This time, I rented the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM, as well as the Canon 100-400mm IS that I used in Florida. In reading on the web about how to shoot a golf tournament, it seems that you need to be far back from the participants, as the sight and sound of a big camera can throw off the golfers. So I wanted lots of reach.
I brought a monopod as well, as I wanted to be able to move around quickly and have stability for the long lens. I was given a golf cart for the day as well.
I was very nervous once I arrived, as I was not really sure how to start. I checked in, got the keys to my cart and drove off to the first tee. I had to work out how far back I should be – at first I don’t think I was terribly effective. I also found that the added hassle of the monopod was too much and I removed it – I never used it. It was too hard to carry a camera with a big lens and an attached monopod and get in and out of the golf cart.
It helped me settle down and start learning how to shoot when I approached groups of friends from work. That was a lot easier.
I tried both lens during the day, although switching was not a fast activity. I see why pros will use two camera bodies, each with a different lens. I used the 70-200 more. I liked the photos it took, but the downside (if you can call it that) was that I needed to be closer to the participants. I got to talk with everyone for a little while. I tried to only take photos after the swing and tried to find a flattering angle. No one wants to see a bad picture of themselves. A lot of people were concerned that I would be taking picture of their mistakes. So I had to reassure them that I only take good shots and no one can tell if they had a good game or not.
In addition to the tournament, the course had so much wildlife. There were birds (including vultures), squirrels and even a very cute fox. Everyone saw the fox, because it was all over the course during the day. Near the end of the day, it stopped to sleep in a sand trap. I parked the cart and very slowly and quietly walked up as close as I could to get a good picture. It was a beautiful little fox.
I’ll need to prepare a more professional photo web site to display the photos. I’ve set up a separate web site (Ottawa Photoworks) for covering events and perhaps even to get some professional events.
After the tournament, I went downtown to the Canadian War Museum where the 2009 World Press Photos exhibit was being shown. A local photographer, Harry Nowell, had organized a group of his friends, acquaintances and students (I had taken his Natural Light Portraits workshop) to meet to see the exhibit. A few of us went to a local pub afterwards to talk about photography before the house band started playing and we had to leave.
Today there was an EricssonBBQ on the fields in front of the former Nortel campus. There was great food (too much food!), lots of people, some volleyball and a soccer tournament.
After the lunch, door prizes were given out. I sat down on the grass while the winners were randomly drawn.
The earth started to vibrate. It started like a truck passing along Carling Avenue, or like a plane taking off, but there was no planes or trucks around. Everyone started looking around to see what was the cause before it sank in that it had to be an earthquake.
The ground vibrated strongly. It was not like the ground was moving up and down or side-to-side. It was like a very strong vibration deep below. As the shaking continued, I tried to take in all of the experience. It was exhilarating. The earthquake lasted about half a minute. There was no sound as we were in the middle of a grass field and there was nothing to move around and cause noise.
I’m here in Los Angeles (technically, I’m in Rancho Cucamonga, which is east of LA) for a customer testing cycle. I’m here for a full week. As there is no testing planned during the weekend, I’ve had the weekend free to play tourist around Los Angeles. This is my first trip to LA.
Saturday morning I woke up quite early, as I am still adjusting to the 3-hr time difference. I packed up what I needed and went down to the car. I had an iPod Nano with some podcasts and audiobooks, hat, jacket, sunscreen and the Eyewitness Travel Guides Top Ten Los Angeles. I brought all my camera gear as well, including my Amod AGL3080 photo tracker.
I stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s and was on the highway around 7am.
Once I reached the Pacific Ocean, I took Highway 1 south with no particular destination in mind. Driving by kilometer after kilometer of beach, I decided to pull over and take a walk. I could see a pier in the distance.
It was a great day for walking along the beach. From where I parked, it was about a kilometer to walk to the Santa Monica Pier. I did not realize until I arrived that Santa Monica Pier is also the west coast terminus of Route 66. The Pier had an amusement park, including a roller coaster and Ferris wheel. There is a trapeze school as well. Many people were fishing off the end of the Pier. I walked around for about an hour, taking lots of pictures before I stopped for lunch – deep fried shrimp – and then headed back to the car. I decided to walk on the beach instead of the sidewalk. At first it was nice walking barefoot along the sand, but the sand was unbelievably hot. I walked along the edge of the water to cool my feet before crossing the beach to the parking lot.
I wanted to head south to Long Beach. I thought it would be easy to get there. Lacking a good map, I had no idea how difficult it would be.
I followed along the coast for as long as I could before I had to start taking other streets, due to the marinas in Marina Del Ray. I took Washington Boulevard, thinking that it looked big and I thought it was heading south. After driving for what seemed like an hour, I drove by the Sony Pictures Entertainment studios in Culver City, which allowed me to find out where I was the tiny map I had brought. All that driving and I had barely moved on the map. This is when it really hit me how big Los Angeles is. Almost an hour of driving and I was maybe 10% of the way to Long Beach. The only way to get there would be to get on a highway.
I found the 405 and 110 and it still took about 40 minutes to drive to Long Beach.
The map I had did not show Long Beach, so I had to guess my way around. I was looking for the Queen Mary. I thought, “Hey, how hard can it be to find a huge ocean liner?” Stupid question. I was still not grasping it how big the city is! I stumbled upon the SS Lane Victory, a World War IIVictory Ship, so I stopped to take a look. I found out that it still functional and is used for tourist cruises!
I took a bridge and highway east until I could see signs for the Queen Mary. I got off the highway, followed the signs to the entrance to the parking lot, but for some reason all the cars were being waved back onto the surrounding streets. I thought perhaps there was a problem, so I circled back around. This time I was allowed into the parking lot, but was soon directed back out again. I was driving around in circles, all controlled by the parking attendants. I circled around once more and again was directed back towards the exit. I stopped at one of the parking attendants to explain that I wanted to stop and see the Queen Mary. I was told that the parking lots were full. Oh, that would be why I was directed out of the facility. I was told that the facility was being used for the 7th Annual Iron and Ink Tattoo & Kustom Culture Festival. Oh, that would explain all the goths, biker dudes and pink-haired punks.
I explained that I only wanted to take some photos of the Queen Mary. I guess the parking attendant liked me because she let me try to find a place to park for free. I thanked her and found a spot next to a light standard (technically it was not a parking spot). I walked through the crowd to the bow of the ship. I felt awkward because it was obvious that I The RMS Queen Mary is a fine example of an Art Deco ocean liner of a time when liners were the only way to travel between continents. Incongruously, there is a Cold War Soviet Foxtrot submarine moored next to the bow. I was not able to get on the ship (or sub) to look around due to the festival. I wish I had been able to go onboard.
After that, I decided to head north again to see the Hollywood Bowl. Once I got there, near suppertime, I was mired in a traffic jam. I found out that it was a jam to get into the Bowl, as it was the Playboy Jazz Festival.
Griffith Observatory overlooks Los Angeles. It’s a fantastic example of the Art Deco style. It’s still a functioning observatory, and I went inside to see their coelostat (solar telescope). I was starving, so I stopped at the cafe. I bought two peanut butter and jam sandwiches and a huge Rice Krispy square. That really hit the spot. I sat on the patio eating and watching the sun set by the Hollywood sign. At one end of the patio was a photo shoot – an Asian girl in a cocktail dress posing on the stairs while her boyfriend (?) snapped away. An assistant was holding the rest of the equipment and flash.
I went back to the roof to watch the lights of Los Angeles in the growing darkness. I waited about an hour for night to fall and then started shooting some longer exposures of the expanse of the city, bright against the clouds (or is that smog?).
I walked back to my car with some difficulty. It was pitch black and my knee was felt like it was burning – my body was telling me I walked too far for one day. It was a long day and I arrived back at the hotel around 9:30pm.
Today, Sunday, was a little shorter. This was because I needed to get some sleep before heading into the customer site at midnight for the start of the maintenance window.
Again, I stopped for pancakes at McDonald’s, filled the gas tank and headed back to LA.
My first stop was the Hollywood Bowl. I had no problems getting in and parking at 8am. I grabbed my camera and walked into the site. No one stopped me, as I think everyone thought I was part of the event staff.
Next I went north to the start of Mulholland Drive. It winds along the top of the Hollywood Hills. There are some fantastic views north and south over the city. All along Mulholland you can see spectacular homes. I stopped at one viewing area and took a short walk (my knee started to hurt again) though the hillside. Lots of people were out walking their dogs along the dusty trails.
Once I reached Interstate 405, I drove south (past the Getty Center) and down to Venice Beach. Venice Beach is just south of the Santa Monica Pier. I parked and started to walk along the infamous boardwalk. I was expecting it to be a complete freak-show, but to be honest, it was actually nothing like its reputation. Perhaps Sundays are quieter.
There were lots of artists displaying their works, a few buskers, a dozen shops offering “free medical marijuana tests”, clothing stores and tourist traps. There was a fantastic skatepark, where I stopped to take lots of pictures. I could also practice my french with another tourist who was visiting from France. Next were the streetball courts, where there were multiple pick-up games going on.
Further down was Muscle Beach, although there was no one training when I walked past. I bought some ice cream for lunch and then started to head back.
I took some more pictures at the skate park and then came across a drum circle. I sat and watched the drummers for a while. Everyone was having fun. One older guy in a muscle shirt and surfer shorts was whaling on his drum while a Che Guevara look-alike was in his own groove on a shaker.
I started back to the hotel around 4pm. It took longer to drive home because it was close to the Sunday rush hour.
The day after the launch and I decided to stay in Cocoa Beach with Janice and Richard and relax.
In the morning, they took me out in their pontoon boat. It was really nice to be out on the water. It reminded me of being back in Nova Scotia. We motored past some really nice homes along the waterways. Along one of the waterways, we saw some dolphins swimming along! It was awesome! I asked Janice if people can swim in the water, but she advised against it because of the alligators. Oh, right. I forgot about that. It’s so strange to live in a place where you are at risk of being eaten.
As we cruised along, we saw a few pelicans, although not as many as Janice and Richard expected. Later, as we were returning home, we came across a grove of trees that were full of brown pelicans. They look so odd roosting like that – perched up on the branches but with big webbed feet.
Later in the afternoon, I went out on my own to do some more sightseeing. First I drove to the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. It’s open 24-hours, although I can’t see that there is much business for selling surf boards at 2:43AM.
Janice suggested I go to the Dinosaur Store. I’m not much of a shopper, and don’t have a huge interest in dinosaurs, but it was close to Ron Jon’s so I went. I am very glad I did go. They had many fossils for sale, ranging from recent post-Ice Age artifacts stretching back into the unimaginable past. They had plant, animal and sea creature fossils. After looking around for at least 30 minutes, I finally decided to buy a fossil. It’s a 280 million year old fossil fern. I just stared at it, trying to imagine what it was like then (Permian Period), and then what it would be like in another 280 million years. It occurred to me that humans would not be around then – our species would evolve just as much as we evolved from the animals who would have feasted on this fern.
I bought the fossil because it really made me think. And also as a tool to think about my own life. Work has been so incredibly stressful in the past few months, it occurred to me that no matter what decisions I make, good and bad, none of it will matter in 300 million years. So why should I get so stressed?
Finally, I went to Lori Wilson Park, a maritime hammock. It’s a 32-acre area of what this part of Florida looked like before people started building. It was also very relaxing, and deep in the walking paths it is much cooler than the hot Florida sun on the nearby beach.
Over Christmas, Rosa and I talked about following our desires. Too often, I miss opportunities to do what I want to do because I don’t take the steps necessary to secure them. Out of inertia, I miss life passing by.
So I decided that I have wanted to watch a manned space launch. This desire has grown over the last year as I started reading more and more about the Apollo program. In North America, this means the Space Shuttle, as it is the only man-rated launch vehicle. Looking at the schedule, the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station was the best fit for my schedule and racing activities.
Once decided that I would go, I began to make plans.
There was a seat sale on Air Canada that covered the May launch window, so I immediately booked for May 13-17. That provides me more time to see the launch on the 14th, visit the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and also account for any postponements or scrubs due to weather or other minor issues.
Next, I began to research how to get tickets for viewing. It turns out, there are three ways. The first way is to Twitter, which will enter my name into a lottery pool for the VIP viewing area that is not open to the public. Alas, I did not win a VIP ticket. Next, there is a tour operator that was accepting bookings. Third, tickets are also available from Kennedy Space Center.
The tour operator, Central Florida Tours (CFT) has exclusive access to a set number of tickets, and they start selling them before the KSC ticket sales start. CFT will pick you up at a designated spot, bus you to KSC, then bus you out to the causeway viewing area and return you at the end of the day. Other tour operators apparently get their tickets from CFT.
I bought tickets for the causeway (the nearest public viewing area – about 6 miles away from the launch) from CFT, which meant I was guaranteed to have a seat. The price is higher that directly from KSC. And the pick up for me is 7:00am in Titusville, which is very early, but others are being picked up in Orlando as early as 5:30am. The launch is 2:20pm.
I also waited to buy a ticket directly from KSC. It costs less and is more flexible from a timing point of view. Both include a 2-day pass to Kennedy Space Center, so I can see the museums.
The KSC tickets went on sale on a Thursday in April. However, the KSC ticket web page was not ready for the influx of people. On the day of the ticket sales, their web servers crashed. The sales were postponed from Thursday to Monday, and they moved to another server cluster would be able to handle the traffic. Everyone wants to get to see one of the final three launches. It is not likely that anyone will be getting in to see the final flight, as it will mostly be VIPs. It will be the end of the nearly 30-year flight program.
On following Monday, I tried again, but was not successful. There are only about 5,000 tickets for the causeway, and they were sold out in 20 minutes. So I will stay with the ticket I bought from CFT.
Next, I needed a place to stay. I waited too long and many of the hotels were already booked. I managed to get a room at the Super-8 in Titusville. I also contacted some dear friends that Rosa and I met during our trip to Eastern Europe over Christmas. They live in Cocoa Beach, about 30 minutes south. They were very amenable to have me stay with them in their guest suite. I am really looking forward to meeting them again – they were so good to talk with in December. I cancelled my Super-8 room. I also rented a car. Strangely, the price was higher when I tried to book through Ericsson‘s travel agency. I had assumed that there would be a corporate discount.
Now comes the part that I spent a lot of time thinking about and investigating. I want to capture this very special day somehow. I starting thinking about photography, but I also considered video. If I wanted to record video, then I would need a Canon 7D instead of my current Canon 40D. I spent hours and hours and hours investigating renting the 7D, lenses, microphones and tripods. I investigated rental agencies in Orlando, by mail in the US and also the Canadian alternatives.
After much consideration and playing with the finance numbers, I decided to buy the Canon 7D and sell some older equipment, such as the 40D. This will allow me to either take great photos or shoot full 1080p HD video. If I rented the 7D instead, then that money would be wasted as I did assume I would eventually move to the 7D. The money I would have spent on the rental of the 7D body instead could be spent on the purchase.
For the rest of the equipment, I continued to investigate all the options for rentals. In the end, the best price and convienence was through Lens Rentals Canada. I ordered a Canon EF 100-400mm L IS USM lens. According to the extensive research I’ve done on the web, lens that are longer risk being impacted by the turbulent, hot air of a sunny Florida afternoon. I rented a Canon EF-S 10-22mm wide angle zoom too. I have been thinking about this lens for some time now, but it is expensive – about $1000. By renting the lens, I can see if I like it. Unlike renting the 7D body, I am not sure about this lens, so renting first was a good idea. I was 100% sure I would eventually get the 7D.
I also rented a Gitzo aluminum tripod and video head. I am torn between wanting to video record the launch with the 7D (the reason I bought it in the first place), or taking still photos. A video would be a great record and I would not need to keep the camera to my eye. HD video is only about 2 megapixels. Stills will be higher quality (the 7D is 18 megapixels) but would mean I watch the launch through the video finder (or the back of the camera). With video, I would keep use the Live View feature and only need to glance over to just track the action.
I still don’t know what I will do.
The two lenses and the tripod arrived on Friday. On Monday, I bought an external microphone and a Kata backpack camera bag at Henrys.
I also signed up for Twitter to follow information about ticket sales from KSC.
Looking today at the weather, NASA indicates that the weather is 70% for a launch. And the count-down clock has started.
I am so amazingly excited about this trip. I hope I don’t forget something. For our trips, Rosa has been there as a backup “fact-checker” to double check. This time, I’ll be alone as Rosa will be in ballet classes.
There is a new sign at the Carling Campus, which was installed last week. It replaces the old Nortel signage, which is understandable due to the divestiture.
But the sign is really hideous. The former Nortel Carling Campus is a beautiful location, with interesting architecture, surrounded by forests with wonderful walking paths. I like working at this location because of all of these reasons.
First, I don’t like the name. It’s too similar to “Carleton Place”, the town just outside of Ottawa. It is a non-descript, meaningless name. The name could have been more apt, like “Carling Campus”, which sounds like a place of higher learning. Or perhaps “Technology Park”, which echos places like RTP and includes the nature around the campus, even if the actual name is a little boring.
And finally, the font. I can’t believe the height of design for the sign was an Arial font. Arial is the most boring font in the world. It is completely without character (no pun intended). It is the font of last resort when there are no other fonts available. It is classless and boring to look at. A 6-year old could have designed the sign. I could have designed the sign better than what we got. Instead of spending $100 to hire some Algonquin College Graphic Arts student to do a nice sign (and support the local schools, which is a good news story for the papers), someone decided it was more important to give hundreds of millions of dollars on executive bonuses.
I am so incredibly disappointed in what Nortel will come to represent in the future. It’s a horrible misrepresentation of Nortel that more people will remember the bonuses to executives instead of to pensioners than for the technology that made the company as important as it was a decade ago.
Today is the last work day of the decade for me. I’m still working in the office in Lab 9, as I have some work to complete before I leave on vacation. I end the decade only feet from the exact point where I started the decade.
Jan 1, 2000, at 12:00:01, I was here at work, in Lab 6, as part of Nortel’s Y2K task force. We were all carrying pagers, waiting by the phone and basically doing nothing. For me, it was a non-event, as our software had been updated in the months before, and patches sent out to all of our customers. At the exact moment of the new millennia, I was in the cafeteria, where Nortel had brought in some light snacks and (secretly) handed out glasses of champagne to anyone working to celebrate. I did wish I was downtown though – I’m sure it would have been quite a party.
The year 2000 was also the start of the layoffs at Nortel. The earliest reference I can find is that they started in October 2000. This was my life for the next 9.5 years. I made it through the first year of layoffs before my entire team was cut 2 months after 9/11. I returned and worked for CDMA, dodging more than a dozen layoff rounds before being picked up in the Ericsson purchase a few months ago.
The time at Nortel was good in one respect. I was introduced to the love of my life at Nortel: a blind date over lunch in the Lab 6 cafeteria. Rosa and I talked for 2 hours that day, and we knew immediately that we had found who we were both looking for. Seven months later we got engaged in Paris, and on Jan 3, 2007, we married in Rome.
In late 1996, I was just finishing up my 2-year contract working in the Computer Center at Acadia University. But the longer I stayed at Acadia after my graduation, I knew fewer and fewer people, as my friends graduated and moved away for work, mostly to Ottawa. So I decided not to renew my contract and that I would move to Ottawa.
I moved in January 1997. I borrowed my dad’s Chevy Tahoe and loaded my life into the back. Driving through the Maritimes was ok, but once I entered Quebec, the snow started falling. Driving from Quebec City to Montreal was the hardest because the snow was so heavy and the highway had not been plowed.
Once in Ottawa, I started looking for work. I hand-delivered my resumes to Nortel, Newbridge, SGI, Cray, Apple, Corel, and a bunch of smaller companies. None of which lead to any interviews. In February, a friend from Acadia got me an interview with his group at Nortel. The interview went well and by March 1997, I was working for Nortel.
I’ve spent my entire career at Nortel in OAM software – meaning Network Management and Configuration Management.
I started with network management of the Passport-6400 (now MSS-6400). We built a software package (called OMS-P) to integrate the Passport into HP Openview and IBM Netview. There was another group that also did network management of the Passport, which used a proprietary interface that did not work with other software like Openview. Eventually the senior managers decided to only fund one of the two products, and OMS-P development was halted.
Most of the team moved to a new project to integrate the Passport-15000 (now MSS-15000) into the new Optivity Network Management System (ONMS), which came from our purchase of Bay Networks in 1998. I worked on the development for about a year before insurmountable issues caused the cancelation of that project before we could ship the product. Basically, the Passport used software-allocated MAC addresses; by default all Ethernet ports on all Passports had the same MAC address. ONMS needed unique MAC addresses for discovery, which is the correct implementation of the Ethernet standard. The ONMS team would not change their discovery for Passport, and Passport would not change their flawed Ethernet implementation. So the project was cancelled.
Next, our much smaller team moved to Optivity Network Configuration System (O-NCS), which was a configuration manager instead of a network manager. This used a plug-in architecture to manage the new Alteon Layer-7 switches that Nortel had also acquired. We made good progress and were heading towards delivery when the team that was building the O-NCS framework was laid off. Without a framework, our plug-in was useless and in November 2001, our entire team was terminated.
Most of the team went to CDMA, although I briefly left the company to try something new. I didn’t find a new job before I started getting calls from CDMA asking me to come back to Nortel.
In March 2002, I did come back. Nortel bridged my service (after I paid back the severance package).
I’ve been in CDMA since then. I was the first person hired for upgrade/installation, and I wrote the first installation tool for the CDMA network management project that was just starting up. The first delivery of that new tool (C-EMS – CDMA Element Management System) took a very difficult 24 months. The project was almost cancelled a number of times. We all worked long hours, most weekends, and many holidays. It has been a horrible experience for everyone to go through all the layoffs of the last 7-9 years.
After the first release of C-EMS, the work still demanded long, long hours, but it was less likely that the entire project would be terminated. We still lost a lot of people from the layoffs (typically 5-20% per layoff) though.
I’ve given all I could to Nortel, and in the end it didn’t really make much difference. Nortel still went down the toilet.
I’ve had nights where I worked 24-hours straight. I’ve worked over the Y2K switch over. I’ve been wined-and-dined and nickeled-and-dimed. I’ve worked through the bubble, got laid-off and worked under uncertainty for years now.
And today, it’s all over. Today is my last Nortel day.
On Thursday I signed my offer letter from Ericsson. Starting in October, I will be working for Ericsson, although my benefits and salary will still say ‘Nortel’, Ericsson will reimburse Nortel for those expenses.
Starting Jan 1, 2010, I will be part of the Ericsson benefits and salary systems. It’s been too long living with the stress of a declining and very troubled company. I am so looking forward to a new work environment.