Journal: News & Comment

This is " May 2001," a page that archives an entire month's entries from my online journal. The latest material for that month is at the top. For my newest entries, visit the home page.

Monday, May 28, 2001 - newest items first
# 9:44:00 AM:

A brief 150-year experiment ends

According to the New York Times (free registration required), "there are now more Indians and bison on the Plains than at any time since the late 1870's."


Friday, May 25, 2001 - newest items first
# 8:25:00 PM:

The "World Would Be a Better Place Without" department

E-mail disclaimers annoy me. You know the ones: "This e-mail is confidential and intended solely for the addressee(s)..." They frequently appear on faxes too, and are often longer than the messages to which they are attached. Every one I have read is a keen example of poor writing.

The Register, one of my favourite tech news sites (its slogan is "Biting the Hand That Feeds I.T."), has just announced the winners of its ridiculous e-mail disclaimer contest.

All the winners are terrible, as such disclaimers essentially must be, but I particularly enjoyed the one with a full Welsh translation -- which is presumably just as obtuse in Welsh. From now on, I insist that people who feel they just must append a disclaimer to their e-mails use this one.


Wednesday, May 23, 2001 - newest items first
# 5:34:00 PM:

Groovy, baby

I've just completed construction of an all-new Web site for the band in which I play drums. You'll probably get a pretty good idea of the kind of band it is if you visit:

Rock on, baby.


Tuesday, May 22, 2001 - newest items first
# 9:54:00 AM:

Looks like a good summer

Freelancing has its advantages, but its unpredictability can be draining. Fortunately, I seem to have secured some very predictable contracts for this summer:

  • The Canadian Paediatric Society has hired me to produce a daily newsletter for its annual meeting, to be held here in Vancouver in mid-June.
  • Sierra Wireless, for whom I wrote some documentation earlier this year, intends to have me work at their facility in Richmond, B.C. three days a week from late June to mid-September.

These contracts are particularly gratifying because my wife, a math teacher, does not work in the summer, so having consistent income during those months is helpful.

On top of that, today is the most glorious day of the year so far in Vancouver, with predicted high temperatures of 27° C and sunshine. And it's my dad's birthday too. He's 62 today.


Friday, May 18, 2001 - newest items first
# 9:24:00 AM:

It's good not to care

Yesterday's New York Times features an article (free registration required) about how men and women use e-mail in radically different ways, just as we use different speech patterns.

The article is interesting enough, but I also noticed that -- going by their names at least -- two of the three couples it profiles (and possibly the third one as well) have partners of different races. More important for a publication from the U.S., where race is so often an issue, the article makes no mention of it when discussing the couples at all.

In university, I knew one of the women in the piece, and our hometown of Vancouver is a polyglot place. Interracial marriages are common here -- Douglas Coupland's latest book, City of Glass, cites that as a distinguishing characteristic of our city -- but they're still, perhaps surprisingly given our demographics, not the norm.

It's encouraging to see once-illegal partnerships now so accepted that they provoke no comment.

Except my comment, of course. Hmm.


Thursday, May 17, 2001 - newest items first
# 1:19:00 AM:

Work that lives on

Although they fired me (and many others) at the end of January, Multiactive Software still used the photographs I took of staff members in the days immediately before the layoffs as part of its 2000 Annual Report. What's amusing is that some of the photographs (which I also took) were reused from the 1999 Annual Report -- and many of those people didn't work at Multiactive for any significant portion of the 2000 fiscal year. I'm not sure how many of those remaining are left now, after the third round of layoffs of the year earlier this month.

The 2000 Annual Report was cobbled together haphazardly because, during the same January firings in which I was let go, so was Multiactive's only graphic designer -- who had been working on the Annual Report.

So we'll see if there is a 2001 Annual Report.


Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - newest items first
# 7:39:00 AM:

Good writing transcends any topic

Who'd have thought that an article about a Tesla reunion concert in Oklahoma City would be fascinating? Not me, but there you go.


Sunday, May 13, 2001 - newest items first
# 12:41:00 AM:

Good in hindsight

I used to work for a company called Multiactive Software, makers of the fairly popular Maximizer contact manager, among other things. Almost a year ago, at the end of May, 2000, the company laid off a slew of people and hired a new president, John Kellett -- firing the then-current one, Brent Halverson, who had been one of the two original Maximizer programmers in 1987, and who hired me in 1996.

At the end of January, 2001, Multiactive fired another few dozen employees -- including me. Now, once again in May, it has let another 43 people go. Needless to say, things don't look good.

Since I was fired in January, I've founded this company, garnered some clients, and managed to make a pretty decent living for myself, while still being a stay-at-home dad to my two daughters four out of five weekdays. I'm doing better than I ever did in my four years at Multiactive, and certainly better than I would be if I'd still been there.

I'm sure many other former employees could say the same, and I hope the latest batch of former Multiactivers soon can too.


Wednesday, May 09, 2001 - newest items first
# 10:25:00 AM:


An Australian reviewer once wrote that "Van Halen have volume, but Midnight Oil have power."

In rock and roll, the line is a fine and subjective one. That reviewer obviously liked Midnight Oil more than Van Halen. Still, few would dispute that the best rock and roll music does have power -- an almost indefinable quality that's more than just sounding loud (and sometimes requires little volume at all, like the first Violent Femmes album).

The Ramones had volume and genuine rock and roll power. Most garage bands have Marshall amps that turn really loud, just like Johnny Ramone's, but they lack real power. James Brown has funk power, and had it even when his bands were playing through puny PA systems in rooms that were too large for them.

How can you tell when rock bands have power? Power doesn't mean you have to take them seriously, or even that there is anything especially measurably good about them. You know power because you feel it, because it makes you want to shake your booty or bang your head or punch your fist or flail around looking stupid playing air guitar.

AC/DC has power. Beethoven had power. Nirvana had power. "Wild Thing," "Louie Louie," and "Mustang Sally" have power.

Despite all the guitars, Meat Loaf does not have power.


Saturday, May 05, 2001 - newest items first
# 11:41:00 PM:

Unlikely things to say

I mentioned a few posts ago that my oldest daughter, age three, is learning to write letters. Her speech is already very good. However, she often says things with completely adult sentence structure, but ideas only a kid could present.

This morning's example:

"Can you please take off your glasses so I can climb on your head?"


# 11:20:00 PM:

Gripe, gripe, gripe

Like anyone else, writers have gripes. And we love to make lists of them.

Thao, a former co-worker of mine, compiled one for her weblog. Just scroll down to the May 3 entry, 11:08 am for Thao's Top 10 Marcom Rules for Work.


Wednesday, May 02, 2001 - newest items first
# 2:43:00 PM:

What's best about the Web

I've written before that the best Web sites and e-mail lists have the stamp of their human authors on them. The Red Rock Eater News Service is a prime example. I've just subscribed.


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