Posts in the Phoenix
The Onion knows us former CUP types too well #Nash72

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Seriously though, Don Iveson mentioned this article [on] last night and it hits far too close to home.  It reminds me of how I felt talking with Christopher Poon [tgs] about CUP conferences at The Georgia Straight's Christmas party this year.  Titled "Former Editor Can't Believe Shit College Newspaper Is Printing" it hits far too close to home for a lot of I think.

Bartell's fears of a decline in journalistic integrity were further augmented by a profile of the new dining-services director, which failed to include information about the recent increase in meal-plan fees and the new two-pieces-of-fruit-per-student policy. 

"[New Editor-In-Chief] Casey [Aclin] has been a real disappointment," Bartell said. "In a story last Monday, instead of saying 'Dean of Students Charles Baker,' it just said 'Dean Baker.' That's a blatant disregard of Free Press style rules that never would have flown on my watch." 

"Never," he continued.

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Returning to my halcyon days in the student press

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My two sessions at the Canadian University Press' 72nd annual national conference went pretty well.  

In the afternoon I met up with Matt Atwood who works in media relations for Bioware [wp].  After I signed a non-disclosure agreement he showed me around their Edmonton office, which is conveniently connected to the Radisson hotel that the conference is being hosted in, and then we went over the game plan for the first session.  The session had morphed from me doing a solo thing on tech writing to a talk about tech writing and dealing with corporate PR firms as a part of that.  

It was a really good seminar I think and I even learned a few things that will help me further down the road.  Matt was really friendly, had some cool Mass Effect 2 swag to give away to people who asked questions and I think that everyone in the session kind of wanted his job by the end of it.  

The next session was right on the heels of that, in the same room, so I missed the first bit as I was talking to Matt afterwards.  It was a four person panel though, so my absence probably just helped keep everything coherent for the first few questions until I returned.  We had not really prepared anything, though I think it went all right.  

The subject was "New Media" and I was glad that we all seemed to agree that there's a false distinction between "new" and "old" media that gets in the way of actually talking about it.  Since it was four people talking instead of just one or two there was not much to do, and since most everyone else had achieved more in both old and new media I tried not to talk too much.

That night while the delegates went to a bar in Edmonton, I headed off with some former Gateway types Dan Lazin, Matt Frehner (who was also on the New Media panel) and Don Iveson and went to a pizza / coffee /gelato place for dinner.  It was good to see both Dan and Don again, and to get out into the city as opposed to stay trapped in the Radisson.  Afterwards Dan and I came back and went to Bioware for another tour of the studio and so Dan could do some work that I'll just assume is covered under the NDA I signed earlier in the day.

Then to bed and up early to claim the free bacon I was told that there would be.  There was none, just eggs and sausages.  

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The Jeffery Simpson World Tour 2010: Whereby the world is defined as Edmonton
EdgeFest '98 // Edmonton
 
 
 

Live and on stage you can see me doing the public speaking thing that I used to win awards for back when I was in grade four and five.  Granted my voice has broken and I've gone through puberty since then so I will warn you that it's not quite as melodious as it once was nor will I have a graphic of the human heart to refer you to.  However I will probably have had my hair cut before then, at least if Lydia has her way.  So that should add some kind of fashion flash to the proceedings.  No graphs though.  Sorry.

What will I be talking about?  How much are tickets?  Will there be punch and pie?  Are there any audience participation chants or songs that will be needed?

To go you'll need to register at a Canadian college or university and quickly get a job at the student newspaper before this weekend because I'll be talking at the Canadian University Press's 72nd annual conference this year titled Natural Selection [cup].  I'm actually doing a few sessions, to help justify the cost of them flying me out there.  The first one, and main one, I'll be talking with Matt Attwood who works in Bioware's [wp] media relations department on tech writing and how to work with PR departments of tech companies.  Next I'll be on a panel discussing new media with Matt Frehner, Matthew Ingram, Bryan Murley and hosted by CUP's Chris Berube.

This is the panel that a fist fight is most likely to break out in, since I tend to be a bit crotchety about the term "new media" and the idea that "old media" is dying.  Newspapers might be dying, but I don't think that's what people mean by "old media". 

The next day I'll be a part of a panel discussing freelance writing with Iain Ilich, Erin Millar, Elizabeth McMillan, Karen Unland hosted by Nick Taylor-Vaisey.

These are all names that I'm going to have to Google in the next day or so. 

Meanwhile I've come down with the sort of head cold that used to kill people back in the middle ages.  It essentially feels as though someone has stuffed my head full of phlegm and at night it starts leaking out my nose.  It's quite a mess.  Of course given that I'll be exposed to CUP Conference SARS this weekend probably means that I should work on my will.  A combination of head cold and whatever ailments a few hundred university students fighting their livers with weapons of mass intoxication are carrying will be a most interesting experience.

Now if you'll excuse me, my face is leaking.

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In the classroom they have wi-fi

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I guess it dates me to say that when I was in high school nobody brought laptops to school. When I got a very old Powerbook to take with me to France, and would use take it in class on my return to Canada, it was a novelty. Even when I hit university the only other students using laptops tended to be the special needs students who the school supplied with computers to aid in their studies. There certainly was not wi-fi available anywhere around campus, and if I wanted to get my laptop online I needed to unplug one of the computers in the Phoenix's office and stick the stolen ethernet cable into my computer.

By the time I left it was more common to see laptops, but university wide wi-fi was still in the future. In the newspaper office we'd finally set up our own private wireless network, simply because we were always short on ethernet ports, and that seemed cutting edge.

These days though wireless internet is the norm in post-secondary schools across Canada. Karen Pinchin wrote an article for The Georgia Straight about how that's taxing student's attention spans in class [tgs], and I guess the fact that I'm blogging as the teacher is trying to get his laptop to display the correct slide, is proof that it does divide attention. Myself though I'm of the opinion that students basically find ways to let their minds go on mini holidays with or without technological advances.

I was generally attentive in high school but when the teacher was having to go over a concept for a third or fourth time for someone my mind would wander. Back then I'd write short stories, work on terrible lyrics to terrible songs that I intended to write one day when I finally learned to play guitar (I never did and likely never will), or came up with names for the terrible band that would never perform my terrible songs.

On notable class was grade eight English. I was an avid reader and would generally finish a novel within a week, which since we studied a novel over a month or two, meant that I had a great deal of time during the class' reading time. Seeing this, and seeing that Curtis Seaman was also reading ahead, Mr. Brooks would send the pair of us out to wander the school and write short stories and plays for extra credit. This never resulted in any great pieces of literature, since they were generally very silly parodies that only really made us laugh.

Still it was the type of thing that made us really enjoy the class, and I think that year was probably the best mark I ever got in English.

So here I am blogging. The projector is almost fixed, and the class is ready to continue so I guess I'd better go. I probably won't get extra credit for this, but at least I'm not unleashing more terrible lyrics to terrible songs to a yet unformed terrible band out into the world.

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I meet the future Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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i realize that I've never really told my Stephen Harper story here so as Canada heads to the polls today to potentially re-elect Harper as our Prime Minister I figured now is as good a time as any.  It was in fact five years ago Thursday that all of this happened, so the timing is pretty appropriate.  We can call this an anniversary retelling of the story.

It was October 16th, 2003.  I was celebrating my twenty-fifth birthday and writing for The Phoenix at what was then Okanagan University College.  Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ© were "Crazy In Love", Outkast was riding "Hey Ya!" for all it was worth [mo].  The American lead invasion and occupation of Iraq was only in it's seventh month, and the big debate in Canadian politics was whether or not we'd follow America into Iraq after standing by them for the invasion of Afghanistan.  The Liberals had stayed out of Iraq, and since the political landscape on the right was fragmented with the breakup of the old Progressive Conservative Party into the Conservatives and the Reform Party it looked like nothing was going to change.

In Kelowna The Phoenix as a news outlet had benefited from the breakup of the right because it had eventually lead us to having Stockwell Day as leader of the Reform Party and his George W. Bush-esque photo-ops and buffoonery were like mana from heaven for snarky student journalists.  The party's switch to Stephen Harper was a sad day for us, since he was a) not local (Day had his riding in Westbank/Summerland) and b) he was not an obviously complete fucking idiot.

There were no more homo-erotic press conferences on the shores of Lake Okanagan in a wetsuit.  There were no more hiring of criminals to spy on the other political parties.  There were no more defections of MPs.  There was no more fun.

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Happy Ten Years Google

to celebrate their ten year birthday Google has put their oldest available search index online. Now for a limited time you can search their database that was active in 2001 [g01] as well as my hilariously ugly Matthew Good Band fansite and various student paper stuff [g01]. What will you find if you do? Well for starters you'll find one of my first blogs [g01] as well as the fact that that other Jeffrey Simpson had a slightly larger web presence than I did, even though I kind of figure that he had no idea what the internet was at that point.

Give the search a try, and see what comes up. In 2001 for example there was no iPod. What a backwards age that must have been.

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You can keep this suit of lights, I'll be up with the sun

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i will admit it's been awhile. I got busy writing [tgs], and then my computer crashed and I've spent the last three days fighting to get it working. Thanks to the Genius at the Pacific Centre Mall's Apple Store I figured out my plan of attack, but it's likely that I won't be able to save most of the files that I had been transfering from one computer to another for slightly over a decade.  Though most of it was no big loss, I don't really need a saved game for each of the last three Sim City games, some of it was worth keeping.

Thankfully I'd actually backed up all my photos a few weeks ago onto DVDs.  The last six months or so of photos that I hadn't backed up are mostly on my Flickr account [fkr] so that is not a major problem.  Sadly I've lost a great deal of writing, and while most of it was just scraps and fragments it's still gone.  Most of it I have backups in the real world, with the eVent! articles and a lot of the Phoenix stuff in boxes in storage.  Some of it though is just gone.  All of which makes me wish I'd have been more diligent keeping my writing archive site up-to-date [teotw].

It is though a clean slate, a chance to start again.  My Macbook is running considerably faster with it's freshly erased and near empty hard drive than it was with a nearly full drive with programs and files migrated through three other Apple laptops (an iBook and two Powerbooks). 

My only worry is whether I'll be able to reinstall Adobe CS2.  I've got the actual purchased discs, but for some reason the registration code didn't work last time I tried to install it.

Now though I should be back to blogging on a more regular basis.  Well, hopefully.

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I'm pants at job hunting

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I am totally rubbish at finding a job.  Other people seem to be able to do it with very little difficulty, but nearly six months on and I'm still working on resumes and haunting the cyber halls of Monster.  I will admit I'm being a bit pickier than I could be, because since I'm so crap at this I'd rather not need to do it again soon.  That's why I'm only trying for jobs that I really would like to have such as at the soon to be opened Apple Store in Pacific Centre [mbv], or the reporter/photographer job at the Chilliwack Times [ct] that I applied for yesterday.  (I built an on-line photography portfolio for that job that you can browse here [fkr]).

So I've decided to draw up a few rules for the sort of job that I'm looking to take, just so I don't end up doing this macabre dance in six months. 

1) I have to like the job.  I guess this seems like a luxury, but most of us spend so much time at work that the fact that we generally don't like our jobs is insane.  Life's too short to be doing something that I hate any longer than I need to be.  I mean it doesn't need to be as fun as a trip to EuroDisney, but I don't want to be going home ready to hide under my bed crying.

2) I want the possibility for advancement.  This is one of the reasons I've been focusing on larger companies  during this job search, because there's more chance for things like raises, promotions and rewards for long term service and good work.  I've been with the same company for nearly a decade and the people hired this month are paid the same as me, get as much control over their hours as I do and there's pretty much nowhere for me to advance.  To the company the only difference between me and new hires is that the new hires are younger and more attractive.

3) I'd like to be able to be creative.  Granted if I get a sales job this isn't going to be much of a possibility, but when I was talking to Rob Butz who I used to work with at the Phoenix I realized that my years with the paper were probably the best I've ever had.  Being able to do something like that, something that manages to use at least part of my creative side, would be wonderful.

4) I'd like to have a job that includes travel.  This is sort of an outside shot thing, but I like travelling for work.  I used to really dig the weeks I'd have to go to Toronto for Campus Plus meetings and would actually really like something were I got the chance to travel.  Maybe having to spend two weeks a month in Peace River might blow, but some travel would be hot.

5) Working somewhere where they respect me would be wonderful.  Really so much can be ignored if I have the feeling that I'm needed and an important part of the team.  Feeling like you're just a cog in the machine, and as easily replaced as a three dollar mop, is incredibly demoralizing.  Things like money and hours can be ignored if there's a sense that my contribution is important and that I'm doing a good job. 

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How my art got into Value Village
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I just got back from my second trip to Kelowna in the last two weeks, this time it was a quick one day jaunt down with Nathan for purposes of performance art. More on the performance art later, if it amounts to anything. As it was most of our time was taken up by driving around Kelowna taking pictures of things and admiring the recent burst of construction that has brought the city forwards into true Malltopia. We also managed to visit with Chad who I hadn't seen last week, since he missed all the non-official grad activities.

I've got some photography up of the trip on my Flickr page [fkr], though most of it is either scenic photography from Knox Mountain, or pictures of Chad, Nathan and I chilling at Joey's on the patio drinking giant beers and eating sushi tacos. 

Since I only had Tuesday off we drove down Monday after I finished work arriving in Kelowna at about 11:30 pm, and then drove back this morning leaving at 6:30 am and giving me just enough time to get to my apartment and then up to Metrotown so that I arrived only five minutes late at 1:05 pm.  It was drive-riffic.

As a side note we went to the Value Village [vv] thrift store in Kelowna and I found a t-shirt that I had actually made.  Pictured below this Phoenix shirt I designed along with Todd Leskie for the PWRCUP conference we hosted at OUC.  It seems that someone must have sold/gave theirs to VV, or the large box of extra ones that we had left over was given away.  There was also an UBC-O History Union t-shirt [fkr], which lead me to belive that someone (Brian Doubt maybe) that was involved in both the History Course Union and the paper had been donating to VV recently.  So there you go, something I created is in the museum of Value Village.

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Random results from my ego Google search

Every now and then I Google myself to see what the world at large is saying about me, or more likely the Jeffrey Simpson that writes for the Globe and Mail.  Most of the stuff I find is from old websites that I've created over the years, so it's fairly seldom that I come across anything of note.

However just now while watching an episode of the painfully stupid show Mutant X, whose relationship with Marvel Comics' X-Men I've not been able to figure out, I came a across this link to an article about an editing decision I made with the Phoenix.  I had decided not to run an ad for a group that wanted to free holocaust denier Ernst Zundel in the paper, something which got me some positive letters for once.  Apparently there was an article on it in the Daily Courier, which got a mention on the site for the Canadian Jewish Congress.

In this connection, every Canadian could well learn from the leadership demonstrated by two outstanding representatives of younger generations: Susan (last name unknown) and Jeffery Simpson, managing editor of The Phoenix, the student newspaper at Okanagan University College, where I take history classes.

Go to City Park and you will see Susan's words written in the year 2000 on the public washroom wall for the Fat Cat Children's Festival "If I Had a Wish" art-expression project: "I wish to stop racism."

In the same vein, Simpson recently withdrew an ad placed by the Canadian Association for Free Expression, a so-called free-speech advocacy group, and detailed his reasons why in an open message to his readers. So cogent was Mr. Simpson's argument that it inspired a congratulatory letter from myself.

Simpson demonstrated bold, judicious, responsible and perceptive editorial leadership in choosing not to profit from an ad aimed at garnering funds for the defence of imprisoned Ernst Zundel.

Zundel is that racist dinosaur who not only denies the Nazis' mass slaughter of six million Jews during the Second World War, but further claims that the Holocaust is just a fictitious component of an international Jewish conspiracy.

Heeding the words of people like Landy, Susan and Simpson is precisely the prescription every Canadian needs to eradicate racism.

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