Every few years, I get new glasses, not because my prescription has changed (it's been pretty stable for about a decade), but because my old spectacles simply get old and worn out. This year, I took advantage of a two-for-one sale and got one set of new plastic frames (centre below) and one set of metal ones (right):
They're not a big change from my old set (left), but I like the new looks, though I'm not sure which of the two I prefer. Back in 2008 when I bought my last set, I wasn't sure I'd survive long enough to need new ones, but here I am. Yay.
Which pair do you prefer?
This month, February 2010, marks three fricking years since I first went on disability leave for cancer treatment. (And, incidentally, since we got our Nintendo Wii.) This got me thinking about all the jobs I've had in my life, starting back when I was still in high school.
It turns out that I've worked for 13 organizations, if you include my own company when I was freelancing. I did not enjoy every job, but each taught me something:
|1985?||Graveyard-shift self-serve gas station attendant||Don't be a graveyard-shift self-serve gas station attendant. Also, burnt coffee smells really bad.|
|1988||Park naturalist||Science is fun, five-year-olds aren't patient, but summer jobs are a great place to meet your future wife. Also, avoid flipping your canoe.|
|1989||Science centre floor staff||Science is fun, but you'll spend most of your time telling people where the bathrooms are.|
|1990||Student handbook editor||Choose your fonts carefully, and people never get things in on deadline.|
|1991||Student society admin assistant||It's a long way to pick up your printouts across campus when you type them on a mainframe computer.|
|1991||English conversation coach||Japanese girls definitely interested in learning English; Japanese boys (who smoke like chimneys), not so much.|
|1992–1994||Student issues researcher||Creating your own job is great, but it sure would be nice to have an office with a window.|
|1994–1995||Full-time rock 'n' roll drummer||Playing live music onstage is often awesome. Everything offstage, however, usually sucks.|
|1995–1996||Magazine advertising assistant||No matter how nice your co-workers, a bad boss can ruin the whole experience.|
|1996–2001||Various software company jobs, from developers' assistant to webmaster||Even if you know almost nothing about how to do it, when someone asks you if you want to run a website, it's still worthwhile to say "sure!"|
|2001–2003||Freelance technical writer and editor||The paperwork to run your own business is immensely boring.|
|2001–2003||Semi–full-time rock 'n' roll drummer||Rock is more fun when you mostly stay in town and get paid better.|
|2003–2007||Communications Manager, Navarik||Working with friends can be a good thing, especially when they have good ideas. Oh, and a decent extended-health plan is really, really important.|
In the late '80s, I also helped my friend Chris install alarm systems in people's homes and businesses, but while I got some money from it, it wasn't quite a job in the same way. It was more like when I helped him repair cars and resell them around the same time. Though in those cases, I did learn that I dislike crawling around in fibreglass-filled attics running wires, and that I'm not too fond of all the grease, gunk, and rust involved in auto work either.
Graphic designer Michael Bierut is more than a decade older than me, but still, his article in the New York Times (via Kottke) this week felt familiar. I realized that's because, even though I've only hacked around the edges of the business of design and layout, I've been doing it for more than 30 years in some way or another.
More importantly, I belong to what is probably the last generation to straddle the gap between pre- and post-computer design. In elementary school in the 1970s, we made student newspapers with pens on Gestetner mimeograph paper, reproduced on smeary blue-inked sheets just like our notices and test papers. (More than a decade later, I had a used hand-crank Gestetner in my basement to run off newsletters for my computer club the Apple Alliance—there's some irony, or at least foreshadowing, in that.)
By the mid-1980s I was printing out long columns of dot-matrix type to cut and paste (with actual scissors and glue) onto photocopy masters, while also using Letraset rub-on letter stencils for headlines. That was for student newspapers—but putting together our high school annual still involved typewritten text, printed photos, rubber cement, and grease pencil. The real work of typography and layout was left to the professionals we never met at the printing plant in Winnipeg. We had perhaps two or three choices of typeface.
A few years later, the Science Undergraduate Society at UBC had an IBM PC clone with Ventura Publisher, and then a Mac with PageMaker. The only laser printer available was downtown, so I took floppy disks down and paid several dollars a page to print out 8x10s, which we then lined up to assemble tabloid-style layouts on blue-lined layout sheets. I drove those down to the printer to produce some of the first issues of The 432.
By the early '90s, everything was digital until the presses rolled, and a few years after that even floppies or CD-Rs were passé in favour of email and FTP. This decade I've hardly done anything for print at all: what little design work I do is for the Web, or podcasts, or maybe a PDF file that might get printed. Maybe.
So for me, a desktop, rulers, pica scales, cut and paste, cropping, and so on represent memories of the real physical activities. My kids may do some similar things for art projects, and with their grandmother when creating cards and photo books in her crafting room in Maple Ridge, but I don't expect they ever will for publication. Why would they, when we have six Macs (and two laser printers) in the house?
Here are 25 random things about me. I was tagged twice for this meme on Facebook, once by an acquaintance currently stationed in Iraq, so I felt obligated. I have to say it was more fun to compile the list than I expected. Now I'm supposed to tag 25 more people (!). Not sure if I'll get to that many. If you're on Facebook and I tag you with this, and you haven't done it already, and if you want to participate—unlike a typical chain letter or meme, I impose no such obligation on you—then read the rules at the bottom of my list here.
The rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag back the person who tagged you so they know you've done it. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you, or just because I'm annoying.
To do the tagging, go to Notes (in the Tabs section of your Profile page on Facebook), paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the upper right corner of the Notes app), then click Publish. Or if you import your notes from your blog into Facebook, tag the note once it appears. Have fun.