Category Archives: friends

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy


The weather in Southern Ontario has been hot and wet since late May, although temperatures are back to normal this week. And while “Spring” was here not too long ago, it’s very much getting into a summer atmosphere now. Where the trails were brown and covered with dead plants from the previous year but a month ago, green is the most abundant color now.

The above is a 3-shot HDR. The exif is for the middle shot, with +/- 1EV bracketed on each side. I’m still getting the hang of Photomatix; the Details Enhancer Tone Mapping mode renders a markedly different result from what is shown in the preview, which is a pain. Often, this means several iterations are required before I get the effect I’m looking for.

As for summer, I love it, and as the rock says, the living’s pretty easy. Take care!

Goals For a New Decade

I’ve determined that I’m a thinker-drunk. Last night, as I gulped down drinks with close friends in anticipation of the new year and decade, I contemplated my life and the direction it’s taken in the last few years. I’m close to completing my engineering degree, have a full time position waiting for me upon graduation, and will be moving onto the next phase of my life. Things seem pretty good, but they aren’t.

Fulfillment. I believe it’s missing.

I came back to Prince Edward Island for a week during the holidays, and immediately slipped back into the group of friends I went to school with for upwards of 12 years in several cases. These were friendships developed through a near lifetime of classes, competition, hanging out, and numerous other experiences. I put a lot of effort into my personal relationships and was rewarded with a very close group of genuine friends. Short of my parents, I feel like these are the people I can rely on in any emergency.

Back when my life was on Prince Edward Island, I participated in numerous extracurricular activities and derived fulfillment from the caring of others, of friends. I knew that network was worth working for and despite some tough life lessons, those people brought meaning to my life. For the past four years in university, there has been little that I would consider meaningful to that extent.

My parents told me before university that I could have two of three things there: friends, sleep, and a good degree. I scoffed at the thought. I valued friendships so much after my experiences on PEI. I couldn’t imagine not continuing that through university. Now that I’m looking at my last semester at the University of Waterloo, I can conclude that friends and a bit of sleep were dropped from the list. The people I spend the majority of time with in classes simply aren’t the type of people I’ve become accustomed to from my time on PEI. The time and effort needed to strike out to meet more people was spent on work and studies. Despite my dismissal of my parents’ comment, it proved accurate. Perhaps the issue is that I’ve been spoiled by my friends from PEI. I’m not sure you can find that kind of friendship without going through 12 years of common life experiences day in, day out.

For many years, even into my university career, I thought I was going to end up doing something great, something unique. Now with graduation so near and a full time position locked up, I feel like I’m giving up on that and entering the drudgery of the rest of my normal life. This is it? I look to friends in psychology or arts or education and wonder if they won’t be more fulfilled by the paths they’ve chosen. Many still don’t know what they will be doing in 4 or 6 months, but it almost seems like that would be better than plotting out the rest of my life in corporate America. I’ve become so… typical. They’re the ones striking out, ready to do crazy, exciting things. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Microsoft. If I end up taking the offer, I hope I can find meaning in the work I do there. My greatest fear is not that I won’t perform – I am willing to give more than everything I have, as evidenced this last semester – it’s that I will question what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I’m having these thoughts earlier than most. Chasing promotions and money already seems a bit boring, and, sorry to use the word so many times, meaningless. This past semester, I didn’t have much outside of work to live for, so I lived for work. My friend commented that towards the end of high school, I became much more balanced in my work-life balance, but over the past several years, I’ve slipped back into a work > all mindset. I cannot disagree with his assessment. Back in high school those friends were a big part of my life. I’ve since filled the void with work and study.

My friends hoped I wouldn’t engross myself with work and turn into one of those awkward computer science people. I need to find something that brings me joy and fulfillment in the new decade, outside of my job. This is the decade that will likely shape the rest of my life. I will make difficult decisions in my career and, who knows, perhaps even find that girl that I’ll settle down with.

I’ve always been extremely goal-oriented, so it seems appropriate to set out some measurable ones today. For the 2010’s, my goal is to apply my skills in the computer and business fields to aid NGO’s that I feel strongly about. I will give time in order to be more involved than simply donating financial aid. I will make an effort to meet people through these organizations, and see if I can’t find meaningful relationships outside of Prince Edward Island.

This is the decade I stop emphasizing work over all else and try to find some meaning in my life. Welcome 2010.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It’s the holidays again (so soon?) and I hope everyone has a wonderful time with friends and family. It’s been a tough year for many, but there’s finally some light at the end of the economic tunnel. Good things are in store for 2010!

Soon, it’ll be time to wrap up this decade and move on into the next. Y2K doesn’t feel that long ago, and about the time I became interested in technology, which set me up on a path to where I find myself today.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Prince Edward Island. It’s been several long years since I’ve seen some of my closest friends. With many of us graduating and heading off into the wide world this year, I’m uncertain when I’ll see everyone congregate in the place I still call home, after so many years.

Nostalgia reigns supreme these days. Recently, I had a vivid memory of walking with my best friend through his old elementary school playground, on the way to our high school, and seeing his younger brother. He’s at university now. I watched that kid grow up. Gosh, I feel ancient. I’m going to be like that uncle who thinks his nephew has forever stayed 8 years old.

Tackling Vista (Amongst Other Things)

I’ve spent the better part of the weekend setting up Windows Vista Pre RC1 and ripping my hair out in the process. The biggest thing is still drivers, drivers, drivers. They’re either not mature enough or unavailable. Take for example the video drivers. Sure Windows Update installed ‘some’ driver for the nVidia card in my laptop, but it wasn’t even enough to run Aero Glass. So I had to do some searching to find the latest driver, which was unfortunately not available for laptop cards. So I had to get a modified configuration file to be able to manually install it. That did the trick and I’ve been running the Aero theme with no problems. Unfortunately, that got rid of the nVidia control panel so I’ve been using a hack and slash way to get dual monitors working between the laptop and this LG 20.1″ LCD. Sometimes it works when I boot up; other times it fails horribly.

Then I ran into problems with the audio driver. At first the audio device could not be initialized with the default Vista driver so I had to find a newer version. Unfortunately, that install didn’t work so I had to manually update the driver again. I got sound after that, but the Realtek updater service would crash everytime at bootup so I tried uninstalling the Realtek software. That caused the driver to uninstall as well. For some reason after that, no amount of uninstalling, disabling or updating the driver would get the sound to work. Keep in mind, it had been working, with the exact same driver not 10 minutes beforehand. I ended up finding yet another driver, which is now working. I definitely won’t be tinkering with those drivers any more.

So I received that parts I mentioned I ordered this past Friday. I started setting up Friday night (yeah, what a loser I am) and finished up Monday morning. You may also remember that I had gotten a new CPU in from Intel, replacing the old one, which I believed to be defective. Yeah right, ends up, it’s probably motherboard’s problem. I’ve now switched power supplies, video cards, RAM, hard drives and CPUs and I still get the same damn error. ASUS got a stern email from me earlier today after I tried everything in my power to resuscitate that machine. I’ve spent basically the time I haven’t spent on frigging with Vista frigging with this motherboard. How fun.

Shamefully, I’ve been attracted by Facebook recently. It really is quite viral. I’ve all but caved into the pressure. Don’t judge me by it. I still hate MySpace. 🙂 I also realized I haven’t actually posted about my visit to PEI. I mostly remembered this because I had a dream that I was still on PEI visiting. Twas very weird to say the least. I’ll have to prep some pictures to post on here. Prepare to be embarrassed.

Wrap Up

I’m currently sitting in the Halifax Airport waiting for my connection flight back to Toronto, where I first began this journey. The past 9 days have flown by and after what seems like an extremely short visit, I’m already heading back to Ontario and very soon, my co-op job.

I have to say, the biggest thing I noticed was, well, nothing. Nothing really seemed to have changed. Sure some people grew and some people didn’t (moi peut-etre?) but generally, the people I knew are still the people I knew. Sure, there were a few surprises here and there, like oh you know, a marriage and a pregnancy, but other than that… No, seriously, the close friends were all pretty much the same. Some traveled around the world, but aside from some new experiences, I don’t think there was anything drastically different. Old habits were still there.

It felt as though I hadn’t really been gone for a year. I definitely have a greater appreciation for Island courtesy however. It’s still a unique feeling to be able to walk down the street and say hello to everyone and anyone without getting a weird glance or two. It’s also pretty cool to be able to walk through downtown Charlottetown and bump into people I know left right and center. It really is a small and connected place. With that said, I’m not exactly looking forward to the Ontarian ‘hospitality’. We’ll see though; I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly to avoided greeting random people lest I get dirty look…

The past week and a bit was filled with lots of laughs and good memories. I also did a few things that I’ve never done through the whole of my life on PEI. It’s amazing what peer pressure can do to you eh? I sort of learned how to swim during my visit and got this messed up looking tan, which I’ll definitely have to even out by lying outside when I get back to Niagara Falls. It look quite atrocious right now.

Well, I definitely need to go use the bathroom before I board this plane to Toronto. Ahhh, I’ll be ‘home’ soon, although I have to say, PEI still feels much more like the real home to me.

Busy Busy

Oh, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be back on the Island. It’s been 4 days already (going on 5 today) and I haven’t really been stationary for an extended period of time yet. Nick’s out at a master class right now, so I decided to take this time and write down a thing or two.

First off, I’m much happier with the amount of photos I’ve taken this time around. I haven’t actually counted, but I’d say I’ve probably taken about 100 photos already on my camera and I’m going to get photos from other peoples’ cameras as well. There are some pretty great photos in there and I’m sure I’ll have some good laughs when I look at them in the future.

Not only am I staying at Nick’s place, but a friend he made during his exchange trip to Austria is also staying at his place. We’ve gotten along mighty fine and it’s been some great times in the Howard household. It’s sort of sad, but this was like my home, even when I was still here on the Island during high school. It’s just so welcoming and friendly. I don’t feel even the least bit awkward.

I’ve got quite the sunburn, but it’s worth it. I told myself that I was going to get rid of this damned farmer’s tan and I fully intend to do so. We went to Basin Head to swimming and bridge jumping. Let me tell you something, it’s that much more scary when you don’t actually know how to swim. (ashamed) Still it was tons of fun. We also went out on a boat yesterday to do a little bit of fishing and swimming. Then we camped out at Brudenell last night. It was crappy for a little while because it rained, but it cleared up pretty quick and we were able to get a fire going. I also got a chance to talk to some good friends about their university experiences over the past year. One is attending Mount Allison and the other is at McGill. Let’s just say, they’re not quite like UWaterloo…

Okay, enough sitting around. I’m going outside. 😀

First Day Of Summer

Well, summer came in with a whimper this year in Waterloo. It wasn’t even that warm. There were a few days before today that were pretty hot, but not today. Trust me, I didn’t mind. Whenever it gets hot around here, my dorm room becomes a sauna. A very nasty, disgusting sauna because I actually have to sleep here. Only the fan makes things somewhat bearable.

A good friend came by to visit today. It was nice to take a break and just relax for a little while. We went out on the town in search of Cash for Life scratch tickets. We eventually ended up in Kitchener but we got those tickets. I didn’t win anything but two of the other guys did. I never was the lucky person. I can’t think of something I’ve won out of sheer luck in a long time.

But he left to return home (yeah, he’s not working his ass off at university right now…) and I retreated back to my room to start work on what was rumoured to be a deadly calculus assignment. Boy was that ever wrong. Deadly doesn’t even begin to describe this thing. Okay, I’ll admit that I don’t exactly know the material inside out and backwards, but these questions are so out there, I don’t know what I’m going to do. It was absolutely brutal slogging through the first 5 questions. I can’t get a few parts of questions so I’ll have to get back to them later. I made a pretty good decision to get my discrete math and physics assignments done and over with earlier this week. Now I have all tomorrow to try and finish this calculus assignment to some sort of completion. Just thinking about it makes me cringe. It’s sort of a helpless feeling; I know I need to do the assignment, but when it takes you forever to do less than half the problems on the assignment half correct, there isn’t much incentive to continue working at it.

Tomorrow we should get back the last two midterm marks. I’m expecting good things out of the discrete math midterm and not so good things from the management science one. For some reason it’s the class that you think’ll probably be the easiest that bites you in the ass. I guess that makes sense. Less fear = less study = less marks. Gotta get a little more afraid I guess.

What a first day of summer. 😐

Stuck In The Past

I have this little problem. You see I can’t seem to let go of the past. It seems like everything reminds me of it. I can look up a road and see Forest Drive. Every person I meet, I try to match with someone I know already. (So far, I’ve met a Patrick, JT, Jordan, just to name a few) It’s really quite a bad habit to be honest. I talk too much about the “good old times”. I talk too much about what I did “back on PEI”. Everything I see and hear reminds me of something from what seems like a previous life. It’s a life that I’ve left and become detached from.

I was never a huge fan of change. Actually, I hated change and perhaps I still do; I’m not entirely certain. Back when I was much younger, there was talk of moving to Alberta. Oh, I argued and fumed about how I’d have to leave my friends and everything else I knew and was used to behind. (Considering the situation in Alberta right now, that probably wouldn’t have been a bad move at all.)

By the end of high school, I think I had just plan accepted the fact that I would be moving away for university. I knew I couldn’t stay on the Island for school. For what I wanted to do (Computer Engineering clearly), the university there, and even in the surrounding provinces just didn’t cut it for me. So seemingly out of necessity, I had come to terms with that eventuality. Now, let’s fast forward to today, almost 10 months since moving to Ontario.

I think I like it here. I’m learning and experiencing things I know I would not have learned if I were still on PEI. On the other hand, I’m not experiencing and learning things if I were still on PEI. That’s just the way it goes. That in itself doesn’t really bother me much. Of course, we’re going to be doing and seeing different things. We’re not the same people in the same places. But there is one thing that really bothers and tears at me. What have become of friends I had and still have from my elementary, junior, and finally senior high school years?

I spoke with two of them about this topic specifically when we were still in the safe cocoon of high school. What would happen when we moved apart? We’d have so much less in common. Even though we didn’t all like the same things, at least we went through our day to day lives somewhat connected. It would have been unusual to go a lengthy period of time without seeing or talking to them. There was always something from school or band or the previous night to talk about when we got together. And when there was absolutely none of that, we could still dwell on the meaning of life for hours and hours on end. There was definitely no shortage of things to say. Even vegging out in front of a TV was usually pretty entertaining. No, we weren’t all that similar. One would die for music, one was a politician (:D) and one was a nerd. 😐

Today, we’re in, literally, different parts of the world. But in a couple months we’ll meet again when I visit PEI. While I look forward to the opportunity to visit and see old friends, I’m not sure what to expect. Will we still be “best friends”. Will we be able to sit down and actually have a conversation or will it be a matter of explaining the ‘extraordinary’ feats we’ve accomplished over the past year? Then what happens after that? Do we sit there in silence hoping someone else will still have another story to tell? At times I even feel like I distance myself from friends I’ve made here at university, lest I be ‘disloyal’ to my childhood friends.

One scene in the show ‘House’ I saw this past week basically nailed my thoughts on the head. One doctor tells another that while they may still send a Christmas card every once in a while and even hug if they meet at a conference, they will only do so as colleagues, not as friends. So when I’m old and someone points to your picture in my yearbook, will I answer, “Oh, he was just a colleague”, or will I say, “Ahhh, he’s a good friend of mine.”