Category Archives: school

Music, Here I Come

I attended the University of Waterloo orchestra concert held at Hagey Hall. It was lovely to hear some live music again and more importantly, it reminded me how it felt to play in a band and how much I miss it. Waterloo’s hardly the most exciting town in the world, but being close to the university for my upcoming work term does have its benefits. I’ll be able to take a course on campus at Wilfred Laurier and now, I’ll be auditioning and hopefully becoming a part of the orchestra. ‘Instrument’ of choice will be percussion.

I spent 6 years in the band program through junior and senior high school, 5 of them as a percussionist. Needless to say, music and the various bands I was a part of held a very central role in my daily routine. It was painful as hell to have rehearsals 3 or 4 mornings a week, but in the end, it was very fruitful. Not only did I enjoy making music, I also met and became friends with many members of the bands. As Microsoft says, music is social. Throughout those years, I also played the piano quite seriously, receiving my Grade 10 Royal Conservatory of Music certificate.

So it was with quite a shock that I entered the University of Waterloo, with music no where to be found in my daily routine for over two years. I had the opportunity to join a jazz group, but never took the initiative. After attending the orchestra concert, I will be taking that next step. I’ve been without music for far too long – I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but I do feel like I shouldn’t have much difficulty in making the orchestra. I’ll have to dust off the drum sticks and get some snare rudiment practicing in over the Christmas break.

Fall of Summer

I think I’ve nailed down the date for some upcoming computer parts purchases. October 17th. That’s the date (rumoured) that ATI will be launching their X1950 Pro and it looks to be THE card for me to tide me over until the second generation Direct3D 10 parts arrive. I’ve put off this purchase for far too long already and at this rate, I’ll be getting my computer next year… RAM prices have been skyrocketing over the past few weeks so I’m going out tomorrow to grab the last pack of RAM that I could find at the low prices still. I definitely didn’t see this coming when I budgeted the computer a couple months ago.

It’s already officially fall and I can definitely feel it in the air. It was actually decently warm here today, but the past week has been relatively freezing. The nights and early mornings have dropped down to 7-10C and I think it’ll soon be time to upgrade the jacket. I’m definitely not looking forward to the snow that bound to come in a couple months. It seems like so recently that I was braving absolutely frigid temperatures during my co-op term in Waterloo.

I recently got my class ranking for the past semester. My goal was top 10 after I got my 16th rank last semester, but as the semester progressed, I had a feeling that wasn’t to be. As luck would have it, I just sneaked in at good ol’ number 10 out of 123. Seems like we lost about 20 people this semester. As well, I found out today that I’m actually on the Dean’s Honours list. That was quite surprising, considering my absolute mark wasn’t that good. Overall I’m a happy camper. Now, how shall I reward myself? 😛 Not too bad for an Islander eh? /end bragging mode…

Just prior to writing this post, I watched the season premier of The Office (US version). Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. The only bad thing about it is that I have to wait until next week to watch it… There’s something good about having multiple seasons saved up and watching it all in a row. It’s that instant gratification to know that you can watch episode after episode all in a row. It does prove to be detrimental to a person’s sleep regime though…

Okay, that’s all I’ll write for now. For some odd reason, Firefox has been acting up all day today, crashing all over the place and I’m a little scared it’s going to crash and erase everything I’ve written…

Familiar Faces

I just realized that I never got around to actually publishing this post. I wrote up a rough draft of it, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say at the time, but I think it’s time that I got around to completing it.

I guess there’s one good thing about not knowing anyone back home. I was home for 2 weeks over the Christmas break in Niagara Falls. I had plenty of extra time on my hands and I spent it thinking. A lot. I even called (somewhat randomly) some friends who are now, literally all over the world. And maybe that’s what changed something in me. It was the first time I had actually heard those people who I consider my best friends with my own ears. Sure there’s sending emails and talking on MSN or whatever, but nothing can beat just chatting it up like old times. I was surprised just how I missed sitting with the phone just hearing them on the other end of it. I really didn’t want to hang up and I did eventually talk quite a long while those couple days.

Well, I was talking with one person about university choices since they’re currently on a Rotary exchange (lucky). Anyways this person expressed interest in coming to the University of Waterloo. Now, at the time I think I may have sounded like I was discouraging that thought, but I really was thinking the exact opposite. Now I tried to keep friends off my list of priorities when picking a university to attend. However, just the mention of the possibility had me choking on my stomach. I don’t think I could imagine anything better than to have a good friend here. Yes, I’m being selfish right now, but I tried to push my own bias out of my mind when talking about it with that person. Perhaps I unbiased myself a little too much and sounded like I was pushing elsewhere away. I definitely didn’t mean it. Not like UWaterloo’s not a good school. 😉

Sure I’ve made friends, quite a few of them in fact. But I always have this nagging feeling that I’m putting on some mask that just isn’t me. Around my friends from PEI, I could act just about any way I wanted and know that they’d be okay with it. But here, I’m wary of trying that. Friendships aren’t exactly concrete as hell and doing something stupid could turn out rather poorly. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to shut myself in that hole I call my room and come out only for the necessities. At least I wouldn’t have to fake me in there. You don’t understand just how tiring it is to be “Charlie” here. I wish I could just not care, but some bit of pride or something prevents me from it.

But whatever. I’ll be (more than likely) going to visit the Island this coming summer. You can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to that. To once more be among friends will be a great feeling.

There’s Always A Way Around It

Nah, I don’t mean there’s a way around doing the work that is necessary. I mean just look at me right now. I’ve spend the good portion of this evening at the library slaving away. What could I possibly have to do after work you say? Well, I have a weekly work update due tomorrow morning and there’s this course, PDEng, we actually have to take on ethics, morals, and professionalism during our work terms. Basically I get to write a lot of… *cough*bs*cough* and get a passing grade that essentially says I’m competent. But apparently not, since I managed to fail a few of the assignments that we had to do before the end of last semester. According to the evaluators, my supporting examples are too ‘vague’ or somesuch. Well, hello, of course they’re vague. The questions are unclear as hell. “State a personal strength and why.” Isn’t that like the most vague question you can ask short of “Tell me about yourself”…? But to please the university gods (program heads) I’ll resubmit them and put down some small itty bitty example that I’ll be very specific with and have absolutely no reflection of my actual person. Of course, I’m here to please.

How am I writing all this with my nastily constrained connection? (Let me tell you, using dial-up after that constraint would be like blazing speeds relatively. I’ve taken a measurement of the actual speeds I get in the slow queue. It’s in the range of 500 bytes per second.) Well, as the title would imply, there’s always a way around the chains society (university ResNet in this case) puts around you. I’m in the library siphoning the wireless of course. Yes, the joys of wireless. And to smite them all, I’m listening to the music that forced me to play this hand. Yes, I’ve saved the files that Pandora cached on my hard drive and stuffed them on the iPod. So as I write this, I’m happily listening to, hmm… Kieth Jarrett’s rendition of “In Front”, introduced to me after I searched up Bill Evans I believe it was. Actually, this stuff reminds me more of Vince Guaraldi than anyone else… When I get my connection back (like this Friday, maybe, when I got home that is:)) I’ll be sure to look up old buddy Vince. I’ll just jot that down on my Rainlendar todo list. By the way, if you don’t know what Rainlendar is, I suggest you look it up on Google or something. As the name may imply, it’s a calendar or sorts that allows you to set events (alarms) and todo lists in a neat little package that sites as a widget-like tool on your desktop. And if you’re as obsessed with computers as I am, you’ll be staring at your computer desktop a lot more than some little day planner. 😉

In totally separate news, I’ve become slightly addicted to French Vanilla cappuccino. As any employee of a tech company should, I have at my disposal free pop, coffee, hot chocolate and cappuccino at work. All that caffeine is good for a kick start of the brain at the beginning of the day and then the continual rush is required for proper functioning throughout the rest of the work day. Of course, by the time you get back home, you’re just so tired you could pass out instantly in all your clothes in the most awkward position on the ground. Not that I’ve done that, I swear… Only for a little bit. Really. 😐 I’ve got a finished large cup of Timmy’s French Vanilla here beside me keeping me company while I slug through these assignments and this post. Ahem.

But oh! It’s 10:00pm and I really should get going back to res. I usually try to get to bed slightly earlier these days as getting up at 6:30/7:00am isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. One thing I’ve noticed about getting up early, before everyone else, is that the showers take forever to get warm. Since I’m usually the first in the whole building to take a shower, I’ve got to like start the furnace up or something in the mornings. I’m glad I’m making that second person’s shower more enjoyable… (not)

[tags]university of waterloo, Rainlendar, Pandora[/tags]

Stupid Bandwidth Limits

Damn stupid ResNet bandwidth limitations here at UWaterloo are getting on my nerves. Apparently streaming 128kbps music all day over the internet isn’t be the best idea. Nor is watching high quality keynote presentations from CES. So my weekly bandwidth allotment of 1500MB has vanished. I used up almost 1400MB yesterday alone and I won’t be getting it back until at least this coming Wednesday. This sucks. I’m going to really have to bug my parents about getting a separate line here. But in the meantime, I may venture out to the library or something and siphon the wireless for next few days. Don’t get excited about really reading anything new here for a bit since I’m pretty lazy and walking to the library isn’t my idea of fun. 😀

But since I can’t hang around on the internet, I guess I could read some more and play some Rome Total War… I guess that’s not so bad in itself. 🙂

[tags]bandwidth, University of Waterloo[/tags]

Back At It

I’m once more sitting in my room at res after what it seems way too little time’s rest. But here I am and I’ll deal with it. I met one of my neighbors here and he seems like quite the rowdy one. Doesn’t look like it’ll be any better than last semester, unfortunately. Oh and it seems like I can never remember to bring everything I need here. Last time I forgot my laptop power cord (some of you may remember that). This time I forgot an ethernet cable. Luckily for me, the ResNet office here has plenty of spares so I went and borrowed one for now. So I’m happily typing away, on the internet.

Well, there’ll be no more getting up like half an hour before I need to be in class anymore. I’ll probably be getting up around 6:00AM tomorrow to take the bus. Unfortunately, it’s not like Charlottetown where I could drive myself just about anywhere in 10 minutes or less. Plus I want some safety time in there cause I’m going to be a complete nub at this whole public transit thing. I wasn’t even able to get a bus pass today since the FEDS office here at the university is closed until tomorrow at 9:00AM. And then it closes at 4:30PM so I’ll have to try to get off work a little early to go and grab that pass.

Anyways, not much more to talk about. Oh, in this new room, all the drawers squeak and I don’t have a keyboard tray! Oh my goodness. Where shall I do my work? The whole desk is basically occupied by computer stuff. As it should be. =D

P.S. Writing 2006 everywhere is creepy.

And I Never Thought I’d Make It

Well, I never thought this day would come, but it finally has. Actually, this is really a few days late since basically I was free of the chains starting Friday around noon. But of course, I would have seemed extremely anti-social if I had of spent that day writing in my blog. Even I have limits you know. 😉 Friday night was pretty crazy, although not as crazy as some of the stories I later heard about what happened that night in other parts of the university. We won�t get into that�

I spent a good portion of yesterday packing up all of my stuff in preparation for moving out. I was extremely surprised at just how much stuff I brought to my dorm. I brought stuff that I didn�t even know I brought. As I was folding all my clothes, I dug up so many shirts and stuff that I didn�t even know I had. I am glad, however, that I did not bring a desktop. I saw numerous parents lugging huge computer cases around.

As people were leaving they would all come down to my room and say a little goodbye until next semester (hopefully�) and it was actually pretty sad to think that I won�t be able to see them for 4 months. I�m going to be living in res again next semester since it was just the most convenient route to take for my work semester, but none of them will be back. It�ll be interesting to see how I got eat with, hang around with and all. Four months isn�t really that long and it definitely feels like I just met all of those people yesterday, but we�ve shared (nearly) the same experience and we�ve really grown close.

So this is just a short little update before my laptop goes under the knife. And by under the knife I mean it�s going down for a backing up and then a reformat. I�ve also got to go see if I can�t get linux working on this thing again. I didn�t have time before to fool around too much, but oh, it feels so nice to have all the time in the world right now.

And Then There was One

Tis the morning of my final exam of this semester, Chemistry 102: Chemistry for Engineers. I’m going into it feeling pretty good. I did last year’s exam as practice and just about aced that. However, I had the most horrible night of the semester, meaning although I got into bed at around 11:40PM, hoping to get a lot of sleep before the exam, I didn’t actually fall asleep until around 2:00AM. In any case, I’m up and about and off to eat a nice light breakfast before the exam.

So close now! I can taste the freedom!

The Final Stretch

It’s been almost three months and I’m coming up to the end of this, my first semester at university. It’s been a lot of pain and fun all rolled into one big mess. Many of my fears were proven to be unfounded while others have magnified in their seriousness. Let me give you some examples. I was never really a shy person back on PEI, but I wasn’t the most outgoing person either. I was terribly afraid of not meeting anyone and making new friends here. Well that was proven completely wrong. I’ve never made so many friends. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that we all feel basically the same and everyone’s accepting, but nevertheless there’s an awesome bunch here. On the other hand however is the matter of school materials and difficulty. Okay, I knew I was going to a good school with high academic standards. People told me expect a 10% drop in my average from high school. At this point, I’d be happy with only a 10% drop. I expected university to be hard, but I never had any inkling that I’d be getting kicked in the ass so hard. The initial trauma left me basically useless. Towards the end of this semester I picked things up and started organizing myself better. We’ll see if it’s good enough for the finals here.

Speaking of finals, I’m really in the final stretch now. We’ve finished up in all of our courses save for Calculus and we’ll be finishing the very last bit of work to be covered tomorrow. Okay, I’ll be honest, it was a weird feeling hearing the professor say ‘Okay and that’s the last material we’ll be covering in this course’. I’ve moved through elementary school, junior high school and senior high school without this feeling save for upon Grade 9 and Grade 12 graduation. Moving from grade to grade didn’t really mean anything. This was different though. Perhaps it marks the beginning of the end of my first stretch of a challenging academic and social life ahead of me. I have never worked as hard (and didn’t really imagine I’d ever work as hard) as I have this past semester and I could definitely do better.

I finished my last bit of regular classwork this evening. A couple of us got together and worked on our C# programming assignment. The program we had to write included things such as reading in a data file of 20 000 different cars, writing methods for finding certain makes of cars, deleting specific ones, and sorting the entire list in order of price. The concepts weren’t too difficult at all, however the implementation was pretty much death in a program. There were so many ways to go wrong, not just in syntax but in logic as well. It’s hard to wrap your mind around every single possibility that the program could possibly run into. But since I’ve finished that up (not even due until Monday!) I’ve got a clean slate until exams start next Thursday. It’s a nice feeling to know that you can concentrate on studying. Plus since we’re in 1A, the first year office was nice enough to plan our exams so that we have them every second day. Our 5 exams are spread out over more than a week. My first one is Physics and the second is ECE (programming). Those are definitely going to interesting and an awful way to start of the finals.

So yes… See? I’m super busy and yet I still find time to post something to my blog. What are you people doing out there? Where’s your update? I’m patiently waiting. =P

Growing Up…

So I was home this past weekend and had a few nice talks with the parents. You know, when you’re at university, you just don’t get the time or chance to do that and you realize how little you really see them. It used to be that I’d go home everyday and you’d just know they’d be there or if not right then a little later. But when you’re no longer at home, it really puts things into perspective. Taken for granted? For sure I’m shamed to say. It’s not until it’s taken away from you that you truly realize what you had.

Okeee… moving on. So where was I. Right, talking with the folks. So we were just finishing up dinner Saturday night and were talking about my housing for the next semester. For those of you who don’t know (I’m surprised, most of you don’t!) I’m going on my first work term this coming semester. So, recently I’ve been on the lookout for an appropriate place to live. Apparently, it’s pretty hard to find a decent place. It’s either living in some person’s basement for a semester or sharing an apartment with several unknowns. All my friends here got jobs elsewhere or haven’t gotten jobs yet. And I can’t realistically wait for them to get jobs. Anyways, the point wasn’t the housing itself. I realized that I’m well, growing up. There used to be a time when you could easily retreat to the safety of home to lick your wounds. Those days are quickly drawing to a close. In a way, living here at residence is really shielding us to the reality we’ll soon have to face. There is still some sense of control and organization enforced onto us by the housing people here. Once we move out, we’re really on our own.

This semester has really flown by. In fact, you know what, my whole life has flown past when I really look back on it. I can still picture Michael and I standing at the back of the West Kent playground planning the Millenium Group’s eventual conquering of the world. Oh I can still see the maps we made of all our ‘armies’. And we went on that grade 6 trip to Cape Breton when a bunch of the other schools were going to like Mill River (the Islanders will get this one =P). And yeah Mike and Alex, remember that trip?! Haha, see those were good times. Then it was junior high and somehow I became amazing friends with Nick. I don’t even know how it happened and the last time we talked about that, he couldn’t come up with the real progression of our friendship either. I recall our band trip in grade 9 and playing that solo in Shark Bait in that school. Apparently it was really good, but I couldn’t really understand why I was so pumped that day.

Then senior high school at the Gray. Those were the best days of my life. Especially grade 12. Grade 10 and 11 weren’t all that special. I had a weird obsession with school those days. I really let loose in grade 12 and I don’t regret it one bit. Two musicals and four band trips in three years. I will always think back to those days with great fondness. And those were the times when I solidified my friendship with all you special people back home. (Yes, I still think of PEI as home; cute isn’t it?) Oh yes friends, that brings me to my next thought…

I was talking to this person here at university about what we left behind. This person has become better friends with the people here at university than they had ever been with the people back in their hometown. Now this isn’t some loserish person who never became good friends with the people back home. Quite the opposite. I can tell this person would’ve been a very popular person who most likely was well-liked.

I thought about this in my context. Am I better friends with the people here than I am with the people who are still back on the Island (or on exchange)? The resounding answer is no. Oh don’t get me wrong. The people here I’ve become friends with are awesome people. They’re nice and share so many things in common with me. But that doesn’t really seem to matter. The people I’ve left mean something totally different to me. There’s something special with them that I don’t think I’ll ever find in anyone else. Yes, that’s saying a lot, but I’ve met a lot of people and I just don’t see that sort of … element to them. I’m going to be with many of these people for the next 5 years of my life and I will grow very close to some of them, but it won’t be the same. Some people told me when I was leaving PEI that I’d find other friends, other very good friends. I accepted this, but I also accepted the fact that I may never find the friends I had from back home. That’s why I’m so excited to be going to visit next summer for a couple weeks. Yeah, it’s such a long time away, but I’ll be looking forward to it each and every day. I miss you guys and the Island so much that I came the closest to crying this weekend I have in a long time when I was looking at some pictures of my time there. Not even ashamed to say it.

So it’s only 12:10AM but I think I’m going to hit the sack and listen to a podcast or something. This is going to be the earliest time I’ve gone to bed in the past month and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Sorry to all those I haven’t written emails to (specifically Michael, Nick, Alex, Sean, Maryse, and… I think that’s it. You guys wrote me great emails and I feel terrible for not having written back… in some cases in more than a month). I promise to get some out tomorrow. It’s an awfully nice feeling to be finished of assignments in advance of the day they’re due.

P.S. This whole post is actually totally off topic to what I orignally intended. It just started flowing so I thought I’d let it go for now. I’m continue my original train of thought in a later post.