I’m going to see Bill Gates!!! OMFGWTFLOLGG!!: ??DDFF@#$%!!!! Yeah, I just checked my emails and I got an email saying that I was chosen to see Bill Gates, when he comes here to UWaterloo. And he’s coming this Thursday. Oh jeez, he is definitely the highest profile person I’ll have ever met. Bill Gates. Me, him in the same place, at the same time, I’m going to watch his little presentation and get to ask him questions and stuff. I can’t friggin believe it.

And I have a co-op interview right after that too. What a day. Holy crap.

Ohs Nos!!…

I attended the University of Waterloo’s Student Life 101 orientation program today. It was a good chance to meet some professors and students who I will be sharing the next five years of my life with. To say the least, the presenters were all extremely helpful and informative. In most ways, I feel much more at ease now that I have a better understanding of just what should happen during my time there. I’m truly looking forward to it all this September.

We departed around 8AM from Niagara Falls for Kitchener-Waterloo. On our way there, we managed to get horrendously lost in Hamilton where we were trying to switch from the 403 to highway 8. On the up side, I got a chance to have a look at another university I had been considering, McMaster. After driving seemingly aimlessly for about 10 mintues, we happened upon a sign that pointed the way. And off we went. We arrived at the University of Waterloo at around 9:45 and it took us a good 15 minutes to actually find where the first presentation was being held.

The first presentation was about making a successful transition from high school to university. We had some information about some of the different types of things that are available to do on and off campus. We were presented with some timetables of how we should build our schedules one. Finally, we got to one of my favorite topics: Procrastination. Now I’ll be honest, I procrastinate almost constantly. I’m probably one of the worst peoples for that bad habit. It’s not like the work doesn’t get done on time or anything. It’s just that I put unnecessary stress upon myself to perform under pressure. Some people say they thrive under pressure. You can probably throw me into that category as well, even though after it’s all said and done, I always plan to do my work earlier next time. And of course, I never do and the cycle repeats. I learned about some ways to prevent procrastination and it would seem I’ll need to break this tendency of mine to really succeed at Waterloo.

The next session we attended was one by some faculty members of the engineering department. There I got a taste of just who I was going to working with in my field. Some looked dorky, others didn’t, but overall, I was shocked at the number of Asians. I mean everywhere you looked in that lecture hall, you saw Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, etc faces. It was like I wasn’t in North America anymore. Sure there were Caucasians, but I’d estimate probably only 30-40%. And despite the reports, (or maybe due to them?) there was a fair number of females partaking in the engineering program. Makes me somewhat happier to know it won’t be just one huge sausage fest… Actually generally speaking, there were quite a few more females than I expected around the campus. For some reason I was led to believe that there was going to be like a 10-1 ratio of guys to girls. (shudders at thought) In reality, I’d say it’s much closer to even than you’d think.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, engineering presentation. Well you see, this is where I started getting somewhat worried. The head of first year studies in engineering (this may sound like an insignificant amount of students, but you’ll be surprised to note that there are over 1000 students entering engineering at Waterloo this September) mentioned that almost all the students in that lecture hall had 80%+ averages coming out of high school. At least half of them would fall below 80% at the University of Waterloo. He was saying how he believed this is one of the best, if not the best, engineering programs in the world and they achieved that by action, not by talking about it. So he said, it would be predictable that some would not be able to keep up satisfactorily. Now remember, I need to keep an 80% average in my first year for that scholarship of mine to be renewed.

I know I’m behind compared to most of the Ontario students when it comes to mathematics and sciences. I can only rely on the fact that I tend to pick things up quickly and my love of self learning. I haven’t yet hit a wall in high school where I just could not understand a concept. And that scares me. High school now that I look back wasn’t all that important, well the first two years at least. If I had of had that sort of difficulty in grade 10 or 11, I could’ve worked it through without much detriment to the overall state of things. At the university level, if that were to befall me, I’m honestly not sure what I would do. I have never encountered something that I absolutely could not understand. If I do come up to that mental obstacle, it could be very difficult for me to both accept and solve. Now don’t take this as bragging I beg you. I’m merely pointing out the fact that I’m afraid to face something like this at such a crucial time. Concepts will invariably get more difficult and challenging and I will try me best to understand them. But I’m assuming there will be a time when I simply will not be able to go any further. Otherwise, why do we have only one Einstein, one Newton?

I’ll tell you a little secret. Due to reasons I shall not reveal, I was able to find out some marks for random students in engineering at the University of Waterloo. The averages ranged anywhere from the high 60s to the mid to high 80s. No 90s to speak of whatsoever, much less high 90s. Most of the marks were centered around the low 70s which does not speak well for me. Calculus marks were especially abysmal, with the majority of the marks below 70 ranging down to low 50s. That my friends is a fail. No more 50% passes like we had in high school. These people were failing credits left and right. I can only shudder at the thought. Well, I can only try my best and I realize that I will have to revamp my study habits and life habits in general to succeed. It will be the biggest challenge I have ever faced, but I hope to come out of it scarred but alive.

While I have lived away from my parents for about 6 weeks on end during last summer in Quebec, I have not truly required much independence. I had a set schedule then, work, eat, relax, sleep. Rinse and repeat. I knew what I had to do and I did it. This will be different. Not only do I have to live on my own (and hopefully not die from malnutrition…) I will also have to motivate myself to study and do well. I’ll need some initiative to get my ass off a chair to actually go and do something without someone telling me to. I realize I’ll really need to develop my independence and some skills that I lack, such as interviews. I’ll be blunt, I hate interviews. They’re an accepted and widely used tool in this world I’m entering and I’ll have to know how to deal with them and more. It would seem that I’m not exactly the most confident person when it comes to talking with strangers and large audiences. I’m hoping the numerous presentations I’ll have to make as an engineering student will help with that. It doesn’t help that I’m in Stream-4 which means I only have 4 months of studies before I go off on my first work term in co-op. Basically I’ll arrive at school and two weeks in I’ll have to start applying to jobs. Should be a heck of a lot of fun.

So what am I going to do to make this all a little easier for me? Well, I intend to require as little catch up as possible on the courses. I’m going to start breaking out the algebra and calculus books I’ve got stashed away somewhere here in the basement. It’s now or never to actually start work on them. I don’t want to live off of 4 hours of sleep each night trying to figure out obscene concepts.

Anyways, I had a lot to say there, but university is an important thing at this point in my life. It only seems natural that it takes its allotted space in my blog.

What A Show!

Wowzers, it was pretty intense in that tent today. Charlottetown has just finished hosting its first ever Jazz and Blues Festival and it was a great boon for the musicians at least here. We all went and enjoyed the world-class performances. Too bad the attendance was pretty dismal. We had a huge tent set up here and barely half of it was filled for most of the festival. As Rob McConnell said while he was on stage, hope we don’t lose more than 50 or 60 grand on this whole affair. It’s truly mind-boggling how much talent was here; it’s sad that the common Islander didn’t realize it. I hope it’s not too late and the Island’ll get another one next year.

Oh did I mention the Nick Howard Band played? Well from that name you’d think we were some pop group or something, but no it’s just our regular combo that plays down at Victoria Row. However this time we played in front of about 1000 people. It’s funny because people like Rob McConnell’s group didn’t even have that many people attending. Well, to be honest the only reason we had that many was because we were opening for the Jive Kings Reunion (which I have to say was very good actually!). In any case, the crowd was amazing and we were pumped as hell to play.

I was personally a little nervous just before getting up on stage to play. I had taken a little peek around the stage at the crowd and I could see it was pretty large. But when we all got up there, it just felt so natural. We had a ton of fun and after all, that’s what it should be all about. We played extremely well and I’d even go as far to say that it may have been our best performance in all of our 3 year history of playing together. The crowd really energized me and I was happy to play my heart out.

Of course afterwards, we were treated by the audience as though we were famous or something. I was saying thanks and thank you to everyone and their grandma. It was crazy but a good feeling to know that you’ve been appreciated. As I said in a previous posting, it was only appropriate that we went out with such a bang. The whole combo thing over the years has been a source of fun and enjoyment. What more could you ask for than to just simply play? Sometimes I ask myself if I maybe should have pursued this thing that call music in university. It’s going to be pretty tought to continue any sort of music while studying co-op computer engineering at Waterloo. Anyways, enough regretting that. I’ve made my decision and I can only hope it’s a good one. It was sad to be done of playing in that group, but all good things come to an end and I’ll only remember the great times when we’ve rocked out under Nick’s solo or pedalled for 4 lines in row with Paul or watched Danny do his Conan O’Brien drummer impersonation. Oh what fun we’ve had.

And after, we had to go to my old house because they had something from Waterloo. I guess the address change didn’t catch in time and something still got sent to that place I used to call home. It was definitely weird to see what they had changed when I remember everything in that house so clearly still as though it were yesterday that we had packed everything away and moved out. Shows just how some things stick with you.

*** Brief Interruption 12:44AM ***

– I just decided to open up that letter from Waterloo to see exactly what was in it. Well I almost did something nasty in my pants. Apparantly they’ve upgraded my scholarship due to my marks and extracurricular activities in the second term. I’ve now got a $10,000 scholarship. Heh, why not? I like money –

*** End Interruption 12:46AM ***

So where was I now? Ah yes, I went to my old house. Right, anywho I saw all the changes they made and it really made me nostalgic about the good old days of growing up there. I am truly going to miss my time in this place. Charlottetown may not seem like the most happening place, but it was (well is still my home for the next two days at least) my home and in my heart will always be my true place in Canada. It’s almost as though I’m leaving in body, but I’ll forever remember this homely city. I’ve been presented so many opportunities that I’ve both taken and declined and it’s those decisions that have shaped my life to make it what it is today.

So enough about my life here. I plan to write about that before I leave here so you’ll be able to read basically my life’s story soon.

Holy Crap

Good gosh, I haven’t posted in what seems likes ages to me. Maybe to you if you read this thing at all… So maybe I should update you with what’s going on around here.

You may or may not know but I’m staying here at Nick’s place. It’s surprising that many people didn’t know that. Maybe I neglected to tell them. In any case, it’s been relatively busy these days. Many practices for our jazz combo and the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble. The PEI Jazz and Blues Festival’s fast approaching and I’m playing at three venues. Two of them are with the Charlottetown Jazz and I’m fairly well concealed in a mass of about 20 players. Not too much to worry about there. We’re actually playing starting at midnight on Saturday so that should be fun. Playing for a bunch of a drunk people is always entertaining and the tune’s we’re playing are all pretty kickass. Not to mention the fact that there’s gonna be some world class musicians playing with us. Pretty awesome in general.

Now the tough one is our combo. We’re opening for the Jive Kings reunion concert on Sunday. If you’re not from the area, you’ll have no clue who the Jive Kings are. It’s a local band whose players actually switch from time to time. They had stopped playing as the group quite a few years ago, but I’m guessing due to popular request, they’ve decided to get back together for one most show. To say the least, they’re pretty well known here and there should be quite a lot of people there. So how does this involve me or the combo? We’re opening for them. Yes, that’s right, we’re opening for the Jive Kings. I think the most people we’ve ever played in front of would have been at some music festival in front of maybe 100 of our fellow band members. This performance will be in front of more like 1000+ people we don’t know. Should provide entertainment for the people who enjoy watching people crap themselves on stage at least. We’re practicing and pulling out all the stops to provide something more than the cocktail music we usually play on the Row in front of the restaurants. This time they’ll be focused on us instead of how to start their chicken fajita..

In anycase, we’ve actually had a first for the combo. Nick and I arranged an arranged version of the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” for our performance. It sounds pretty good and we’ll hopefully use it for the opening show. Now that I think of it, it’ll probably be the last arrangement we do as well for our group. Sunday will be the last time our combo will play with its original members. It’s kind of coincidental that it will probably be the biggest gig we’ll ever have as a combo. Should make for an exciting ending to something I’ve really enjoyed doing over the past 3 years.

Aside from that, I’ve actually been getting quite a bit of excercise recently. I’ve played some tennis and had an intense (well, sort of…) game of Ultimate Frisbee. I could definitely feel some soreness of the muscles, which really tells you how little I excercise or something like that. Now, I’m not a fat slob or anything, in fact I’m quite skinny, but I just don’t lend well to excercise. I actually enjoy physical activity; it’s just I hate excercising for the sake of excercising.

I’ve also been playing a ton of Rome Total War. Damn, those creators knew what they were doing when they made the game. It’s addictive as hell and its replayability is like no other. Every campaign is different depending on who you feel like decimating first. Anyways, world domination is something every guy enjoys. =P

I see that I was going to write a review for the Creative Zen Micro there on the sidebar. Well, it’s just my luck that I seemed to have run into some troubles with it. It seems like it doesn’t want to connect and be recognized by my computer very much. Maybe it’s scared to know that it’s going to be filled with music downloaded off that Russian site. Hehe… Either way, it works sporadically which is a piss off and I can’t really even say what the problem is. I’ve contacted the Creative support team and while they’ve been quick to help, their tips are kind of useless. They’re asking me to install random programs and firmware that I’ve already got. Anyways, I’ve kind of given up on it as I know the Zen Micro in general are pretty buggy. This being the second one I’ve had, the first having crapped out totally (froze and I couldn’t do ANYTHING with it no matter how many times I reset). I can see why Apple has such a damn large following. Their stuff just plain works which is sort of useful when you buy something. Too bad they’re relatively featureless comparatively. As much as I’d hate to spend any more money on MP3 players (already have a Zen Micro 5GB, 3G IPod 15GB and a MPIO 512MB FL350) I do need a working one for university. The IRiver H10 5GB looks pretty enticing so far. I kind of wish there was an IPod Mini that incorporated the features of the Creative/Iriver and used iTunes. Now that would be the perfect combination between reliability and usability.

Now several of you have asked me why I haven’t written anything about my new laptop on here. Well to tell you the truth, I’ve just been lazy plain and simple. I’ve actually written a long ass review at Notebook Forums. It’s here for you geeks who actually want to know every nook and cranny. I’ll be sure to write some random non-technical musings later on, but for now, this’ll have to do. I don’t want to write anything too specific in this post of general going-ons.

And here I am in my last days of being on the Island, the Island I’ve lived on and become part of over the last 12 years of my life (that’s friggin 3/4 of my entire life…). It’s definitely going to be extremely difficult to leave the people and the surroundings I’m so familiar with. I’ve been trying to live these remaining days (sounds like I’m about to die or something doesn’t it?) here in total indulgance. I’ve thought about the money I’ve been spending away at Victoria Row eating at Fishbones almost daily and listening to great jazz, but in the end, why not enjoy what you have while you have it. It’s too easy for those things to be taken away from you.

Here I sit in the grotesque heat listening to John Mayer’s Split Screen Sadness thinking how appropriate this really is. I’ll soon be far, far away from this place looking back upon the days with some sadness in my heart but also with joy that I have spent many great times here. This place holds something special for me and although I don’t know when or under what circumstances it’ll be, I will definitely return here to the Island at least to visit bygone friends and bygone places. I hope I’ll still remember where the house I lived in is, if it’s still there.

So here’s to the end of one journey and beginning of another, hopefully as fruitful.

New House

In a previous posting I had said that we bought a new house in Niagara Falls, well here’s a little update. I’ve got some pictures of it and so far it looks pretty good. Here’s a photo of the house in general:

There’s some weird design things with it like the inclusion of a sort of balcony that is adjoined to my room and overlooks the entrance hallway. I may put a chair and small table up there so I can do some late night reading and surf the internet on my future laptop or something. It’s weird but could potentially be pretty cool:

However one of the things I like most about this house is that balcony that overlooks the great room. That room gets a double high ceiling that will make it feel roomier.

As you can see the house isn’t yet completely built so there could be some changes. Overall it seems pretty nice and I look forward to seeing it in person. Hopefully the neighborhood’s okay as well.