Category: technology

Tuesday

It’s a cold, blustery day out there. I walked to the store for some supplies, but was happy to be back inside again. Now it’s all about writing while listening to the cat snore. Every once in a while, the wind rattles the windows on the twenty-first floor and roars through the valley below, stripping the last of the leaves from the trees and sending them spiralling upward.

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When I’m not writing or knitting and finishing Battlestar Galactica, I’m catching up on my Feedly updates and trying not to be tempted by things I cannot even begin to afford on what I get on EI.

IMG_1673Like this bottle of Samuel Adams’ Utopias. It’s seems hideously expensive at $115/bottle ($150 in the US), but after reading reviews what goes into making this rich sipping beer – hand selected malts and hops, aging in port and rum barrels for years – I was most curious about it. One of the observers at my beer class brought a spent bottle in to last night’s class, and even thought there was nothing left in it, the rich aromas of of caramel, figs and cherries that swirled from its depths cinched it. I can’t afford it now, but know that it’s on my bucket list in my more solvent future.

Or this, this is finally a thing – a throwable panoramic camera. While it would be super cool to have one, it’s not a bucket list item. Especially at $600.

I still want one though.


My Suzy Homemaker moment for the day:

pasta

I made the super simple and elegant Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. Three ingredients – one 28oz can of good quality tomatoes (San Marzano is suggested, but I couldn’t find them), five tablespoons of butter and one onion, peeled and halved. Combine them and simmer together for 45 minutes to create something that is definitely more than the sum of it’s parts. So. Good.

Five days

That’s it, that’s all I have left – five days of working at the school. Let me say for the record that the last six weeks have been the exact opposite of fun. The small joys of knowing that there are some bullshit tasks I will never have to do again are more than offset by the sadness of leaving people, both adults and kids, that have been like a family of sorts. The end-of-the-year fun trip, the graduation ceremonies, all were bittersweet.

I learned to carry tissues with me always.

It’s an odd feeling, when fear, sadness and anticipation collide in your belly. I want to stay but I can’t wait to go. I want to take some time to try and remember what my Plan A was but I want to extend the income of Plan B.

Plan B. That’s what the school started out as. I was running my own design business when I answered the ad on one of my Webgrrls mailing lists. It was supposed to be a three month contract to finish out the year after their old computer teacher bailed. Three months morphed into twelve years, Plan B morphed into Plan A.

And now to rediscover Plan A. I doubt I’ll be returning to teaching. While I love it, I think that I love teaching there, at that school,┬ámore than I love teaching in general. That’s not to say that I’m not sending out my resume to every private school in town. I just doubt anything will come of it; now is not a good time to be a teacher looking for work.

I am not in any rush. I am paid until the end of August, and can then go on EI (Employment Insurance). Keith & I both have some savings & investments, and neither of us is carrying any debt. I have spoken to employment lawyers who have indicated that there should be some severance funds coming my way, but when that might happen, well that is dependent on another person. Best case scenario is next week, worse case is however long court cases take. Yippee skippee.

So, here I am. Fifty-one years old and back to trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And hoping like hell that fifty-one isn’t going to set me back any more than it already is. Ageism…the new ism on the block.

I put out a call on Twitter; my friends’ responses were intriguing. Alas, suggestions like the Doctor’s companion are impossible, and while being a cocktail tester or professional knitter definitely fall within my skill set, I don’t know just how well they pay in the long run.

Right now, the options that are sticking in my head the most are going back to school for a bit and/or going back to running my own business. For what, well that has not made itself known yet. Programming? Design? Web development? Wearable technology? FSM only knows at this point.

Big questions. All I can really think about right now is how I need to just get through the next five days. Report cards still have to be written, rooms cleaned up, and I have to sort through and either pack or throw out all of the stuff I’ve accumulated there over the last decade plus.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be indulging in a few wobbly pops on the evening of the fifth day.

 

Sundays really are tedious

The list of things I was supposed to accomplish today wasn't that long. I could have gotten through them, or at least some of them. But I didn't.

I did the usual Sunday stuff; did laundry, made soup, got some writing done, practiced guitar. I should have made cookies though since I promised the grade 9's that if I didn't have their marks ready for Monday that I would give them cookies. Their marks are not ready and I guess I need to stop for cookies on the way in to work.

Me and my big mouth.

I did play around with Processing a bit and explored the Media Computation website from Georgia Tech that one of the presenters from yesterday suggested. It has potential, and works with the Python lessons I was planning for second term. So today wasn't a total wash.

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Stepped on the scales today, and the number no longer starts with a 2, which makes me quite happy.

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FIve more days until the NaBloPoMo is over. I've mostly liked this, but after 25 days have come to the conclusion that my life is not nearly interesting enough for daily updates. Maybe not even weekly for that matter.

 

Saturday

7:00am: the cat meows by my ear. I ignore her. She is old, and like all old ladies she really hates it when the routine is disrupted. She does this for a few seconds, realizes me getting up is not going to happen, then turns to lay down. In so doing she flicks her tail over my face. Again and again.

7:15 am: move the cat by a series of increasingly forceful shoves. Funny how a 13 lb cat can suddenly take on the density of a small black hole. Tail no longer in my face. We both go back to sleep.

8:00 am: I should get up. I have a computer teachers conference to go to. I see the sun peeking in around the edges of the blind and decide that if it's going to be sunny, I'm going to stay home and enjoy the day. I go back to dozing.

8:45 am: Remember the two seminars that I really wanted to see at the conference, a workshop on processing.js and a session on getting more girls in computer sciences. Merde. I get up. I stagger around slowly until I see the clock and realize that I have only 45 minutes to shower, get dressed and transit down there.

9:10 am: out the door. I run for the bus, and the driver actually stops and waits for me. Realizing that there is no way I can make the opening keynote. Since I don't remember who that is, I'm not stressing over it.

9:30 am: transit luck continues; westbound subway arrives just as I get on platform

9:40 am: southbound subway arrives at St. George just as I go up the stairs. The degree of transit luck on a morning when I am late is freaking me out a little.

9:50 am: arrive at the ACSE conference just as the keynote is finishing. Still 10 minutes before the Processing ,js session, I have time for a strawberry muffin (yum) and a coffee from the urn (not so yum)

10:00-12:20: Processing.js session is plagued with technical difficulties. Bad USB keys, sketchy wireless, faulty projector cable have got the presenter slightly frazzled and most of the attendees a bit confused. Do I click here all the time? How do I find the files on the USB? I grab the files and evernote all off the links – I'll have to play with this on my own.

12:20 – 1:00 pm: lunch. I sit at a table with three men I have never met before and listen to them talk about how to get more girls interested in Computer Science classes. Kudos to them for addressing the issue, but their ideas come from a middle-aged geek guy mindset. We spend the rest of lunch talking about how to change girls' perception of CS – a girls tech club, be transparent ask them what they want to learn, use creative, open-ended & self-directed projects. I tell them what I've used successfully: Alice, Lilypad Arduino & soft circuits, game development, app development, cross-curricular projects with art & science.

1:10 – 2:10 pm: session on getting girls in CS. The statistics are good to know and I got some great links for contests and the like, but there's not much in this one I can use. I realize about 20 minutes in that I should have gone to the App Inventor workshop instead.

2:10 pm: Bailed on the last session and the closing. I'm not willing to miss the last of a sunny afternoon so I pack up and walk through the U of T campus and Kensington Market to Queen Street West. Am amused by this sign in the window of a used record store. I pop into Romni Wools on Queen Street to get more yarn for my Christmas present knitting. Guess I should really start on that.

3:30 pm: get sidetracked on way to transit by the way the sun fell in an alley off Bathurst. Spend a half hour walking along Graffiti Alley and taking photos with the crappy iPhone.

4:00 pm: apparently I used all transit luck this morning. Waited for 25 minutes for the 504 King car while I realized that perhaps bringing a scarf & mitts might have been a good idea. Was rewarded for my discomfort by a sunset view of the city as the streetcar went along Broadview past Riverdale park.

5:00 pm: Home. Stopped at the grocery store which was not a good idea as I found myself paying for a bag of Miss Vickie's chips and a container of onion dip. While my dinner did not comprise solely of chis & dip, it was pretty close. Calorie overage ensues.

5:30 – 9:30 pm: watched many episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix US while finishing a scarf for a friend. While watching the Journey's End episode, I decide that “Playthings of Davros” will be my band's name which gives me added incentive to learn the guitar since I can't get drunk enough to sing in front of people.

9:30 – 10:00 pm: bubble bath and book. Finished both books by David Wong, John Dies At The End and This Book is Full of Spiders; liked them both in a did-drugs-been-there-saw-that kind of way. Started reading Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, one of science fiction books from the list. I would have sworn I've read this before, but nothing looks familiar in the first 4 chapters.

10:00 – bedtime: bored. The cat is bad company and there are only so many times one can hit Refresh on Twitter and Facebook. Played some Rush poker on Full Tilt, netting an increase to my bankroll of about $85. ABC poker > Eurodonk stupidity.

 

And today, the opposite

So yesterday, I loved my job. Today not so much.

Of course, when an estimated 2 tech hour job stretches to over 6 it does tend to dim one's enthusiasm for a profession that utilizes said tech. Toss in a stubborn headache that starts between your eyes and ends somewhere between your shoulder blades and you've got a day that's begging to be finished early with a wobbly pop and a book.

So that's what I'm doing. Just as soon as I hit Publish.

complications

I sold my laptop last month. I realized that I've used it exactly 4 times since getting my tablet in March. I'm using the tablet device for everything, from watching Netflix when Keith is in documentary mode to creating assignments on Google Docs.

And now, blogging. I downloaded a few highly rated apps, and decided I like Blogsy the best. It worked fine on the photo blog, but was a bit hinkey when uploading photos to this one. Hinkey doesn't quite cut it…I just want shit to work, preferably without a crap tonne of workarounds.

I downloaded another one, Posts, and same thing. Worked on the photo blog but not this one…what the hell. So obviously the issue is somewhere in the blog and not in the apps. I put on my troubleshooting cap and proceeded to fall down the rabbit hole.

I emailed Blogsy & set them up as admin on my blog. I read endless WordPress forums and blogs. I changed settings. I deactivated plugins. I updated my theme. I changed core code of WordPress that you're not even supposed to touch. I upgraded. I deleted everything off the server, and re-installed. I emailed Scott, my domain hosting guy. Still hinkey.

The day after I emailed Scott, I woke up with one of those bolts of lightning. Something I'd written in the email triggered a new branch on my mental troubleshooting chart…I had some issues with the theme a while ago…

Yes, I missed one important step. At no point did I deactivate the theme and check that out. Sigh.

So, 5 minutes later I'd deleted the Suffusion theme, put in an another and viola. Shit works. And I have added benefit of knowing I haven't lost my knack of over complicating things.

May 1

Before I get started, let me just say this is not about Australia (still miss it too much to write about it), being 50 (I don’t feel 50 which makes it hard to write about), the anniversary of breaking my knee (I’m pissed at the knee right now…it hurts and is getting in the way of my derby fun), or derby (bought new outdoor wheels, having a blast, except for when the knee acts like a whiney bitch and wants me to take it easy).

Not sure what this is actually. Mind dump, I guess. I’ll get to the other stuff eventually.

BTW I am writing this from my iPad that wants to keep correcting whiney into Whitney and FSM knows what else that I might not catch. My desire to backtrack and correct is waning with every sip of this delicious raspberry cosmo; you’re all smart folks, you can figure it out.

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Well my indecision about joining in the May photo-a-day challenge didn’t last long.

Day 1: Peace

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The noisiest thing in the apartment this afternoon was the purring of sleepy cat. It was very peaceful.

Right up to the point where someone (not me) decided it was time to trim her claws and clean her back feet. We need more kitty treats and alcohol before peace is reclaimed.

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Last night was the last big event at the school, the annual art show. I was there because I do a cross-curricular business project with the grade 9’s that culminates with them selling their craft-based products. The projects were incredible this year; I am stocked up with gifts for the nieces and some lovely jewelry for me.

I am constantly blown away by the skill and thoughtfulness in the work that the students display. Every year I see a piece or two that strikes me. This year, it is this painting of poppies by a 14-year-old. She agreed to sell it to me & it will be hanging my bedroom as soon as it’s been marked. I told her that if it gets less than 70% then I’ve missed something & I want a partial refund. She just laughed…we both know I’m getting a deal as it is.

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I found myself wishing (again) that I’d had teachers and a curriculum like this when I was growing up.

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I am loving my iPad a little too much. There are about 4 things I need it to do that it doesn’t in order for it to replace my trusty netbook, but I’ve found workarounds for 2. I’d like it if there was a better way to work with Google Docs, and I found a Python programming app which made me the nerd queen at a workshop last Saturday. I have more photography apps than is really required by any normal person, and I am delighted to find that I can reread my Sandman and Tankgirl comics by grabbing them off of Dropbox and opening them with Comic Flow.

FYI, comics look awesome on the iPad.

Speaking of Dropbox, I am seriously in <3 with it. With most cloud storage actually, and how it connects to this object of techno-geek desire. It appears I am a bit of a cloud storage whore; I have collected free offers from Box (50 gb), Skydrive (25 gb), Dropbox (10 gb) and Google Drive (3 accounts x 5 gb each). Organizing my data is one of my next fun projects, along with sorting family photos, editing the novel and cleaning the closet. ********** Excellent. The combination of writing and drinking have made me feel less like throat punching someone. Mission accomplished.

16/366

Sometimes work means getting to play with some really cool stuff, like sewable, wearable electronics. Every student I showed this to, from grades 4 through 12, immediately saw the possibilities.

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This is just a little test kit with a watch battery and a simple on/off switch. I also bought an expanded set with a programmable controller, lights and 3 sensors (light, vibration, temperature).

I think we are going to have some fun with this!

tech notes (this is not a trip report either)

I am pretty happy with technology tonight, like

  • Skype, so I can have a chat-and-cackle session with my bff on the other side of the planet, complete with video of her husband doing a bump and grind for my benefit.
  • Twitter, so I don’t have to go through complete #WPBT withdrawal.
  • texting, so I can do some quick hit flirting/convos/questions with far away friends.

But I think I’m going to turn it all off, snuggle on the couch under a blanket and listen to the cat snore while I knit and watch Kill Bill until I feel sleepy which since I’ve been up since 3am, will hopefully be sooner rather than later. Never had insomnia before. Can’t say as I care for it much.