I was the highest paid Nortel employee in history

Nortel Networks
Nortel Networks

Well, with the NSN bid for Nortel CDMA, within 2 months I won’t technically be a Nortel employee anymore. So I thought I would share the story of how, for a brief period of time, I was the highest paid employee in Nortel’s history.

Mike Z? Peanuts. John Roth? Getting close. Me? I win.

In November 2001, my department was using a framework from a team in RTP to develop Alteon (now owned by Radware) element management software. The RTP team was shut down, leaving us without the framework, and thus our department was next on the chopping block.

Most of the team went to CDMA, but I wanted to take the opportunity to travel the world, so I asked for a package. I intended to buy a one-way ticket to Europe and start back-packing or something – my plans were not really firm.

Within a few weeks, while still working through the final severance and resume building courses, one of my old managers started calling me to come in for an interview.

Things were delayed for various reasons, so it wasn’t until February that I was able to come in, and soon enough CDMA made an offer.

I was asked to come in and sign the offer, and I would start in another week. No problem, I came in and signed and I was looking forward to starting with the team again.

Later in the afternoon, I got a frantic call from my new boss, saying there was a problem with the letter I signed, and that I had to come in and sign another. Ok, I laughed a bit and made plans to come in the next day to sign the new letter.

When I went in the next day, I brought my old letter to compare the two offers. The difference was subtle, but significant.

Instead of saying I would be paid my yearly salary of (let’s say for the sake of argument) $85,000 per year, to be paid on an hourly basis, the original offer actually said I would be paid $85,000 on an hourly basis.

Meaning, my paycheck every 2 weeks would have been $6.2 million, and my yearly salary was over $165 Million dollars.

I still have the original offer letter, but let’s be honest, if Nortel really had that kind of money (even back in 2002), they wouldn’t have laid me off in the first place.

But, it’s still a good story.

Updated Paris Travel page

It’s taken a lot of effort, but I’ve completed the travel log for our trip to Paris in July 2005. It was our first trip together. In the evening of our first day, we got engaged while on the upper viewing platform of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

I’ve added photos to show some of the locations; the photos are linked back to the Gallery. In the Gallery itself, I’ve added a new CustomField that holds the link to Google Maps, which shows where the pictures were taken. More about that change later; I had to do some source code editing.

I’ve also added links to the web sites for most of the major sites, or links to the wikipedia for more information.

Finally, I used Google Earth to create a downloadable map showing all of the sites we visited, as well as our hotel location and so forth.

I will eventually do all of the trips, but it took over a month for Paris, so it will be a long time to complete all of the other travel logs.

Paddle Shack Kayak School

I took the Paddle Shack Flatwater Kayak school yesterday, which was great. It was up at Meech Lake.

Pam and Jeff helping the other students
Pam and Jeff helping the other students

There were only 10 students, and two instructors (Pam and Jeff), so there was lots of time for personalized instruction. We started off with familarization on land, such as equipment and parts of a kayak.

Next, we moved out onto the water for the morning exercises (wet exits). This involves deliberately rolling the kayak, and then escaping. I volunteered to try it first; I found the water was very nice, and once I had done one exit, I decided to swim around a bit, enjoying the water. I haven’t been swimming in so very long.

After lunch, we started working on the strokes. Although it wasn’t taught, I really liked performing the power stroke; with a nearly vertical paddle cutting deep into the water, I felt like an Olympian! Most of the strokes were intuitive at the basic level, although the nuance to make the stroke correctly requires much practice.

At the end of the day, some of the students took a tour of the lake, going up around a small island about 1.5 km up the lake. The tour took less than 45 minutes, but could have been about 3 km or more.

I thought my arms and back would be very sore today, but actually it’s not so bad. A little stiff, but not sore.

The Wait is Over

Nortel Networks
Nortel Networks

The long 5 month wait for more information about Nortel and my future has come to an end. This evening it was announced that Nokia Siemens Networks has made a $650M bid for the CDMA and LTE Wireless division.

There is still a chance that there will be layoffs as part of the merge of the two companies, but I also feel that my job performance is good enough that I should not have difficulties finding a role in the Nokia Siemens organization.

Just for fun, I also updated the wikipedia entry on Nortel with this news.

The Secret Of Happiness

According to Dan Dennett, the secret of happiness is:

To find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.

When I heard that, I instantly knew that I was on a path that will bring me great joy in my life. The something that is more important than me is my marriage. As I have done in the last 2 years, 5 months and 16 days since I married Rosa, I will continue to dedicate myself to our marriage, which is bigger than either of us alone.

High Dynamic Range Photos

Parliament Hill from the Alexandra Bridge
Parliament Hill from the Alexandra Bridge

I’ve created my first high dynamic range (HDR) photos. I went on a photowalk last Friday with Mike and Haitham from the Nortel Photography Club. We started at the North end of Lower Town and moved across the Alexandra bridge to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Alexandra Bridge
Alexandra Bridge

My Canon 40D supports exposure bracketing, which is perfect for taking HDR photos. I set it to automatically take a metered exposure, then take one shot that is underexposed by 2 stops and one that is overexposed by 2 stops. The amount of over and underexposure can be configured in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. I also used the LiveView feature to take the photos, so that the mirror would not bounce, which would cause vibration and blurring. Even though I was using a tripod, I tried my EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 lens with image stabilization on and off to see if it made a difference – it did not.

I downloaded a trial version of the Aperture Photomatix plugin by HDRSoft. I kept all of the settings on the defaults to create the HDR photos. It worked great. The price is high ($79.95 USD), which is why I have not bought it yet. Perhaps later this year if I feel a strong urge to create lots of HDR photos.

The Burning Sun

For me, the internet is about the instant access to information through Google or Wikipedia. I love having a constant stream of new information to feed my addiction to knowledge.

For example, the other day I was thinking about the core of the Sun and how much energy it takes to balance the extraordinary mass of the Sun.

According to Wikipedia, the core of the Sun converts about 3.4×1038 free protons (hydrogen nuclei) into helium nuclei every second.  I looked up the mass of the proton (1.672×10-27 kg), multiplied the two numbers to get 568,691,140 metric tons. Each second, 568 million tons of free protons are converted to helium (two protons). But how big is that really? The article did not give the context. It would require more digging.

I thought perhaps I could compare that mass with, say, a mountain. Searching in Google, I found that the estimated mass of Mount Everest from the base camp (17,500 feet) to the peak (29,035 feet) is 357 trillion pounds or 161 billion tons. So the Sun converts about 0.35% of the mass of Mount Everest from hydrogen to helium.

In the thermonuclear reaction, a fraction of that mass is lost. About 4.26 million metric tons of mass is lost each second, converted to energy following the famous mass-energy equivalence equation (E=mc2). Which is less than 1% of the amount converted from hydrogen to helium, but the speed of light (squared) is so large the actual energy output is staggering – 383 yottawatts (3.83 × 1026W).

But just how large is that lost mass? What is 4.26 million metric tons equivalent to in a form I can understand? Back to Google, and I find that the mass of Hoover Dam is 6.6 million US tons or 5.99 million metric tons of concrete.

So, now I can compare the two. Each second, the Sun converts about 71% of the mass of the Hoover Dam into all of the energy that holds up the outer layers of the Sun, and produces all of the heat and light (which are really the same thing – photons) that bathes our planet. That energy produces enough photons that 149.6 million kilometers away over half of our planet is lit so that I can read, take pictures and get a sunburn.

It’s amazing that all of that power comes from something as small. The Hoover Dam and Mount Everest are infinitesimally small compared with the total mass of the Sun.

But it’s more than enough to satisfy my thirst for knowledge for one evening.

Doors Open Ottawa 2009

Yesterday and today I went to a number of locations for Doors Open Ottawa. This is an event where 108 buildings are opened to the public for tours; many of the buildings are not normally open to the public. I’ve posted a few pictures to the gallery.

Yesterday, I started the day at the NAC. I saw two of the stages I have not seen before, plus a tour of the dignitaries box for the main stage. After that, I went outside to the War Memorial for the D-Day Memorial service.

Next, I had lunch at the Rideau Centre before moving to King Edward St to see La Nouvelle Scène. This is a mostly French theatre, but it also hosts events for the Ottawa School of Dance.

On my way back to Parliament Hill, I noticed a synagogue with people coming and going. So I stopped and asked if I could go in. They said yes, so I stepped inside. There might have been a service in progress, but I could not tell – they were speaking English (not Hebrew) and were not talking about anything religious (more like community announcements). This was the first time I have been in a synagogue.

Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada

Next, I went the Supreme Court of Canada. I felt that this was a very special place to visit – a part of the federal government I have not previously seen. Canada’s court system is something of which I am very proud. I read about abuses in places like China, Africa or the Middle East, and know how lucky I am to be Canadian. An added bonus: the beautiful Art Deco interior and exterior.

After that, I went in the East Block of Parliament, which had four offices open for viewing. One was the office of Sir John A. MacDonald and one for the Governor General. BTW, I do not like having the Queen as part of my government – I want to see Canada completely independent from the British monarchy. The next office was the Privy Council Chamber. I do not remember the fourth office – it was a not a name I’ve heard before.

Traffic Light Storage
Traffic Light Storage

That concluded my tour downtown, so I left for Traffic Operations (Public Works). This building houses offices that control nearly 1,100 traffic signals, 19 red-light cameras, 96 traffic cameras, road painting, road sign creation and maintenance and the creation, maintenance and repair of all of the traffic lights in Greater Ottawa Area.

Today, I had hoped to go to the Canadian Science and Tech museum storage building, but some issues with taking my mother-in-law to church meant I would not have enough time. I’ll have to see it some other time.

Instead, I started with the Canada Post Ottawa Mail Processing Plant. This building was only open on Sunday. This facility can process over 2 million letters and packages a day (much higher volume near the winter holidays). It is in operation 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week.

The newspaper indicated that no cameras were permitted, but halfway through the tour I was told that was not a problem so long as I didn’t take pictures of the employees. I had left my camera in the car, and felt very disappointed by this. The facility was so interesting, I had really really wanted to take pictures of all the automatic sorting equipment. Also, the tour was really long – my group of 16 people were asking a lot of questions. 3 other tour groups actually passed us while we were going through. I started getting very hungry and sometimes even a little bored. I’ll have to come back next year and get some photos perhaps.

Gurdwara Sahib Ottawa Sikh Society
Gurdwara Sahib Ottawa Sikh Society

After that, I went to the Ottawa Sikh Society. This was the first time I have been in a Sikh temple (and yesterday was the first time in a synagogue). The temple was an open room with a clean (no shoes!) carpeted floor around a central raised platform (see picture). I was told a little about the Sikh religion (some of which I knew from reading the book [Teach Yourself] World Faiths by Dr Paul Oliver). In an adjacent room was a meal hall where everyone was served food as they sat on the floor. I had a piece of roti bread; I left a small offering before I left.

American Mark-4 atomic bomb
American Mark-4 atomic bomb

I had also wanted to see the Ottawa Main Mosque, but I was running late and decided my next stop would be Canadian Space Services, which maintain a satellite communications center (formerly a NATO site). However, I could not find the road, but I found the Diefenbunker, so I went there instead. Only the entrance and the top floor were open, but that was still neat to see. This was the first important Cold War site I’ve visited since Rosa and I visited Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

D-Day Memorial 2009

Today, I went down to the War Memorial monument for the D-Day Memorial service. It’s been 65 years since D-Day, and this is likely to be one of the last major events that will have veterans of that event. Many of the veterans are now well into their 80’s.


I feel that we should make November 11, Remembrance Day, a national holiday, even it it means we give up Family day (which is a provincial in Ontario and Alberta). I know very well that my freedoms and privileges of being a Canadian citizen is through the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices of those in uniform.

My great-uncle (on my father’s side) was on Juno beach that day. I only met him once, and if I recall, he was reluctant to talk about the day – many of his friends were killed or wounded. He has since passed-on.