Entries from May 2004

Three Years (and the end of the toiling)

Today was a special day, for a couple of reasons:

gradCapFirst, the important: I am finished school. I marked nearly two hundred assignments in three bleary, headache-inducing days, starting Friday evening at 8pm, and working nearly straight through (with breaks for occasional nourishment and cat naps) until the wee hours of Monday morning. It was roughly 2am or so when I called it quits and wearily trundled my oatmeal-filled brain to bed.

I still have mountains of administrative work ahead of me, and my graduating class (the first!) of DMT and Graphic Design students are having an open house at the end of the week, so it’s not over yet. But now that we have completed the last week of classes, and I smashed through all of my marking (like the Hulk, but not as pensive), the bulk of my work is done.

The end of the school year is a gigantic, massive relief. I really do feel like I’ve been birthing gargantuan acorns out of both ears for the past eight months, and the pressure (and pain) of the whole process has finally started to abate. One thing I’ve learned throughout this is that a big part of teaching is:

  1. Overcoming dozens of completely different, often wildly conflicting personalities, sometimes simultaneously and for prolonged periods of time, and

  2. Overcoming one’s own personality day in, and day out.

#1 is very hard. Students come to class with all kinds of personal agendas, and not all of them pertain to the furthering of their own education. #2, however, is the most incredibly difficult of them all, especially for me.

Contrary to what some people may think, I am not an overwhelmingly social person. If I had to choose, I would throw my penny into the “introvert” fountain; I function adequately around people, but I would rather just be off by myself.

Teaching is inherently social. This is the conundrum, as I often do not feel social. But, I’ve come to realize that teaching is really just a job like any other, and I’ve gotten pretty good at turning on when I have to.

All of this said, though, I felt a pang of sadness on Friday as my students handed in their final projects and said good-bye for the summer. I’ve grown quite fond of most of them, and have come to really enjoy getting to know them and seeing them learn and grow as designers. The school will echo with their absence.

cupcakeBut, it’s time for some rest. We all deserve it.

The other important fact about today (well, at least important to me) is that today was the third anniversary of the BeatnikPad. Three years ago I signed up for a Blogger account, threw together a somewhat weak three-column design, and started adding my voice to the then slowly growing din of online narcissists writers.

This web site has lead to many good friendships with people from all over the world, helped me find gainful employment more than once, enabled me to learn new things about the web, design, and myself, and much more. Thanks, BeatnikPad, and happy birthday.

Snow in May #2

This is the second time in three years.

Snow         snow

The storm started as a rain-snow mix in Southern Alberta overnight but is expected to turn into a full-fledged winter storm today. Between 15 and 25 centimetres is forecast for parts of Southern Aberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

All I can say is feh.


Comments aren’t working at the moment. I’ve upgraded to Movable Type 3.0, which has the new-fangled Typekey registration system to help prevent comment spam. The problem is, I’m finding the whole implementation of TypeKey very confusing. Hopefully comments will return very soon - right now you just get an error stating that you forgot to fill something in, even if all of the fields are filled out.

I won’t even talk about the new Movable Type pricing scheme, except to say that the pricing is pretty outrageous. It’s good that they still have a free version, but I’m starting to wonder if I should make the switch to WordPress. Hmmm.

Edit (14.05.04): Comments are now working, as I finally figured out how all of the new comment tags in MT3 are configured. Because Jay Allen’s MT-Blacklist plugin no longer works in MT3, I’ve turned comments moderation on. If you don’t have a TypeKey account, you’ll have to wait for me to okay your comment before it appears on the site. So sign up for a TypeKey account - it takes only a minute, is fast, free, secure, and your registration works for all TypeKey-enabled sites.

I’ve reconsidered (at least for now) the new MT3 pricing and am waiting to see what the response is from MT creator’s SixApart. There are over 500 trackbacks to Mena’s initial post on the pricing scheme, most of them negative, so I’m hoping they will reconsider the licensing.

I just slipped underneath the limbo stick for the free version (one author, max of three weblogs), so I’m going to use this for now and see how things shake out. Jason Kottke made some good observations on the new licensing, and Steven “Panic” Frank also had some pretty valid things to say:

I think I read somewhere on their site that their company now has something like 26 employees in total. My gut feeling is that this is at least 20 employees more than they need for their operation. It gives me nervous dot-com flashbacks.

I really hope I’m wrong about all of this, because I think they’re great folks and, although I haven’t played with 3.0 yet, I think they have a high quality product. I wish them nothing less than the best of luck with their venture, as I would for anyone starting-up a company. But I see a few warning signs in the road ahead, and I hope they’re able to navigate them.

Wholeheartedly agreed. I haven’t met Ben, Mena, Anil, or the rest of the SixApart gang, but everything I’ve heard and seen seems to show them as good people, who want to do good. Hopefully, this is all just a huge misstep and miscalculation, and the results of some rather public growing pains. I’m completely interested in seeing them make a living and profit from their work, but they need to offer realistic licensing fees. Time will tell.

Update (15.05.04): SixApart has posted some clarifications on the whole pricing / licensing issue. There still are some serious issues, but in general I think it’s a good step forward.

On that, Jay Allen posts:

On a more personal note, I must say this: Six Apart is not evil. They are people, just like you and I. What�s more, they are webloggers, just like you and I. Some of them have worked tirelessly on behalf of this community to make it a better place. They want to thrill and delight Movable Type users and at the same time establish a lasting business that will do so for some time to come.

They certainly didn�t deserve the kind of vitriolic anger and disparaging remarks levelled at them yesterday. It makes me sad to see people throw two and a half years of dedication out the window because of two pages on the internet

I generally agree. SixApart (and Ben and Mena) have “grown up” very publicly, and I think people need to just chill out. It’s only weblog software, folks.

Edit: (and this is the last I’m posting on this) Interview with Ben and Mena

un poème pour toi

while you and I have lips an’ voices which are for kissing and to sing with, who cares if some one-eyed son of a bitch invents an instrument to measure spring with?

— ee cummings

The immateriality of memories

I’ve been in a quiet, pensive mood for the past week or two, as the post-school calm starts to seep in. After the hurly-burly of the last three weeks and constant activity has passed, the stillness and quiet feels somehow wrong. I find myself with much less to do, and I feel strangely cranky and melancholy because of it.

It was in this state of mind that I stumbled across today’s NPR’s “Day to Day”, which had the most beautiful, heartbreaking segment entitled “Saving Phone Messages as a Living Memorial”. Here, Dmae Roberts talks about (and shares) phone messages from her mother, who passed away two years ago.

Saving Phone Messages as a Living Memorial

My story has been intrinsically linked to my mom’s story—a world war two Taiwanese woman who never had a childhood because she was sold as a baby to be a servant to other people-her adopted step-parents.

It constantly amazes me how the cold, clinical touch of technology can transport such intense, almost overwhelming warmth and humanity. This is one of most moving, sublime things I have ever heard.

Listen to the segment as an MP3 stream or a realaudio stream. You can also read the transcript at Stories1st.org.

My Life as a Log

rainyToday was one of those days when it felt like the entire universe was heaving a gigantic sigh - half out of some kind of misplaced melancholy, and half just because. As if in accordance with the pervasive humdrumness of the moment, it rained again today, all day and all night, like some kind of prolonged sequence out of a bad 70’s self-actualization movie (sample titles, “Why Me”, “On the Edge of Nowhere”, “The Master of None”, “Oh Lord, Why Hast I Wasted My Life?”).

My mood, surprisingly, has lifted, though I’m still trying to shake a momentary blip in my own social fabric. I guess it just was the incredibly Dickensian weather this weekend, because everyone around the apartment (cats and humans) were a bit on the anti-social side this weekend.

With all of the greyness and rain, it was as good an opportunity as any to tune out the rest of the world and spend some quality time reading, learning, and listening to music. I can’t seem to get enough of Snow Patrol’s Chocolate these days, and I have been getting re-acquainted with the Van Morrison back catalogue. The “redefines-the-word-‘severe’” neo-fado singer Mariza has also been getting a lot of air time.

With school finished, and now that I have a semblance of a life, I have been trying to get through a handful of mid-reads:

  1. Reefer Madness, Eric (Fast Food Nation) Schlosser’s most recent book on the underground economy
  2. The jaw-dropping House Industries Book (highly recommended for all of the designers in the house)
  3. Lonely Planet’s World Food: India (YUM)
  4. The second most recent McSweeney’s (issue #11, and getting ready for #12, the new Comic special, edited by Chris Ware - you listening, crispy?)
  5. A handful of software books too geeky to be worth mentioning

Reading is some kind of manna sent down from an anti-socialite’s concept of heaven. Rain, grey afternoons, cozy living rooms, good music, and books galore: life could be worse.

ISSN 1499-7894
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home