Yes, that's the actual view from our place. It's quite compact, but it really has location, location, location.

Email: Roy.Brander "AT" gmail

402 1972 Robson St.
V6G 1E8

604-704-1527 mobile
604-681-2002 home landline

                                    Welcome to my web site. Yes, it's very old-fashioned, a 1990s "Home Page". But, it has a special feature: it's mine. None of the content will ever go away, or change location, because some algorithm decided it was wrong for the real site owner.

I actually am the real site owner. Welcome.


Replies to Substacks, or General Ranting about the Day
Latest Post: Canada Day! (not broken)

"Dora's Page": A daily photoblog.
Just a few photos a day to stay in touch with Calgary family.
Latest Post: July 17 - We're Back!

Covid Cup Colour Commentary
Pandemic Blog, was daily April 1, 2020- April 1, 2023. No longer daily.
Latest Post: June 5

CCCC archive for its first two years, April Fool's 2020-2022.

Interests, Most-Recent at Top

March 9, 2024: Volume VI of the Diaries of my Grandmother, Done!

The diaries of Ethel Conybeare Brander, nine of them, are being scanned, and Volume Six is up. WW1 is now on for her in earnest, in 1916. She loses friends and cousins, perhaps a boyfriend. Her nursing work, dressing wounds and washing, becomes a steady grind at Sutton Veny Military Hospital, near Bath. Main Page for all Diaries.

Death to the Obsolete Kitchen "Range"! Replace it with Modularity.

We did not just go to induction. We no longer even have a kitchen "range" that combines oven and stovetop.

Have a look at our much-cheaper, safer, easier-to-repair "Modular Kitchen".

Stanley Park Water Supply Tunnel

My neighbourhood will be afflicted by a major construction project.

My career allowed me to provide the neighbours with some information and explanations, and speak up for us when Global News called.

Special Project, June 30, 2023: Emery Barnes Park

Are the streets near the Yaletown street-people help-centres hard to live in? So say two upcoming lawsuits. Is Emery Barnes Park across the street, unsafe? I got some good commentary from locals, and a whole lot of pretty dull pictures. As George Orwell noted in "Down and Out", poverty is mostly very boring.


Family Fudge Recipe

My mother's mother's grandmother had a candy store in Scotland, a good 160 years ago. This fudge recipe is the single-oldest family heirloom, older than any material object. It comes with explanations of how fudge works - how it sets, which is crucial - and how to test it, time it, beat it at the right moment.

My mother's instructions on this, and examples, were given over and over again; fudge is hard to get right. I came to realize the "oral tradition" was part of the heirloom, passed down for five generations.

Fudge is tricky. Good luck. You'll need it.

Diaries of Ethel Conybeare Brander

My Grandmother's Diaries, Scanned
My father's mother (so, the other one from the fudge recipe) left her family nine volumes of handwritten diaries. Many entries are dull, but they start off with her European Tour of 1910, Age 18, which have become historically interesting for what tourism was like back then, and later volumes will take us through her nursing career in World War One.

Volumes 1-6 are now up at link above. Volume 7 is small, should be out this year, and get us to 1917. And marriage!


My library. Practically a family member.


Sid the Cat - now departed (2019/Oct/12), fondly remembered (for new pictures of Felix the Cat, check Dora's Page).


I had this career with two different disciplines: Civil Engineering, deciding which water/sewer mains to replace; and IT development, mostly of GIS systems. I have degrees in both sciences. (Engineering, 1980, Computer Science 1985). I feel very lucky to have been able to combine them, bringing GIS tools to make for better engineering decisions. With that, and a major corrosion-protection program, I figure we saved the City of Calgary about a hundred million dollars on pipes they didn't have to replace.

Geographic Information Systems

Some Examples of work from my career - GIS maps of Calgary Water systems

Waterworks Infrastructure Management

It took about 20 years, but I finally developed a statistical model that would predict the likely number of main-breaks for the next year of a water pipe; a model that could be applied across an entire pipe database to give a risk, in dollars-per-metre, for each pipe, constantly. The database was then updated every night for risk levels, changed after every main break. It could then always print out a prioritized list for replacements.

Basically, I automated my own job of picking the yearly replacements by hand. My successor was able to expand her duties considerably, get out in the field more with the new inspection technologies. We co-wrote the paper on my model, delivered at the Western Canada Water and Wastewater Conference in Calgary, spring 2016, right after I retired.

PowerPoint file for "Calgary Water Main Break Prediction Model" All the speaking notes to go with each slide are included, so you can follow the whole presentation.

Anode Retrofit Program

The thing I helped along that did more good than any of the other things I brag about on this page (Main Break Prediction Model, Pipeline Inspections) was the retrofit of magnesium anodes on iron mains as a corrosion-protection system.

We started the program in 1998 and it still goes on, may now mostly be re-retrofitting anodes that wore out over 20 years, to keep the main going another 20. I estimated around 2015 that it had already averted a thousand main breaks, saved over 20 million repair dollars and a hundred million replacement dollars; by now, you can add a good third onto those numbers.

I never did do a public presentation about it - they were all internal, for my management. Here's a few slides I can show.

Sewer Infrastructure Management

The last several years of that career, my job was expanded to sanitary and storm sewers, when the two departments merged. Having developed a general approach to the "risk of a main" problem for water pipes, I was able to find an equivalent for sewer pipes: a model where the various things in its history (video inspections, past repairs) could predict the risk of future dig-repair needs, future flushing needs, and prioritize by risk. That model needed a lot more consideration of the "consequences" of failure, much higher if sewage spills into the environment than the street. A new engineer-in-training worked on that, under me, and we did a paper at the same conference about the equivalent sanitary-sewer risk model and rehabilitation priorities.

PowerPoint file for "Calgary Sanitary Sewer Risk Model", again including the whole speech.

Infrastructure Databases and Automation of Engineering Decisions

So it was quite the photo-finish to a career; the Sanitary Model showed a high correlation coefficient indicating statistical value, only weeks before I retired, was presented months after I did.

I was pretty proud, though. I solved - for Calgary, at least - the Holy Grail of Asset Management: entirely automatic risk prioritization. Then I did it again, for a quite different asset class. Most utilities still make these decision entirely by "gut-feel", or by rules-of-thumb. I'd found our old rules-of-thumb to be very wrong, in the course of developing a scientifically-defensible replacement. The fact that I was able to do it again, in such a short time, shows that the methodologies I developed remain valid, despite the type of infrastructure; they are general principles.

Utilities around the globe, but especially where there is a lot of old infrastructure, are wasting billions per year on replacement by poor guesswork. The "infrastructure crisis" is bad, but not actually quite as bad as many engineers portray it; with good data and good decisions, with new inspection and rehabilitation technologies, we can get a lot more value out of old infrastructure than we think.

Others carry on with these models at The City of Calgary Water Resources, but I hope they find application across the industry.

Pipeline Inspection Technologies

Speaking of new inspection technologies, I gave three presentations in retirement that explore the very state-of-the-art in pipe inspection, an industry where my native Alberta is an unquestioned world leader. I was very lucky to have worked with both Pure Technologies, and especially with PICA, both proud examples of Alberta's high-tech consulting to the world.

The infrastructure-evaluation methodologies I developed were for whole asset types (all 50,000 water pipes, say) where you have limited information about them. Pipeline inspection technologies bring your information to a whole other level, allowing for near-certainty about the pipes inspected. It's where you go next when the statistical models indicate a concern.

Presentation to Ontario Waterworks Assocation, 2016

Powerpoint of my Presentation to the National Association of Trenchless Technologies 2019, Denver, CO

Powerpoint of my Presentation to the American Waterworks Conference Workshop on Water Pipe Management2019, Chicago, IL

(There's some overlapping material between the two).

The Last AWWARF Paper I Worked On

I contributed to a number of papers by the American Waterworks Research Foundation; for this one, I wrote enough that I got credit at the top, so I'll post it here. The experience certainly soured me on doing any more for AWWARF, or at least with consulting company HDR. (They contrived so that my work on the paper was done at little more than minimum-wage.) Basically a volunteered professional courtesy to the very few engineers that would like to read:
"Leveraging Data from Non-Destructive Examinations to Help Select Ferrous Water Mains for Renewal" (2016)

Good Summary of My Whole Job

This PowerPoint Presentation (speaking notes are included) to the Canadian Network of Asset Managers in 2012 was a 20-minute summary of 10 years of "Asset Management" work, (some of which went back 20 years, really) for both the Water and Sewer utilities. For those with only 20 minutes or less, this would be the quickie version of my career story.

Calgary Unix Users Group Lectures

"My Cord-Cutting Adventure"
March 23, 2020 virtual lecture on how I shut down our TV cable contract and went with over-the-air TV reception, digitized into MPEG files by a commercial product, stored on my Unix machine.

It goes into how digital TV works, practical problems, copyright issues, and some (lame) humour about how bad TV has been over the years. It's a large expansion of my shorter blog post from a year before. That version is all you really need if casually interested in Over-The-Air TV options.

Article on Canada's Resilience in a Cyberwar (March-May 2022)
I was piqued by an overly-frightening article about "cyberwar", and how we might wake up with the house dark, and the radio stations silent. I spent a month finding out the true situation, which got me back into contact with old friends who run some of Calgary's most important server rooms.

"How Resilient Are Our Vital Services in a Cyberwar?"

Free Software: TableTools

I helped out a friend recently with cleaning up an Excel workbook of sparse, unformatted data, for upload into a database. I developed a bunch of tools for cleaning data columns, "quoting" them so that they can be uploaded as SQL strings, formatting them.

The group of tools can be commanded from one dialogue called SQLtools. That link is to documentation for how to use it, and download it.

Used in full, SQLtools will take a worksheet of data, and turn it into valid SQL INSERT statements, with all numeric formats clean, all text data quoted, and internal quotes doubled. It will also look at your data, and "AI" (well, several clever IF statements) will guess at an Oracle CREATE TABLE statement that will create a table with right data types and data-widths to hold your spreadsheet.

Free Software: TableWare

This is another Excel add-in that saves many steps in loading SQL queries from large databases (like Oracle, anything you can get an ODBC hook into) into Excel Pivot Tables. It has some craftier code for allowing the spreadsheet to become a report, where you can store the SQL in the spreadsheet, have part of the SQL statement be a variable (i.e. "Select * from InfoTable where serial_number=A4" where A4 is a spreadsheet cell reference you can change to any serial number you want a report upon), and be able to refresh the pivot table with dynamic SQL.

Other tools in TableWare just make Pivot Tables easier to copy, delete, flip around the graph axes. It was just handy for analysing tabular masses of data.

Information and Download Page for TableWare


I retired with five other guys and it was this great party.

Still very proud of my Retirement speech I gave for all five.

Lagoon Cam!

I ran my then-new webcam as a "Lagoon Cam" in the 2020 pandemic, for a bit of fun. Later on, I experimented with how ffmpeg can turn a thousand images into one long animated gif. Click on the image at left to see a whole day go by in a minute.

Random essays from before the blogs above