Nicholson Sisters (and Brother Bob)

There are some families you can’t escape. 

For a while it seemed I couldn’t turn around without having a Reddin sister involved in my life: one is married to Kevin, another recruited me to speak at a dieticians conference, and yet another is a member of the PEI Crafts Council.  You can also count Reddin mother (a well-regarded home economist who helped me on a project when we first moved here) and Reddin brother (who was the NDP candidate in our district a few elections back).  And I think he’s the same brother who used to be married to the woman who contracted with Catherine to construct a sculptural sign for her translation business, but that might be another brother still.

Then it was the MacEacherns.  First came Frank, who I met through Catherine Hennesey by virtue of his work in GIS.  Then Frank’s brother in law Derek became my accountant.  Then another brother, Dave, contacted me about doing a website for him.  Then Derek (the accountant) and his wife Bonnie (the MacEachern) moved across the street from Alf Hennessey (the former Mr. Catherine Hennessey) where something of a neighbourly pesticide battle ensued.  The final connection here is that Frank used to be in business with Percy Simmons; later Percy went to work with Cam Beck (who used to work for Scott Linkletter, who I later worked for) and Cam then went on to facilitate a Jive Kings Conference I attended (see below).

Now it’s the Nicholsons. 

Susan is married to Perry Williams, who I met first because he was teaching computers to junior school students, second because we always ended up going to the same auction sales, third because he lives up the road from Barrett & MacKay, and finally because we hired him at the Land Trust to put together a CD for us.  When Oliver was born, Susan arranged for us to borrow an infant car seat from her sister.  Her sister turned out to be Sandy Nicholson, who, among many other things, lives off the grid in De Sable, is married to Dale Sorenen (who plays trombone, but is not in the Jive Kings), and who met Catherine and Oliver through a La Leche League meeting here in Charlottetown.  Sandy is also involved in the Doula Association of PEI with Sylvie Aresnault, who was our doula. Following on, there is Bob Nicholson, who oddly enough also plays trombone (and is in the Jive Kings), and who currently lives in the house formerly owned and occupied by Catherine Hennessey.  I met Bob at a big Jive Kings Conference last year.

If you really want to get funky, follow this trail: Sandy and Sylvie are both doulas.  Sylvie also does bookkeeping work for Peter Lux at ECHO.  Peter Lux used to fish down east and it’s from those days that he knows Ann Thurlow.  Ann Thurlow used to work at the CBC.  Mac Campbell also used to work at the CBC.  Mac Campbell is now working with Perry Williams on video projects.  Perry is married to Susan who is sister of Sandy.  Now start at the beginning of this paragraph to loop through again.

I fully suspect that there are other Nicholson’s out there.  And I’m placing even odds on Oliver and Riley (daughter of Sandy and Dale) meeting in a smoky bar in Hong Kong in 25 years, falling in love and getting married.  And then only figuring out their connectness early in their lives.

Writing for the web…

RukEdit ThumbnailAnyone who writes for the web — writing like this site, where there’s new material most every day — knows how uncomfortable it is to write inside the barren confines of a plain text <TEXTAREA>.  It feels like you’re scratching out words on a stone tablet.

Columnist Jerry Pournelle, who I’ve been reading in BYTE magazine since I was 12 years old, has written thousands of words on this very subject over the years: he started writing using a program called Electric Pencil and has never really been satisfied since.

Last night, in another fit of procrastination, and feeling like I didn’t want to write anything here because I just couldn’t bear to scratch out another word in the stone, I decided to do something about it.  The result is what you see a little thumbnail of to the right.  It’s not perfect, and it only works, at least so far, in Internet Explorer version 5 or higher.  But boy does it ever make writing for the web more pleasant.

RukEdit SnapshotWhat I did is to take something called the Rich Edit Component, released for free by a bunch called WebFX, and built a little custom text editor around it.  The result — call it RukEdit for now — lets me type into a web page in a WYSIWYG style. I’ve been able to create a nice clean interface that suites me perfectly.  It makes writing very, very pleasant.

I was partly prompted to do this by Edward Greenspan, of all people.  Book Television is showing highlights of last years’s ideaCity conference in Toronto and during his session he showed pictures of the depressing suburban court houses in Toronto where he spends a lot of his courtroom time.  His thesis was that ugly courthouses resulted in poorer, or at least different justice.  It’s all about your surroundings, he held.

And I agree.

If you’ve got your own tool for web writing, and don’t mind a Microsoft lock-in browser-wise, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Rich Edit Component to see what it can do for you.  I know that “real web people code in raw HTML,” but when you’re hands are starting to give out, and your brain is sick of looking at greater than and less than signs, it’s nice to retreat to the simplicity of a nice clean editor.

No more stuff for sale…

Well that was fast.  Last night I posted a page on the site that listed a bunch of stuff that I wanted to get rid of in a big spring cleaning effort.  Less that 12 hours later it’s all been sold.

Aliant Tea Leaves

I’ve been reading the tea leaves, and I’m betting that we’ll see the end of Island Tel (err Island Telecom, or whatever) as a brand in the next 3 to 6 months, being replaced entirely by Aliant.

The signs: friends have been called by pollsters on issue, the recorded operator message you get when you call 411 or make a calling card call says, at least some of the time, “Thank you for using Aliant Telecom” (it used to say “MT&T and Island Tel”), and the font size of “An Aliant Company” relative to the legacy company logos has been growing.

Best wishes to Bruce Garrity

I’ve been working with Bruce Garrity of Tourism PEI in one way or another for 8 or 9 years now.  Most recently Bruce was the host of the the Vacancy Information Service we created TIAPEI.  Under Bruce’s guidance, the Service has grown by leaps and bounds.

Bruce is the kind of guy who always has a story.  Often three or four.  He’s the kind of public servant that you never mind meeting with because you know that there will be just as much talk about how they install telephones in New York City, or about why Blue Herons fly upside down, as there will be about whatever it is you’re meeting about.

Bruce sent ‘round an email this week telling everyone he’s taking “the package” and retiring from the provincial public service.  He will be missed.