Seems like I was here a year ago…

I am currently sitting in Room 429 of Kendall College of Art and Design. Today is the first day of finals week, and the last day of my career as an Adjunct Professor of Web Design. I am in the middle of performing post-mortems on the final grades of my students for the semester. They handed in their final projects last week and I spent the weekend tallying grades and writing critiques. Now I am telling them why they got the grades they got.

The semester ended at the perfect time. Work is ramping up to the point that I no longer have time to duck out for several hours in the middle of the day. I expect this will continue for at least the next four weeks, at which point I will, I think, take a much-deserved and much-needed vacation.

I have been thinking about re-designing this site. Nothing too extravagant; just make it look a little more professional. Despite the fact that I am a fairly hard-core programmer I do have some small sense of aesthetics, and right now the current design bores me.

Now that I have the whole summer ahead of me without the oncoming storm of the next semester as motivation, I find that I really just want to be lazy, sit on my porch, and read and write. I look forward to the days I work from home, sitting outside with my laptop and a tall glass of beer iced tea, watching the world go by.

It Is Ended II

Today at 5:00pm I received from one of my students the last of the final projects for this semester. I am done. The teaching is over. All that is left is some grading, and then fourteen short post-mortems on Monday.

I have decided to take the next year off from teaching. I have too many other places where that time could be better spent, and given the choice between the time or the money, right now I would rather have the time.

For my students’ benefit, I will leave the class website up, and maybe even add the occasional tutorial as the mood strikes me. And of course, I am still available to them for advice and references and what-not.

Will I miss the experience? Absolutely. Teaching is fun, and fulfilling, and very entertaining. And apparently, some people think I am pretty good at it.

So: what to do with the new free time? First, spend a couple of weeks loafing. Once I have that out of my system I have a few things which require my attention. Like my house and my social life. I would also like to (re)design this site, and rebuild Master Lee’s site. There are a couple ideas for games rolling around in my head which I will take a closer look at when I can stand being in front of a computer on my off hours.

And I need to practice more.


Right now I am sitting in room 429 at Kendall College of Art and Design, waiting for my next appointment. The way it works is this: All of my students handed in their final projects at the end of the day this past Wednesday; it being the last day of classes for the semester. Over the weekend I graded those assignments, and today I am meeting individually with all of my students, telling them what their final grades are, why they got the grades they did, and offering advice for the upcoming semesters and years.

The lowest grade is a C, and the highest is an A, with the curve tending toward the higher end of the spectrum.

I should be home by 8:00.

This has been the busiest four months in recent memory. More than that: I don’t remember being this busy since the heady days of working at the bookstore during the Christmas season. It has been that long.

So I have a little free time for the next month. Time to work on the house. I still am not finished unpacking. I am stuck in the apartment-dweller’s mode of “I can’t unpack until I know where EVERYTHING goes”, which stems from having severely restricted living space. I actually have all kinds of room now, so I need to finish unpacking, and then worry about where everything goes.

And I am putting together the list of the items I need to buy, and the attributes of the house which I want to change. First thing: a new bed. The box-spring for my bed will not fit up the stairs. And I damaged the mattress in the process of moving. So instead of spending my first night in luxury in my new warm bedroom, I spent it sleeping on the floor on a pile of blankets.

Next: washer and dryer. Last time I went to a laundromat someone tried to sell me something he said was crack, but which turned out to be macadamia nuts. Where the hell did he get macadamia nuts in this town? Crack would have been cheaper.

And things to do to the house:
-eaves and drainpipes, to keep me from dying when I walk on an icy sidewalk
-replace the front (concrete) steps with something newer, which maybe has more right angles, and fewer slopes. For that matter, replace the whole of the sidewalk around my house.
-plant a tree
-finish the attic. Turn it into something like a large office/library.
-finish bricking my enemies into the wall of the basement.

Being a homeowner is nothing but workworkwork.


I just finished grading all of the final projects for the Kendall class. Everyone passed. An equal number of “a”s and “d”s, with a fairly balanced distribution of everything in between.

Work is getting busy again, and the first free afternoon I had, after the end of the semester, I stayed at the studio until after 7pm. Same exact thing happened at the end of last semester: “John has free time again. Let’s load him up with long hours and uncompensated irritation.”

Seems like that happened at the end of last year, too. Now that I have been out of retail for a few years, and have stopped hating the holidays to the core of my being, projects at work seem to fall into a pattern of mad scrambling to complete projects by the end of the year. A deadline, I might add, which is completely arbitrary and has no bearing on the actual needs of the clients; just some sense of finishing out the year with a clean slate.

Now I have four weeks of free Monday and Wednesday evenings. Winter Semester 2005 starts on Monday, January 13, In celebration I stayed in bed until eleven this morning, then lounged around my apartment in my pyjamas, reading a science fiction novel. Almost five hours in a row just sitting in a Comfy Chair. My back is quite sore, but I wouldn’t trade that time for all the [=commodity] in [=location]

One of the bright lights of the past couple of weeks has been the constant news updates regarding the crash-and-burn of CyberNet Engineering. While working there I was quite vocal with my criticizing, and now just about everyone I know will, at some point in a conversation, say So: Wow! CyberNet! . That kind of thing is still funny.

A month or so before I quit CyberNet I asked for a raise. I was just coming off of a couple of 80 hour weeks and my sense of humor had pretty much bottomed out. The head of the web development department told me No, because it wouldn’t be appropriate . So I went over his head. Sent an email to Krista Kotlarz, the wife of the now-dearly-departed Barton Watson.

She called me into a meeting, and, while sitting behind a desk which was worth more than I had made in six months of employment at CNE, called me a prima donna for asking for a raise.

When I finally quit, though I was the only front-end developer on staff, they didn’t try to keep me because I had been branded a “troublemaker”.

Thus the continued sense of schadenfreude. In another couple of days I will post an aggregation of all of the links I can find related to the CyberNet scandal, in as close to chronological order as I can make them.

Bearing in mind the fact that days and months and years are arbitrarily assigned divisions of the 24-hour planetary rotation cycle, I will be glad when this year is over.

Another Day In the Life

Yesterday was the first day of class at Kendall. This semester I have fifteen students, and all of them seem to be pretty With It. I also ran into some of my students from last semester, who are now learning the basics of Flash with Mr. Bock.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be spending practically every waking moment of the next three and a half months in front of one computer or another. This is not entirely a bad thing, as I have a great 21″ monitor at home, and at the college I have an Apple cinema display the size of a drive-in movie screen.

Yep. The only place I have sub-par equipment is at work, where I have a four year-old Dell laptop driving an ancient 21″ monitor, which has a refresh rate slightly slower than the overhead fluorescent lights. That means that the normally subliminally-fast flickers go into and out of phase with one another ever couple of seconds.

If that was too technical for you, try this: I spend eight to eleven hours a day staring into a slow, dim strobe light. Why I have not yet suffered a debilitating epileptic fit is anyone’s guess.


Weeellll I thought es.o was looking a little dusty. Originally I planned to get the new look up on May 1 to coincide with the ReBoot , but for various reasons that just didn’t happen.

The background photo is from a few months ago , and the colors used in the design are taken from the photo. Mr. Bock offered much design advice after seeing my original concept, which would have hurt your eyes and killed your computer. If you are looking at this page on a PC, and you are using any flavor of Internet Explorer, Shame On You! Go download Mozilla or FireFox and you will see the beauty which is translucent backgrounds.

So where have I been? A brief recap: The Kendall class ended at the end of April. All of my students passed, there were more As than Ds. Several of the projects completely blew me away. For the next few months my time is my own, then in September I go back to teaching. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Class.

Much time and emotional energy went to assisting Cliff and those around him, through what was absolutely a trying, scary few weeks.

Any free time in addition to all of this was taken up by work, or recovering from work. This past Friday a major project launched; one in which I had to wield mojo as I have never before wielded mojo: Discovering Design . Normally I don’t post Day Job projects here, but this is one I of which I am quite proud. The posts I made about The Brain a few weeks back? What I learned there went in here.

Last and MOST IMPORTANT, I have been training hard in Master Lee’s class . We have a tournament in a couple of weeks, and the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts show a week after that. This year the show will take place on my birthday. My 35th birthday. I can think of no better gift.

As miscellaneous addendum, the news of the world around us has kept me rather depressed. I made the grievous tactical error of watching The Video last week. The non-Hollywood-ized violence, the everyday banality of the decapitation, as if it were no more important to the participants than the butchering of a pig, gave me nightmares. I grew up near a slaughterhouse, and what was on The Video could have happened, with a slight cast change, therein.

What next? Sleep. Sleep and maybe playing around a little with game development. Bock is working on one, and it kind of whetted my appetite for that kind of thing.

More as time and energy allow.