May 2015

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Big D's Place

Hey there, welcome to my place in cyber-space. I'm Derek, and currently I'm living and working in beautiful northwestern Alberta. When I'm not hard at work, you might find me photographing the local nature, jamming on my guitar, tipping back a mug of gourmet coffee, listening to awesome music, or keeping in touch with friends. I've also been known to disappear in my truck on occasion, in search of scenic roads. So come on in already, make yourself at home, and feel free to look around...enjoy your visit!


Derek "Big D"

Monthly Updates

December 2014 - May 2015

Well, it's official: I've begun work on a new and vastly improved website design! As I mentioned in the previous update, I'm ditching the old news update format and adopting a more modern, bloggy style. Moving forwards, this site will be dedicated to showcasing (and in the future, maybe even selling?) my photography. I look forward to unveiling the new site - stay tuned!

 

November 2013 - November 2014

Hey there folks, a big howdy from the frozen lands of northern Alberta! I realize it's been a long time [look at that header, yikes!] since I've posted here, and I do apologize to those of you who actually check here once in a while. Truth is, things have been really busy with work, and for one reason or another I just haven't gotten around to updating. Excuses, I know, but hey at least my intentions have always been the very best!

This leads to an announcement of sorts. Most of you probably know that I've been shooting photos for quite a long time now. It's been a highly enjoyable hobby of mine since about 2002. Only in the last 4-ish years have I gotten into it more seriously. But the more I get into it, the more I want to do it! I love working on photos and getting them "just right." I've never been a professional photographer, and at the moment I have no plans to be one. But I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of creating a piece of photographic art and then being able to share it with others. So for now I'm thinking of renovating this space into a photography-focused site instead of the format I've been using for the last few years. The old "monthly update" system was a lot of fun for many years, but it was starting to feel old and tired. I feel that this site either needs new life, or else it needs to be let go permanently.

I haven't decided yet if I'll go with a WordPress-based site or keep using my own themes and designs. I need to do some homework first before I make a final decision. Whatever the case, rest assured that it will still be me on the other side of the keyboard ;). I'll still include little anecdotes and updates from time to time; the main change will be the focus (pun intended!) on photography.

Anyway, I hope everyone out there is doing well and managing to stay warm in the cold weather we've been having! I wish you all a very merry Christmas season, and God's richest blessings in the new year! See you 'round!

 

July - October 2013

Well once again I've been slacking off in my updates here [insert sheepish face]. Hope everyone's enjoyed summer and early fall so far. I know I sure have!

Probably the biggest news headline in my universe is that my M.Sc. is finally, amazingly complete! After a summer marathon of revising my thesis and reviewing relevant journal articles, I defended my thesis at the end of August. I can't recall ever being so nervous about anything as I was going into the defence. Turned out that all my shakes and sweats were in vain - it ended up being one of the most enjoyable experiences of the entire degree program! In fact, the defence turned out to be more of a friendly academic discussion than an exam. The profs were all keenly interested in the topic, which made it really easy for me to answer their questions. Amazingly, there were only 4 hrs worth of final revisions to make, following the defence. My supervisor assured me that this had to be some kind of record! So once that was all done, I made my final document submission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and after a long-drawn-out four years, I'm thrilled to announce that I'm all done!

Other than that, I've been working lots and trying to get out as often as I can to take photos. Still hoping to get some quality mountain time this fall before the weather gets dicey. We'll see how that goes! Till next month [hopefully!].

 

September 2012 - June 2013

Wow, it's been way too long since I posted an update! Time to rectify this situation, pronto. How's everyone enjoying the late spring? It's been one of the wettest months of June that I can remember, ever. Not my style. I'd like a chance to get out fishing or hiking in the mountains once in a while!

Wait, did I just say 'mountains'? You betcha! Since last October I have been living and working in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It's a small city (approx. 55,000 people) but it is one of the busiest hubs of the oilfield industry around here. This translates into lots of jobs and lots of heavy equipment around town! It's interesting, to say the least. The town itself isn't much to write home about, but the area around is beautiful - when it's not covered in snow! There are several large rivers close by, and the best part is that the Rocky Mountains are only about 1.5 hours' drive away. On a clear day, you can even see the mountains from town. To get to the mountains, the closest point of access is from the town of Grande Cache. What a great location for a town! Too bad Grande Prairie ('GP' as the locals call it) couldn't be located there!

Anyway, just wanted to check in. Life is good, and I know there will be good things happening this summer. I'll try to keep these posts more regular! Ciao!

 

June/July/August 2012

Hey there Internet Land, it's been a while! Sadly I've been far too busy for the last few months to update here, so this one will cover the summer. What a summer it's been so far...and it's not over yet! In the beginning of June I made the trek from Edmonton to my parents' place in PEI. I always enjoy the cross-Canada drive, and it was a good chance to unwind and let loose of the stress that had been building with my research work. It was great to make a stop in southern Ontario on the way, see some old acquaintances who I hadn't seen in a while, and partake of the amazing buffet that is The Crossroads Family Restaurant! Once I got to PEI I began work in earnest on my thesis, and that's basically how I spent the last few months. Now, however, I am very happy to report that the thesis has been finally sent in to my prof for his review. Right now I'm awaiting his suggestions for revisions, and as soon as those are done, I can officially submit it to the department and then defend it! It will be a glad day when this stage in my life is wrapped up!

So now I'm in the job-hunting mode, and we'll just have to wait and see what the outcome of that is. Nope, no hints from me just yet!

 

May 2012

Well howdy there and welcome back! Hope everyone out there has had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather lately, because the weather lately has been beautiful! Oh wait, I said that already, didn't I? But did I mention that it's beautiful out? It sure is! Now before all you BC folks get those smug "out *here* it was beautiful back in February" smiles on your faces, may I kindly bring to your remembrance all the wonderful rain showers that you get all winter long? (Oh and by the way, thank you! Bet you didn't know that rainfall on the west coast brings warm temperatures to us, did ya?) Out here we actually get snow *cough* Vancouver Olympics *cough*. But all dissing aside, the greenery out here is dazzling, as are the tree blossoms. Life is good.

Of course, there is a catch (you knew that was coming, didn't you?). Currently I get to spend almost all my waking (and sleeping) hours indoors. Yes, sadly the Dark Lord Thesis has decreed that I shall be confined to the dungeons until that day when my degree shall be complete. And what a great and glorious day that shall be! I really don't know what I'll do once it's all over. I'm thinking of running crazily in circles all over the lawn, screaming at the top of my lungs, and then falling to the earth weeping for joy. And then going out for a coffee. Yeeeah, sounds like a plan. Anyway, I digress. At the end of this month I'll be heading back to PEI to finish my thesis in earnest. In some ways it would be nice to stay out in Sherwood Park, since it's so close to the U of A and I have the most awesome pool job I've ever had. But on the other hand, working definitely takes time away from writing. So the best choice of action is to move back east and concentrate only on the thesis until it's done. I've got a good chunk finished already, so I'm expectant that I'll be able to defend in August. Then....ah I'll save that for another month's update ;) So that's the plan. I'm feeling kinda sad about leaving my job at KLC though...I've made some great friends with my co-workers, and I'll sure miss them. (Guys if you're reading this, please make the trip out east and visit sometime!)

Well aside from that, it's more or less the same ol' same ol' these days. So with that, here's wishing y'all an awesome summer!

 

March/April 2012

Woohoo it's springtime again, igloos everywhere are melting, and polar bears are heading back north to the ice floes. Hey I know this may not be huge news to some - *cough* west coast *cough* - but around Edmonton it's a major psychological kick to know that dogsled season is nearing its long-awaited end. Yep, the ol' mercury has been hovering above 0C (referred to in Canada as "it's a little cool eh?") for several weeks now. For my non-metric friends, that's 32F. AND, it's playoff season again! I'm a die-hard Canucks fan, so I was sad to discover that there's no big shiny cup in their near future.

In other news, I've been working quite a bit at the Kinsmen Pool in Sherwood park for the last few months. My co-workers are some of the best I've ever had, and I just love working there. Seriously, I wish all my pool jobs had been this awesome! On the whole it's a pretty quiet pool, and I do miss the rescue action that I had at Millennium, but the noticeable feel of "family" as well as the lack of politics is very, very refreshing.

On the school front, I'm working very hard these days on putting my thesis together. Don't even bother asking how enjoyable that process is. Let's put it this way: I went into engineering because I hated writing so much. So what did I get? Writing reports all the way through school, and now this. If I was looking forward to finishing before, it can't come fast enough now!

 

January/February 2012

Happy New Year everyone! It's only halfway through February and it's been quite a year already! January was pretty chillin', and most of it was spent on writing my thesis. But since the end of January things kicked into high gear. I didn't mention in the last update that I was in PEI over Christmas. My family's got a really sweet place out there, so I actually spent a month and a half out there. The island is really awesome - good place to get away from the rat race and just unwind. But I'm back in the Edmonton area again, once again working on my thesis (much easier to do when I'm close to the school). I've also been applying at a lot of jobs for when I'm finished my M.Sc. In the meantime I do need money so I'm currently going through the hiring process for a pool in Sherwood Park. Not Millennium Place this time - they won't be hiring until May/June - I'll be at Kinsmen Leisure Centre instead. I've made it through 3 parts out of 4 of the interview process, so it's looking pretty promising!

Other than that I'm still getting settled again and there isn't a lot else to say. It's been pretty crazy lately but hopefully things will settle down a bit so I can update more regularly!

 

November/December 2011

Hey y'all! Wow, how did the Christmas season sneak up on me so quickly this year?!? Must have something to do with how busy I've been of late. Seriously, I can't recall spending this much time at school since 4th year of undergrad! By this week's end, I'll have put in about 65 hrs at school alone! And then the usual 15 hrs of lifeguarding on top of that! Put it this way, I'm going to enjoy my sleep this weekend.

Well we finally solved the material-related problems I was having in my wear tests. The original choices were clear PVC pipe for the wear specimens, and silica blasting sand for the slurry solids. The only problem is that PVC is highly abrasion-resistant, and silica sand has neither sharp edges nor sufficient hardness. Unfortunately I found this all out the hard way. So after consulting with a very knowledgeable guy in the machine shop, I decided to make some radical changes. I decided to keep the PVC pipe, but to coat it with a light grade castable urethane. The urethane was fairly strong, yet soft enough that my fingernail could leave a visible scratch in it. For the slurry solids, I was able to obtain 650 lbs of some of the most aggressive sand known to man: 8-12 grit garnet sand. Yes, that is some serious abrasive! So did the tests work? I'm happy to report that I'm currently running the 12th test, and all of them have been successful. In fact, they worked so well that we were able to cut down the run time for each test to only 3.5 hrs! So all that remains next week is to do some strain measurements and some particle imaging velocimetry (try saying that a couple times really fast!) measurements. More about that next month!

I almost forgot! Last month I had some excitement at the pool in the form of two pull-outs. The first involved a young boy who fell off his raft in the deep-ish area. I think he was in a bit of shock afterwards, because it didn't even register with him that he'd been in danger! He couldn't understand why I asked him to wear a life jacket! The second rescue involved a (I'm guessing) 30-year-old Asian lady who fell off our inflatable obstacle course into deep water. She went down like a stone, so in I went to get her out! It was weird - I mean we practice "submerged non-swimmer" rescues as part of our lifeguard training, but this is the first time I've ever had to do this in real life! Even so, it was like my mind shut off and my training took over. And...I think I gained a little respect from certain individuals as a result of that rescue. :)

 

October 2011

Hey everyone, this month's update is going to be short. Not much happening except the usual school and work rigamarole. I've had to restart my experiments, unfortunately, because the materials I'd previously chosen weren't working out. Oh well, all part of the learning process, I suppose. Other than that things are going well though. Hope everyone's having a great autumn!

 

August/September 2011

Hiya folks! Hope everyone's been having a great summer! Mine was fairly busy, yet more or less uneventful overall. I've finally been able to start my experimental work at school, which is a HUGE relief. The first batch of results hasn't been too promising, but I'll give it another week and then we'll see if I should be concerned or not. So far the second set is looking good!

At the end of last month I had the opportunity to co-teach a complete AEC/NLS course at the U of A. This was the practical requirement for me to become a full Lifesaving Society-certified AEC and NLS instructor. Since there were two of us teaching, the aquatics manager gave us a class of 16 people (normally the max size is 12)! Needless to say I was pretty nervous going into it, and I spent almost a week preparing my teaching materials. But I worried needlessly - it was an awesome experience, and I think the class got something out of it too! The course was 6 full days - 2 days of AEC (aquatic first aid) and 4 days of NLS (the Canadian standard lifeguard course). I've taught Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross a few times, as well as a heck of a lot of swimming lessons, but the AEC/NLS course was way more fun to teach! And the best part was that I passed! Oh yeah, and so did all the students :).

Not a whole lot else to tell except that the weather's been absolutely awesome lately. Today is the first day of fall and the weather's better than most of the summer was! It would be sweet if this holds out for another couple of weeks.

 

July 2011

Happy summer everyone! I'm sure somewhere it's a beautiful, warm summer day. To be honest I don't even know what kind of weather Edmonton has right now, because I'm writing this from my school computer located in a lab deep in the bowels of the Mechanical Engineering building - a lab that only Dr. Frankenstein could find inspiring. Although whether the mad scientist actually would find it inspiring is debatable. It's basically a large rectangular space enclosed by brick walls, concrete floor, and ceiling tiles with long fluorescent lights. Other than our desks, computers, fridge, and coffee-making supplies, there is a boatload of ancient lab equipment just sitting around, waiting for someone with patience enough to figure out how to use it. Oh yeah, and we've got a sweet surround entertainment system (aka a completely hacked-out stereo system hooked up to a pair of huge, 40-year-old speaker towers). Surprisingly it sounds really good, and in spite of the dungeon nature of the lab, we get pretty decent radio reception down here. Next step is to hack out the stereo even more to let us hook up our iPods or laptops.

Anyway enough of my lab rant. Last week I fulfilled a long-time goal by taking (and passing) an NLS Instructor clinic. For those who may not be familiar with lifeguard lingo, that entitles me to teach and examine lifeguards in Canada (pending a successful co-teach). Having taught/examined several Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross courses, it's been my dream to move on up to the big league. And at last I was able to find a course that didn't get canceled last-minute. Pretty exciting!

And speaking of lifeguarding...I had my first pull-out about a week ago. It wasn't overly exciting or spectacular, but it involved a 250-pound, non-swimmer dad in a deep pool. Basically the guy climbed across our inflatable obstacle course, went down the slide, and couldn't swim. I happened to be right there when it happened, and I saw immediately that the guy was in trouble (the big eyes and ineffective thrashing kinda gave it away there...). I threw him my kickboard, but he still couldn't swim, so in I went. And the guy was HEAVY! For a few seconds I thought I was gonna go under! But I got him to the side, and he was good to go.

 

June 2011

'Sup guys? How are y'all enjoying the summer weather? Out here the "summer" part is questionable, but I do enjoy the sun when it chooses to show itself (i.e. "what is that bright shiny thing in the sky?")! Today and yesterday we've been basking in the orange glow of heavy smoke cover (fires up towards Fort McMurray, from what I hear), which, aside from stinging the eyes and stinking up the air, does a magnificent job of getting rid of mosquitoes. Perhaps ironically, we've had unusually high amounts of rain this summer (deja vu of last summer!), and the North Saskatchewan River has been alarmingly high of late. From what I hear, they're not so fortunate down in the south part of this province, as well as in northwest Montana. Heavy snowpack in the mountains, combined with a late thaw and heavy summer rains only means one thing around here: get to work on that ark. I mean, on the bright side, at least there's no risk of forest fire, but I'm sure that's the furthest thing from people's minds at this point in time, what with flooded highways, fields, and what not. Only a few weeks ago they were still clearing heavy snow from Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier Nat'l Park, Montana! Whew!

Aside from weather drama, things have been running fairly normally around here. Not a heck of a lotta news to report, although I've had a major case of what I call the Hiking Bug. Usually once Spring thaw hits, so does the Hiking Bug, and it doesn't go away till winter, when it sadly shrivels up and dies. Sniff. I shall see whether I'm able to get some quality mountain time this year.

 

April/May 2011

Hey sorry for skipping out on an April update for y'all. However I promise that there is a possibility that this month's update might be worth the wait. :)

As per usual, things are going well around here. After a few months of spinning my proverbial wheels in the muck of research, I threw 'er in four-by and am finally making some progress in the right direction. It took a good solid hour of hashing out plans and working out loose ends with my supervisor, but it was well worth the time. Now just hopefully I can wrap everything up by the end of this year.

After last year's rainy letdown of a summer, things are looking very good this year. It's been more in keeping with prairie character...that is to say, mostly dry, sunny, and windy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some awesome hiking in the mountains this summer.

On another note, photos! I've got quite a few new (and old) ones uploaded. So swing by the photos page and check 'em out!

 

March 2011

Hey everyone! It's that wonderful time of year again when the snows start to recede as the sun's warmth brings new flowers out of the ground and leaves on the trees. [insert bunnies, flowers, and rainbows]. In theory. Okay, maybe if you live in the southwest corner of BC, or south of the Canada-USA border, but certainly not here around Edmonton! Today is the first day in weeks where the mercury has risen above freezing. Yes, I know, in the prairies - and especially the northern prairies - that's doing alright. And it wouldn't be so bad, except that I also haven't seen the sun for who-knows-how-long, and I'm one of those guys that literally *needs* sunlight. I've even taken to popping Vitamin D pills every day! Oh well, it can't be much longer until the spring weather actually starts to show. That's what I'm hoping anyways.

Aside from weather-related issues, things are going quite well here. My lab equipment problems are almost solved. There's still some water leakage across the seal, but that's being looked at even now as I write. So until my pump is back from the shop, I'm doing TA work, planning out my experiments in detail, and doing some reading on my research topic.

Well there's not a whole lot to write this time around. See ya next month!

 

February 2011

Hey! Hope everyone's been having a good February (is it already almost over??). The weather's been doing lots of wild stuff lately. Thankfully there hasn't been as much snow as in January - any more and I would've been forced to shovel our driveway out into the street! But the temperature has been all over the map - from -30C to +10C and back again multiple times. We've had some wicked wind chills lately too. Just this morning it was only -16C, but combined with a stiff nor'wester it worked out to a -32C wind chill. Definitely makes for some frigid times waiting for the bus! Not that that's unusual around here - we had a windchill of -47C just last week. You might say it's a great time to be sitting indoors with something hot to drink! I definitely feel for anyone out there who's homeless in this kind of weather.

Aside from weather, things have been pretty normal. My research is coming along, although I've had a bit of a setback with some of my equipment. A while ago some grease showed up in my mixing tank, and lately the pump has been making some odd vibration noises. To me this pointed to bearing problems, and when I asked a tech to take a look, he confirmed my suspicions. So that meant that both bearings, as well as the mechanical seal, needed replacing. Bearings aren't expensive, but I wasn't prepared for the quote I got for the mechanical seal. Thankfully my supervisor's research budget is paying for this stuff - I sure wouldn't want to fork out that kind of cash! So now the parts are in, but I'm still waiting for the techs to make the repairs. But while all this is happening, there are still plenty of other things I can keep myself busy with - reading, calculating, planning, etc....

 

January 2011

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone got lots of Christmas presents, ate till you grew another belt size, and rang in the new year with a bang! My holidays were pretty low-key and relaxing, including lots of home-brew coffee, Portzelky ('Neujahrskuchen' if you're German, or 'Oliebollen' if you're Dutch), tons of my mom's awesome baking and cooking (believe me, I'm still working off those pounds...), plenty of family time, and some much-needed sleep. Oddly enough, I spent the New Year countdown waiting in my van for my brother to finish his shift downtown. Being bored of waiting, I was considering performing a car-honk version of "Auld Lang Syne," but thought better of it.

As fun as the holidays were, it's always good to get back to work/school. This semester I have no courses, which means that most of my time and effort goes towards research and experiments. Not all, however - I'm also TA-ing an undergrad course again. I was able to get a second-year mechanical design course this time, and it looks like it should be an enjoyable experience (hopefully the students will be able to say the same as well...).

The weather around here has been straight-up amazing. Without going into boring detail, let's just say that as of right now there are 2-3 ft of snow everywhere, and the drifts are huge. Snow cleanup crews (graders, shovels, dump trucks, Bobcats, etc.) have been running off their feet around here, as testified by the huge (and growing daily!) mountain of snow in an empty part of town. But the amazing part of all this is that the ol' mercury has been stuck at about -20ºC ~ -25ºC for weeks, with windchills well into the -30's. This may not mean much to non-prairie people, but normally when it's this cold, we don't get much (if any) snow. I'm sure the farmers are very happy to see all that moisture sitting on the ground, but if it keeps snowing like this, I'm gonna have to get creative when shoveling the driveway!

Well that's all from me. Take it easy folks, drive safe, and I'll catch you again next month!

 

December 2010

Happy December folks! Only 10 days till Christmas, and I'm really looking forward to the holiday. Once again it's been really busy of late, but I'm still managing to take some time to enjoy life!

The school term is finally winding down to an end, and next week I will write my last final exam ever! That's right, with the finish of my Fluid Dynamics course, I will be finished all my course requirements for the M.Sc. degree. I'm sure it will be an awesome feeling, but for now I have a fair bit of studying to do before I'll feel ready to tackle the exam. Let's just say that the prof for that course took his Master's in math at M.I.T., and it shows in how he teaches! Having said that, I've really enjoyed the course material - it's one of my favourite engineering topics, and besides, I always enjoy learning new things. Aside from the "learning" portion of the degree, I'm almost finished my TA work for the Dynamics course. After TA-ing that course twice, I felt like it was time for a change. Starting January, it looks like I'll be helping out with a second-year mechanical design project course along with one of my lab-mates. From all I've heard, it should be a lot of fun!

Aside from school, I've also been working fairly regularly at the pool lately. So far it's been an interesting (and fun!) experience working at a city pool. I've definitely had to see and deal with a lot more stuff here than I ever did in the three years I worked at the small-town Elmira Pool! My co-workers are pretty cool, and so are my supervisors, which makes work very enjoyable. It's also a very welcome break from the monotony of school!

Well, here's wishing everyone a totally awesome Christmas holiday, a rockin' New Year, and God's richest blessings not just over the holidays, but throughout the rest of the year too!

 

November 2010

Hi everyone! DerekLoewen.ca goes live today! I've always wanted to get my own domain, and well, here we are. It's been really busy of late, but I look forward to keeping this site updated more regularly.

In August I went backpacking for 8 days in my favourite of favourite outdoor destinations: the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Words fail to adequately describe the awesomeness of just being there, not to mention the amazing day-to-day experiences of the trip. I hope to get my photos from that uploaded in the near future.

Now I'm back at school, working on a Fluid Dynamics class, TA-ing an undergrad Dynamics class, and doing research work as well. I also got a part-time job lifeguarding at the Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, which is a great (read: low-stress) job and a welcome source of $$. So I'm staying fairly busy but enjoying life. Just had a midterm this morning, which wasn't such a great experience, but the good news is that it's my very last midterm ever!

Anywho, gotta keep this update short and sweet. Till next time!

 

July 2010

Hey everyone, hope the summer's going...well, like a summer should go. Happy Dominion Day (or Canada Day, if you like to call it that) to my fellow countrymen, and Happy Independence Day to my friends south of the line! It certainly is a God-given privilege to be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have. More than ever, I consider myself blessed to be a Canadian. I love this land, with all its great people, unsurpassed nature, rich history and culture, and yes, even its winter. This is, after all, the Great White North. Since we celebrate Canada's national day this month, I'm going to take a moment and shamelessly list some of the things I love about this place. Hockey Night in Canada. Coaches Corner. Tim Horton's (oh thank God for Timmy's!). The metric system. Neil Young. Maple syrup. Canadian beef. Back bacon. Vancouver Island. Waterton, Banff, and Jasper National Parks. The Rockies, prairies, tundra, and Canadian shield. Beavers. Beaver tails. Tortiere. Poutine. Toques. French Canadian cuisine. Amazing nature and huge open spaces. High-quality, universally-available health care. The Iron Ring Ceremony (my fellow engineers know what I'm talking about). Freedom to travel, live, and work wherever we want. Freedom to worship God unhindered. A government with backbone (finally!) whose priority is what I like to call "the everyday Canadian." And last but not least, "eh!"

Thank God for this awesome country of Canada. In the words of one of its musical sons, "Long may you run."

 

May/June 2010

Hi once again! Today is the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. Up here in Edmonton that translates into just one minute short of 17 hours of sunlight! And in typical Alberta style, the day started off with a beautiful, clear sky; and is now ending off with a thunderstorm (a very wimpy one, unfortunately). Our weather has been really strange this year. After a brutally cold December, we enjoyed relatively warm temperatures for the rest of the winter (which lasted until early May). May had some of the craziest weather possible, ranging from a 30ºC scorcher to two snowstorms! June hasn't been able to make up its mind yet whether it's still spring or summer, but it's beginning to show promise. I've lived in the southern part of the province before so I know weather can be fickle here, but this is just nuts! I can't remember seeing this much rain here! My cousins in Lethbridge experienced 150 mm of rain in the last few days, with 50 mm more expected! And in Maple Creek, SK, the rain was so heavy that a 50 meter section of highway was washed out!

My last semester of school ended off nicely, and now I'm basically working full-time in the lab, setting up my experiments. By the end of summer I'm hoping to use a technique called PIV (particle imaging velocimetry), which uses cameras and lasers to track particle motion. It's pretty fascinating stuff, and hopefully it will give me some valuable information for my research!

Anyhoo, I'm gonna peace out...enjoy the summer! Or at least, enjoy the variety of weather!

 

February/March/April 2010

Hey there, thought I'd take a break from reading up on k-ε turbulence models for hydrocyclones, and update this thing.  Winter hasn't left us completely alone yet, but it has given us a reprieve (however short it may be).  I've been enjoying the stunning blue skies and snowy landscapes lately (although the snow is a very dirty brown anywhere near a road!), and honestly I wouldn't mind winter if it was always like this.  But of course, it isn't.  I will definitely enjoy it while it lasts though.

School's going nicely these days.  After completely losing interest in the topic my research project, I had a good talk with my supervisor and we decided to change focus somewhat.  If all goes well, I'll be researching applications/control of hydrocyclones for heavy oil (oilsands) processing.

 

January 2010

Hey, just taking a break from my school work, listening to some Enya while staring out the window at the beautiful colours of a northern prairie winter sunset.  And it is beautiful.  I still can't get over the vibrant tones of blue that the sky takes on as the day progresses.  Not to mention the soft pinks of the clouds, and the pure white of the snow.  Wow...this is visual poetry.

Well, happy New Year everyone...hope the holidays were good to you all!  It would be an understatement to say that my holidays were "unusual."  After my last exam in December, I flew back to Ontario to help my family move out to the Edmonton area.  We spent a week getting final preparations done, and then my mom and I made the 3590-km trek out in the family van, while the others opted for other (more enjoyable?) means of transportation.  I won't go into the details of the trip, but what should have been a pleasant, 3-4 day drive was turned into a gruelling 6-day marathon because of two large snow storms.  The first one hit just before Thunder Bay and basically blew itself out overnight, covering everything with a foot of snow.  The second one appeared shortly before Regina, and we ended up having to stay there for 2 nights!  It ended well though - we made it safely home on Christmas Eve and still had a great time together celebrating the holidays.  Definitely one of the most memorable Christmases I've ever had!

I'm back in school now, only taking one course (thank God!!), TA-ing a second-year Dynamics course (ohhhh the memories...), and starting my research work.  Or should I say, getting ready to prepare to begin to start my research work, haha.  I'm not that busy right now....yet.  And that is a big "yet."  By the looks of things, that could change quickly.  But hey at least it'll be more practical work instead of strictly course work (ugh!).

Later!

 

December 2009

I'm finished!  The first school term is DONE!  And what a term it's been.  The last several weeks have been a non-stop battle with reports, assignments, exams, and even a presentation.  Feels like ages since I've had a decent night's sleep, and boy am I going to make up for it now!

I realized recently that I haven't shared one of the most important things that've happened to me this year: the iron ring! Back in March all the graduating engineering students experienced the "Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer," aka the "Iron Ring Ceremony."  I can't say much about the ceremony itself, except that everyone received the much-desired ring before the ceremony was over.  Here is "my preciousssss":

iron ring

 

October/November 2009

It's been 2 months now since my last post so I thought I'd take a couple minutes to put an update together. Over the last 12 weeks the pace of this school term has progressed from "granny out on a Sunday drive"-speed to something close to "topping out a Murcielago on the autobahn"-speed. I've had little time for anything except working on school-related projects/assignments/labs, eating (quickly), sleeping (minimal at times), and making coffee. I have come to appreciate coffee more than ever, and once in a while it feels like the only thing that keeps me going is the pure President's Choice® Great Canadian Blend running through my veins. Hey, I wonder if a guy could rig up an intervenus-style system to inject coffee directly into his veins...hmmm, sounds like a field for future research. Or not. Anyway yeah, so with exams looming up ever faster and ditto for project/lab reports, I definitely have my work cut out for me over the next few weeks. Not gonna be overly fun, but between my coffee mug and my headphones, I think I should be able to make it alright.

On a more contemplative note, I've discovered that grad studies requires a slight mindset shift from undergrad. While in undergrad, new concepts built logically and sequentially on previous knowledge, so it didn't always seem so "new", in a "what the heck is going on here?" kind of sense. That is NOT the case with grad studies. Let me stress that "NOT" part. With the exception of vague references to concepts I learned years and years ago (and have since forgotten), not one blessed thing that I've learned in my three courses has built on any past knowledge. As a result, you can probably imagine how glad I am that I'm only taking three courses right now, and you'd be absolutely right. Even better is the fact that this is the only school term in which I'll be required to take this many courses. From now on it'll be only one course at the very most, leaving my "free" time for working on research. I'm looking forward to that aspect of the study program - after all it's why I signed up in the first place! In case you don't know what the research is about, it deals with oilsand slurry pipelines. Boring, right? Wrong! The more I learn about it, the more fascinating it becomes. I'm basically studying the problems existing in industry, where oilsand-water mixtures are pumped through pipelines on their way to processing plants. The problem(s) lie in the fact that oilsand particles aren't very nice to the pipe walls. In fact, eventually pipe sections will wear through, causing leakage and production down-time, etc. So in a nutshell, my job is to research this problem and analyze the interactions between slurry flows and pipelines. It looks challenging, but kinda fun at the same time.

Catch you later!

 

September 2009

Well it's been over half a year since I've done anything with this site.  I won't attempt to "catch up" on the news that's happened since January, since that would take up a ridiculously large amount of space and probably bore anyone reading this!  However, I will say that I successfully graduated with a B.A.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from U of Waterloo this summer, making me an iron-ring-wearing engineer.  Close to the end of August I packed up my possessions and drove nearly 3600 km to the Edmonton area where I'm now living.  Now I'm taking a full course load at U of A towards an M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering (oilsands specialization).  It's a pretty amazing school; not hard to tell that there've been significant amounts of money put towards upgrading the campus.  So far I'm enjoying things...we'll see how the term unfolds.

Later folks!

 

October/November/December 2008 / January 2009

Wow it's been a while since I updated this thing! Last semester definitely turned into an almost unbelievably busy marathon of classes, projects, reports, presentations, and homework. Let's just say I was a lot more careful with the courses I picked for this semester! Right now my course list is Welding Design, Industrial Metallurgy, Composites and Non-Metals, Turbomachines, Mechanical Design Project (part 2), and Anthropology. Yeah the last one is a bit of an odd one out, but I'm required to take a non-technical elective along with my line-up of engineering courses, so I figured a first-year anthro course would fit the bill quite nicely, ha ha! My schedule is still packed, and it looks like there'll be plenty of work to do, but hopefully not at as crazy a level as last term. In a couple weeks I'll be attending the iron ring ceremony, which I'm totally stoked about. For those who don't know, the iron ring is worn by Canadian engineers on their right-hand pinky finger. Apparently the concept of the iron ring and its corresponding ceremony was drawn up by Rudyard Kipling about 100 years ago. It's meant as a symbol of the profession, to draw Canadian engineers together with a common bond.

Yes, I'm still working at the pool. This semester I'm fortunate to be teaching a Bronze Cross class, which is the level after Bronze Medallion. I love teaching the course, and the class is great - we definitely have good times on Saturday afternoons! It's also a stretching experience for me, because it means I've totally gotta be on my game with knowing my lifesaving skills, as well as the how's, why's, when's, and so on. It's tons of fun though, especially when the class is as excited about learning as I am about teaching!

Aside from all that I still find a little time here and there to jam on guitar, work out, and hang out with my family. I'm also quite involved with my amazing youth group, Twenty20. I've gotten to know some really great people there, and made some solid friends too. God is good!

 

September 2008

Well it's week #4 of the term already and boy is this term ever flying by!  I'm really enjoying the courses too (that's the beauty of being able to pick all your courses!).  They're not hard, but at the same time they do require a significant amount of time and effort.  I had grad pictures done about a week ago, which was a bit of a weird experience.  Nothing to do with the photo-taking itself, but just the realization that there are about 7 months left before I graduate!  Pretty exciting!  For some of the photos I got to wear the engineer's iron ring, which was pretty cool.  Can't wait till I have my own!

This fall I'm not teaching swim lessons at the pool anymore.  Instead I'm teaching a combined Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross class along with a another lifeguard.  It's kinda weird to think that exactly three years ago I was the one taking the course!  Now I've come full circle I guess.  It's a lot of fun and it definitely solidifies the knowledge when I'm forced to explain it in detail!

Other than that my life is fairly routine: classes, assignments, projects, labs....and coffee.  Haha thank God for coffee!

 

July/August 2008

Can you believe summer's almost over?!?  Doesn't feel like I've actually had one yet...it's been pretty wet and cool all around for the last few months.  But now we're finally getting that warm sunny weather we all know and love...just in time for me to get back to class and wish I was out in it!  Summer's been amazingly busy as far as the job and yardwork and lifeguarding and everything else has gone.  It's been good though.  I've really enjoyed my second round at Dalsa, and I'll definitely miss working there once school starts.  I've had a lot of fun with design projects and all kinds of work; it's been a real blessing to work there again.

In just over a week I'll be starting 4th year studies, and I definitely have mixed feelings about that.  It'll be cool to get back in class and see my friends again, but I'm not looking forward to a 4th-year sized workload.  The term is structured differently from previous ones...this time there is only one core "course," which is actually a 4th-year design project.  Besides that I am free to choose three courses from a list of technical electives, plus one non-technical elective.  As of now my course menu includes Mech Eng Project 1, Heat Transfer 2, Mechanical Design 2, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Canadian Government and Politics.

The best part of going into 4th year is...there are only 8 months until grad!  Can't wait!

 

May/June 2008

Wow so it's been a while since I've updated this site! To tell the truth I've been so busy I'd almost forgotten about it for a while. I'll try to keep the updates a little more regular.

I've been working for two months now at Dalsa Corp. in Waterloo, and thoroughly enjoying it. Having worked there last fall, it was easy to slide back into the responsibilities of mechanical design work again. And they lost no time in finding plenty for me to do! This term is a little different from the last one though, mainly because last term my time was dedicated mostly to a single project, whereas now it's a frantic juggling act with just about any project that requires mechanical attention! But that's the way I like it...I can't stand being bored or having little, insignificant jobs to do. This definitely keeps me on my toes! My major project is the mechanical/thermal design of a UV-sensitive astronomy camera, which to be honest is fairly daunting. While most other tasks have fairly clear-cut instructions and methods, this is extremely open-ended. It's fun though, gives me some creative leash and lets me use some really cool tools (like NX Nastran thermal/flow solver) that I've wanted to learn for a while.

As I mentioned below, yes I am biking to work this term, and I'm loving it! Unfortunately I experienced the trauma of an exploded (yes, exploded - it was actually pretty spectacular!) rear tire tube this morning, but I'll have no problem getting it fixed and ready to roll again tonight! The route I take is 14 km each way, which turns into just under a half-hour commute. For the most part, bike lanes are really well laid out in this region, but once in a while I do have to watch out for impatient drivers. It's been fun though, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than driving. And face it, it just feels great to start and end the workday on a bike!

In the middle of June I successfully finished teaching my first set of swim lessons. It was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me (and hopefully the kids got something out of it too!). I taught five back-to-back lessons each Saturday morning; there were a total of 13 kids, all between the ages of 3-6. There were a number of highlights. I watched twin brothers, who could barely swim more than a few feet at the beginning of the session, swim the entire length of the pool by the end of the session. Then there was a little girl who at first was scared to jump into the water, who eventually worked up the courage to jump off the diving board - without a lifejacket! And of course I won't forget the little boy who just couldn't seem to grasp the concepts of 1) floating and 2) keeping his face under water for the longest time, and who amazed me with perfect face-down floats by the end of the session. Yeah, it was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again!

Well I hope everyone's having a great summer. Catch you later!

 

April 2008

Well that moment has finally arrived - the one I've been waiting for since the beginning of January - yes that's right, I'm finally finished 3rd-year engineering!!!  I wrote my last exam a week ago, and the ensuing lack of busy-ness, pressure, and stress has been nothing short of glorious.  Usually school and I get along fairly well, but that relationship turned a little nasty over the last four months.  I've never studied so intensely or so much in any of my previous terms - maybe because the courses were taught so well that I didn't have to.  The 3B term was brutal, much tougher than any of my previous study terms.  But with God's help, and a little encouragement from my friends (and more than a little coffee!), I made it through.

Now with school out of the way (I'm still working on the "out of mind" part) I can put my energy towards things I enjoy, like playing guitar, riding my mountain bike, hanging out with youth group friends, drinking coffee with the family, teaching swim lessons at the local pool, practicing my basketball moves, or fixing up my van.  Also I'll be working my sixth and last co-op job in Waterloo at Dalsa Inc. (www.dalsa.com).  I worked there last fall and enjoyed it a lot, so I was really happy when they asked me back for another term.  Since it's so close to home, the plan is to bike to work every day, which - weather allowing - should be a great way to start the day.  And with gas prices the way they are, I think I'll be saving lots on transportation this summer!

 

March 2008

Hey how's everyone?  It's been an exciting couple of weeks around here.  Aside from the perpetual grind of assigments, labs, and reports (man that's starting to sound cliché...), there's been a lot going on around here.  God's been really good, and He's recently answered some long-time prayers in the most amazing way!  More about that later...

Starting at the end of this month I'll officially be scheduled for teaching swim lessons at the pool!  Until now I've been guarding lane swims and public swims on Saturday afternoons, followed by cleaning the change rooms.  It's been nice and relaxing, but I was ready for a change.  A few weeks ago though, my boss offered me several teaching shifts.  For now I'm only able to take the one on Saturday morning, but that'll be great, I'm really pumped about starting.

In only a few weeks my classes will be over and finals will begin once again.  No doubt about it, this term's been the toughest I've had so far, and I'll be very glad to have completed it.  I've heard rumours that third year is the toughest it'll get, and that fourth year is supposed to be easier...guess I'll find out if that's true this fall!  In the meantime, my old boss from Dalsa asked me to come back in summer, so that's where I'll be working.  I enjoyed working there a lot last fall and I'm really looking forward to another term there.  Another plus is that last fall I finally finished the infamous and highly obnoxious "PDEng" 5-course programme which all UW engineering students are required to complete during work terms.  That means that this summer I'll have a lot more free time than I've had on previous work terms...always a good thing, especially when the weather's warm!

As some of you may know (if you've been following the weather lately), we just recently broke the all-time record for total season snowfall in the Waterloo-Wellington region.  Yep, it's been a VERY snowy winter, and boy am I ever ready to see those mountains of white disappear!  I have quite a few photos of "highlights" from the many storms that've visited us this winter...I'll try to get them up soon.

Well that's all from me for now  Hope it warms up soon so I can pull my bike out of the garage and hit those back roads again...they've been calling my name for weeks now.  Later!

 

February 2008

Wow, a whole month has already gone flying by! Amazing how fast time moves when a guy is busy...sometimes the days all run into each other and I actually forget which day it is! And speaking of busy...wow is this ever an intense school term - it's by far the most work-heavy term I've had yet. It's gonna be interesting to see how this one pans out. With six courses all screaming for my attention, and all these projects and labs due in quick succession, it can be a tricky job to juggle my work load. I can't let myself think about "next week" or "in a couple days" very often, I just have to take things day by day or else they quickly become overwhelming. Midterms are next week (oh, there I go again...) which means that the pressure's on to get some hardcore studying done, as well as to catch up on homework. I can't wait till the exams are finished...

...but again I'm not even thinking that far in advance right now. All the same I'm looking forward to hitting the Toronto Auto Show next week Saturday with my brother and a bunch of friends. It'll be therapeutic :).

Other than school not much else is on my plate (I can't afford any more at this point!). I'm still lifeguarding on Saturday afternoons, which is a NICE break from school pressure (even though I usually bring along a textbook to study during my down time, haha). I find lifeguarding is extremely relaxing (I guess that's relative though) and it gives me a chance to put my mind on something completely different from heat transfer, fluid mechanics, control theory, mechanical design, and the term project!

Anyway my lunchbreak is almost up and I've gotta get back to classes in a few minutes. Have a great February, catch y'all later!

 

December 2007 / January 2008

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year's holiday. For me one of the best parts of the holiday was simply not having to run out of the house to work every day, and then upon coming home, to run out of the house again to some course or activity. It was good to catch up on some good old-fashioned R&R, to hang out with the family, and enjoy some of my mom's amazing cooking.

In the early part of December I finished up my AWSI course, and after Christmas I took the WSI (water safety instructor) course, which allows me to be a swim instructor! It was a fairly intense course, but loads of fun. I went into the course thinking that my swim strokes were pretty decent, but in all honesty the instructors completely ripped apart all our strokes from day one. They then proceded to work on every tiny detail of each stroke with us. It was like learning how to swim all over again! Good times though...now all I need is some teaching shifts!

Now I'm back in school once again...seems like this study-work-study cycle will never end! I keep telling myself that it'll all be over next year in April. It's good to see my class friends again, but for some reason I'm having trouble getting mentally ready for the inevitable onslaught of assignments and projects. Oh well, guess I'll do what I've gotta do!

Anyway, have a great New Year everyone, I'll catch you next month.

 

November 2007

Howdy everybody! Feels like ages since I've updated this page but maybe that's just because I've been way too flippin' busy lately. Aside from working 9 to 5 five days a week, I've been taking an intermediate Solidworks course (3-D design software) Monday evenings, guitar lessons Wednesday evenings, and AWSI (assistant water safety instructor - prereq for becoming an aquatic instructor) on Thursday evenings. A major part of the AWSI course involves 20 volunteer hours assisting with swim lessons, which I've been doing on Wednesday and Friday evenings. And then of course I work Saturday afternoons at the pool and volunteer on the video team at church, so yeah it's been a fairly hectic-yet-fun couple of months. Some days it feels like I barely get a chance to catch my breath after work before I have to run out of the house yet again. If I'd known just how much time some of these courses would involve, I probably wouldn't have signed up for all of them! But all the same it's been a real growing, stretching experience and I'm glad to have the opportunity to learn new things. It'll be nice when these courses are over though, then I'll finally have time to do what I do best: kick back and relax!

Work continues to go well, and I've been thinking seriously of coming back to Dalsa for another work term next summer. However, the department that I'm working in has not been given permission to hire a student next summer so that may or may not work out...I'll see, I guess. Who knows, since it'll be my final work term, maybe I'll strike out and try something completely new again. I've been wanting to try out the oil industry since I started school, so maybe this'll be a good opportunity to get that out of my system.

Crazy how fast this year's gone by...I mean in less than a month it'll be Christmas! And then in January I'll be starting the 3B school term, which means i'll have less than a year and a half until I graduate. Now THAT is exciting!

 

September/October 2007

Hi everyone and happy Thanksgiving!  Hope you all are enjoying family and good cooking this weekend, and that you all have plenty to be thankful for.  I know I sure do.  I guess it's a little redundant to write this, but I don't mind saying again that God's been very good to me.  I'm so thankful everything He's done...especially for giving me an awesome family and so many great friends!  I'm grateful for the ways that He's blessed me...for giving me a really great place to work, for the opportunity to serve in my church on the camera team, for a beautiful area to live in, and did I mention my friends?

I'm on a co-op work term currently, working at Dalsa Corporation in Waterloo.  They make high-end digital cameras for scientific, medical, and industrial use.  Some of their cameras have even been used on the space shuttle (on the Canadarm)!  I work with the Mechanical Design team, which is a lot of fun.  Finally I have a job where I can basically design stuff all day!  The guys I work with are really cool and the work atmosphere is pretty relaxed, so it makes for a really great job.  I honestly look forward to each work day.

For the last month and a half or so, I've gotten involved more at my church on the video team.  It had been about 10 years since I ran a video camera, but it only took about 15 minutes to get back into the swing of it again.  I'm really enjoying it too; the other team members are great people to work with.  Probably the highlight so far was filming a live concert during a church youth conference in the beginning of October.

 

August 2007

 

Well it's the day after my last final exam of the term, and I am SO GLAD to be finished the 3A term!  For me it's been a different kind of school term this time...I'm not completely sure how or why.  Maybe more fun?  Or more interesting?  Maybe it's because I've finally figured out a study system that works well for me.  The work load was still very high, but it was spread out fairly evenly over the term so it wasn't too overly intense at any particular time.  And maybe the warmth and sun helped a little bit...just maybe :).

God's definitely been good to me these last couple of months; not that He isn't good all the time, but I've just really noticed it a lot lately.  I'm really thankful for the people He's brought into my life - both at church and at school - and also for the opportunities that have presented themselves lately.  He's taken care of me when I couldn't see sometimes how I was going to swing it.  He's worked out circumstances for the best and taught me some valuable lessons in the process.  He's answered prayer time after time.  And above all, He's given me a passion to know Him and His Word more, and to serve Him however I can.  I don't know what I'd do without Him in my life.

I noticed the other day that I haven't added any new pics in a long time - hopefully I can change that in the next week or so.  It's not that I haven't taken any pictures, I just haven't taken the time to post them.

Take it easy everyone and I'll catch up with you all again next month!

 

June/July 2007

Wow it's been a busy couple of weeks!  Along with the usual assigned problems for each course, we've also had three labs and six time-intensive projects to complete.  As you can imagine that hasn't left a lot of time for anything else.  Now classes are finished for the term, and in about 5 days the final exams begin.  I'm very thankful for this buffer of time in between classes and exams.  Time now to catch up on all that homework I've haven't been able to do because of the labs and projects!

As I mentioned earlier, I haven't had much time for activities outside school.  However my one major time-splurge has been a young-adults group I've become involved with since December.  They're called Twenty20 and they meet at a church close by.  I've met some great people there and made some good friends too.  It's always refreshing to worship with other people my age, listen to Pastor Paul's sermons, and then fellowship afterwards.

In September I'll be starting work at my fifth co-op job.  This time I decided to take a break from automotive-related work and I landed a job at DALSA Inc. which designs custom digital cameras for scientific, medical, and manufacturing applications.  From the sound of things, I'll be working along with other engineers to design and model cameras.  I'm really pumped about it, and one of the best things about the job is that it's in north Waterloo - only a 10 minute drive from home!  Believe me, after having two consecutive jobs requiring 1+ hour commutes each way, that's a big blessing.

 

May 2007

Hey how's everyone enjoying spring?  Mine's going great...I just finished my third week of classes and I'm really enjoying this term.  The courses are pretty cool, more or less, and I like most of the profs too.  This term I'm taking Advanced Engineering Mathematics, Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines (basically machine analysis/design), Manufacturing Processes, Fluid Mechanics 1, and Thermodynamics 2.

Aside from classes I'm also lifeguarding part-time at the local pool, which I always enjoy.  I also spent a relaxing weekend down at my buddy Jim's place in the Niagara area.  What a beautiful area he lives in!  I'm continually amazed at how diverse the southern region of Ontario is.

I have lots of new pictures to post, hopefully they'll be up in the next day or two.  Take it easy and I'll catch you later!

 

April 2007

Huh, so much for the "spring" I mentioned last month.  What is this anyway, the "Great White North" or something?  Oh wait, it is.

Well I'm burning down the home stretch of this co-op term.  Only two more weeks to go, and then back to school for a summer term.  These last four months have sure flown by.  Actually I'm looking forward to getting back to school.  First of all, it'll be awesome to get a decent night's sleep, since I won't have to get up at 4:30 every day anymore!  It'll be good to be with my friends again, and since it'll be a summer term, there's lots we'll be able to do on weekends or between classes.  I'll be starting 3rd year this term, and the course load looks pretty intense, but at least there are only 5 courses this term.

At the beginning of this month we hit the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, which is a big day around these parts.  And this year didn't disappoint either...the weather was just about perfect, so the crowds were bigger than I've ever seen.  I had a few of my school friends down for the day to join my family as we enjoyed the festival.  It was a great time!  Check out my new pictures of that.

 

March 2007

Well it's finally turning into spring around here - hooray!  I'm sure enjoying the warmer weather.

Other than that not much is new around here.  I did manage to find a great deal on a really good guitar amp a few weeks ago, and now I'm finally able to enjoy my Les Paul!  You might say I've rediscovered my love of playing guitar again - it really is a lot of fun.  Work is going pretty well, and I'm getting along nicely with all my co-workers.  I just started a new project recently which requires a fair bit of technical design and engineering calculations.  That's the kind of work I really enjoy, so I'm glad for that.  Also, after being fairly busy with other stuff for a while I'm finally getting back into regular swimming again.  I always feel so good afterwards, and it gives me more energy for my day-to-day living.

New Auto Show pics are up!  Check them out now in my photo album.

 

February 2007

Confrontations are an interesting part of life.  Guaranteed, they are never fun, and as a general rule I try to stay as far from them as I can.  I'm not the kind of guy that likes to argue with people, even if I think they're wrong.  After all it's their right to think whatever they want, and usually people aren't receptive to an opposing viewpoint anyway, simply because they don't like to be told that they're wrong (unless they happen to be very open-minded).  However on the other hand, there is a positive side to these otherwise negative situations, and it is that they have a tendency to force individuals to seriously examine and re-evaluate their beliefs.  In the end, a confrontation can actually strengthen one's beliefs.

I write all this because of a fairly major discussion I had recently with a friend.  Both of us have extremely strong (mostly opposing) beliefs/opinions on both religion and global warming, which caused a major clash one day.  And by "one day," I mean the whole day.  It all started quite innocently, but quickly exploded into an all-out email debate.  Without going into details, I'll just say it was definitely the low point of my week.  Fortunately by the evening we were able to reach a shaky truce on those topics, and I had to swallow a little pride and apologize for bringing some things up.  After all, some things aren't worth saying even to a friend.  Needless to say, I felt pretty miserable for having upset my friend, though when I think about it now, I'm almost glad it happened.  It really made me think hard about what I believe and why I believe it, and I think it helped me in that sense.  Things did turn out okay, and the next day we were back to having good talks again, just like before.  However we've agreed to avoid discussing religion and global warming...at least for a while anyway.

Other than that, this month's been pretty good.  I'm taking an introductory SolidWorks course at Conestoga College, which I'm really enjoying.  Last weekend I took off to Toronto with a bunch of friends from school, for the Canadian International Auto Show.  It was my first auto show, and I loved it.  Eventually I'll get some pictures up here.  I also bought myself an Epiphone "Les Paul 100" electric guitar, which I'm totally in love with.  Only problem is I don't have an amp yet, but I'm keeping an eye out for a good one.

Anyway that's it until next month.  Looking forward to spring!

 

January 2007

It's a new year again, and I'll say it again: WHERE THE HECK HAS TIME GONE???  Hahaha, now that I've got that sentiment off my chest, how was everyone's Christmas?  Mine was super relaxing, no visiting people or rushing around, just good quality family time (the way I like it).  In true Loewen fashion we hauled out the snacks, candy, games, food, and music; and we just had a great time.  Over the Christmas weekend, I don't think I once got to bed before 1:00 AM, and I think I slept in till 11:00 once.  It was glorious!

Last week I began my fourth co-op work term, this time at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll.  They make the Chev Equinox, Pontiac Torrent, and Suzuki XL7 (yes you read that right, it's a joint venture between GM and Suzuki).  Oh yes, the plant is over a mile long (!) which means we often need to get around by golf carts.  Fun fun fun!  Just being in a car plant itself is amazing and I love it.  I'm in the Stamping division; that's where the rolls of flat steel arrive and are stamped into various panels before being sent to the Welding department.  You should see the stamping presses - in all honesty each one is bigger than a good-sized house.  The largest one puts out 3500 tons of force, and when it's running the entire office shakes and rattles.  As I've only worked there for one week I haven't gotten into any major projects yet; so far I'm working on a whole bunch of minor "make life easier for everyone involved" kinda projects, which are cool too.  It's helping me to get a good feel for the place.  I also got a neat little design job, which is a lot of fun (and a great way to re-sharpen my AutoCAD skills!).

Take it easy, I'll see you next month!

 

December 2006

Hi folks, time once again to update this site.  Like I hinted at in last month's update, I've been pretty busy with various school projects and assignments.  My buddy Dave and I managed to finish the Dynamics project and get a decent mark on it too, which I'm happy about.  Honestly, before this term I always thought there was no way in the world it was necessary to pull an all-nighter for school projects.  That is...until the Dynamics project.  Dave and I pulled a near all-nighter the night before it was due, trying desperately to get the write-up done.  Between the two of us, we also put down a lot of peanuts in the process!  We kept music playing, and I had a mug (yes, a mug) of espresso sometime around midnight.  That kept us going for a while.  At around 4:30 AM both of us realized there was no point in going on, as neither of us was able to think straight anymore, and my hands were even starting to shake.  So, since I was in no shape to drive him back to his residence, he crashed up in my room.  After both of us woke around noon, we worked on it some more and got it done at 3:00.  Then it was off to the school, where I got the report bound and handed it to the prof at about 4:45, only 15 minutes before it was due!  Whew, I hope I never have to do something like that again!

Right now I'm burning down the home stretch with final exams.  I've already written four (one this morning), and my next (and last) one is in two days.  This evening I'm feeling somewhat burned out from two weeks of long study hours and short nights, so I'm giving myself a break until tomorrow.  And I'm really enjoying it too!  After Friday's exam a bunch of us are planning on going out to East Side Mario's for lunch, then in the evening I'm having two of my class friends over for supper.  I'm really looking forward to it...especially for what it signifies: the end of term, the end of second year, and the halfway point in the engineering program.  What better way to start the Christmas holidays?

 

November 2006

This has got to be the warmest November I've experienced since I lived in BC over ten years ago.  I mean, it's snowed twice this fall, but it only stuck around a few hours each time.  Now we're going through a really nice warm stretch of weather, and if you've read my past updates, you'll know that I'm never one to complain about warm weather at this time of year!  It's almost like a Chinook without the gale-force winds.  Not that I disliked those winds...as a matter of fact I wouldn't mind sitting out on the prairie again next to giant wheat fields, watching the sun sink behind the mountains while a 60 km/h breeze washes over the scenery.  Can't beat that feeling of experiencing nature at its rawest.  Ahhh, I can almost feel it right now.

Anyway, reminiscing aside, I should've known that a school term that started out seeming so easy would not end that way.  Since midterms I've been running at a frantic pace, sometimes staying up several hours past my normal bedtime.  It's especially so right now; our Dynamics prof dumped a gigantic project into our laps and gave us about 3 1/2 weeks to finish it in.  At the time it looked easy enough....notice the word "looked," as in "it isn't."  It's been a long time since I've been given a course project of this magnitude and difficulty.  Fortunately we're working in teams of two on this, so that helps some.  Still, you'd expect a course project to deal in depth with the more advanced topics covered in class, right?  Mwahaha, not so here...with relatively little explanation of the problem we're required to solve, we're expected to use advanced math techniques to model the situation, and then on top of that, develop a complex computer program to solve the problem.  Sound like an academic nightmare?  Well, all I can say is, welcome to 2B Dynamics!  On the bright side, my team-mate and I are over halfway finished the project, and honestly it's helped hammer home some concepts that'll probably be useful in later courses or jobs.  All the same, I can't wait to be finished.

I continue to lifeguard on Saturdays at the local pool, which I'm finding is a great way to escape the stress of school, even for a few hours.  I also play basketball and work out in the school gym on Friday mornings with some friends from class, and yesterday I played squash for the first time with three of my friends.  Now I'm sore all over, but it's a lot of fun...I'll definitely do it again.

 

October 2006

Well fall has definitely fallen around here.  The leaves on our street are all various shades of orange and brown, and though many of them are already lying on the ground, many more are still on the trees.  Right now the sky is solid grey, yet the air is fairly warm.  It's been pretty rainy in the last few weeks, and we even had snow last weekend!  Hopefully the weather will get better for a little while yet.

Thanksgiving weekend was really nice this year.  God's really been good to me, and I'm very thankful for all He's done.  Over the weekend I managed to get a ton of homework done, plus enjoy some quality time (and an amazing dinner!) with the family.  And on top of that, the weather was unbeatable.

School's going very well, but man where has time gone?!?  It's already week #6, with midterms coming up next week!  Man, it'll be over before I know it.  I'm finding this term much more enjoyable than past terms for some reason.  The material, although intense, is really interesting, and I'm finding it easier to keep up with assigned work, which is helping a lot!

This term I'm finally doing what I've wanted to do for a while: work out regularly.  I usually meet up with two other guys on Friday mornings before classes start, and spend about an hour on the machines and weights.  After the first 1 or 2 times my whole body ached for days, but now I'm finding I'm able to exercise harder with much less discomfort.

 

September 2006

The time I'd been waiting for finally came - my last day at work, that is - and then when it came time to say goodbye, I found that I was sorry to leave.  In the end I learned more than I'd ever hoped to know about bearings in general, and I did get some pretty interesting projects to work on.  Although I didn't always find the work too thrilling, I sure connected with a lot of really cool people, and I guess that's what I'll miss the most about the job.

Last week I headed over to a friend's place west of Kitchener to do some mountain biking (if it could even be called "mountain" biking around here).  I hadn't done any offroad biking in quite a while, and it was pretty painful to sit for 2-3 days afterwards!  All the same I had an awesome time and I hope to do more of that in the future.

Well it's four days into the school term today, and things are beginning to look interesting.  This term I have Thermodynamics 1, Mechanics of Deformable Solids 2, Ordinary Differential Equations, Digital Logic and Design, and Dynamics.  Definitely more intense, but interesting nonetheless.  After last term I'm really thankful for the 5-course load this time. And surprisingly enough, all the profs seem pretty cool too.  So here's to hoping it'll be a good term!

Oh I almost forgot, yesterday I attended the start-of-season staff training session at the local pool.  I got to meet almost all my fellow guards, and I even nailed down a nice shift: 12:00 - 4:00 every Saturday.  For now one shift per week is all I can afford to do - school will keep me pretty busy.  But it'll be a great way to take a break from school, assignments, and all that jazz.

 

August 2006

How's everyone enjoying the heat of summer? I'm certainly thankful for air conditioning these days!  It's been really hot and humid lately, which is to be expected around here.

At the end of last month my dad, brother, and I went on a sight-seeing flight around Niagara Falls.  I've uploaded a bunch of pictures to the photo album, so enjoy!

I'd like to share a quote I heard this morning: "You could be born in the church, your mother and father could raise you in the church, they could bring all your meals and feed you in the church, they could bring a cot and let you sleep in the church, then they could bring your desk so you could work out of the church, and when you die they could remove the pulpit and bury you in the church, but if you don't know Jesus you gonna die in the church and wake up in hell."  As the late Keith Green once said, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to MacDonald's makes you a hamburger."  Unless you know Jesus Christ as your friend and saviour, there is no bright future for you - when you die, you'll go straight to hell for eternity.  Jesus died a brutal death to save you from sin and so you could spend eternity with Him.  He spent three days in hell and took the full punishment for every sin that has been and will be committed, then God brought Him back to life.  If you don't know Jesus today, please don't go another day without making things right.  You can change your eternal destiny forever right now by 1) asking Jesus to be your Lord and to forgive you of everything you've ever done, and 2) believing that Jesus was resurrected by the power of God.  If you do that, you'll be on the road to Heaven!

 

July 2006

Well southern Ontario summer is definitely here, complete with the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms that I've come to know all too well.  Strangely enough, I've spent the last few days getting over a bad cold; I had to take a day off work yesterday, but I'm trusting God for a speedy recovery, and in fact I'm feeling much better already.

Good news - I was hired as a lifeguard at the local pool!  For now I'll be working fill-in shifts on weekday evenings or Saturdays, since I already have a day job.  But I've been told that when fall comes around I'll have regular hours.  That'll definitely be a nice way to break up the monotony of a school week.  I've already had two shifts at the pool, and the other guards are a great bunch to work with.  The shift supervisors have been very helpful in showing me the ropes and getting me settled in.  It's kinda ironic, but the way I was trained through the NLS course probably prepared me better for a job at a water park, where there's never a shortage of action.  The local pool is pretty calm for the most part (think "small town"), so it's not like I'll get many chances to practice rescues or CPR!  Ah well, it's good to have all that knowledge in case something ever would happen.

This year, unlike every other year, I actually did something fun on Canada Day.  My buddy down in the southern Niagara region invited me over to his folks' place over the weekend.  They live on 5 acres (backing onto a creek) out in the country, so it was a really relaxing time.  It was so nice to have that break.  We did some boating, swimming, hiking, and plain ol' chilling!  I'll get some pics posted as soon as I can.

Well take it easy, and I'll catch you next month!

 

June 2006

Hey how's everyone enjoying the beginning of summer?  Other than work, sleep, and swimming every now and then, not much out of the ordinary has happened lately.  It's definitely nice to have warmer days though.  Maybe I'll pick up biking or jogging this summer, both of which I haven't done much in a while.

Well I've got an interview for the pool this week.  The manager (who'll be interviewing me) already said it looks like I'll be working mostly fill-in evening shifts for the summer, and then likely I'll have regular shifts in the fall.  Sounds great...it'd be really cool if I ended up working with some of the others who were in my NLS class.

Take it easy, I'll catch you later!

 

May 2006

Man, time flies (I'm gonna wear that phrase out soon)! It's the middle of the month and a lot's happened since my last post. I helped my family for a week, giving our yard a major work-over. We ripped out a bunch of overgrown shrubs and small trees, painted a gazebo, uprooted some flower gardens and seeded them with grass, and basically cleaned up a ton of junk. It was a lot of work in the hot sun, and I got a major tank-top tan as a result. So I guess that officially makes me a redneck. But after the dust had cleared, everything looked really nice. Maybe I'll get some before/after shots here.

The next big event was that I started work at NTN Bearing in Mississauga. The company makes bearings for just about any application, but I'm working in the Automotive end of the spectrum. So I'm dealing mostly with accessory-drive pulley bearings (on tensioners, water pumps, alternators, etc.). It's a 100 km commute one way, which means 2.5 - 3 hours of driving daily, taking the traffic into account. And speaking of traffic...well no I won't get started on that (it's one of those, "if you can't say anything nice..." type of things)! Work's pretty good and there are plenty of cool people to hang with at lunch. We get an hour lunchbreak, so that's usually when we sit at a table and break out a deck of cards. Good times. Oh yeah, what do I do? I'm involved with a lot of testing and inspections, which is pretty cool. I've been able to see a completely different side of the automotive industry from what I saw last fall.

And last but definitely not least, I took the National Lifeguard Service (NLS) course through the Elmira pool over three weekends. Those were probably the most intense weekends I've ever spent, both physically and mentally. Following each weekend it usually took me two full days to recover from all the activity. It was fairly stressful, but the instructors managed to make it fun as well. It was really cool on the last day to see everyone pull up their boots and put out their biggest efforts. The exam itself was a series of situation mock-ups; we worked in "lifeguard" teams of 3 or 4 and were marked on how we handled each situation. Most of the situations were simulated health problems or injuries, but there were also some public-relations situations as well. I have to credit the instructors with an amazing ability to come up with the wildest situations imaginable! There were 10 of us in the class, and everyone passed (which apparently is unusual). So now I've got my eye on getting instructor ratings, hopefully this summer. But in the meantime, I'm trying to get a part-time lifeguarding position at the local pool.

Well, that's the news for now. Catch you later!

 

Good Friday 2006

Hi again.  Normally I don't update twice in a month, but seeing how today's a special day, I will.  Yesterday I wrote my last exam of the term, which was (and still is!) an amazing feeling.  After the exam a bunch of my classmates and I celebrated by going out for a long lunch in Kitchener.  It was great to just relax and not have to think about getting back home to study!  Later I drove down to a Chev dealer in Waterloo with my buddy Jim.  Another one of my friends' dad is a salesman there, and he'd arranged for me to test drive a brand-new Cobalt SS Supercharged.  To be honest, I'd never driven anything with serious power (other than a semi truck), and this car can perform!  It had been a while since I'd driven standard on a car, but after a few stalls and lurching starts, it all started coming back to me.  To make a long story short, I had so much fun, and it was only a test drive!  I think I'll have to start saving up for one of those now!  After the drive, I headed over to Bend-All Automotive, where I worked last fall, just to stop in and say hi to all the people I used to work with.  It was really good to see all those people again.  From there, since it was such a beautiful day, I took the long way home (mostly through the country).  What a great way to kick off the last day of school!

whatever

Alright, I did say I'm writing this because it's Good Friday, and I haven't forgotten!  As a born-again Christian, I'd have to say that this weekend is probably the most special time of the year for me (along with Christmas).  Even though it's spring and new plants and animals are starting to show up, that's not at all what Easter is about.  Though we don't always like to think about it, Easter's really about one of the goriest deaths in history, followed by the most triumphant, miraculous victory in history.  As the book of Isaiah prophesied, Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless Son of God, was bruised, beaten, whipped, torn, and finally crucified - all to redeem mankind from sin, sickness, fear, and ultimately death and separation from God.  He took the full punishment for every sin that ever was and will be committed.  But we know the story didn't end there.  Three days after His death, Jesus defeated Satan and death, and was raised back to life.  He then returned to His Father in Heaven and then sent us His Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, and teach us.  Praise God for His gift of salvation!

With that in mind, happy Easter everyone!

 

April 2006

Hey hey hey, it's spring again!  I've just had a few extremely eventful, busy weeks.  First I had a week where 3-4 major projects/assignments were due all relatively close to each other, then we had guests over for five days, and now I'm starting two weeks of finals.  The action just doesn't stop around here!  The pressure's on, time to show what I know!

At the moment I'm putting together a gigantic formula sheet for my calculus exam, which is coming up in two days.  My mom passed by the computer, took a look and asked, "Is that a different language?"  All I could do was shrug and answer, "Yes."  As wild and wacky as some of my subject material looks to an outsider, it IS useful!  For instance did you know that, using triple integrals, you can find the centroid of basically any 3-D object?  Or that Stokes' Theorem allows you to find the net flows through a surface?  I love this stuff!

Last week my second cousin Anüta and her friend Nina (both from Germany) came to our place to stay for five days.  We had a great time showing them the area and just being together and renewing old friendships.  In spite of my soon-approaching exams, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with them too.  On Saturday we (along with some friends from my class) hit the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, which is probably the main event of the year here.  Unfortunately the weather was less than ideal but the tourists still turned out in impressive numbers.  Check out my photo album for new pics!

Just out of curiosity, how do you like the new look on the site? It was definitely time for a new theme, and the banner just wasn't doing it for me. So I made 21 banners! Yep that's right. So now whenever you refresh or load a page, you'll see a random banner. And a big thanks to my buddy Jim for the logo bar. I wish I had your PhotoShop skills!

Well I'd better get back to my studies.  I hope you all are enjoying the spring, as I will too (once exams are finished!).  Take it easy!

 

March 2006

It's already March...I'm continually amazed how quickly time flies by while I'm busy with school or work. Almost hard to believe I've lived in Ontario for over a year and a half now. In some ways it seems like it's been a lot longer; other times it seems like it hasn't been that long at all. Hmmm, maybe the sheer volume of information I've had to cram into my brain has begun to warp time in my locality. I'll have to test that theory out sometime...

bronze cross

Well, I guess this picture says it all: I just took my Bronze Cross exam on Saturday. In spite of the fact that it was an exam, I actually had fun doing it. Following that I received some encouraging remarks from the examiner, so as long as the class remains open, the next step will be to take the lifeguard course (NLS) at the end of next month. I'm looking forward to it. Funny how I wasn't even sure I wanted to try for Bronze Medallion last fall, and now I'm so glad I did! I love being able to keep in shape plus having extra skills which may come in handy sometime.

As usual, school keeps me very busy, and as usual about this point in a school term, I'm really looking forward to the end of term. The courses (for the most part) are really interesting (to me anyway), but the workload is starting to get a little tiring. It'll be nice to have free time this summer.

I almost forgot...I landed a co-op job for the summer! I'll be commuting to Mississauga, working at NTN Bearing which produces and tests bearings (in a nutshell). From what I've heard I'll be doing a fair amount of testing and report-writing, which isn't too different from what I did in my last work term. I'm sure there'll be more - there always is! Should be interesting anyway.

Anyway, take it easy everyone. I'll catch you later!

 

February 2006

Hey, how's everyone enjoying 2006? As you may have guessed, I'm caught up heavily in classes, labs, etc. these days. In spite of the workload that only increases with time, I still really enjoy my studies. It's not always easy to balance my time between reading, going through practice problems, and working on assignments. And with midterms coming up next week, the pressure is really on.

So, to help preserve my sanity, I devote a full three hours out of my Saturday afternoon to working on my Bronze Cross Lifesaver certification at the local pool. I got my Medallion last fall, and since I enjoyed it so much I decided to go all the way. The plan is to get my NLS this spring, and after that...who knows? Maybe get some instructor/leader ratings?

So that's the lowdown for now. Take it easy, and I'll catch you next month!

 

January 2006

Happy New Year!

Well I decided to try something new: I installed a discussion forum (message board) on the site.  Not sure how that's going to work out yet, but it should be interesting.  I'm hoping this will help me keep in touch with friends and relatives better.  If you're interested in signing up, just click the "Register" button on the top-right of the forum screen.  If you don't have time to write much but want to let me know you've dropped by, just head over to the guestbook and leave a note.  I always enjoy reading new posts, even from people I've never met!

School started up again two days ago...kinda weird to be back in class, but nice to hang out with my study buddies again.  This semester I'm taking Advanced Calculus, Statistics for Engineers, Mechanics of Deformable Solids 1, Control of Properties of Materials, Electromechanical Devices and Power Processing, and Intermediate German (elective).  Today being only the third day of term, I can't say whether any class is "good" or not, but Mechanics of Deformable Solids looks promising, as does Statistics.  I'm still getting used to the whole idea of being in class again, as opposed to sitting behind an office desk.  I'm guessing that by next week it'll all kick in and I'll be back into full-throttle study mode again :).

Anyway, back to the books...catch you later.  All the best in '06!

 

December 2005

Hey how's everyone?  Right now I'm just sitting around, picking at guitar, helping my sister with math homework, kinda bored, so I thought it'd be a good time to post an update here.  I have three more days left at Bend-All Automotive, and frankly I'm not looking forward to cleaning off my desk and handing in my keys.  It's been an awesome experience working there, and I've had some really cool people to work with.  The work has ranged from total yawn-a-thons to fast-paced, challenging, and demanding projects; I've learned a lot in the process.  Some of these skills I've learned, like technical report-writing, will be very useful in the future.

...couple days interlude...

Now it's only two days before the new year, and I'd better get the "December" update up while it's still December!  It's been a great Christmas - great to have Dad home for such a long stretch of time too.  It was fun seeing everyone's facial expressions when they opened their gifts, eating lots of candy (as usual!), listening to Christmas music, and just chatting over a cup of my dad's coffee.  On Boxing Day we all went out to see the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, which was amazing, especially compared to the old BBC version.  Now I can't wait for the next installment.

Well, I won't make this too long.  God bless you all in the new year - Happy 2006!

P.S. Check out the new Petra Concert section in my photo album!

 

November 2005

Hey there citizens!  Wie geht's euch?  Comment ça-va?  How's it goin' eh?  I'm doing well and enjoying life as usual.  By looking outside you'd think it was the middle of winter already, what with 3 inches of snow and all.  Well I guess it's way overdue anyway.

I've had some awesome times since the last update.  First, and probably the highlight of the year for me was the Petra concert.  That happened on Oct. 15, and let me tell you, it was WELL worth the 20 bucks I paid.  Three other really good bands played first: Black Talon from Kingston, Bread of Stone from Ohio, and Farewell June from Missouri.  Then came the moment everyone was waiting for when Petra took the stage!  There's no way to really describe the rest of the show except that they brought the house down.  It was hard to believe how much stage energy John Schlitt has at his age.  I've got a bunch of pics that my brother and I took - I'll see if I can get those up soon.  The coolest part was afterwards when Petra was giving autographs.  My brother and I brought our guitars and got the band to sign them.  Then after signing mine, Bob Hartman said, "OK now I've gotta play it."  And he played my guitar!  How cool is that eh?

Another thing that's happened lately is that my sister and I got our Bronze Medallion Lifesaver certifications last Saturday.  The course was pretty intense, but fun at the same time.  We learned a lot, and now both of us are going for Bronze Cross in the new year.  I plan on swimming lots between now and then so I'll be in good shape when the course starts!

So that's it for now.  I hope you all are enjoying getting ready for Christmas.  Catch you next month!

 

September/October 2005

Hi again!  How's everyone enjoying the fall?  The leaves have turned gorgeous shades of red and yellow here, and the weather's definitely taken a turn towards Wintersville.  The mercury hasn't gone below zero yet, but it won't be long till that happens.

It's Thanksgiving time again, and I sure have a lot to be thankful for.  Good school, good co-op jobs, a two-week trip out west, and of course my family and friends.  God sure is good.

Last month I started work at Bend-All, and it's been awesome so far - great people to work with, and a huge variety of work to do.  I've been able to conduct tons of parts testing (fun fun fun!) and a bunch of other computer/paper-related jobs, so there's never a lack of stuff to do.  I'll check with my supervisor to see if I can post some testing pics on the site.  In the meantime, I do have a pile of new photos in the Album, so enjoy those.

To stay in shape this fall, I decided to go for my Bronze Medallion.  I hadn't swum seriously in about 7-8 years, so it's been a bit of a challenge getting back into swimming condition.  To fix that I try to swim at least 3-4 times per week, and it seems to be working!  I also work out once a week at the University of Waterloo gym, which I really enjoy.  So yeah, no sitting around and getting chubby for this boy!

Well take it easy everyone and enjoy the fall, eh?  Catch you next month.

Cool word of the month: "Hysteresis"  (look it up - there's lots of info on Google.com!)

 

August 2005

Hey, how's summer been going for you all?  As my earlier posts indicate, school's kept me pretty busy all summer.  I wrote my last final about two and a half weeks ago, and then I took an awesome road trip with my dad (who happens to be a truck-driver).  The first stop was Alberta, where the load got dropped off (in Red Deer and Edmonton).  Then we were able to visit with some cousins in Calgary who I hadn't seen in nearly two years.  We stayed in Lethbridge a few days and saw some friends before heading south to Arizona.  What a drive!  Southern Utah and northern Arizona were amazing!  Hopefully it won't be long before I get some photos on the site.  I think we stayed a total of five days in Arizona before heading back across to Ontario.  In all, the trip took two weeks, and I've gotta say it was a very welcome break from studies and work!  So anyway now I'm back in the Great White North, glad to be back home.  My work term starts next week; I'll be employed at Bend-All Automotive, which makes transmission and coolant lines, as well as car seat frames.  Yesterday was Training Day, and it looks like it'll be a pretty good job.

Well enjoy the rest of summer, and I'll catch you later.

 

July 2005

Wow, what a month it's been!  First of all, my study/assignment load has only increased lately.  Secondly, my family bought a place across town, so for a week or so I had to juggle studies with helping with the moving process.  It made for full days, I'll tell ya!

This school term's gone by pretty quick, and finals are coming up in two weeks!  It'll be awesome to have a couple weeks of holidays after that.  Definitely lookin' forward to it!

Well take it easy folks, and I'll catch you later.

Random useless science fact of the month: In a vacuum, light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second.  Exactly.

 

June 2005

Howdy folks!  It's just about summer, and I've already finished five weeks of the study term!  Where has time gone?  As bad as I thought a summer term would be, it's actually been great.  Sure I'd rather been doing other things, like biking for instance, but at least I can always eat lunch outside and show up for classes in shorts and a t-shirt.  The way I see it, I'd either be working or studying, so it's not too bad, except that my weekends have turned into study marathons.  That's especially true with 6 midterms coming up over the next 2 weeks!

Well, I hope you all are taking advantage of the warm weather a little more than I am!  Take it easy, and I'll catch you later.

Random useless science fact of the month: The radius of a gold atom is 0.000000001442 m.

 

May 2005

Hey how'sitgoin'eh?  It's already May...boy have the last four months flown by fast!  I've sure had quite a time at my co-op job, and I've come to really enjoy working at LP.  It felt weird to be cleaning out my office on Friday, saying goodbyes, etc.  Oh well, looks like I'll be coming back in fall, so at least I've got that to look forward to!

School starts tomorrow!!!  I guess I've got mixed feelings about that right now.  I am looking forward to seeing my study buddies and getting back into the books again, but if last semester is any indication of what's to come, it will be another solid three months of hard work.  No mistake about that.  The courses do look interesting, so that's a bonus.  The theory courses are great, but I've always enjoyed hands-on technical stuff like electrical circuits and C++ programming.  Should be good.

This last month I've really felt God leading me to exercise a lot more often.  For me that means either the exercise bike downstairs, or hittin' the highways with my mountain bike.  The first few times were brutal but now I'm getting to enjoy it, and I can tell I'm getting more stamina and I feel better during the day too.

Soooo for now, as the Germans say, Bis später!

 

April 2005

Woohoo!  Spring has sprung, the grass has...uh, you know the rest.  I'm lovin' the warm weather we're getting these days - it's been hanging around the 16-17ºC ballpark the last couple days.  It rained this morning, but hey, it washed all the salt off the roads.  Unless you live in this area, you have no idea how much salt they use on these roads in winter!  It's terrible.  Vehicles turn white after only a few hours of driving these well-seasoned highways.  Ah, well, that's all behind us now...it's spring!  Yaaay!

Amazing how fast this work term's gone by...doesn't seem like only four months since I wrote my finals.  Almost time to dive back into the books again - I wonder what a summer term will be like?  Well at least I'll be in air-conditioned classrooms, and I won't have to put up with lousy roads and traffic!  I already bought my books a few weeks back...looks like interesting stuff we'll be taking this semester.  Some courses are continuations of last term (physics and calculus), but there are a few new ones.  C++ programming, electrical circuits, economics (hmmm?!?), and materials.  At least I won't be spending half my week doing drawings and CAD diagrams anymore!

Last Monday I played an evening of volleyball with a group from a local church.  Wow!  I found out just how out of shape I was (it's been a looooong time since I've played).  Basically all I do these days is sit around in the office, so now I've decided it's high time to get myself back into shape.  Exercise bike, here I come!

Well, catch y'all later.  Enjoy your spring, eh!

 

March 2005

Hey how're you all doing?  Glad you found your way to the new site.  The main reason for the switch is the increased webspace, meaning lots more room for new photos!  Now if I can just get my film developed...

It's almost spring!  I say that to encourage myself, because as I look outside every day, all I see is the white stuff.  And we get more every day!  Aw Derek, look at the bright side!  At least it'll all be over by next month...I hope.

 

February 2005

The nice part of being on a work term is having more free time.  After the study term, I really appreciate my evenings and weekends!  I don't even mind having to get up at 6 every morning to drive 45 minutes to work.  There are some nice country highways in this area which make the drive especially enjoyable.  It also pretty much guarantees that I won't get stuck in traffic - a very comforting thought after experiencing the infamous 401.  And (and I write this especially for my friends back in Alberta), the weather's getting warmer these days, meaning less snow and more rain.  After surviving seven-month-long winters in Alberta, that's something I can easily get used to.  I do miss the wind, the wide sky, and the drier weather, though.  Not to mention mountains, wheat fields, wide-open roads...   BUUUUUT life is good here, and I'm enjoying this area.

In case you've been wondering when I'll get some fresh photos online, all I can say is I hope it'll be soon!  Take it easy, and I'll catch you next month.

 

December 2004 / January 2005

Hi and Happy New Year!  Sorry about the late update...hopefully they'll be a little more regular now.  December was pretty busy with finishing up the school term, exams, final report, etc., as well as Christmas preparations.  Now I'm nearly three weeks into my co-op work term, and it's going great.  I work at a place that manufactures home building products.  The plant I'm at specifically makes vinyl siding and siding-related accessories.  I work in the Quality Assurance dep't, so it's been my job to take various measurements on siding samples and compare them to the values in the engineering manual.  I've heard I'll be working on other projects for the company, so I'm looking forward to finding out what that's all about.

Well I hope y'all are having a blessed New Year.  I'll catch you later!

 

November 2004

Hey folks, I hope this update finds you all healthy and enjoying life!  I sure am.  God continues to bless me every day.  School's going great - even with the often overwhelming workload I can still say I enjoy what I'm doing.  There's definitely a satisfaction that comes from knowing I'm in the right place, doing the right thing.  Granted, it's not always easy - having been out of school in the workforce for so long forces me constantly to stretch spiritually, trusting God to help me with my studies.  And He always does!  All the same, I am looking forward very much to Christmas break, although it'll probably take me a few days to get out of study mode and actually relax!

On the non-academic side of life things have been a little hairy lately, what with getting our Ontario health cards and drivers' licenses, having the vehicles safety-checked and emissions-checked, and passing all kinds of other Ontario-style red tape.  Once this is all done though, we'll finally be "true" locals!

Well, have a happy and healthy month of November, and I'll catch you later around Christmas.  God bless!

 

October 2004

Welcome back, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  There sure is a lot to be thankful for these days.  Great place to live, good school, awesome church...the list goes on.

Seems these days that my daily life can be summed up in the following five words: eat, sleep, drive, study, coffee.  Engineering studies are definitely more work than I ever thought possible, but it's all good.  It's awesome to be learning all kinds of great stuff like mechanics, chem, calculus, linear algebra, and drafting.  The profs are pretty cool too...except for one...but I won't get started on that!  And it is getting easier now to balance my time so I at least get Sunday (or part of it) off.  Amazing to think that midterms are coming up in less than 2 weeks...aaahhh!  [chewing finger nails in background]

Well I hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving.  Hi to all my friends reading this from back in Alberta (or BC, or Germany, or Switzerland)!  I miss you all!  Have a great October, and I'll catch you later!

 

September 2004

Hard to believe it's that time of year again!  Feels like we barely had a summer, and now it's time to start thinking about school again!  Actually I haven't had a chance to not think about school since spring, what with registering, tuition fees, books, figuring out class schedules, orientation, etc.  Not a hardship though - actually I'm kinda looking forward to putting my nose back to the ol' books again.  Finally I'll be studying what I'm really interested in.  That's mechanical engineering, for those of you who haven't been following my news updates (shame on you!).  "What's mechanical engineering?" you ask.  Basically, it's a ton of physics, math, and chemistry all mixed together and tightly squeezed into eight study terms and six work terms.  Should be good!

By now you may have noticed my new weather button below the menu.  Just so you can see what the weather's like where I live!

Well that's the news for now.  Take it easy and enjoy the start of fall.  Catch y'all later!

 

August 2004

This is my first update from Elmira, Ontario (not far from Kitchener-Waterloo, commonly referred to here as simply "KW").  There hasn't been a whole lot of excitement around here, mainly because most of our time is spent unpacking, arranging, and re-arranging our stuff.  The trip out was really nice, although somewhat long (about three and a half days).  No offense to Ontario, but the scenery there does get really repetitive, really fast.  It's nice to be here, settled in (mostly), getting ready for the fall.

I'm starting mechanical engineering this fall at U of Waterloo, which I'm really pumped about.  My class schedule looks awesome - get this: mechanics, chemistry, linear algebra, calculus, and engineering professionalism!  What a lineup!  Should be good.  I managed to get on the co-op stream that lets me work over winter, which works out really nice financially.

Well, this website is just about too big for the space I get from Freeservers, so sometime very soon I'll be moving this site to a bigger server.  That way I can put up a lot more pictures.  I'll keep you all posted on that.

Now that I'm in Ontario, I'm gonna have to think up a new nickname.  Ya know..."Grizzly Rancher" just doesn't work anymore.  I'm thinking of "Conestoga Cowboy."  Any ideas?

So...until next month, take it easy and God bless!

 

July 2004

Boy does time fly!  It's already more than halfway through the year.  Oh and by the way, a big Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks, and a Happy Independence Day goes to y'all south of the line.

It'd be redundant to talk about the election, but boy were the results disappointing!  Don't Canadians learn from the past?  You'd think Adscam and the host of other Liberal overspendings would teach people a lesson, eh?  I am glad it's only a minority government though.

Weatherwise it's basically the southern Alberta special these days.  That simply means one of four choices: 1) hot and dry, 2) hot and humid, 3) hot and windy, or 4) hot with thunderstorms.  Usually it goes in cycles, with the odd bit of rain here and there.  Right now we're in the #2 stage, with #4 coming up quickly.

Well, in one week and six days we're moving to Ontario.  I'm pumped about starting engineering classes in fall, and everyone else is pumped about leaving the prairies.  I can't say I agree with them...you may be able to take me out of the prairies, but you won't easily be able to take the prairies out of me!  I've sure grown to love the uniqueness of the region, with all its gale-force winds, beautiful mountain views, wide-open grain fields, friendly folks, "You betcha!", the perpetual gum-chewing, and even the arctic winters.  I've gotten used to being surrounded by a variety of ethnic/religious groups like Dutch, Japanese, Native Indians, Mexican Mennonites, Hutterites, and Mormons.  I appreciate people being honest and straight-forward when they speak, yet at the same time, not condemning others for holding different opinions.  I enjoy the casual way of dress (jeans, jeans, and jeans; western shirts, T-shirts, or whatever; baseball caps, Stetsons).  It'll be interesting to see how southern Ontario compares.

Well I won't make this update too long.  Have a great summer folks; catch y'all later!

Quote of the month: "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused."

 

June 2004

Another quiet month, but boy have we ever gotten some rain lately!  No complaints from the agriculture department, that's for sure.  Or from local gardeners.  Now the characteristic heat of Alberta summer is starting to show a little, and for that the rest of us are truly grateful.  Now if only the wind would calm down just enough to finally let me do a little biking...!  One disadvantage of living down in the Raymond area is that there aren't a ready supply of scenic highways in the vicinity.  In fact, if I want some really nice views, I have to pack my bike in the van and drive about 20 minutes first (sigh)!

It'll be interesting watching how the upcoming election (June 28) turns out.  So far I hear that in the popularity ratings, the Tories are riding at 34% and the Grits are at only 30%.  It'd be awesome if we get a Tory majority government; I'm hoping it'll happen.

Other than that, work's going well, and slowly but surely I'm getting ready for moving to Ontario in the fall.  So, have a great summer and I'll catch you 'round next month!

 

May 2004

Hey folks, back for the monthly update.  It's been a quiet month, but I just got accepted at U of Waterloo (Ontario) into the Mechanical Engineering Co-op program.  Boy am I lookin' forward to it!  It'll be quite the switch, moving from Alberta, and I'll sure miss the beautiful prairies and the Rockies.  So of course I'm busy right now making plans (and saving up) for the fall.  Should be good!

Quote of the month: 
"'Be what you would seem to be' - or, if you'd like it put more simply - 'Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them otherwise.'" -- Lewis Carroll

 

February/March/April 2004

I'm baaaaaaack!  (Always wanted to do that!)  It's been pretty crazy around here the last couple of months, what with a 14-page technical assignment, final exams, tons of painting and redecorating, and my regular 5-day-a-week job to boot.  But hopefully the updates will be more or less regular now.

The weather this winter has been nothing short of phenomenal.  Honestly, I've never experienced such a warm winter, even while growing up on the west coast.  The grass has been solid green since the beginning of April, trees are covered with beautiful green leaves, and the next couple days are supposed to be around 23-25ºC - very unusual for this area.  God is good!  Great time to wipe the dust off my bike and do some exploring.  Or to just sit around.  Today I'm taking the second option...the ol' bike needs a little tune-up anyway.

Easter was good this year...it's so good to reflect on what Jesus accomplished for us, and about the new life we all have in Him.  What better time of year to celebrate than when the new life of Spring is all around us?  I haven't gone to see The Passion yet, but this year more than other years I've come to realize just how much Jesus paid for me.  It was an awful price, but thank God, He paid it.  He became poor so I could be rich, became sick so I could be healthy, suffered pain so I could be free of it, bore the consequences of all my sins so God would see me as righteous, and most importantly, died and then conquered death so I would one day live again with Him forever!  It truly brings new meaning to John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him would not perish but have everlasting life."  Praise God!

Enjoy your Spring!

 

January 2004

Happy New Year folks!  It's the first day of the year, so what better time to post an update.

It's been kinda cold lately, so there's been some hard work at the truckwash.  Now that we've had our brown Christmas, it decided to snow on Boxing Day, leaving us with a white landscape and some cold weather ever since.  And the prognosis isn't encouraging either: snow and a high of -19ºC tomorrow, followed by...uh, snow and a high of -21ºC the next day.  Great.  Just...great.

I think I've been spoiled by the warm weather.  But all the same, I am lookin' forward to the next Chinook!

About the recent Mad Cow case: what a load of bull (sorry, couldn't resist the pun!).  First the US shuts their border on us because of a mad cow in Alberta (which came from the States originally, and, which did not enter the food chain).  Now, when they have a case of their own (which may have originated from Alberta...go figure), we (Canada) keep our border open to them!  Where is justice?  Geez...this is the kind of stuff that makes me wonder just how "wise" our fearless leaders are.

Anyway, I wish y'all a happy, blessed, prosperous, and joyous New Year!  God bless!

 

November/December 2003

It's been a while since I've added an update, so here it is.  I just wrote two final exams today so I'm pretty drained at the moment, but very, very glad to be finished those courses.  So it's 2 down, 1 to go.

In the beginning of November I moved up to full-time status.  So as you may have guessed, most of my time lately has been spent either working or studying for the exams.  Hence the late update, and hence not much to write here :).

Other than the occasional spell of c-c-cold weather, the weather's been fairly nice overall, except for the gale-force winds that have been blowing night and day this whole week.  "Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow..."  Er...ahem.  Doesn't look like there'll be a white Christmas in this town.  Or this half of the province, for that matter.

So, I wish you all a wonderful, blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year!  And remember, keep "Christ" in "Christmas," 'cause otherwise all you have is a "mess".

 

October 2003

Get a load of this:
snow

This is an honest-to-goodness shot of my brother, dad, sister, and me enjoying the last rays of "Summer" out on our porch!  Yeah, the white stuff all over the place is SNOW!!!  In September!

Well, other than the snow shock it's been a wonderful month for weather.  We're enjoying a nice, long Indian Summer (or should that be "First Nations Summer"?) with the mercury hovering around 20ºC.  The trees are brilliant with brown, orange, and gold.  Perfect, just perfect.  Now, if it would only stay like this all winter....(sigh!).

One of my older cousins got married last weekend...a very nice wedding.  Also great to visit with some cousins again afterwards.

Just a little note of interest: a couple days ago I was awakened by an owl hooting.  I looked out my window and there, about 40 feet away from me on a phone post, stood a great horned owl.  I'd never seen one of those before, and believe me, they are huge!  This one had to be 2 feet tall!  And the wingspan had to be 5 feet, if not more (I got a very close view when it flew right past my window).  Very nice!

Other than that, not much else has been happening 'round here.  So enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays and I'll catch y'all later.  Ciao!

 

August/September 2003

It's only September and it freakin' snowed yesterday and today!  Like...what is this world coming to, eh?  And to think that last month we were suffering in mid-40ºC temperatures.  The sky's completely clear now and it's warming up fast, so the white stuff should disappear by tomorrow.

The end of last month was pretty hectic, what with my cousin getting married and most of my relatives on my mom's side coming over to our place the same evening.  But it was a blast seeing [almost] everyone again, and I have a bunch of new pics already uploaded from that.  Check out the photo section.  I should warn you, I put the "Candid Photos" page together on a day when I had waaaaaaay too much time on my hands...!  :-)

Things are changing where my studies are concerned.  I'll be changing from Computer Science to Mechanical Engineering as of next September.  Right now I'm just finishing up a couple courses, and then I'll start working full-time to save up for next fall.  I'm really excited about the change.  I have no idea what kind of work I'll get into afterwards, but I'm thinkin' about energy companies right now.

Happy autumn...see y'all again around Thanksgiving!

 

June/July 2003

Well there's no doubt about it, summer's here to stay now - for a month or so, at least.  Last month was a little crazy, so I had no time for updates.  First of all we moved to Raymond, about 30 clicks southeast of Lethbridge.  That, combined with unpacking, painting, etc., has kept me plenty busy.  I also took a week-long trip with my dad down to Yuma, AZ (about 20 miles from Mexico), which was really cool (actually it was really hot because the air-conditioning decided not to work...!).  I've got a bunch of pics of that up on the Photos page.

OK, I said I'd give y'all the answer to my science puzzler, so here it is (if you need a refresher, check May's news update).  The area was under what's called an inversion, which means that the air over the ground for a hundred or so feet was colder than the air above it.  The wind was blowing hard, but it was gliding over the cold air pocket.  So that's why the turbines were spinning, but the air was dead in town.  Of course, turbulence between the air layers caused the wind to stir up the colder air and eventually blow over the ground as well. Cool, eh?

 

May 2003

Wouldn't you know it - it snowed.  To be more exact, it's been snowing for the last week, on and off.  A lot of it's melted, so I couldn't tell you how much has landed on the lawn, but it's gotta be half a foot or more.  Fortunately the mercury is staying above freezing.  Hard to believe that farmers were out in their tractors last week seeding!  I guess they're happy about all the moisture though.

Now, here's a science problem for you.  A couple weeks back I was getting ready for work, taking my gear into the van, and there was not a breath of wind.  However, when I got onto the highway, I took a look at the new wind turbines on the ridge 6-7 km south of town, and they were spinning like crazy.  Know why?  The answer'll be in next month's update.  If you can tell me what was happening, I'll post your name next to the answer. 

Pray that summer (and spring) comes quickly!

P.S. New pictures have finally arrived!  Check out the photo album.

 

April 2003

Ahhh, basking in warm temperatures...finally!  Let the good times roll, eh!  The lawn turned green almost in the space of a week, and flowers are actually starting to show.  Those who live on the west coast, don't snub your nose...this is almost a month early for us!

I'm a little hesitant to express my political views here on the net, but it's sure been interesting watching Gulf Wars: Episode II unfold.  And regardless of what the "Wise" Men of Ottawa say, I say it's a darn shame that Canada isn't out there "shoulder to shoulder" (in Chretien's own words...!) with the American and British troops.  Who are we to forsake our allies when they need us?  Who are we to ignore the terrible deeds done and being done by Saddam Hussein?  How much "proof" do we need that Saddam has been brutalizing and terrorizing his people for decades?  Or, for that matter, that he's been building weapons of mass destruction?  It would seem to be as plain as the noses on our faces!  And yet, our government's been grabbing at every reason to overlook what's really been going on.  Wake up Liberals!  The problem is, Canada's just been afraid to make a stand one way or the other.  If they stand with America and Britain, then our military would need (and still does regardless) major help; if they stand directly against the Coalition forces, then who knows what'll happen in the future between the U.S. and Canada?

There, now I've finally said it and got it off my chest.  Right now I'm more proud to be an Albertan than to be a Canadian.  God bless America and Britain!

 

March 2003

Well, the cold temperatures of last week have finally given way to balmy temperatures.  Right now we're suntanning under blue skies and 18 degrees!  Whenever we get overheated we just jump into the 15-20 cm of snow lying around.  Did I say 18 degrees?  I meant 18 below.  Yeeeahhh, it seems Jack Frost has decided to pitch his igloo down here for this half of winter.  For those of you who don't live in the prairies, "winter" is defined as "the 7-month period beginning with October and terminating in April, if it feels like it."  Haven't had a Chinook wind (see below for details) in quite a while now, but the weather man says there's supposed to be a big one (50 clicks gusting to 70) tomorrow.  But, the day after it's supposed to drop back to 20 below again.  What a comforting thought.  Let's hear it for winter......yaaaay.

Anyway, for those of you who're wondering when I'll get some new pics on the site, it WILL be soon!

Take it easy and enjoy the Chinook.....if it comes.

 

February 2003

Those of you who haven't had the pleasure of experiencing winter on the flatlands, count yourselves fortunate.  I was beginning to wonder if our thermometer was permanently stuck on -25 (That's Celcius, for all you Americans - I don't have time to convert it to Fahrenheit, so make this visit educational and learn the metric system while you're here.), until I woke up Sunday to 10 above freezing (again, Celcius).  Overnight all the snow had completely disappeared (probably got blown into Saskatchewan).  Here in Alberta we have a special weather pattern known as a "Chinook wind."  Simply described, it means birds fly backwards, clouds are ripped to shreds, airplanes take off vertically, and you step outside and find yourself 10 clicks down the road.  And if you thought winter was here, you're sure as heck wrong now!  Yep, the mercury jumps real quick when a Chinook shows up.  A local joke about that goes like this: some guy is out on his dogsled when a Chinook catches up with him.  What happened?  Well, his dogs were plowing through snow, his sled was stuck in the mud, and he was left in the dust!

Wishin' you all a warm, windy February!