IDRC - Celebrating 25 Years

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Continuing Our Work During COVID-19

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Supports for complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

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RT @CoLabCoOp: What better way to spend your Thursday than with @Benetech @idrc_ocadu and us? Exploring how to shift power in tech through…
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This is ascii art. It depicts a clown's head that sort of, kind of resembles me. The clown wears a conical hat with a puff ball at its peak, and is smiling.

Yes, but why "clown"?

People ask me this question frequently. I get the feeling that they think there is some deep, exciting reason. After I tell them the story, their reaction is tinged with disappointment. It isn't at all earth shattering.

OK, but tell me anyway.

My brother once gave me a coffee mug for my birthday. It had on it a cartoon-ish picture of a clown. The clown is juggling and it holds a squeeze horn from which emanates the word "Honk". There are words wrapped around the rim spelling out "Joey the Clown". My brother thought it an amusing joke gift. I nearly dented his head with it.

At first, I used that mug privately, as it were. Once, because it was convenient, I took it to a seminar -- I was a graduate student at the time. The person sitting across from me was involved in a serious verbal exchange with the prof when she saw the mug for the first time. Oh, she had seen that I had a mug of tea in front of me from the time I sat down, but her mind had decided at that particular moment to register the words and picture thereon. She valiantly tried to keep her dialogue serious, but numerous inappropriate smiles kept sneaking in. The looks of puzzlement on the prof's face as he tried to reconcile her non-verbal cues to what she was saying...that was worth the price of admission.

From that day on, that mug went with me to every class, seminar, colloquiam, and spontaneous doughnut council.

And it came to pass that I needed a Unix account. The system administrator was a friend of mine who was familiar with the mug. It was he who dubbed my new account with the username "clown", and I've been "clown" ever since. By the way, he is truly a Unix wizard, calling himself "magi" (his last name is "Wiseman" -- no joke).

A Sad Ending

Alas, the mug is no more. It slipped from my grasp and shattered into six or seven pieces some years past. From time to time, I seek another in fine china shops, and novelty gift stores, but I have yet to find the same design. In fact, I haven't even come close. If you would care to help, here is a clue: the bottom is marked "Staffordshire Potteries Ltd. Ironstone. Made in England". If you know something about the "Joey the Clown" mug, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..