21 October 2011

Funnyquote Friday

When I go in to work at the NSTP, I have a few places in the office I feel comfortable working at.  The highlight video from January shows my work station in the central breezeway, where most of my coworkers can be found.  I like working there, but sacrifice strong wireless internet connectivity, desk space, access to a 110V power outlet, and air conditioning when I do.  All four of these things can be found instead in the computer lounge adjacent the breezeway.  Indeed, that is where I find myself as I compose today's post.  Well, one day my frequent Kittitian companion in the computer room, Maurice, commented on the state of the air conditioning.  As it had been blowing nonstop at full power for the whole workday, it was rather chilly in the room.  I observed that the air conditioning could stand to be turned down a little – his response:

"That's not air conditioning, that's cold storage!"

It's certainly been an eventful week.  I enjoyed spending the weekend on Nevis, where I said goodbye to my fellow volunteer whose term of service just finished.  Then we had her over to St. Kitts on Monday night for a goodbye dinner, before she caught her flight out Tuesday morning.  All of us here really enjoyed getting to know her, and we're sorry to see her go, but we're also happy that she was able to fulfill her two years here and spend that whole time helping the youth on Nevis become more mature, responsible adults, as well as better swimmers and Mandarin speakers!

Also on Monday I submitted the final changes to the Remarkable Teen pamphlet to the printer, and discovered that I found a caffeinated beverage at Rituals, the local coffee shop in town, that I like: a spiced chai latte.  Which, fortunately for me, is basic enough that I expect I can find it just about anywhere.  This makes the third beverage I have grown to like in just the year that I have lived on island.  The others, namely beer (in which drinking from a glass bottle does change the taste a little, but mostly just getting past the initial "I want to try it" to the "I want to like it" stage was what proved to be most crucial) and rum (in which it turns out that so-called "Caribbean Rum" marketed in the US is way WAY stronger and more pungent than the cheaper rums sold in the Caribbean) have also helped ease some of my limitations around social drinking.   Now whether its a bartender or barrista asking me what I want, I'm set!

Then on Tuesday, I visited my new acquaintance, Ms. Learnice Mitchell, down at the National Museum.  Her idea of using the auspices of the St. Christopher National Trust to publish a special pamphlet/magazine celebrating the renovation of the St. Thomas Anglican Church is taking off, and I'm happy to be participating.  It's the first time ever, I believe, that I've been brought on to a project in a sort of consultant role, where my expertise and opinions are valued and followed!  The resulting confidence boost and ego trip is rather exciting, too.  It really serves to confirm my belief that I would, in fact, be well suited for a career in consulting, whatever the consultancy firms and their hiring reps say.  I must confess, though – I may have made a bit of a power play to get the SCNT to take me seriously.  I did bring by a copy of my recently published issue of Serious Ting, in it 40-page full color glory, knowing that this was something above and beyond what Learnice envisioned for her project.  The result was as I had hoped: she nearly fell out of her chair when she saw what was possible if given the time, skill and resources.  Naturally, she now wants to bring the project as close to this benchmark as possible, but we're already running into the issue of financing – the moneys for printing would almost exclusively have to come from in-print advertisements, which means marketing a not-as-yet-seen product to the businesses around the island, specifically the ones that target tourist business.  Which, in turn, means that the content of the magazine should be appealing to tourists, and made readily available to them (perhaps to be sold?).  There are still lots of questions to be answered, so more on that later.

Then again, on Wednesday, I taught my first Intro to Computers Applications course:  from 1:00 to 3:00, I spent the afternoon in an airy classroom with 5 teenagers enrolled in the Certified Electrician course offered at the NSTP.  As part of the curriculum, two hours a week are given to supplementary material on working with computers, and I was asked to pick up that class.  It went almost exactly as expected: the kids were bright, felt engaged when we talked about something of interest to them (which wasn't the same for everybody, but everybody found something at some point in that span), and did whatever they felt they could get away with to disengage when they got bored (i.e. listen to an iPod, fiddle with a laptop, leave to use the restroom).  Still, we somehow managed to get through all of the material I had planned for that day, using up the full two hours – wouldn't want to set a bad precedent!  And even though the material is supplementary in nature, and the kids probably won't even be tested on it, I hope that they still learned something in the process.  Call me cynical, but even though the kids were grateful and clearly eager to take home the notes we copied for them, a finer investigation might just reveal the blank side of the paper being used at home as free copier paper, something that remains rare and expensive on island.

Furthermore, on Thursday, I continued working on a new project for my PC administrative assistant here in St. Kitts.  Her church is celebrating an anniversary (so sorry, I don't remember which!) this November, and she wants a highlight video to be compiled and prepared especially for this occasion.  A simple enough task, you say?  Excepting, of course, that the source material that she acquired for the video is actually film on VHS tapes – requiring a conversion that is certainly possible but for which I do not have the necessary tools.  So I left it to her: get me digitized copies of the source material, and I'll do whatever I can do.  She got back to me last weekend with the DVDs, which I inserted into my MacBook on Thursday to find, to my dismay, that the video had been converted as video viewable by a DVD player.  This meant that I had to spend about 4 hours ripping three 2-hour videos from the DVDs to my hard drive, into a .m4v format.  When I tried importing these into iMovie, I discovered, to my even greater dismay, that the encoding was slightly off, and I first needed to convert these DVD rips to MPEG-4, which would be readable by iMovie.  This conversion, frame by frame, took my computer over 7 hours straight, finishing off my day.  The good news in the end was that I was able to import the final converted ripped videos into iMovie (which took another 30 minutes) and managed to get some housework done, too!

Whew; told you it was a busy week.  So, what do you think of my new favicon?  (That little square to the left of the URL in your browser.)  Cool, eh?  At least until Ting soda bottlers find it and tell me to take it down...

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