By the horns

I would like to thank Martin over at Aficionados International for getting back to me with information about bull fighting which was far beyond the scope of surface research possible. The Internet, I once heard said, is a vast sea of information which is exactly one inch deep. Sometimes you have to talk to someone who knows something.

The Last Corrida is renamed as of today The Last Faena because, as Martin pointed out, a Corrida is an event featuring four to six bulls whereas a Faena is the matador’s performance. The difference is significant and truly what the story is about.

The generosity of strangers never fails me and never fails to surprise me. That someone would take the time to answer a host of questions from someone they’ve never heard of is touching and reassures me that people are almost always willing to help.

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Story ideas.

I haven’t been blogging much lately but not because there isn’t much going on, more because of a certain ennui which seems to have taken hold. Everyone gets them from time to time and if there is an upside it is that I have spent more time thinking about the structure of The Last Corrida. I also got an idea for a new story featuring Huck Finn. I had the idea before but it came up again when I heard about The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud which is The Stranger from an Algerian perspective. I also thought that a story about the black bridge train tragedy should be told but haven’t figured that one out yet. I try not to start writing a story until I know its ending. I have another one called The Battle of Spiller Park where I’ve figured out the ending but don’t have the beginning yet.

I’ve been thinking about a man I met on the flight back from Edmonton. Amin works for Waste Disposal in Edmonton and was on his way to Kenya when we met. We had a great conversation and I hope he had the chance to have some pawpaws and some peanuts from street vendors before coming back home. It must be hard to leave behind family and friends to only hear about them once in a while over the years. He was a little worried about encountering all the changes which must have taken place in his twenty year absence from the country of his birth but he was also looking forward to seeing those changes. I hope he had a good trip and a good holiday. It would have made for a wonderful story/travel log and I encouraged him to use his phone to make videos and talk to friends and have them tell stories of his youth so he would have them forever and his children could see them. I will never know if he did that, but I hope he did.

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The scent of Fall

There is a scent to Fall. The turning point, the point at which Summer starts its move to Fall, is marked by a certain smell. That smell caught my nose late last week while walking Bruno the Wonder Dog early one morning. It is far from official Fall but it has started despite the heat and humidity, the air in the morning tells me so.

The past two weeks have been a decompressing time to a certain extent. Studying for the ABSA finals took a lot out of me as did writing them. It is only looking back that I can see/feel it now. It is kind of nice to have a bit of a breather from study but I can’t let it go for too long. I registered for an online programming course to learn the basics of object oriented programming in Java. The course starts in September and is only seven weeks long so it won’t take a great deal of time. I used to program in VB and designed a few databases over the years. It will be fun to get back into programming.

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And that is that, for now

I am officially a Power Engineer. I passed 4A and 4B and have a certification number and everything. That was long, hard and I am glad it is done. The tests were hard and some of the questions were really out there but I got through which was all I was really concerned about.

Next up some computer certifications then start Class 3 Power Engineering in January.

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Another homestretch

Next Tuesday is exam day. From 8:30 in the morning until 16:30 is exam time. Two exams both with a required passing grade of sixty-five percent. No matter how it plays out it will be a load off of my shoulders. Studying has been taking up a lot of time for the past year and a half not that I will be off the hook when this is done but the next courses of study are more my bailiwick. First I have to get through the exams.

Something occurred to me today while studying: if you can remember one key component then the rest can be sorted. Here’s what I mean. I’ve been having trouble with calculating voltage, current and resistance. It’s just something about the letters used that screws me up. There are three basic calculations but it dawned on me that I don’t have to know them I just have to know one of them. Voltage divided by Current equals Resistance. I don’t know why that one sticks but it does. From that the other two are easy to figure out Resistance times Current equals Voltage and Current equals Voltage divided by Resistance. It’s not a shortcut per se it’s just realizing that some of the things I will be tested on can be figured out as long as long as some basic formulae are committed to memory. Some of them are easy to remember some are difficult. I always have a problem with anything to do with spheres – surface area or volume. 4 pi r^2 and 4/3 pi r^3 respectively but they always seem to abandon me when I see the question.

It’s all going to be water under the bridge by Wednesday next week. By the end of August either I will have my ticket or I won’t. Either way if I am going to hang on to the house I’m going to have to get that second job I’ve been waffling about for the last year.

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The Prom

Prom was last Thursday. By all accounts it was great. Here are a few photos.

The unicorn horn makes the outfit!

The unicorn horn makes the outfit!

The boyfriend and prom date.

The boyfriend and prom date.

Our daughter and her best friend.

Our daughter and her best friend.

Proud papa

Proud papa

The tie I am wearing in the photo was a gift from Lynn, she bought it and the tie clip on our trip to Las Vegas in 2007 to renew our wedding vows. It seemed like a nice way to remember her and have a little piece of her at the prom with our daughter.

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All done

My teacher at NAIT texted me my final mark for the power engineering steam lab – 92%. It is done, the steam time required to get my ticket as a power engineer is done. All that is left now are the ABSA exams which can be scheduled at any time.

Today is my last full day with Donna before I have to go back to Montreal and return to work. It’s nice that we get to have a full day together before the return to work. We have seen surprisingly little of each other considering we have been living in the same house for six weeks. I wonder if that is what it will be like if we are both doing shift work.

Donna has been a great hostess through all of this. I’ve been getting up at 4:30 every morning and don’t get home until 18:00 or so. Through it all we still managed to have some meals together, get out a little bit and get some gardening done. Even resolved a couple of tech issues. (What good is it having a computer tech as a house guest if tech issues aren’t resolved?).

Tomorrow it’s wheels up around 11:00 local time and wheels down around 18:00 Montreal time.

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Convocation Day

Our daughter is graduating today, it could be right at this moment as I type but that is not probable. Richard is at the graduation with his iPad and the good folks at John Abbott College have given us wireless access for the night so he is there so that I may see her graduate. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

If there were pictures to share the would be shared but at the moment there are none. It’s all cap and gown stuff anyway but I still am going to buy the photo.

It’s a shame that I could not be there for this, at least not in person, but I hope, in the end it is all for a better future.

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The 4th Week – time is now short

The 4th week is all but done and we are on short time now. There’s no two ways about it though the amount we learned in the 4th week paled in comparison to the first three. The refrigeration component was informative as was the HVAC but we had precious little boiler work this past week. The scheduling is mostly to blame for this, that and there doesn’t seem to be a specific curriculum design for the instructors to follow. Lesson plans are broadly drawn and the detail provided by the instructor is left to their discretion. It’s a good way to do things in one way – allowing those who know what to do to teach what they know. On the flip side though it leads to discrepancies about specifics among people who graduate the same course having had different instructors.

There are some interesting colloquialisms out here that I’ve noticed.

1. Eh! – This has all but disappeared in Quebec but is rampant here.
2. Right – Used in place of Eh by some speakers
3. Give ‘er – To move a process or a job along with alacrity.
4. Git ‘er done – To get started on a job forthwith.
5. Buddy – May be used as a term of endearment, a reference to a person in the abstract or as a pejorative. Everything depends on what follows the use. E.g.: “So, Buddy’s up there cracking the NRV and your his partner: what should you be doing?”

Tomorrow is the start of the long week. Eight days straight, nine hours a day plus two hours travel time. Then one day off and into the last three days.

Next Wednesday our daughter’s convocation will happen. St. Thomas High School does their convocation at John Abbott College. Richard is going in loco parentis and bringing his iPad so he can broadcast the event via Skype to me here in St. Albert. The staff at St. Thomas and John Abbott have been very helpful in getting the wireless network permissions organized so all that has to be done on my end is get home as early as I can and login to Skype. With luck it will all work.

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NAIT – Week 3 – broke in pieces.

Our daughter lost her phone and iPod at a Montreal Impact game. It would be stupid to think that the person who found them would turn them in to security or the lost and found, people just aren’t like that. Years ago I had a similar experience at Disney World and lost all the video I’d shot of our once in a life time family vacation. I’ve no doubt the Yank who found it just wiped the tape and shot their own family vacation with it, that’s the way people are.

The loss lead to a crisis of a sort which is to say that our daughter was without a phone. So I scrambled on my end and phoned Koodo and gave our daughter authorization to get a new phone activated on the account. She chose a cheap Android phone, well relatively cheap at $172, and got it activated. The sad part is that I’d just spent almost $400 on the phone she lost, never mind the cost of a 32 GB iPod, but wait there’s more. Meanwhile back in Montreal she was also buying stuff off of Amazon with my CC and between the new phone and Amazon I got dinged for $417.00. You would think that, that was enough but no. Now there are two more dresses which have to be bought for the graduation season. One for convocation and another for some other thing they do.

If that wasn’t enough our son’s roommate left town on a job but didn’t pay his half of the rent and our son also lost the key to his apartment. Can you say “Key deposit?”. Another 350.00 gone.

Wait,wait there’s more but this time from me. I managed to get a walk around at Computronix in Edmonton. I didn’t bring any interview clothes or shoes so naturally I had to suit up. Even doing that inexpensively is expensive but made more so but getting pulled over on my way to Wal-Mart.

My Alberta Ride

My Alberta Ride

It seems St. Albert, Alberta has a helmet by-law and I was riding the Captain Flamingo Special sans helmet. When I’m at home I ride with a helmet but I also ride a bike which is capable of speed. The tweedy ride Donna is lending me I can barely coax up above 20 with a tailwind. Still the St. Albert constabulary, in the form of a polite RCMP officer who asked a variety of questions that had nothing to do with my unhelmeted head before informing me of the by-law, warned me to get a helmet or face a one hundred dollar fine. The St. Albert Wal-Mart was the beneficiary of the St. Albert anti-cycling law (helmet laws are solely for the purpose of raising funds and discouraging bike use) to the tune of $35.00.

While at the Wal-Mart I bought the requisite clothes for a walk around at a software company and left Wal-Mart $142.00 poorer.

The long weekend was prolonged on the NAIT steam lab front as we were given Tuesday off as well as the holiday Monday. That allowed me to do the walk around at Computronix on the Tuesday morning. As is my wont I took a bus in early and decided to grab a coffee at the Tims on 111th and 170th before walking up to Computronix on 118th and 184th. Along the way I ran across this little gem of a Chevy in a parking lot outside a car customization place.

Chevy Stationwagon

Chevy Stationwagon

Hood Ornament Detail

Hood Ornament Detail

The walk around at Computronix was great. It is an interesting company and growing apace. Their software is niche enough and adaptable enough that I can see where the growth is coming from. On the surface of it I would like to work there and when I dug a little deeper (LinkedIn and Glassdoor) it seems like current and former employees have nothing but good things to say about the place. Who knows maybe I will end up back in IT when I get out to Alberta.

Wednesday brought a pipe fitting class which was about as exciting as it sounds. NAIT is big on teaching yourself so we received minimal instruction on how to use the tools we made our way through the pipe fitting assignment. I was partnered with Osama who is about eight years younger than me and very well organized. We started last in our grouping and finished first in part because we worked well together and in part because we figured stuff out quicker than the other teams. Our piping garnered us a 27 on 30 which was fine as far as we were concerned.

Today, Thursday, is another day off then it’s three in a row Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After that it’s Off, On, Off, On, Off then On for eight days Off for one then On for three more days and then fly back to Montreal.

Donna has been a gem through all of this. I leave early, get home late, dirty and sweaty yet somehow she manages to always make me feel at home. It does feel like home with her, St. Albert, not so much.

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