About me

I'm Chris, a semi-retired, single bloke in my mid-sixties now living in Montreal, Canada. I still work part-time as a writer, web developer and fundraiser. I don't actively seek out new work, but, if it is interesting or for a good cause, I'll consider taking it on. I love long-distance hiking and movies.

One through-thread

I was born the year after Sputnik orbited the Earth triggering the Space Race and lived out my youth on an insignificant island between two Super Powers, always under the oppressive fear of annihilation that was the Cold War.

My mother bought me my first programmable calculator in '74, a Sinclair Cambridge, to help with my engineering studies. But it was my buddy Pete who introduced me to programming concepts (truth tables) over beers at our local pub (now a Tesco) in Sheffied, in '78-ish. I watched him solder together his first computer in his living room--a H8 Heathkit (Intel 8080 CPU) with a wooden case, an audio tape cassette for storage and a TV screen for a display--and program it in assembler to play Pong.

I moved to Montreal in '80 as a machine designer where I programmed a Sharp PC-1211 calculator in BASIC to help me design conveyor layouts. I started serious coding in '82 in a 30-credit, two-year part-time course at McGill University. I later helped set up SCITEX printing systems, AutoCAD systems and learned relational database programming (Ingress/Lisp) to track monkey relationships in the Cayman Islands.

While enjoying CompuServe at home on my Macintosh 128K and a USRobotics 128 baud modem, I worked a long stint in R&D for a financial technology company designing and prototyping user interfaces (in Borland's C++Builder RAD running on MS-DOS), writing software documentation in WordPerfect 5.1 and building software help systems in RoboHelp. I left that behind in '93, registered my first block of IP addresses, and set up one of Montreal's first web design and hosting providers, Arena Communications, which I ran until 2000. That was before CSS and before JavaScript.

I returned to my first love, literature, in 2000, and, over the next decade, aided enormously by a diagnosis of adult ADHD and medication, gained a BA, an MA (on Feminist Chimera), and most of a PhD (on Feminist Cyborgs). I had naively hoped that, with a PhD, I would retire as a prof, but my age, gender, sexual identity, and skin colour worked against me as departments had begun in earnest to seek a more diverse and inclusive staff and I am a scion of the dying patriarchal-colonialist-imperialist regime (though my values are entirely those of a post-modern liberal).

With circumstances against me, I decided to step aside and drop the PhD at that point--no point throwing more good energy after bad. So I decided to through-hike the 4,270 km-long Pacific Crest trail (PCT) in 2016 and rethink my future. Living out of a backpack and sleeping on the ground for six months and meeting like-minded, warm-hearted strangers was a truly life-altering experience. It made me much more conscious of the complex fragility of the ecosystem we live in--my life regained a broader (read non-academic) perspective and happiness slowly returned.

Sadly, I can no longer enjoy literature as it now, sparks off an anxiety-inducing involuntary chain reaction of analysis, interpretation and classification. When I'm not working I keep up to date on web technologies through formal and informal courses on design, coding and development. One day, in the near future, I hope to take another six months out to tramp New Zealand's 3,000 km-long Te ARAROA ('The long Pathway').

Behind the scenes

I created this blog in 2021 as a coding exercise with 11ty/Eleventy--a static site builder, EJS--a templating engine, Tailwind--a system of unopinionated utility classes and Alpinejs--a JavaScript framework. I really liked the experience, so I took it to the next level by pushing updates from VSCode to GitLab and setting up a CI/CD pipeline from GitLab to an AWS S3 bucket with Cloudfront as my CDN (Content Delivery Network) and SSL certificate provider and AWS as my domain registrar. Et voila ! That's as technical as I'm going to get, I'm afraid. Contact me if you would like to have all the gory details.

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