The website of Adrian Lebar

A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

Adrian is not currently available for freelance and contract work. Learn more.

Journal

On the nature of muses Monday March 3, 2014, 0 comments

It might be Wednesday, but only because it needed to be called something. Every day was the same as the last, as the next. Step out of a condominium grey building with condominium grey glass sides, walk down the condominium grey sidewalk to the condominium grey subway entrance (with a cheery red transit sign, an exception to prove the rule), and step down the condominium grey stairs with all the other condominium grey people.

Even the most stubborn optimist was eventually ground down by the monotony of the city in winter.

Max was an optimist, though the flame of this optimism was well hidden in the cold recesses of his winter heart, damped down against the polar vortex gripping the the city. He was optimistic that spring would eventually come, that he would eventually have more than his cat and his goldfish to come home to at night. That this was not the way it needed to be.

He was by his nature a vibrant and colourful person, full of love for life and colour. He was a talented and life-long student of the cello, which he taught evenings and weekends to tone-deaf children and their uniformly sexy, middle-aged mothers looking to rekindle the musical delights of their youth. He taught them the same as their children. It didn’t matter. Their music was a grey as their smiles, their coats, and their lives.

When the winter came and the temperatures dipped the way they had this year, the darkness and swirling snow and throngs of people smelling of damp wool and stale cigarettes started to get him down. Especially the morning commute on a subway line that was already overfull even without the winter coats and hats and carry-all bags. No colour. No light. No hope. He banked the embers of his optimism in his heart and, head down, trudged along with the rest of them. And so like cattle to the slaughter, Max and the rest of the denizens of the city made their way through the crowded subway system and off to work.

In his case, it was to an office in the core, where he worked as a web developer. For the rest of them he could only guess. That guy looked pretty severe, so maybe he was a lawyer. The woman over there, leaning against the subway doors as they all swayed back and forth with the movement of the train, she could be a school teacher. Or a university professor.

This was a game he played frequently, guessing what all the grey people around him were like. Almost all of them were as pale and grey as he felt. And so he looked from one to the next, always careful not to make eye contact (an unwritten rule of living in the city – never make eye contact), guessing at what it was they did once they departed the train.

He looks like a grocer. Her a ballet dancer, with her pale skin and gaunt cheekbones. That one was a stock broker, the pinstripes were a dead give-away. The two giggling teenaged girls over there in the corner, with their oversized backpacks spilling out across the floor were obviously students now, though the one on the left looked like the sort of person he’d expect to find sitting behind the desk at the veterinarian’s office. Construction worker (hard-hat), street-meat vendor, graphic designer. He went on and on, scanning the grey crowd until his eyes happened on her.

She was a flare of colour in the black-and-white world, as startling and breathtaking as seeing The Wizard of Oz was the first time. He felt his heart skip a beat in his chest even as the subway swerved and he lost sight of her for a moment. But then, as the train settled back into it’s groove, there she was again. This one, he thought, as the optimism deep inside his chest flashed into a bonfire in his heart. This one, she wasn’t in marketing, or a bank teller or a doctor. She was something more. A goddess among insects.

The subway slid into the cradle of Union station, and the doors opened to disgorge the trains occupants into the busy station. The girl slid her book into her bag and stepped off the train as Max watched. He felt his heart clench at the realization that he would no longer bask in the glow of this woman. Even though it wasn’t his stop, he pushed his way through the crowd of people stepping onto the train. He did this without thinking, as if it were a part of his nature, the way a sunflower turns it’s face to the sun.

It was tough going pushing past the people on the platform, and though he lost sight of her a few times, he swore he could almost smell her, a faint vanilla against the sea of wet woollen coats. And as he pressed on through the crowd, he gained on her. At the top of the stairs, he finally managed to touch her on the shoulder. She turned, and the scent of vanilla, still subtle, filled his mind.

“Hello!” she said to him with a smile, as if they had known each other forever.

He looked into her eyes, eyes that were mysteries he felt he had known his whole life, and heard himself answer “Hey! How’re you doing today?”

Around them the condominium grey world, full of it’s condominium grey people and condominium grey scents and condominium grey sounds ceased to be of any importance.

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The Heart of the City Thursday February 27, 2014, 0 comments

Beverly could feel the thump of big Stirling engine No. 6 roll through her body, and thought with excitement, The Heart of the City is actually beating in my chest!

Thirty-two thumping engines, each twenty meters tall and sixty long were ranged more or less symmetrically around the circumference of the envelope. They capitalized on the temperature difference between the air and ice outside the envelope and the steam jets originating from geothermal energy coming from deep in the ground below, where the molten rock was still hot and close to the surface.

Engineers worked hard – had in fact built entire complex systems – to keep the Stirlings desynchronized as they generated the life-giving electricity the city required. Once, when she was seven, the systems failed and the huge engines, rolling through their endless but minutely varied cycles, eventually all fired at once in a single city rattling convulsion that caused massive city-wide damage. Windows shattered all across the city, water mains broke, and a four story building had collapsed.

Most distressingly, the envelope had suffered the first of only two unplanned breaches in its 130 year history. A lot of heads rolled too, and in the intervening 12 years there hadn’t been any more failures until No. 17 had been all but destroyed when the envelope was compromised during the attack last year. It wasn’t expected to be operational again for another six months.

And there was old No. 6, affectionately known by various names, such as Old Faithful, Lady Liberty, and by most; The Heart of the City. No. 6 was the last of the original eight energy pumps created in the early days of the envelope and the city, and she pumped louder than her sleeker, more modern sisters. Stronger, somehow, like it mattered more.

Standing here atop No. 6 next to the this windows of the access airlock, Beverly could see outside to the brightly lit staging platform standing out in sharp relief against the heavy grey of the sky. But the exhilaration of being here waiting for Sam and his survey team to return from their sortie outside the envelope paled in comparison to the childish thrill of being this close to the big engine and feeling the deep, heavy throb of the mythical machine rumbling through her ribcage.

The Heart of the City is actually beating in my chest!

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My web career is old enough to drink in Ontario Wednesday January 8, 2014, 1 comments

As of today, I’ve been in the web field for nineteen years. I’m somewhat surprised by this. Let’s buy my career a celebratory Guinness!

I spent many of those years (mostly the early ones) as a web designer, capitalizing on my graphic design education, but even in that capacity, I’ve had to write a lot of code.

I’ve spent a lot more years as a web developer, both on the front end with HTML, CSS and Javascript, and the back end, starting in Perl, then moving to PHP and eventually Ruby, Python and Node.js. Then there’s the hybrid stuff I’m doing right now using Angular.js.

It’s crazy to think how the technology and philosophy has changed in two decades.

For the last six years I’ve been building and managing development teams, first at Canoe and The Toronto Sun, then at a large multinational web agency where I was responsible for the optimization of target.com, then a startup building a specialized social network and most recently The Toronto Star, where I have the honour to have formed and manage the mobile and web development teams while we successfully migrated from a legacy CMS and website to a new back-end system and site in seven months.

It’s not quite two decades yet, but here’s hoping the next 19 years are every bit as exciting and interesting (and good!) as the first 19 were.

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Crane #60 Thursday November 14, 2013, 1 comments

Crane #60, November 14, 2013

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Crane #59 Wednesday November 13, 2013, 0 comments

Crane #59, November 13, 2013

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