Pat's Log
Fri, 31 Dec 2010

Bye 2010
And so the year comes to an end. What a strange year this has been; definitely the strangest in my life.

The employment situation has not been too positive this year. The economy sucks, and shifting jobs at work to follow suit has not been pleasant.

Still, I'm resourceful and the positives outnumber the negatives by a long shot. To list just a few off the top of my head: finding love, traveling to Korea, traveling to Jamaica, learning to scuba dive, establishing a sci-fi model parts company, and significantly expanding my programming skills.

What can I say? It's been a great year for variety. Even with the lousy times, there have still been four enjoyable opportunities to travel. The void in my heart has been filled, it's changed me, and my family swears they prefer me this way. Long story short, I'm hands-down better off than a year ago.

So yes, I will truly celebrate the end of this year, and bring in the next with a smile, looking forward to all that is to come.

[] | posted @ 21:03 | link
Sun, 28 Nov 2010

Best Vacation Ever
20101127 It has been a week since I stepped off the plane back in Ottawa, but last week ended up being the best vacation ever. In fact, the trip was better than I imagined a vacation could even be.

The setting for the vacation was Sandals Royal Caribbean, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The service was all-inclusive, the staff was very friendly, and the food was exquisite. While the reason for being there was to celebrate a wedding, most of the time really was spent relaxing. I never thought that kicking back, enjoying the sun, hot tubs, and beaches could actually be this nice. Add a frosty beverage to the mix, and it was downright therapeutic.

No vacation would be complete without some interesting achievement. This time around, I decided to learn to scuba dive. After some courses and tests, I'm now PADI Open Water certified. I never imagined it would be such an easy and peaceful thing to do; the heavy equipment, awkward fins, and constantly-fogging mask were sure to get in the way. But they did not. On the last day, I also took a hand at sailing a Hobie Cat sailboat. It was great, right up until the moment when I flipped it!

Interesting fact: the island owned by the resort is Sandals Cay. However, until it was renamed in the 1980s, it was called Kokomo Island; the same one as in the Beach Boys song!

Last time I was in Jamaica was right before I turned thirteen. We were staying at an all-inclusive Holiday Inn. I remember the food and service were not that great. However, I remember that when we went out on boat rides, we always went by a Sandals, and I thought to myself, "one day I will go to one of those and learn to scuba dive." Little did I know, the Sandals I had my eyes on was actually the place where we stayed, and where I learned to scuba! Of course, this realization on occurred after getting home and referring to photos from fifteen years ago.

[] | posted @ 02:45 | link
Tue, 02 Nov 2010

Eight Cores
20101102 I have been toying with Gumstix and OpenEmbedded recently. It is certainly a fun hobby, and these increasingly-smaller devices are becoming more and more useful. I can think of up any number of uses for them with model boats as telemetry tools, or handheld devices; the possibilities seem endless.

Having recently come in possession of an eight-core box, it is really impressive to watch OpenEmbedded compile a full image in record time, maxing out all of the cores. Lines in a CPU graph are a tangle of goodness. It is especially neat seeing the tangle of usage level out at the top when a large component starts building.

[] | posted @ 21:10 | link
Thu, 14 Oct 2010

Tetryon Parts
20101014 Not a whole lot is going on in my life at the moment. As the weather gets cooler and the evenings get longer, the desire to work on hobbies is increasing.

The beginning of the month marked the launch of my 1:1000 Enterprise Refit Upgrade Parts, for the model released earlier this year by Round2 under the Polar Lights name. The bridge has been available all summer, but the package is much more appealing with the recently added impulse deck and torpedo launcher. A good number of people were holding off until the entire pack was completed.

I'm selling these through my online shop, which I'm calling Tetryon Parts. It's a hobby hobbyshop; I don't expect to pay bills from its income.

The parts are absolutely tiny and meticulously detailed. I find they really make the kit look much better. It's a great little kit out of the box, but it is nearly perfect with the detail parts. I am hoping to build one of these up as soon as I finish my current boat project.

[] | posted @ 19:12 | link
Fri, 10 Sep 2010

Missing: Hamster
20100909 I got home last night to find that my hamster's cage was open, the critter had escaped, and was nowhere to be found. I set out some food and drink to lure it back to home base, but as of getting home from work today it had clearly not come by.

This evening I worked up the nerve to print off signs to put around the apartment building in case anyone had spotted it. I had to add the line about it not being a joke, because I think I'd have found it pretty funny if I had come across such a sign.

As I was putting the signs up, as luck would have it, I bumped into the landlord, who was in the process of trying to figure out who was putting up these crazy signs. Sure enough, he had the hamster. He rescued it from tenants who were going to stomp it!

The amazing part is that Oreo had made it from the twelfth floor down to the eleventh, and was on the opposite end of the building! The cage is being taped shut now.

[] | posted @ 03:06 | link
Tue, 07 Sep 2010

Labour Day
20100906 It's hard to believe that it's September already, and that back-to-school happens tomorrow.

Before it's all over, Labour Day offers one last chance to reflect on summer, spend time with family and friends. This year, as every year, the time was spent at Algonquin Park with people I've known my whole life. There was beer, great food, campfire, and fun all around. The only thing missing was weather. It was cold, windy, and rainy all weekend. That would destroy many gatherings, but it did not hamper spirits at this one.

Though I was quite exhausted from the camping events, I still drove my brother down to Waterloo for university today. A trip there and back in one day is quite unpleasant.

[] | posted @ 03:46 | link
Sat, 21 Aug 2010

Wine Again
20100820 Looks like for the first time ever, I've managed to skip a month. July 2010 just came and went so quickly, I didn't even have a chance to make an entry. For my first summer spent entirely without travel, it sure is amazing just how fast the months fly.

Last night I bottled my first ever white wine. It came from a rather cheap Heritage Estates Sauvignon Blanc kit. At the moment it tastes a little edgy, hopefully it will mellow out over the coming weeks and months. The goal here is to see if a cheap white wine kit can do as well as a cheap red kit; white is more known easy thrills and subsequent headaches.

On the entertainment side, I've discovered two shows that have drawn me in this summer: Californication and Burn Notice. I'm all caught up on the former, still have a couple of seasons to go on the latter.

[] | posted @ 00:53 | link
Thu, 01 Jul 2010

20100630 Time appears to go by faster and faster. I'm happy when I can take the chance to write a word or two here once a month. I always wonder if I'll be reading these words in many years, and what kind of memories they will stir.

June came and went just like that. The highlight of the month was a weekend-and-a-bit trip to Halifax to thrust Peter into his bachelor party and start counting down the days until the knot is tied. It was a well-planned weekend, with lots of fun activities. The entire thing was a surprise, with the kick-off event being a Friday evening restaurant dinner he though he would be enjoying with his fiancée. The most memorable event was the tidal bore rafting, in the very silty waters of the Shubenacadie River, where the tide change is over 10m, causing serious waves; enough to easily fill a Zodiac to the brink. The trip was totally worth it.

Halifax made me appreciate (once again) the differences between East- and West-coast attitudes. I once wrote that the West coast seemed more refined, posh, and I possibly even hinted that it was more fun. I'm glad to say this trip made me reconsider the East. It seems more normal, more likeable. Perhaps the word is friendly.

Last week was my brother's high school graduation. It brought back memories of my own high school years. Again, time flies.

Finally, with tomorrow comes the introduction of the new Harmonized Sales Tax. Considering I'm already a little depressed with the current state of the economy, this new tax grab upsets me. I suspect tonight was the last night I'll ever see gasoline for under a dollar per litre. There will be a lot of angry people next week who have been ignorant to this point and do not know what they are in for.

[] | posted @ 03:33 | link
Mon, 24 May 2010

The Seoul of Asia?
20100524 Having just returned from a very busy week in Korea this morning, I am feeling the usual "it's good to be home." We worked in Suwon all week and through the entire national holiday of Friday to finish at 2am Saturday morning, and then I had all of Saturday and most of Sunday to actually be a tourist in Seoul.

Seoul is an interesting place. The first thing that caught my eye is just how complicated the metro system is. There are 9+ different lines, and they all seem to intersect between each other. The nice thing is that there is some English here; most places have very little. It was a little disappointing to effectively press the reset button, when I had gotten used to getting around with the limited set of Chinese characters I recognize. Hangul is an entirely different beast. Additionally, Google Maps is severely lacking for Seoul.

It was interesting that at the company I was at, maybe one-in-five people were either Indian or caucasian (mostly Russians). I didn't expect that kind of multicultural feel anywhere in Asia.

Walking around Seoul, one learns very quickly. It's all about the little things. For example, I had no idea that Seoul actually got snow in the winter. I was approached so many times by kids who wanted to try their English. It was usually just "hello," but some kids actually carried on a five minute conversation. There were even numerous groups of kids being taken on tours by English teachers, and their grasp of the language sounded perfect.


I spent all of Saturday walking around the various palaces in the city. It was rainy, making it surprisingly cool. It was a little hard to keep up with what was what, the various dynasties, and so on. What I did note was that there was a lot of shared history with China, so some of the names and major events were familiar.

Sunday, I had to check out of the hotel, so I took my luggage and checked it into lockers at the Korea War Museum. I spent the entire day there. This was time very well spent, as it really filled in all of the gaps in Korean history, like only a museum can. Also, I finally got a complete understanding of how World War 2 set about the Korean War. The museum is top-notch and highly recommended.

The flight back was interesting. Leaving Seoul on Sunday at 21:20, with a 13-hour time difference, the plane arrived at Toronto on Sunday at 21:25. A thirteen hour flight in the span of five minutes!

In the end, if I were to contrast Seoul and Taipei, I would say they are very similar. Seoul seemed more "international." Taipei is less expensive and has more written English everywhere. It was good to visit and learn.

There is plenty more Asia left to experience.

[] | posted @ 17:29 | link
Sat, 15 May 2010

Shipping Out
It was a very early morning. I am on my way out to Korea for a week, and the first flight segment was at 7am.

It is interesting, in that I was just giving up on the idea of last-minute travel as being a sign of the times and "oh so two-thousand-and-seven".

I have never been to Korea before. It should be fun, or at the very least, interesting. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more Asia.

[] | posted @ 20:30 | link
Mon, 12 Apr 2010

Applying Pressure
20100411 After weeks and weeks of searching to find a local source of vacuum pumps and pressure pots for the purpose of resin pressure casting, I needed to face the reality that it's really difficult to obtain the kind of equipment needed locally. I can't explain why, since it is completely stock equipment used in the automotive shop industry. Nevertheless, this weekend, I took the trip to Syracuse, the closest place in the States that carries the necessary hardware, and at good prices, too. It was a worthwhile trip.

I ended up going to a store chain called Harbor Freight, and getting a 2.5CFM vacuum pump. I constructed a simple vacuum chamber from a thick acrylic cocktail shaker. The pump manages to vacate the glass in less than five seconds, which makes it very easy to work with.

The compression chamber is a standard 2.5 gallon paint pressure tank. Again, difficult to source locally, but available for a decent price from Harbor Freight. With a very modest compressor, it reaches 40psi in under twenty seconds, and maintains it easily.

Hooking up the equipment and trying it for the first time today yielded better than expected results. There was not a bubble to be seen in the clear Alumilite resin, and the pressure forced the casting into all parts of the mold far more reliably than gravity alone.

[] | posted @ 04:07 | link
Wed, 31 Mar 2010

New Rodent
20100330 My birthday has now come and gone, but I've received presents will keep on giving.

This year, my sister decided that my apartment needs more life in it, so she got me a hamster. On one hand, I like hamsters, and on the other, it's another chore to deal with. In the end, the sheer cute factor offsets any negatives.

Its name is Oreo.

[] | posted @ 03:14 | link
Wed, 24 Mar 2010

Book Review: The Dilbert Future
20100324 I don't normally write book reviews, let alone ones for books written thirteen years ago in 1997. However, this book is really quite good.

In this book, Scott Adams intermixes his comic strips with a number of predictions of how things will be in the future. It's interesting that many of his predictions have already come true, though some are already obsolete.

An example of an obsolete prediction: "Prediction 12: In the future, ISDN services will improve to the point where you can mention it in a crowd without generating laughter." At this point, mentioning ISDN in a crowd is likely to generate laughter.

However, one that is really starting to come true goes like this: "Prediction 52: In the future, everyone will be a news reporter." He further clarifies by writing that "people will have access to software that constantly combs the internet for 'small' news that is relevant to them," and that "thanks to the ubiquity of video cameras and the Internet, every citizen will be a reporter." Those three sentences essentially sum up the state of the internet in 2010.

Well done, Scott Adams.

[] | posted @ 22:37 | link
Sat, 13 Feb 2010

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies
The opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics just finished. Overall, I'm impressed.

The first few minutes of the show were a little slow and had me quite worried, but when things took off, it was a great presentation. Most memorable was that the music was an amazing, continuous, live soundtrack; I will be very interested to find out more about that. The performances were well choreographed, and I really liked the lighting projection system.

While I'm not a fan of k.d. lang, her performance of "Hallelujah" was a highlight. I thought the aboriginal theme was overplayed and a little to focal considering the other things this country has to offer, and the French-first irked me. I thought driving Gretzky across the entire downtown of Vancouver, in the rain, with the torch, was a little silly.

The biggest annoyance was that the HD broadcast was in Purtuguese on Omni1, and in Mandarin on Omni2. If I wanted to understand and actually anjoy the show over the commentary, I had to watch on cruddy rabbit-ears CTV. I found myself switching back and forth to take advantage of picture quality. Why would they do that?!

A proud Canadian moment.

[] | posted @ 06:05 | link

Sunny California
20100213 Um, Happy New Year. It seems I haven't been writing much lately. January flew by in the blink of an eye, and February is threatening to do so as well.

I do like to document my travels, so it's strange that I forgot to put up a photo and some words about my recent trip to San Diego late last month. Blame it on the economy, blame it on business model, blame it on plain old circumstance, but I just don't get to travel as much lately as I've had the pleasure to in the last couple of years.

All of that made the San Diego trip a very enjoyable mid-winter diversion. Sunny and relatively warm. I can see why people are flocking to that part of the world.

It was quite a contrast walking around at sunrise, with palm trees and an ocean breeze, and coming back to Ottawa to a brisk thirty-below evening.

[] | posted @ 05:47 | link

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