Archive for the ‘rugby’Category

I’m a Teacher

Many of you have asked about my new job and since I haven’t properly explained what I am actually do, here’s a quick look at me, lately.

Although I am still a humble graduate student struggling to prove my worth in an academic and professional context, I am spending some time teaching undergrads. Officially, I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) for the Advertising and Brand Management (ABM) course, within the Faculty of Design, for what it’s worth. Francesco, head of ABM refers to me as a “sectional” which is the same title used for anyone who is not full-time faculty. So essentially, there are proper adults with degrees and everything who, like me, teach one or two classes a week but get paid more. Gotta love it.

What I actually teach is IT. That’s what they call it – it’s basically software, more specifically, design software. It is my job to teach the ABM first-years how to use the Adobe Creative Suite (ACS) for print design. They’re not graphic designers, per se, but they need to know this stuff, and so I tell em how it’s done. The ill truth is that design students don’t learn what they need to despite of how much time they may spend in front of the computer.

I’m enjoying it so far, that’s certain. It’s nice to have my own class, so I can actually watch students’ progress and build one lesson on to the next one, unlike the random times I have popped into Seldin’s class or when I filled in for Damian last term. And dealing with first-year design students is always an adventure.

Currently, they are working on the first project, the poster. Essentially, they have to create a poster to promote their favourite subject from school. I am actually quite looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. It’s an excersize in print lingo and crash course into InDesign. More projects as the term progresses, of course.

I am also teaching a short course in Photoshop for the first-year 3 Dimensional Design (3DD) students. That is really a crash course considering its only 5 weeks! Let me tell you, it’s strange to try and teach Photoshop in only 5 hours, I don’t see how someone can learn in that short time. Then again, I also find it strange that these kids are at an art college and they have never used Photoshop before.

Still playing Rugby for the Uni team but I have more or less stopped working at the pub for lack of time. Seems that they can’t fit me in with my crazy teaching schedule. And in my spare time, I am still working towards my Masters Degree in Graphic Communication (MA GC). Gotta love the alphabet soup!


02 2005

Year in review 2004

It’s been a while, I know. I have been lazy in adding entries, photos and the like, and my I can picture the look of perplexity on the faces of my readers as to why. And so although it is a few weeks late, allow me to summarise what I have been up to, and if you’ll have patience, the year in review, 2004.

I was glad to see 2004 end. Not that I ever enjoy getting older or tumbling forward through time while memories and opportunities slip away forever, but it was just such a crap year, one of the toughest I have had to endure.

On NYE2003, I had planned to stay in and do nothing, but Jay dragged me out to watch fireworks with the girl he was courting called Debbie. While it was nice to chat with people over age 18 for a change, I probably should have stayed home. The early winter was marked by me feeling disappointed in the fact that I was no longer performing in with the Underground Shakespeare Company (because I felt shafted out of roles for too many consecutive seasons) and because my Fraternity had all but died with the news that we would officially not have a line in the Spring 04. Winter Term at Drexel wore on with little consequence, and Spring came in vainglorious Philadelphia fashion.

The only good point of Winter was being accepted to grad school in England. It gave me something to keep in mind when I was ready to break things … and people.

There were, in fact, two clear highlights to the Spring Term. One, I won Research Day for my project on Vampires and was awarded $500 and a certain amount of prestige. Of course the money took 10 weeks to clear and I never did see my name in the paper, but that’s not the point. And, Spring Term 04, my final term at Uni, was the first time I managed to get straight As. I had come close several times, earning a lone B, but this was the first and only time I hit the 4.0

Dance seemed to be the only thing in my life that hadn’t fallen apart. In fact, dance got better and by the end, it was a lifestyle I didn’t want to give up. The performances were great and the memories weren’t bad either. History will smile upon my time dancing at Drexel.

And then I graduated. This was the most inflated and overrated event of my life to date – even more-so than the Senior Prom five years earlier. The whole event was over in two hours or so and aside from the cap and gown and other ridiculous rituals, it was just like any other day. Our parents came down, but we all cleared off quickly to evade the traffic and just to get on with our lives. No one seemed to care what I had gone through, no one even said “good luck” or “I know you’ll do well” or any of the banal lip service-esque phrases you usually hear at graduations. It made me seriously wonder “Why the Hell did I put myself through it all?”.

Summer was miserable. It began on a low note, having to move out and sublet my flat to what turned out to be a complete wanker of a frantic Pocono-based Temple student, and steadily got worse. I took me nearly two weeks to fully move out of Philly so for a while there, I was practically commuting. I will spare the comments about rising fuel prices and the fact that my car had shit air conditioning, but it was not a fun series of events. I was ‘working’ at Ron Ridgeway, Inc. which wasn’t bad except for the small detail of not being paid. It actually cost me money to go in and work. Seriously.

Somewhere along the way I sold everything I could including clothing, futons, my home theatre system and lots of other randomness. In spite of it, I had no money, no friends, no job, and really no direction. Summer, for all its natural glory, was the most depressed I have ever been in my life and I only made it through by playing music by Josh Rouse, MeShell Ndegeocello, Norah Jones and The Beatles and by watching re-runs of the West Wing.

Come September, and I was on that plane and my life had taken a serious turn, whether it was for better or worse remained to be seen.

Having arrived at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, more trouble began, mainly concerning money. In fact, I have had every monetary problem imaginable in the nearly 6 months I have been here including funds sent to the wrong address, wrong account and in the wrong currency. I have been the victim of the dollar and its ever-plummeting nature. (Thanks George) and not to mention being brushed off by many, many, would-be part-time employers. But it was definitely an experience, meeting loads of new people, starting a new school, new rugby team(s) and all that.

October was Hell weatherwise. Even for England.

November began badly, what with the election and all. Plus I dislocated my finger and will likely bear a lifetime reminder in the form of reduced mobility and possible altered shape of my right little finger. I gotta say, the election depressed me quite a bit. I think at one point I actually said “I want my country back”. And so the future assumed a sense of urgency, I must remain in England, can’t get sent home for fear of living in Bush’s America.

I missed Thanksgiving, and soon it was time for Christmas. Mischa and Johanna showed up for some European escapades on what turned out to be the coldest week of the Winter. And so we three took a brief tour of the capitals of Europe, and their mass transit systems. An adventure, that’s certain.

2004 marked a lot of understated changes in my life. My friends, the ever-constants in my turbulent life, all seemed to be getting on with life and moving on at the same time, so when I turned up fresh from Uni, they weren’t there. Needless to say, this was no fun. Additionally, I took new looks at my career and where it seemed to be going, if anywhere. There is no shortage of depressing articles about how the job market sucks and how designers, of all varieties, are unemployed. Jolly. And while material possessions are only one portion of overall well-being, in my case they helped make me feel like shit quite a bit. Next time you sit in a comfortable chair and drink some Tropicana OJ, think about it. Or, when you want to print out directions to where you are about to drive by car, think about not having a printer at your disposal, let alone a car! And let me tell you, it is plain sick not to have steady internet access.

Adieu 2004. Get thee gone.

Apple Store: London

Apple’s first European retail store, location on Regent Street, just south of Oxford Circus in London, is more than simply a place for Britons to buy Apple products, it is the latest chapter in Apple’s full-contact approach to branding and their continued leading of the digital lifestyle.

The presense of the store was apparent days before the doors opened. With eager shoppers queueing as early as 36 hours before 10 am Saturday, there was no denying that this was going to be an event more suited to film premiere than a store opening. When Saturday arrived, so did the Apple faithful, thousands of them. They came from faraway places like Chicago, Tokyo and Bombay as well as from all parts of the UK. They waited in the rain, for hours, to get through the doors to see, and to experience what Apple had been selling as it_s most illustrious retail location to date.

And it typical British fashion, the queue began. At it_s peak, the queue stretched about 1 km, and one could expect a 4-5 hours wait to get in the store. The police had their hands full creating order on an already-crowded Regent Street that now had to contend with buses, rugby fans, and depleted pavement area, as well as the usually rabble of shoppers.

I braved the queue later in the day, long after the free t-shirts and specially-packaged goody bags were gone. After about a half hour of gawking at how much Starbucks and McDonalds rubbish was strewn about, I entered the store itself. Having been to three other Apple retail locations (New York, Short Hills, and King of Prussia), I wasn’t terribly surprised by anything, Apple’s dedication to minimalism was apparent, but they have upped the scale slightly for London.

The ground floor of the apple store is designed to be as uncluttered as possible. A massive entry hall greets you as you enter from one of two double-doors leading to Regent Street. Just beyond is the center of the store, a shiny glass-and-metal staircase leading to the second floor where the theatre and Genius Bar are located. Most of the display tables as well as the check out counter are located on the first floor. What is striking about the store is its use, or lack, of building materials. The design is strictly modernist, only wood, glass, stone and metal are used, all coordinated to painful detail. The tables are shockingly ordinary, butcher-block style at best, with 90 angles that complimented the design of the modern generation of the Apple products themselves, most of which are built out of Aluminum, the great exception being the iPod and new iMac which are still white plastic.

It is the mixture of minimal architecture with intricate technology that makes the Apple store significant, and which makes Apple somewhat arrogant in themselves. The machines are displayed art gallery style, almost idolised, especially when you see the only photography, and in fact the only decoration at all displayed around the store is of the Apple products themselves. The machine aesthetic has returned to prominence, almost a full recovery to the modernist thinking that was defeated in the 1970s. The design of Apple products has influenced nearly every other computer manufacturer, if not every other product designer as a whole. Where a few years ago, they pioneered coloured plastic, now they have brought brushed Aluminum into the homes and hearts of their consumers. And in doing so, have changed the trend of design back to a form of low-tech chic.

All this has been done while the products themselves have been evolving in functional power with great speed. In addition to the monstrously fast G5 desktops, I was humbled by the 23″ and larger flat panel displays, designed as much to inspire jealousy as to create more desktop space. In regards to the ever-popular iPods, the new Photo ones were impressive, but overpriced. I found the addition of a colour screen and adaptation of the Aqua interface much more significant than the fact that I can now carry my photo library everywhere I go. I’m sure that anyone like me, who hates the typeface Chicago, will be releived to see that the now fully-backlit iPods have also changed their font choice, as well as been made more beautiful in general by the use of a colour screen.

I was disappointed that the new iMacs are plastic, and they have lost their swivel capabilities, reduced to a mere one degree-of-freedom tilt action.

Regarding the atmosphere of the store itself and the ‘experience’ I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the Apple store employees I have dealt with have actually been rather annoying, and while knowledgable, they usually seem stressed and clearly have very little experience dealing with people. Perhaps because it was the first day, but the staff seemed very welcoming, all smiles. And the composition of the staff itself was quite varied, Americans, Britons, Spaniards, and a whole range of other nationalities and accents could be found dressed in Apple Black. A reflection of London, it would seem.

It was an eventful day, one that London will not soon forget. The true impact of the Apple store has yet to be felt, but we can be sure that London will be examined closely be Apple customers and business theorists alike. It rained. But England still beat South Africa 32-16. I smell another World Cup (in three years).


11 2004

Photographic Randomness

Karaoke as usual.

Today we won our first rugby match of the season, although it was under the rather strange circumstances that Westminster University didn’t turn up. Perhaps they were off dealing with the ban on Foxhunting or some other Parliamentary crap.

Then to the house of Sam, Andrea, etc. for some random artsy type chat.


11 2004

Lazy Fridays

Spent the morning at the library, then went to Guildford to have my finger checked out at the Hospital, then back to campus, watched some tv and went to the Union. Laurence posing for a Guiness ad.

Turns out I am linked from the Student Union Website.


11 2004

USA! I mean NHS!

Wednesday was a depressing day. After retiring to bed at 6:20 am, I awoke to learn that we did not in fact have a President, so basically I wasted an entire night’s sleep for nothing. I don’t want to say anything more about the election except, “I won’t live in George Bush’s America”.

So we set off to play rugby with 13 men. Pretty pathetic, in fact, and we arrived and were given only 5 minutes to warm up, again. After playing a decent but still sub-par match, I dislocated my finger making a shitty tackle.

I felt a little hit on my hand, so I looked at my finger and saw it was shaped like a Z, obviously the wrong shape. Without causing a big fuss, I walked off the field where Rob was nice enough to drive me to hospital. And to make a long story short, the NHS comes through and with little drama, I got my finger put back together by a South African doctor.

What’s funny is that when I was all gassed up, I was talking with an impeccable British Accent, no trace of North Jersey at all. It was bizarre.

Karaoke was shit as well. And the day ended the way it began, with me being tired as hell. Thank you Wednesday.


11 2004

Writing Haikus in my Dreams

You climb a mountain
In search of an adventure
Just come home alive

I won’t bother to try and interpret my seriously fragmented and impossible-to-recall dream, but that’s what I recall from the night’s subconscious randomness. I don’t often write Haikus, even while awake, so I find this as odd as you lot who are reading. So the lesson here, be mindful of your dreams, for whatever reason. Dreams are fun too, they are usually more interesting than anything Hollywood can cook up, and certainly more random and a lot cheaper. The trouble is, they don’t get releases on DVD, as in Final Fantasy, The Spirits Within.

I suppose the climbing of a mountain is not literal, but rather figurative, meaning some large-scale life challenge (like moving to England) and coming home alive, is rather, coming home unchanged, or perhaps coming home at all, in the case of England. So it sounds like something my mother might say to me, but in the dream, I was saying it to someone else. And I can remember myself thinking of it and, in my dream, counting the syllables and such to make sure it was a haiku. Then at times, in my dream again, I was simply speaking in Haiku, which plain doesn’t happen to normal people who are not doing it on purpose.

Karoake was shit last night – no one came. Guess they are all resting up for tomorrow – Halloween dance. Plus, no one turned up for rugby so we didn’t train. Not a typical Wednesday.


10 2004

Wednesday Routine

Wednesday: Rugby and Karaoke

As the team becomes more experienced and more comfortable with one another, our level of play increases, ever so slightly. Yes, we were blanked, but we held a better team to fewer points with a depleted squad on the pitch. It rained. Oh well.

And then to karaoke night at the Union. Apparently, there is a large following of people who love to hear me sing. WTF? I got a lot of compliments last night, which I thought to be strangely out of the norm. I suppose I was channeling Paul McCartney, again. In fact, as the night wore on, I was sharing the stage with half a dozen dancing girls, perhaps playing the roles of the song subjects – or maybe they were just drunk.

“I saw her standing there” by the Beatles and “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega.

And so the popularity of this, my website, grows. Strange.

Another Karaoke Night

After playing our first match, the SIAD Rugby team, in typical Wednesday fashion, went down to karaoke at the Union and proceeded to do our thing. Highlight of the night, Psycho Tony downing that 6 pint flash of beer and not passing out or throwing up or really being all that affected. Considering how drunk he already was before we got there, and considering the massive kabob sandwich thing he ate beforehand (it was so spicy, sweat was literally rolling off his face), that was quite a feat.

Jess and Jenny, yea, they were pretty wasted. Not cool. I am in front of the camera more than usual, which should indicate the fact that people were fascinated by my camera proceeded to take random photos.

Tonight, we sang “Moving on Up” by M People, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, I dunno who by, and “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5

As far as the match itself, we lost 57-7, but played respectably considering the lopsided score. I got my first-ever yellow card, which was pretty embarrassing considering I was the captain. All in good fun.

The Union w/Erin & Dawn

Went to Epsom to train for rugby. Went to Guildford to have dinner with Kevin and Laurence. Went to Karoke at the Union. Pics of Erin and Dawn and me. Off night for me karaoke-wise.


10 2004