Moose Crossing

I’ve been working on a hockey fan site for the Halifax Mooseheads— When I started, I was a little worried that I might be overdoing it with the amount of red and black that I was putting in the design, but I think it actually turned out quite nicely.

Not only did I come up with a standards compliant design that fit with the motif he was looking for, but I also set him up with a copy Word Press so that he is now completely in control of his content. WordPress is great because of the amount of customization available through plugins (and brute coding—if you’re into that sort of thing). WordPress also makes it extremely easy for updating and modifying your site. It’s hard to believe something so valuable is available as a free download. Sometimes the free choice, is the best choice.

The site owner still has a couple of things he’d like me to help him with, but Moose Crossing is up and running and (in my opinion) it looks pretty sweet. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.


The Web Page Job Interview

I had an interesting night out last Wednesday evening. I met a potential client to discuss a potential web page project. It started off a little rough with me heading to the wrong Boston Pizza (there are two on the South side but it wasn’t specified which one) anyway when I figured out where I was supposed to be I had an interesting time chatting with a couple of guys from the prospective client company.

I don’t want to get into too many of the details of the conversation but there were a couple of things that hit me the wrong way. They asked me what if I was LDS to which I responded in the affirmative. Technically this is true. They laughed and said something along the lines of, “Good, you’ll fit in perfectly at work—we’re all LDS. We even start each work day with a prayer”.

Fit in perfectly? Somehow I doubted that but I nevertheless nodded and smiled. I thought he was joking about the prayer but as the conversation continued I realized he was completely serious.

The product they are pushing is some kind of natural health supplement. They raved about its amazing ability to cure various mental illnesses including bi-polar and ADD/ADHD. My main contact explained that he believed the primary cause of mental illness was purely not getting the right natural nutrients into the body. He mentioned his strong belief in following the Word of Wisdom (the Mormon doctrine of healthy eating and living) and how their supplement was designed in the spirit of that doctrine. Even as he was extolling the virtues of healthy eating a giant platter of chicken wings materialized on our table. Then another one; then a third one. For someone like me — I don’t eat a lot of meat — it seemed like a rather unhealthy choice for dinner. I suppose ignoring the rule “eat meat sparingly” might not seem at the surface to be extremely unhealthy but it certainly is hypocritical.

I had lots of questions for them about their product and what they wanted me to do as far as their webpage was concerned. I got a fairly bad taste in my mouth when I heard that they had about 50 different sites all designed to help increase the search results of their main page. The image went from bad to worse when they started discussing how there were people out there whom they believed to be connected with the pharmaceutical industry that were trying to give them a bad name. This in itself wasn’t so bad because it made sense that when a company selling a natural supplement encourages someone to go off their prescription medication and take their “natural” product instead, you’re going to upset the pharmaceutical fruit-basket. Not to mention potentially putting someone in serious risk—a thought that caused me to raise an eye-brow.

But what really bothered me was how they reacted to the supposed slander — they fought back with a fax and internet smear campaign painting their accusers as child molesters!

Woah! Hold the phone just a minute guys. Maybe you guys need those morning prayers after all. I honestly don’t know the truth behind any of the libel directed against you, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. However I can’t see how you can feel justified in accusing someone of abusing children when you don’t know straight up about where those stories started. Frankly the whole story sickens me.

I’ve now found myself in somewhat of a moral dilemma. I could really use the money right now, what with being short on roommates and having student loans to pay back but I certainly don’t want to be associated with this hypocritically religious company. The question in my mind now is do I stand up for my integrity or do I help promote a company which operates in such a sleazy manner just for the cold hard cash?

Ironically it’s the Mormon in me that says stick to your virtues and gratefully decline their offer. It’s the greedy bastard in me that says, well just charge a little bit more and if they take the offer then it will be worth it, but if they don’t then I can tell myself that I didn’t really want the job anyway.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Will I be joining them in the hand-basket? I think not.


New Media Movie Making Camp

I started my new job on Monday. It involves teaching 11 to 17 year-olds how to create a movie from script-writing and storyboarding to burning the final DVD and creating a fancy package for that DVD to reside in.

In some ways teaching a movie making camp is a lot easier than you might expect. Basically you just tell the kids the basic structure of a movie and tell them to get at it. The hardest part is keeping them on track, writing their scripts or what have you and not playing flash based Internet games all day. It gets progressively easier the farther away from the classroom they are. Once they are out filming you can practically leave them on their own.

You can’t actually leave them on their own though. Oh no. Oh no, no, no.

For one thing, there are these people that work at the University. I use the term work loosely. Basically they show up in the morning, drink some coffee, visit with their friends in the office, and then look for ways of disrupting any movie making from happening on campus.

We were just outside the residence area of the University (the residence is built right into the building), when we became aware of our first complaint. All of a sudden a lone security guard showed up and asked us what was going on. I looked up at the kids filming their mob movie each armed to the teeth with a massive armada of toy guns. Flashbacks of the Medicine Hat Police cocking their shotgun and yelling at me to hit the ground flew through my head. (I’ll share that story some other time).

Nevertheless a little confidence can take you a long way. “Just filming a movie for our New Media Movie Making Camp,” I explained with a smile. I turned away from the guard and instructed the kids to get ready for their next scene.

He just stood there. I asked him if he needed anything else. He repeated back to me who we were trying to get the story straight so he could report back to his supervisor. I could tell he didn’t have the killer instinct that security guards usually exhibit upon receiving their walkie-talkie’s on the first day. Furthermore I was happily surprised that despite his obvious desire to tell us we were doing something wrong, he wasn’t able to compose a reason why the kids’ toy guns posed a security risk.

Later that day, an acquaintance of ours, that works at the University, came to tell us what a ruckus we were causing around campus. Apparently there had been several complaints about our kids and one specifically about their use of guns. But seeing as security didn’t do anything about it, I’m guessing that it was one of the rare occasions when common-sense trumped power mongering and know-it-all attitudes.

We wondered what we could do to prevent any further problems. That same friend suggested (perhaps sarcastically) that we create a couple of signs explaining that the 11 to 17 years olds holding a video camera and pointing caps guns at each other were just taking part in a University sponsored camp and that their weapons are only “props”. She also added to keep up the good work because the disruptions were likely an indication that the kids were having a good time, and besides — they made her day more interesting.

life work

Jeff Milner the Hero

I saved a child today at the pool. She was swimming in the deep end and when I looked over at her she was going under coming up for air and then going under again. The other guard didn’t see her and I tried to reach her from the edge but she was too far to swim over at all; she just kept going under. I even tried to reach the towel that I happened to be holding out to her but it was just out of her grasp. Next thing I know I decided to just jump in and grab her. I pulled her to the side, got out, and then suddenly the other guard noticed us. He came over quickly and I let him take her along with one of the councilors while I went and got changed. She was okay, just a little shaken up.

It’s weird jumping in for someone in distress. At first it doesn’t seem like much, I mean just some wet clothes, and really when you think about it, it’s not much. However, at least this is what I found, afterwards my adrenaline was just flying. I felt like my heart was beating so fast and at the same time felt a little bit of the shock setting in myself. Then I let myself wonder if she really did need someone to jump in for her. I’m glad the other guard there assured me I did the right thing and the more I think about it the more I agree that there was really nothing I should have done differently. I felt the best about it when I was leaving from work this evening one of the councilors that was there (it was a day camp girl that was going under) said to me nonchalantly, “Thanks for saving that little girl today.” Saving someone is pretty cool, even if it is so minor as just jumping in the pool and pulling them to the side.

life work

My Commentary on the War

According to 21 deaths have been confirmed among coalition troops — 14 Britons and 7 Americans. Pretty good considering half of them were killed in a helicopter crash which was an accident. The war (according to the media) is going according to plan so far, but I still think their will be more trouble and more deaths as the ground forces get closer to Baghdad.

In other news…

I talked to Mom on the phone this morning. She wanted some help with the settings in Eudora. I don’t think she ever did get everything fixed, but hopefully she is happy now that she got that Austin Powers sound changed back to the default Eudora sound. I guess, “You got mail! Yeah baby” would get irritating after the first time you heard it.

WSI / Swim Related Update

I applied for a job at the Max Bell pool. I’d rather work there than the other places that I’ve been applying because they pay much more money! I have completed about half of the 10 hours I need co-teaching to complete the course and yesterday Pat, the guy that does the hiring, came up to me and asked me to be a timer for a life guarding competition that the Max Bell is hosting. I think the fact that he knows my name and asked me is a good sign. So that’s what I’ll be doing next weekend.

Nasty Water

The water in Lethbridge tastes bad. It has tasted bad for about a week now. I think it is from all the spring run off, but the river seems really low. More updates as they come. Have a good Saturday.