Break Week 2

Greetings everyone! Life keeps moving. At this point I am rapidly approaching school re-start. One more week off, and then it begins.

In the meantime, we continue to settle in at the new place. It’s a long slog. We’re unpacking more than we did at the last place, since the intent is to stay here for more than just one year. We sort of put our personal space on hold at the last place because we had a really good chance at having to move. With that change, there are implications for how we live, and what we want accessible, so it’s different from the last place.

But it continues, and we’re getting there. Once I am done writing this up I have another job: build the new shelves and unpack the DVD boxes. Whee. (And yes, I know, I am strange for buying physical media. Tough toogies. I like having it.)

Back to school news: I got very good grades again this semester. All A’s, in fact. There had been one that initially was a B+ — I even saw it that way on the official school computer records system — but it got revised by the instructor. Which class, you ask? Guess, and you only get one. If you guessed printmaking, you were right. My first two projects didn’t turn out as well as they could have — and I don’t disagree with the instructor on that — so despite doing well on the last project, I was sitting in B+ territory until she factored in other things, like in class participation. (How many other students fixed a screen printing station, for example? Or helped install 2 pressure washers?Just one, apparently. ;)

Anyway, I really don’t like bragging about my grades, but I had the amusing — and humbling — experience of looking over the college transcript for my CS degree the other day. Let’s just say it was a lot worse than I remembered it. A lot. Only in my senior year did my grades come up, and only in my very last semester did I get straight As. There were a lot of ugly, low grades during those first three years.

So for me, getting straight A’s is an interesting experience. Partly it’s where I am in life (older, more disciplined, and with more time available to work on things) but it is also that I am really interested in the subject matter, as I was in those last two semesters of my CS degree. (I used to say that the secret to getting straight A’s in college was to take three classes you like instead of five you don’t. Here I’ve taken five classes at once and still managed it, so the saying needs some sort of adjustment.) What I know is that every day in class is a good one, and the inspiration I get from my fellow students — and the instructors — is invaluable.

It seems that education, like youth, is wasted on the young. Or at least it was for me.

No, that’s not fair. My CS degree got me a great first job, and that led on into a significant career in computer programming and management. And eventually to the understanding that people are more interesting than computers. The sum of all of those experiences turned me into the person I am today, who has a keen interest in 3D art and a drive to make it happen.

It doesn’t hurt that I met the woman who became my wife in college either. That’s certainly been a great thing for a very long time now as well.

So it’s not true that my earlier college education was wasted. But it would have been very different if I’d done it 30 years later. It’s amusing to contemplate going back for a CS degree now. So many changes in the industry… it’s a whole different world.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned my summer school plans or not, but I will do so now. The summer session is divided into two halves, and courses are compressed. Basically they meet twice as often, except for a few that use the entire summer and meet as usual. With that in mind, I am covering all the bases and taking three classes as follows:

  1. Design special projects. This class will have a group of students working with the city of Vancouver to try and tackle the heat island effect in certain parts of downtown. The design instructor — who I really like from my previous design class — has connections, and there may actually be budget to build what we design. That’d be really cool, and I am looking forward to this class a lot. It meets twice a week for the first half of the summer.
  2. Canadian Art. The diploma requirements specify three art history classes, and I’ve taken two so far (Visual Culture I and II). As I looked at the available choices over the summer, this one leapt out at me. It seems like a great idea to study this, particularly if we can eventually make Canada our permanent home. I hope it is also an entry point into parts of Canadian culture that I haven’t yet been exposed to. This class meets twice a week for the second half of the summer.
  3. English. We have to take at least one English class, and so far there appears to be no way to test out of the requirement. This is a class on reading short prose and writing. And from the textbooks required it appears we’ll mostly be reading Canadian writers, so it is interesting to me in the same way the Canadian Art class is. I signed up for an online only version of this class, so it won’t conflict with the other two classes, but it does take all of the summer semester to complete it.

That’s the summer course plan. The fall schedule hasn’t completely firmed up yet, so it stays a bowl of semi-set jello until I get through registration and see what is actually available.

Finally, the other thing I can share with you this week is this lovely picture taken from my new commute:

North Van as seen from the SeaBus on my new commute to school

I think you can click on that image for a larger version. That’s quite a view. The new commute from North Vancouver involves a bus to Lonsdale Quay, then the SeaBus to get across the harbour (it’s a large capacity catamaran, as far as I can tell, and it goes back & forth every 30 minutes for most of the day), then the SkyTrain down to the station near the school, and a short walk. It’s not a bad commute, actually.

There is an alternative route that puts me on a bus over the Lion’s Gate Bridge instead of on the SeaBus, but I’ve tried it and that bus is packed full for the entire trip. The SeaBus is much nicer. Still, the regular bus is an option if the SeaBus isn’t operating for some reason.

In that photo you can see “the lions”, which are the two snow covered peaks above and to the left of the tanker ship’s bridge. Apparently the indigenous people called them “the sisters”, and I think their name is better. (The CBC ran a story saying that someone decided they needed to be called “the lions” to name them after the bridge and somehow that stuck.)

Also in that picture is the ship Cymona Iron. You can google that name to find all kinds of information except what it carries. It’s described as a bulk carrier, but of what they don’t say. That ship’s been in the harbour for some time now, completely empty. It’ll be interesting to see when it leaves.

Anyway, it’s a really nice commute. A bit longer than the last one — probably 75 minutes or so, on average, depending on how well I time my arrival at the various bus stops and SeaBus terminal. But I’ll get some nice headphones and buy books for my e-reader and there will be plenty to do. And anything is better than driving around downtown every day.

Other than the links — below — that’s it for this week. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life. More news next week!

Interesting Links

  • I tripped over this while scrolling through my G+ feed. (Yes, I still use G+. I find that if you select the right people to follow there is a lot of good stuff in it. I think of it as a news source these days. And for some things, it works well.) Anyway, the story here is about a young reporter in Belarus just before 9/11, and the huge slew of assumptions we make as Americans looking at the world. And the very first assumption that many will make is from the source of this article: Buzzfeed. But this is not click bait, it’s serious writing. Buzzfeed, it turns out, has built up a significant journalism section, and produces some very good work. I guess the listicles pay for it. Anyway, this is worth a read:
  • The usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium, because Medium’s display isn’t chronological, as far as I can tell.

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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