Pat's Log
Thu, 30 Jun 2005

British Columbia - Day 3
20050629 The plan today was to rent a car and get up to Whistler early enough to do something. We rented from Enterprise, who didn't have any Cavalier/Sunfire-sized vehicles left. So they gave is a Buick LeSabre instead. Nice car, but it's a boat.

On the way up (which was slow, because they're redoing all the highways for the Olympics), we stopped at Shannon Falls and a climbing mountain known as The Chief. The falls were not unlike other waterfalls, just surrounded with much bigger trees. When we got to The Chief, at first, we could not spot any climbers. Then we did. Apparently, the rock face is much larger than expected, and the people were but the tiniest dots of colour.

A few kilometers up the road, we picked up a hitch hiker. She had lived in Whistler for the last few years. This was very covenient, because during the rest of the trip up she was telling us all about interesting things to do, and decently priced places to stay.

Unfortunately, things were already closing up when we got there, at 3pm. Still, we spent the day outdoors and came up with a busy schedule for day two of Whistler.


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Wed, 29 Jun 2005

British Columbia - Day 2
20050628-1 Today was the first full day on the town. To get around, we decided to rent bikes and explore downtown and Stanley Park. I was a little annoyed that it is actually law to wear a helmet here. So I didn't.

Vancouver is a really nice city, with amazing buildings and lots of green space. On our way to Stanley Park we biked through Canada Place (home of Expo 1986), and the boat docks next to it. It seemed like a nice place for a 360-degree panorama:

20050628-2

The trail around Stanley Park was really nice too. I saw the largest trees I've ever seen in my life, and apparently these were not particularly large. The cool breeze and around-20-degree weather were extremely refreshing.

On the way back from Stanley Park, we came around the Vancouver Public Library, another location Galactica used. The building is much larger than I expected. It was neat to see why they used a wide lens in the show: there really isn't much room around the building, and they cleverly had to hide the signs of the shops on the ground floor.

After seeing other places downtown, we decided over a live Jazz dinner that it would be great to go somewhere more wild...


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Tue, 28 Jun 2005

British Columbia - Day 1
20050627 Welcome to the trip. It was an early morning, what with the flight departing at 07:00. We actually left for the airport at a quarter to five, because Markus' sister was catching a plane that left an hour before ours. There was a stop-over in Calgary, and then a short flight to Vancouver, where the cloud ceiling was low, and I saw nothing until 15 seconds before touch-down.

The most remarkable thing about the flight was when we entered US airspace for a short period. The captain came on with the new rules. One of them was that you are not allowed to stand for extended periods of time. I stood up to go to the washroom, and while waiting was asked to sit down. That's effective terrorism-fighting.

Before leaving home, I took screen captures of anything outdoors in Battlestar Galactica. I wanted to to a scavenger hunt looking for the locations they shot in. Continuing along: when we arrived, my godfather ("Joe"), picked us up. He had to go back to work on his particle-accelerator, but he let us out at UBC. To my complete astonishment, within the first 20 minutes of walking around campus, we had discovered all of their locations at UBC. They are the library, rose gardens, and arts theatre. I think I'll make a web page devoted to screen-shot vs. pat-shot. The arts centre was actually being used for another show when we were there. UBC's campus has to be the nicest university setting I have ever encountered.

While on campus, we climbed down the 304 stairs to Wreck Beach. It was kinda rainy, so no one was there. However, it felt fantastic to be by the ocean. Very fresh, salty air. The temperature was a nice 19 degrees, which is a good 20 degrees cooler than Ottawa!

While at UBC's library, we booked an awesome hotel suite downtown. It wasn't cheap, but it was well worth it (cherrywood furniture, anyone?). Joe drove us there when he finished work.

The day was completed by buying a map, going out for dinner, and walking down along the coastline. Of course, there was filming for a movie being done there too.


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Sun, 26 Jun 2005

Looking Into The Bottle
20050625 I am thoroughly "under the influence." The photo was taken looking into the bottleneck of the first beer; a ┼╗ywiec, the first of many. Tonight was the summer BBQ my parents tend to do, bringing together many family friends. My mom made it a point to toast graduation several times, and I came out with a bottle of champagne, bottle of wine, and some spending money as a result.

The girl from the last entry came to visit during this extravaganza (Ex*trav`a*gan"za, n. 3. a lavish or spectacular show or event, or presentation;). I didn't manage to talk much, Paulina disappeared very suddenly for a previous engagement. Didn't even get a chance to wish her a fair summer. I should stop thinking about this, she has a boyfriend back home.


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Sat, 25 Jun 2005

San Andreas 100%
So, after 79:40 real-time hours of the latest GTA, the game is 100% complete. You get a really nice Harrier work-alike at the Johnson House when you finish. I also found a jet the size of a 737 you can fly. It's huge. There are many interesting vehicles in the game.

Two days ago I led an absolutely gorgeous (visiting) Polish girl around town. She didn't seem to find anything particularly interesting and refused me buying her anything. I felt stupid drinking a Crown Float alone. In a final attempt, I stopped at Andrew Haydon Park on the way back. She was absolutely ecstatic about the wildlife there, especially the chipmunks. Those don't exist in Eastern Europe. There was also a pack of something between a groundhog and a muskrat that a man fed with peanuts and petted daily. They were very domesticized, and rather adorable. Point is, when all else fails, go for cute little animals.

Other than that, I've spent the last few days cleaning up and getting ready for the Vancouver trip. I figure the next week will be full of TravelBlog.


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Sat, 18 Jun 2005

Convocation Ceremony
20050617 Today was the moment eagerly awaited by many. The Convocation Ceremony marked the end of my time as Bachelor of Engineering at Carleton. Carleton seems to have been a good choice.

While most seemed to find the ceremony very boring (I can understand why), I didn't. When treated as the last time everyone is in a group it took on a much more sentimental feeling. I savoured it. My only real gripe was the weather, the ceremony had to be in the fieldhouse (though they did an amazing job at perking it up). Also, that our Chancellor, Marc Garneau, didn't give one of his memorable speeches.

My diploma claims I graduated with distinction. That's good. I am, however, disappointed with the quality of the diploma itself. The signatures on it look like they were scanned at a whopping 100dpi. That, and I was hoping it would be in Latin. So, we've gone from leather to paper, fine manuscript ink to low-resolution toner, a strong baccalaureus to a meager bachelor; what will be the next step in diploma degradation?

One last thought is the lack of hats. I was expecting the usual sharp-cornered headpiece. Since it was not given, I bought a tassel because it will look good hanging off of the diploma frame.

My parents took me out to The Mill for a post-graduation dinner. They teased me about how my first "real-world" decision regarding the venue is simple, yet I could not make up my mind.

Time to move on with life. I updated my .signature file to say "B. Eng., Computer Systems." I have a feeling that the next four months or so of my life will be eventful, involving many changes.


[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Fri, 17 Jun 2005

San Andreas Planes
20050616 With many more hours of playing, I am now allowed to fly airplanes in San Andreas. The coolest addition to the game is something akin to a LearJet. It flies extremely fast. Another addition to the engine is the ability to ditch planes and jump with a parachute. Whereas in previous games jumping from any height would take at most 50% of your health, now you realistically die unless you open the parachute at a reasonable altitude. Flying this thing over military no-fly areas ("Area 53") is fun as well, because you get jetfighters after you.

In making room to on my WinXP partition to create the next batch of family DVDs, I came to realize how excessive IE is with its cache:

1.3G ./Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files/Content.IE5/4LYRGXM3 1.4G ./Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files/Content.IE5/KDY78H2V 4.5M ./Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files/Content.IE5/ODARSD2F 2.6G ./Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files/Content.IE5 2.6G ./Local Settings/Temporary Internet Files

As far as I know, I didn't even download that much with Exploder.

Convocation is coming up in 15 hours!


[] | posted @ 04:36 | link
Tue, 14 Jun 2005

San Andreas
About this time last week, I got the PC version of the latest chapter of Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas. The game is superb: the map is gigantic, the story line is long. The game draws me in, though the content is admittedly much more "adult" than before. In some ways, that makes it less fun. Regardless, it's kept me busy for many hours each day.

Today, I finally took a break from the game. I got a few hours of family photo and video work in, as well as booking my plane ticket to Vancouver. I'll be leaving on June 27th. The flight is booked with WestJet, and I am impressed with the ease of booking as well as the price. The same flight with Air Canada is almost twice the cost. Their site, however, is strangely perky in places:

[20050613]

This weekend marked a year since my car suffered its accident. I'm not happy that I still haven't completely fixed it. Whenever the weather gets less hot and humid, if it ever does, more time will be devoted to that.


[] | posted @ 03:50 | link
Tue, 07 Jun 2005

Oodles o' Noodles
20050606 Grandmother and sister left to Poland today. Before she left, I made certain that my grandmother taught me how to make her most excellent noodles. Turns out it's much simpler than I thought. Anyway, each of the noodles in the photo is kneaded and hand-cut by me. It makes for a much more interesting dish when the noodles aren't a perfectly uniform shape like those that are mass produced.

In significant other news, Debian released Sarge and Apple went Intel. Everyone's predicting "hell freezing over." I'm curious to see what Debian's future will bring, but I am not thrilled with Apple's decision. I will be impressed if they manage to produce a box, as integrated as their PPC machines, on x86 hardware and make it relatively non-finnicky. It's never been done. I predict the first few generations of Intel Apples will have problems.


[] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Mon, 06 Jun 2005

Diefenbunker
20050605 Today, I concluded the Ottawa Open House by visiting the Nortel Carling Campus and the Diefenbunker. Nortel's changed very little in the four years since I've set foot in the building. However, the Diefenbunker has changed significantly.

The Diefenbunker is a Cold War bunker built by the Diefenbaker administration in the late fifties. It is a 100,000 square foot, four storey, underground structure. Last time I was there was a couple of years after DND pulled out of there (in 1995) and took everything-and-the-kitchen sink with them. Literally.

Now, seven years later, the volunteers have done a fantastic job of recreating the rooms as they were. Many of the items came from other bunkers, such as the one in Alberta that was demolished over the last few years. Now, all but the Carp site have been sealed or destroyed. A neat thing they did was to devote some of the rooms to more museum-like displays. For example, one of the rooms is dedicated to the government's basement bomb shelter guide (including a full-size mock-up), and another to all the other bunkers across the country.

In that last room, there was the full history of the bunkers in Ottawa. At first, there were to be 15(!!!) in the region. Then they scaled back to a realistic three. They actually started building the second one, and the location of the square hole has recently been declassified. It is just West of Burritt's Rapids, at the end of Dwyer Hill Road. The protrusion at the North is likely the excavation ramp. Although the Google map for that area sucks, I did get better photos from my other (high- and low-altitude aerial) sources:

[20050605-2]

I am very excited by how the Diefenbunker project has evolved, especially since it's all volunteer-run. At least, it does not have the kind of funding that a real museum has. As such, I am going to look into helping out around there. As they restore areas of the bunker, they are putting in all sorts of old electronic devices, many of which still work, or need some servicing. That feels like a worthwhile use of my spare time.


[] | posted @ 03:46 | link
Sun, 05 Jun 2005

Ottawa Open House
20050604 Today, Ottawa had its annual Open House. For the event, local buildings that one is not likely to visit are encouraged to open their doors up and do tours.

The tours I went on today were the Lemieux Island water plant, the National Research Centre, and the old downtown train station, amongst others.

Lemieux Island was very nice for a water plant. It's finished quite ornately in marble. A neat thing they do is that they leave samples of past technology around. So, there were filter controls from the 1920s, 1970s, and late 1990s, still standing where they originally were. Now, the controls are all in a single workstation and many of the tasks are automated. They had the most informative display I saw all day.

The NRC appeared to be a very nice place to work at. Its long, straight hallways had a very cool quality to them (pictured). On either side of the hall there were state-of-the-art laboratories with nifty equipment.

The train station was a remarkable building. I can see now why there was all the fuss to keep it around. The main hall is very eloquent, coffered ceiling and all. It's the best example of Beaux-arts architecture in the city.

Last but not least, a really funny sign at the door to the main conference chamber at the NRC:

[20050604-2]


[] | posted @ 03:16 | link
Wed, 01 Jun 2005

The Shuttlecraft Galileo
20050531 Six years in the making, and finally completed, the Galileo shuttlecraft model now awaits a spot. Somewhere. The important thing is that the end-of-month deadline was met.

I spent several hours today putting finishing touches on the model, then another two or so photographing it in front of my 2m-long piece of black felt and writing about it. I placed it with the others in the Models section of my web site. I also submitted it to a few of the popular model sites. Perhaps it should be entered into the local IPMS convention in September.

I suspect I will be spending a good deal of time in the next few days cleaning up the work area. There is such a mess that I have to tip-toe in and the chair I sit on cannot move. Little bits of shrapnel all around stick to everything.


[] | posted @ 03:41 | link

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