something like 45% since Safari was first introduced. Considering that puts Safari as the most popular Mac OS X browser being used, and the fact that Safari has only been out for a week and is still in beta, that's pretty darn impressive.

A gentleman named Matthew Thomas has also linked to this site, to a small quote I made about Safari and the brushed metal interface. This normally wouldn't be a huge deal, except that he's been sending rather surprising numbers of referrers here, and he mentions my name in the same general vicinity of the esteemed Edward Tufte. I think this will probably be the closest I ever get to Tufte, so I better enjoy it.

Oh, and as if there wasn't already enough Mac OS X web browsers, industrious soul Kevin Gerich has assembled an experimental build of Phoenix for the aqua-laden operating system. This is noteworthy because Phoenix is presently only available for Windows and Linux systems, and also because the thing is damn fast - it's Mozilla reimagined as a lithe and bloat-free web browser (no email, chat client, toilet plunger, or stain remover). So many browsers...

Lost Weekends

I have finally come to the realization that it's okay to feel good about something - the fact that I have nine weeks holidays every year. When I first found out about this mighty wealth, the first thought through my head was, "that's obscene."

The longest time I ever had off (where I wasn't unemployed) was the time Renée and I went to Europe. (For the record, being unemployed is not, as some right-wing politicians will claim, the same as time off. It's hard work being unemployed, but that's another entry for another time.)

But now I've come around. I realize that the nine weeks I get off every year are totally justified. At least, I've justified that to myself. It wasn't hard.

RayFor one thing, the amount of energy I need to expend every day to keep up with my students, help troubleshoot their problem (while maintaining my patience), and be "on" around is staggering. Five beefy, hairy wrestlers beating the bejesus out of each other with large, pointed sticks doesn't even come close to the amount of energy expended every day by a teacher. Really. I love my students, but they sometimes can be greedy lamprey, especially on days when I haven't had enough sleep, or I'm Mr. Crankypants.

Plus, we don't get weekends. I haven't had a day off (excluding sick days, and a few days around the Christmas holidays) since I started, and I don't expect I'll be intimately acquainted with the concept of weekends until the last student dances their way out the front doors come June 30rd. It's all part of never having enough time to mark, grade, and prepare for classes.

I've also gotten a reputation around the college as being a Mr. Fixit kind-of-guy, so I spend at least some of my day troubleshooting problems around the office; network stuff, server issues, Mac troubles... the usual. Truth be told, my nickname when I used to be a musician was "Radio Shack", mainly because I managed somehow to fix nearly everything I touched. If I have an innate talent, that's it.

Finally, there's the whole idea of dealing with the fact that, come September, I'll have to start all over again with a brand new group of students. I now realize that the school year is like a mighty, Aegean struggle; you portage this gigantic canoe that is "the curriculum" and "student knowledge" up this slippery, muddy mountain, and after the students go running off into the world in June, brains heavy with information, you start all over again at the bottom.

I haven't gotten there yet, but I can't imagine having to teach a whole group of students all over again from scratch. Right now I can barely keep up with this group, and they actually know things now. Starting from the beginning all over again? I can't imagine it.


Minus 44

To Do list

I keep getting these ideas for this site that erupt into my mind like minor geysers. Some of them are the usual dumb ideas that one gets for their site, and then discards with the realization of just how dumb or silly or asinine it will seem. These dumb ideas are usually followed by a prolonged and somewhat depressing evaluation of just why I keep updating this site in the first place.

Luckily, these moments of self-doubt and self-flagellation usually only last long enough for me to remind myself, "It's your site, stupid. If you want to post ridiculous and asinine stuff to your site, who cares?"

It helps that I get extremely kind and supportive email from people saying that they a) enjoy the site, and b) actually come to the site in the first place. I'm a sucker for platitudes and the kindness of strangers.

Sometimes, however, I get good ideas. The problem is that work seems to get into everything, like cat hair or bad MOR background music. And some of these ideas require time. I'm sick of posting these rather lame and low-effort posts to just make sure that the homepage actually has content. This post is almost one of those, but not quite, because I actually want to get this out of my head, if only to make me feel like I'm actually doing something about it.

The good news is that I've got a bit of a respite from work over the next three weeks, as one group of my students are away on work experience. So that means I'm going to be making up for lost time. I don't want to forget some of these ideas I've had, so here's a memo to me:

1. Eatons
2. Hidden City
3. Vancouver tears
4. Circus Circus
5. 21 Jump Street
6. 10 year itch
7. Path Finder / Change Desktop

If I get to even two or three of these before my students come back from work experience, it will be a bloody miracle.

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