Teacher…lawyer…IT

When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher. I enrolled for a teaching degree at ‘varsity. One lecture of Pedagogics and I ran away screaming. Fortunately it was during the first week when I could still make a subject change. I changed to Latin. One lecture of Latin and I ran away screaming. I made another subject change. To Political Science. It was a good change because I ended up majoring in it.

My having run away screaming from Pedagogics is no reflection on teachers. My Mom is a teacher and I have great respect for teachers. It was just not for me. Pedagogics is about the art of teaching. It is an art, to teach. And to do so responsibly, with passion and care.

I thought Latin was going to be easy because Portuguese is based on it. I just didn’t see myself sitting for a whole year through the driest of dry subjects. Latin is a grudge subject. Most people do it because they have to (or had to at the time), like Law students.

After realising that teaching was not for me I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. So taking Latin did make sense. What made me drop the idea of becoming a lawyer was not the dryness of Latin. It was the dryness of law. I found myself reading, with the same curiosity reserved for People and Heat magazine, the cases that made it to court. All the scandals and tragedies that make up family law. That was the most interesting part. Learning the actual statutes was not for me. I suffered through 1 year of law before settling on English Literature as my second major.

And here I am, 12 years later, with a career in IT!

 

Guest post: 3D Food

Today I have a guest post written by Chef Ed. It is quite a different way of looking at food. Bon Appetit :-)!

Printing ink is expensive. Ink-jet printer ink, that is. Well, really any good quality ink, such as that used by artists, is liable to cost.

I am endeavouring to apply a new way of thinking, some refer to it as a ‘reframe’.

My printer cartridge has run out and I need to buy a replacement. I apply the mental reframe by thinking not about what it will cost, but rather what I will be able to do with it.

Also, I can think of my printing ink as economical if I think of ink that costs more, so that my fresh, new cartridge seems inexpensive by comparison. The ink I am referring to is the ink used to print images on birthday cakes. Have you seen them? It’s edible ink and it is rather expensive, but what beautiful, creative cakes can be made using that system!  I would never have imagined that it would be possible to make that kind of ink edible.

Ink jet printer ink has to have some special properties in order to work. The printing head is like a miniature spray gun squiring out one minute drop at a time, rapidly, and the ink has to be electrostatically charged so that it can be aimed by the printing head at a particular position on the paper.

If I were to have another career, I would choose to be a baker. I enjoy baking breads and apple pies and carrot cakes… Now I’m thinking of all the creative things I could do with edible ink images. Imagine a banana loaf, covered in white icing with cute little yellow bananas printed all over it.  But imagine, if to the ink, we could add flavours as well, so that the little printed  bananas actually tasted like real banana. Imagine a whole cake, shaped like a pineapple, tasting of pineapple. Carrots on a carrot cake…

This opens up a whole new world! Take edible ink, that can be flavoured  to any taste you want, making any food you want become possible. I have a vision of the engineering 3D printer, used to make prototypes, moving from the engineering and design world and into the kitchen. A hot dog marvelously printed out in seconds!

And not just any hot dog, this is a designer Hot Dog. Hotel kitchens and restaurants everywhere will be moving into a new era of dish experimentation. No more, the hours spent slaving in steamy kitchens. Chefs, like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver will be clamouring to get the latest version of MSkitchen, a CAD system for designer cooks. Trial and error in minutes and seconds instead of hours and days, all done digitally to perfection. Dishes prepared from drop down menus. Chefs storing their libraries of good ideas to be retrieved at the click of a mouse, to create endless combinations, viewed from any angle, tastes intensified or reduced using slider controls and radio buttons, all improved virtually until the chef is satisfied and his creating arrives magically out of the 3D printer!

Backpackers and survival enthusiasts will no longer need to be weighed down by heavy rations. They will only need their MacBook and portable 3D printer, instantly able to print out delicious food.  Likewise astronauts on the International Play Station, no longer forced to live on boring food squeezed out of what looks like a toothpaste tube. Wonderful food printed fresh everyday.  Macdonalds will finally be able to make every Big Mac identical to every other Big Mac, print after print after print.  Not fast food… Instant food.

Now if I can just finish sorting out how to combine this whole lot with my microwave, I will have a way to serve it … Hot!

Chef Ed

 

The fish ladder

Nimbus fish hatchery
The fish ladder at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Folsom, CA

While in the US last year one of the places I visited was the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Folsom, CA. A fascinating place it was. Dams, like the Folsom Dam and the Nimbus Dam built along the American River to meet the water needs of the growing population in the region prevented salmon and steelhead from reaching their natural spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the river.

As a result the salmon and steelhead population was diminishing. The Nimbus Fish Hatchery was established to maintain the populations of these fish along the American River. The hatchery is a local attraction where families go for a visit. During Autumn families flock to see the annual migration.

So you think you have problems? The fish, trying to swim upstream to fulfill their natural urge for multiplying, are physically blocked from by huge gates lowered across the river. They are encouraged and re-routed to these fish ladders where they flap their way, painstakingly slowly, up each of these stairs. We witnessed a salmon come into the first step, and step by slow step, and jump to the next one. There are 20 of these steps. As he made it up each step, we walked up the side to keep up with him. By the time he made it to the top he was tired. The higher he got the slower he became.

The harvested eggs are hatched and raised in large tanks, and when the fish are big enough, they are released back into the river to start the cycle of life.

I guess that they will eventually, in the future, find themselves climbing the fish ladder.

Acknowledgments:
http://www.visitfolsom.com/history/nimbus_hatchery.aspx
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/Nimbus/Facility.asp

Apple – an experience not a device

The south of Joburg has come into the 21st century. We have an iStore at The Glen. It was the opening today. At 8h45 there was already a queue outside, a crowd of people facing the glass windows, staring at the iAssistants inside receiving their final briefing before opening the iDoors.

BBM to my husband: “iStore open at The Glen. If I don’t come home, that’s where you’ll find me”. My husband’s BBM response: “Shall I bring a sleeping bag and a flask of tea?” (Yes yes, I do have a BB).

The iStores I’ve been to in the USA and here in SA look the same. Clean lines, lots of light, it’s a beacon in a mall, crowded with iFans. I am unashamedly one. The products are made for people. All people. They are people’s products. They are not fussy. They are beautiful. They are easy to use. And the packaging is sooooo beautiful, that it takes me a while just to admire the packaging before opening.

iStore experience in the USA and SA is different. I prefer the USA experience. I like being being welcomed at the door and asked what I would like to do today. I like it that any assistant carries a hand-help POS and can ring up my sale wherever I am in the store. No standing in a queue. I like being asked, “Would you like a printed invoice or can I email it to you?” and it gets emailed right there and then. I have not experienced that in SA. I suppose there are other considerations why this model wouldn’t work in SA.

Countless articles have been written about why Apple is such a successful brand and the secrets of its success. For each article writing about why Apple is so successful, there are an equal amount of articles by people telling us of why they hate Apple.

Like every successful brand, there are the fans and the detractors. The Apple brand is one of those that builds loyalty, sometimes blind loyalty. I read sometime ago that Apple was the only brand that had positive spin in the popular press every single day. That is an achievement.

Then there is Steve Jobs. Visionary and creative genius. By many accounts, not an easy person to have worked with. But a person many people would have wanted to work with. Me included!

Whichever way one looks at it, Apple is one of the leading global brands. Love it or hate it.

You know how I feel…

 

The road not taken

I am neither here nor there this week. Lots of thoughts going through my mind. Lots of arb and random thoughts. What I’m thinking of now is the road I am on at the moment and where it is taking me. There is an element of planning and an element of going with the flow, allowing myself to experience it with wide eyed wonder.

I took this photo at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, CA, on the way to Lake Tahoe. The road was so serene, few cars passing, that I stopped in the middle of the road to take the photo. I was looking for an effect of endlessness and the road not taken.

Road on the way to Lake Tahoe
The road not taken

 

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is my favourite poem. I hope you enjoy it:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference


Social Entrepreneur, chief wide eyed in wanderer, wonderer and bottlewasher

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