brander.ca archive for Nov/Dec 2015

2015 December 18


The Last Post to brander.ca in its service as a communication board for my telework. I did after all put in some time today, documenting a few more things for Jeff, and looking through old files for anything important.

I was always the guy who left at least one thing behind, taking off on vacation; in this case, it's sure that I'll forget to pass something on, document something. I'm just trying to cut the number down.

Anyway, Vancouver has a "Lumiere" festival of art made with light on. The tree in background, 12 stories up on a patio at the top of an apartment building, is not part of it. That's a living tree, green all summer, but in winter, they fully light it up so you can see every branch from across the beach of English Bay. In the foreground, a lighted Orca sculpture fills half the little park at the beach intersection across from the Sylvia hotel (home of Steve!)

That's it for brander.ca, the telework hub. Look forward to posts from Hawaii in two weeks, or perhaps I'll spare time for an Xmas day post next week.


December 17th: Self Regard

Our Christmas lights are almost the only in sight from across Lost Lagoon, regarding the city. My efforts to secure this photo became A Photo Adventure that deserves its own page.

My last day of telework today! Tomorrow is a RAWW day. We'll see if I can stand to not log in and see what's happening. Probably not, since rain has returned to Vancouver and going out is challenging.

My last telework day got started fast, with some early GIS problems to solve for Joanna. Major progress though, on MY problems with ArcMap, which Joanna also has: Jeffrey does NOT have these problems, so that really helps with diagnosis. Larry Williams' theory that it was lack of Oracle 12C drivers for the PC is clearly not it, because Jeffrey doesn't have them either. Investigation continues.

Meanwhile, the weather here is again crushing and I'm actually glad of work to do. Not sure what I'll do next! But I'll probably think of something.


December 16th: Xmas Lights Are Up

Festivity reigns in the Asset Management International Command Bunker, just two weeks before it becomes the International Command Bunker of No Particular Portfolio.

I saved our Xmas lights from Calgary and they improve the entire block, since Vancouverites, their spirits crushed by the relentless cloud and rain, have almost no lights up. We plucky Calgarian transplants carry the faith of electrical waste in the name of merriment.

I hope to get a decent picture of us tonight from across Lost Lagoon. I tried last night and learned that one does not send a smart phone to do a camera's job. They're fine with good light, but at night, everything looks like military night vision googles.

The SQL Slog continues in AM. I found that Jeff's run crashed last night, on the simple problem of not having access granted to the source tables. I corrected this and re-started...in the "production"(?) AM database, totally mucking it up. Now I'm doing the regular run on that to restore service, after which I can try to re-do Jeff's run on AMTEST.

If I can get done before Jeffrey gets in (about an hour), he'll never know the difference.

Unless he's a reader of brander.ca...if he's not, nobody tell him.

This might be an abbreviated day today; Vancouver is getting a day of sun, our last before Connie and I strike out to the Far East...Calgary...for Xmas. I may have to get out and enjoy it and catch up some work later. With the days just a few hours long, and a week since we saw blue sky, this is not to be missed.


Dec 15: Retirement Party Photos from Paul are In

A salute to everybody at the Xmas party in Ft. Calgary from the last great party!

Paul Fesko's outstanding photos (nobody ever has their eyes closed) of the Big Retirement Party are now online at his iCloud site.


Dec 14: Winter In Vancouver

Connie enjoys a War-on-Xmas Starbucks' plain-red coffee cup while standing in front of your basic "Vancouver in Winter" scene. Grey and cool, yes, but running water in the fountains and green leaves on many hardy trees and shrubs, some flowers still in the pots. It's been raining for days, but today Vancouver comes out and enjoys December, on bikes and sometimes in shorts.

Still at it, today - Jeff Hastings is at his wits' end over a crash of our Water SQL job and we have to get to the bottom of it. But I'm more worried about getting the sewer run to work with the new database. Could be a busy week!


Dec 11: The Last "Good" Friday

I just realized something gigantic and overwhelming and bewildering.

It's my last Friday. Next week has a RAWW day, I've decided to take: it's my last RAWW! The week after that ends with Xmas. The week after that ends with New Year's Day. The week after that...is only one day. My last.

So this is the LAST time in my life - unless I take a job with scheduled hours rather than work-your-own-hours - that I will think of "Friday" as "Last day of the week" rather than, umm, Friday.

It's not just that this has gone on for a whole career. It's gone on since kindergarten. And it's not just Fridays. It's Mondays. There are not just songs about Friday (see left), but a lot more about Monday, "I don't like Mondays" and so on. I can remember when I was nine, the theme song from the "Monkees" TV show would come on. And my stomach would sink. Because "The Monkees" was on Sunday nights and it reminded me I had bed in 90 minutes and up the next day for work. (school). And now Monday is going to be just another day.

The whole rhythm of my week is about to be taken away from me, after fifty-two years. When music stops, people sometimes dance a few more steps. I'll probably be the same. For a little while.


2015 December 10 I have wearied of trying to show Vancouver in winter at its best; it's been a pretty dreary week. Today is actually clear and Grouse Mountain is again lit by sunlight on its dusting of snow - but I've shown the hordes of brander.ca fanatics that sight many times.

So today, it's the ruggedly handsome Jeff Galloway that entertains the mob.

Apologies for short entry; I am totally consumed with the problem of getting in the last Hydroscope data. Dave Spencer down in Colorado will be so pleased that his research project is going to have a clean, complete database.

Monday, I may show the picture of Joanne Barrett looking at Jeff's whiteboard work and expressing her immense smugness at how right she was about something. It's a ridiculously cute expression, but I will put it up on this web page if she doesn't write today to say no.


2015 December 9 Time for a little self-regard, here at the AM International Command Bunker on Lost Lagoon. And we regard ourselves, the plucky little penthouse at far left. It's the beige four-story building with the white 7-story behind it to the left. We're just at treetop level.

We regard from across Lost Lagoon at sunset, with the Lost Lagoon Christmas Tree of Lights taking the place of the fountain for the mid-winter.

Vancouver's one fault is light-levels at this time of year. Between the 8-hour daylight and the often-heavy cloud, it can look pretty glum. So we Vancouverites try to make glum look pretty.


2015 December 8 I can't bear to take another photo from my high aerie over Stanley Park this morning. Between the very heavy storm system and the mid-December date, it's just DARK out there, and very soggy. Let's go with this double-rainbow shot I got from my deck in Calgary two years ago. A much more optimistic image of rain.

Water Data For Gizachew

Special job for brander.ca today: making sure UBC grad student Gizachew DeMessie gets the all-pipe-model water data from Naorin in our office. I'm sure that the vast legions of brander.ca fans will want to welcome him.


2015 December 7 4:59 PM Clocked off for the day. Available on the phone# above

Two sources of bright colour relieve the crushing grey weight of a dark Vancouver day of heavy rain: the serenity of the Lost Lagoon Christmas Tree, and the madness of the traffic jam to get on the bridge to North Vancouver. I try keep my eyes on the tree.


2015 November 27 Well, after months of heart-lifting beauty shots, it's time to show you the ugly mess behind the curtain. The apparently endless work continues here at the AM International Command Bunker on Lost Lagoon, filling every spare corner with piles and piles of ... stuff. In this case, painting stuff.

I try to keep my eyes on the view.


2015 November 26 No, that's not sunset. It's the full moon setting over Lost Lagoon, caught this morning at 8:15AM Calgary time.

Not much to write this morning. Some minor hassles with the unix server and helping Jeffrey as he tests out the SQL runs on the new CAD database.

But mainly, it's back to drudging through the Hydroscope files, tidying up.


2015 November 25 A lonely wind turbine beats away on the top of Grouse Mountain and I wonder, "You can't have much of a power station with one turbine. Is that thing just for show about how green and good we all are?"
Man, I hate that. But it makes for a very pretty sight against yesterday's dusting of snow. Yes, yesterday was so nice, I'm leeching it to skip finding another photo out there today. I just have this one little solarium to take pictures from, I can't be running out around Vancouver every morning before work just to keep my vast brander.ca audience in amateur photography.

Just grinding today. I have the painful job of doing nothing while Jeff Hastings works away at adapting the AM SQL runs to work with the new INFRANET_WW (and next week, INFRANET_SW) data schemas. Jeff's totally got to have this on his own and neither of us will feel that if I take much of a hand; he's long past ready to solo on major open-heart SQL surgery and it's past time I stepped back. And Gloria is busy covering for Thant on some Pond stuff or something, so we won't be working on Sanitary stuff until tomorrow at earliest.

So I'm grinding, and not the Grouse Grind. The Hydroscope Grind. I'm working my way through all the jobs, associating the report file to the database row. It's amazing and insane we never did that before. Everybody working with it could generally find the paper file on the shelf if they had to, but now most of the staff that were here for the Hydroscope work in 1999-2003, when the bulk of it was done, are not in AM - the data should be made a lot easier to access. And I'm worried we've lost all the reports for 2010-2012, I'm awaiting an E-mail on that now, from Joanna, Russ and Charles. We might have to go back to PICA to ask for new copies.


2015 November 24

This happens to me every morning. I wake up and the view is outrageously beautiful in some new way. Today, all of Grouse Mountain and its neigbhours are dusted with snow, nearly down to the Vancouver level. Some people up the hills in North Van must have frost this morning. And the seaplanes go by all day; their drone is a clock to our lives; when the landings come just minutes apart, we know sunset is nearly here. This seaplane was caught high over the Vancouver Rowing Club, our neighbour down the street.

Billy Joel used to remark that he went through a dry spell creatively, and some depression, back in the late 80s. No music was coming, he feared his career was over, he'd wake up and stare at the ceiling and wonder how he'd fill in his day. Then he'd look over to his left and sleeping there beside him would be Christie Brinkley, and he'd think, "Still, my life isn't bad".

Living here is like THAT. You wake up every morning and if something sucks about your life, you have to admit that it is a #RichPersonProblem because whatever your troubles - you've got food, clothing, shelter...and this view. And the Zombie Apocalypse remains safely on the other side of your TV Screen, as does Syria, which is arguably worse.

I'll have to see today if Jeff Hastings is happy working on his own to see if the AM SQL scripts run on the reviesed database, or wants my help. That's top priority, but Jeff taking over all this stuff is essential, too. I think Jeffrey is getting happier if I leave him to it rather than butting in.

I've got some other priorities of my own; I'm going to see how hard it is for us to put in the exact Hydroscope inspection dates that we've neglected to fill in for 17 years. Actually, it would be good to put in all the PICA report filenames into the WTR_HYDROSCOPE table so that those files can be brought up the way we bring up videos when you click on a sewer.

It's a little awkward working on PICA-related material now that the company is offering me even a small post-retirement work contract. But I think me applying my history of that whole very long project to polishing up the quality of data we have from it is the same thing I'm doing with all our other AM data this last year, so I don't believe there's any conflict.


2015 November 23

That's our patio and solarium at sunset, looking the other way from all my shots - away from the view. There's not much to see over that way, just our building's roof (our floor) and other buildings; so a previous owner put in stained glass that always looks amazing at sunset.

Well, it seems things are finally starting to wind up. Not so much new work coming in, though I may have to help Dusty get all the rain gauge data into PI.

We got an install of the INFRANET_WW portion of the new post-CAD-Stabilization drafting database the other day and Jeffrey and I can start testing our SQL code against it. Unless the Downtown Levy people find more work for me, this is the last major item on my checklist.

Yesterday (yes, I'm working weekends in the last month of my career) I put together the full list of GIS layers needed to run my "Water Engineering GIS Workstation" powered by PostGIS and QGIS, free software that replaces ESRI. The only thing I need to be able to give away a complete mapping workstation on a USB key, is the data licensing. So that list is with Bill Woordward in IIS today, hopefully producing some kind of boilerplate license that UBC and WRF can sign, and perhaps commercial users like PICA, as well.

I have one major job to get out of the way today and tomorrow, though: writing up my experiences at the Trenchless Technology Roadshow; saw a couple of good technologies that have promise.


2015 November 20

Good day for work. 20mm rain expected this morning alone, after 15mm last night and about 100mm the last few days. Parts of the Stanley Park seawall washed away.

On a sunnier day on the weekend, I caught this picture of the "Girl in Wetsuit" that's a fun reference to the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour. I noticed that she's straight across from the chemical plant that provides an industrial contrast the natural beauty of the harbour and decided to get my feet soaked in the Pacific to get a shot superimposing them.

Our database server is running out of space, but there seems to be enough for a database load of infranet, and Shawn figures he's exported it so a non-DBA can install. Fingers crossed!


2015 November 16

Back to work. Look below for my very important post on the WORST zombie apocalypse weapon. After you've reviewed that very important safety tip, I'm back to work today after FOUR days off, a retirement preview, as it were. The party notices are out, and I'm going my "year end review" without ever having done a "goals" nine months ago. Oops.

But as I review the year, wow, I've been busy - there are significant bits of work for each of Water (handed over the last thing to Joanna, taught her the probability model), Sanitary (had to sub in for the San engineer and teach Gloria) and Storm (got Thant off to a good start with ponds and subcatchments and system traces).

Then there was the whole IT side of my job, with the big "CAD stabilization project", and a new GIS capability with PostGIS taught to Jeffrey. And the research partnership. What a satisfying last year it adds up to - I'm so glad I stayed the extra eight months that I didn't have to.


2015 November 12

It's been some deeply crappy weather here in Vancouver this week; vast downpours of cold rain that have emptied the streets.

But up on Grouse Mountain above our Stanley Park aerie, it's all cake-frosted, snowcapped gorgeousness; and the fall colours continue to enchant. As this typical street scene of Connie on Rememberance Day shows.

I've got a fistfull of images of the clouds playing around the tops of the trees in Stanley Park and drifting over the harbour. Even crummy days are a delight to watch go by from this location.