River Gorge in Fergus, Ontario (Au Canada)
Photo by Jim Wellington (weird pastel blobs in the water are a quirk with
that digital camera)
Comments for April 27, 2003:
I thought I was less busy, but that was just a nice week. I have another
wild month ahead. But! There is sunshine, and flowers, and in a couple
of short weeks, time to officially open the trailer. Still, there
has been way too much lately, and while one of my university courses
could have been finished on time if I really knocked myself out in
the next week or so, I figured extending it was the best route to
go. Ditto with the one I have been working on very slowly - intentionally
- that is Finite Mathematics, and while I was once a whiz in the more
abstract math, it's been a while, so I'm taking my time making sure
I get every answer. This one is extended and I expect I'll need to
extend it yet again. However, slowly, very slowly, am I making progress
towards a degree; I could just try to whip through these, but what's
the point of that? To learn, or to chalk up credits? I'll take my
time and learn.
people may wonder why on earth, at age 40, did I start a degree anyway?
Well, a couple of reasons. Starting degrees are things that people
do when they are 40. Men like to buy flashy cars or do something outrageous
or throw themselves heart and soul into something that ten years earlier
they wouldn't have bothered with. So do women. Some do body makeovers,
some start on hobbies or doing things they've been dying to do and
couldn't while the kids were tiny, others start (or continue) a degree.
And there's another reason.
upon a time I wanted to be a doctor. Everyone expected I would be
a doctor. Then life kicked in and things were such that there was
nothing more I wanted when I was 17 than to be on my own. So I was.
I had never intended to not go to university, and I have never stopped
taking courses that interested me, but these were not degree things,
however much fun the animation course at Algonquin was. Anyway, several
times I applied, and several times life got in the way. Then add to
that the fact that people insisted that I really didn't need a degree.
When I protested that there would be jobs I couldn't have because
I didn't have one, they all said to me, for you it doesn't matter;
no one would know you didn't have one if you didn't tell them.
what these people didn't see was the faces of people I wound up talking
to in various situations, where we'd get into these deep discussions,
and invariably, I would get, "so what degree do you have?" My answer
of none, and the fading smile, and sudden need to go get a drink or
talk to someone else said it all. I didn't rate somehow. Never mind
that I would be told people who have a degree would never do that,
they do. And then, as time went on, society changed. A recession meant
that people just 4 years younger than me had no jobs to go to, so
they went on to university or college 'cause what else could they
do? And then even entry level jobs became nothing but college or university
the most part, I've been sheltered from that, having experience -that
very valuable thing - and directed learning related to what I do.
But is it what I love to do? Not really. Once in a while I do that,
but only as a special project or volunteer thing, not something that
I am allowed to actually have a job in. So here we are. After 23 years,
and the gift (thankfully) of nice little projects and assignments,
I started work so young that really, I still have 24 years before
I retire. At the midway point, I'm thinking, some day, I'll need a
change. Something that speaks to my heart. To do that, I guess, takes
the degree I "don't need". And a lesson learned, sometimes you have
to listen to your gut feelings and not to so-called experts. When
they told me that, they were right, but they aren't now. They were
a little right though, as much as I probably would have been a good
doctor or nurse, I am a bit too sensitive to really do that and not
get totally burned out. Far better to keep sensitive in stories and
other creative endeavours where it belongs :) .So that's that story.
Now this week, more SARS stuff. Elton John and Billy Joel have just
been added to my list of weinies. Top of it is WHO, an organization
I normally think is worth listening to. Wish they'd done their homework
on this one, but what can you do? Politics are playing very strange
indeed these days, and WHO was this week's instrument. Anyway, son
had an appointment at a hospital this week, and this little fellow
is one who has taken to watching the news and reading newspapers,
so much so I've had to talk to him about understanding that what's
in there is what somebody has decided to report, and that you can
never, ever, know the whole story. He was afraid we would get SARS
so several of us explained the precautions so he wouldn't be scared.
A little trooper, he thought the hand washing was a great idea, and
proudly showed off his "screened" tag to everyone in his class went
he back to school. So far, we haven't keeled over. Really.
was a week of checking on the trailer (oh wonderful! it's still there!)
and making me very anxious for those lovely cool evenings and dips
in the lake. Have to check into getting the broken water pipes fixed,
and the propane lines properly checked; we made do last year, but
this summer it would be nice to have a shower in the trailer and not
at the community shower. And oh, the van. Beware of warranties, it
wound up at a place it had to go to for repair under warranty, and
darned if everything wasn't what was in the warranty, so eep. An assortment
of niggly but important repairs that will cost darned near as much
as it cost to buy the thing. Now if any kind soul out there could
tell me what exactly is checked and has to pass to be certified, I'd
really like to know. I somehow doubt warped rotors are things that
happen in a couple of months, and I really don't think they would
pass a car with brakes like that. Hmmmm. Oh well, we still really
like that little Mazda. Let's hope it will be happy now, with all
it's had repaired. Oh, and if anybody out there knows of a spare owner's
manual for a '91 Mazda MPV, please let me know. They don't publish
those anymore. Grrrr.
well, things are actually going very well, I'm just venting. Have
a wonderful, warm sunny week people, and try to go have a nice walk.
for your reading enjoyment, is Ode, the poem from which one of my
favorite quotes is taken:
Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamer of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.
We, in the
In the buried past of earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
A breath of
Is the life of each generation.
A wondrous thing of our dreaming,
Unearthly, impossible seeming-
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.
They had no
Of the goodly house they are raising.
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broke,
A light that doth not depart
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.
today is thrilling,
With a past day's late fulfilling.
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of tomorrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for it's joy or it's sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.
But we, with
our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing;
O men! It must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.
For we are
afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry-
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.
we cry to the corners
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers,
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamt not before;
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.
(1844 - 1881)
Taken from Lakeside Leash-Free Park
Monday, May 12, 2003
at work? Many must
distorts surfing picture
from the toronto star, April 14, 2003)
the alarms! In case you didn't hear, workers across this country are
ripping off Canadian corporations by surfing the Web for personal
reasons while on the job.
to a study released recently by market-research firm Ipsos-Reid, the
38 per cent of Canadians who have Internet access at work spent, during
the average week, about four hours and 20 minutes doing personal surfing
more than doubles the length of time revealed in a similar study in
2000, when we all spent slightly more than two hours each week piddling
in cyberspace on the boss's watch.
next-day headlines were predictable.
waste 1.6B work hours on Web," said the Ottawa Citizen.
workers waste time, money, on Net: Study," said a story on The Globe
and Mail's technology site.
headline in the Calgary Herald was a tad more benign, if not completely
lacking insight: "Workers spend hours on the Web on company time."
have no doubt that many people waste time sending e-mail to friends
about the latest episode of American Idol, reading online news about
the war in Iraq or browsing for last-minute travel deals while at
the company desktop.
the same time, I also know that many people are working incredibly
long hours Ñ often beyond the call of duty, sacrificing evenings and
weekends Ñ and see the Internet as the only way of fitting anything
remotely personal into their career-driven, coffee-stained lives.
bothers me about studies such as this, or, more precisely, how the
results of these studies are interpreted, is how the human resource
departments across the country might react.
they tighten the screws on employee Internet use? Will they begin
using more draconian methods of surveillance, such as video, e-mail,
Internet and telephone monitoring? This ultimately has a bad impact
on employee morale.
companies, in my opinion, already cross the line, using tools such
as keystroke-logging software that can capture, store and analyze
every single word you type.
can hardly blame these companies, particularly when 1.6 billion "wasted"
hours a year is the angle they're fed.
Ñ 1.6 billion hours. That's a shock-and-awe number if I've ever seen
one. But it's a figure taken completely out of context.
data provided by Ipsos-Reid showed that, in general, Internet use
in the workplace has also nearly doubled in two years, to 15 hours
a week from eight. This means that personal use, as a proportion of
over-all use, has increased to 29 per cent from 26 per cent. Nothing
use of the Web is rising for many reasons. It's a great medium, allowing
people to communicate with colleagues, customers, suppliers and other
supply-chain players in a more efficient way. As a research tool,
the Internet is unparalleled.
because many businesses have taken measures to integrate administrative,
human resource, accounting, customer service, sales and marketing
and corporate purchase functions with the Web, more of us are required
to log in and surf.
It's only natural that, by spending more time working on the Internet,
we spend more time socializing and doing personal chores online. Employers
should be happy that e-mail and the Web allow us to "waste time" more
it just me dreaming, or wasn't technology supposed to liberate us
from our day-to-day grind? Sure, inventions such as the Internet help
workers do more with less, but the original idea of creating more
leisure and family time seems to always elude us in practice.
all know nature abhors a vacuum, but when it comes down to filling
this vacuum, business is much quicker to react. If more time is created,
the expectations are that it flows to the bottom line, whether in
the form of layoffs or increased productivity, rather than improving
the lives of workers.
combination of both would be nice. While good corporate citizens are
out there who create this balance, many companies just don't get it.
about the fact that the Internet and wireless technologies are making
it increasingly difficult for individuals to unplug themselves from
the workplace? How many people out there check their work e-mail from
home or are interrupted on weekends just because they have mobile
phones? How many people experience this on sick days when they should
be resting, or during maternity or paternity leave?
isn't taken into account in the Ipsos-Reid study. The fact is, many
businesses are more than happy to blur the line between home and work
when it serves their purposes, but are as quick to redraw that line
when the employee is at a desk at work.
factor not taken into account is the displacement of "personal time"
from other media or activities. It would be interesting to know whether
employees are spending more time sending e-mail or shopping on the
Internet because they're spending less time on the phone, standing
in line at the bank or running out of the office to buy somebody a
hunch is we're wasting less company time, over-all, than we were 10
let's not jump to conclusions with this "1.6 billion hour" figure.
These are tough times, and most of us are working as hard as we can.
If there's anything the workplace needs it's an injection of trust,
not more eyes looking over our shoulders.
Tyler Hamilton writes about technology and the Internet Mondays in
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.