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Life's like this

Snowboarding - I started this in Jan04, and went boarding about six times. I'm signed up for trips and tickets this year too: Swoosh, swoosh, blam! Swoosh, swoosh, uggghhh! Swoosh, swoosh, ooowwww! I really should take lessons, but really have too much fun and pain to want to take the time to do so. And for those skiers whining about bodies strewn over the slopes ... well, chill! (Dec04 Xmas letter)

Plastic (groom) and Double-Fisteds' (bride)'" wedding Jun03 - we set a trail (chalk, flour and yellow roses) that must have been 18 km long, not too far from Valleyfield Quebec (in the same general area as Hemingford, where there is a park safari zoo). Highlights included: Boston Marathon spectator – together with the Boston running friends, we handed out beer to the marathoners at the bottom of the steep part of the famous Heart-break Hill. This was much appreciated by the marathoners who partook. I went to the nearby delicatessen, and offered some of my spinach-stuffed pastry and pickled herring to the marathoners as well, but they weren't too fussy about that. I couldn't run "bandit" – my legs were too beat up from four days of running, jumping, and hyper-dancing (Mr. Slime – because I sweat so much...). (Dec03 Xmas letter)

"Sky Die" run in Northampton west of Boston - Peniscillin (who is a slum landlord, and a brilliant friend) and I drove down west of Boston one Friday afternoon to do some running. We arrived around one in the morning – just in time for the party. I kept going until 05:00, when I went to sleep so that I could get up early in the morning to go sky diving... <brilliant, eh?...>. I did wake up shortly after 08:00, just after Peniscillin went to bed – oh well, forget him. After viewing a short film (you're not going to die..), and some instructions, we piled into a Cesna ?182?. With the instructor strapped to my back (tandem jumped) we launched into the air – what an absolute blast! It took three hours to wipe the smile off my face, notwithstanding the landing (splat – I should have been paying intention instead of enjoying myself so much)! (Dec03 Xmas letter)

Sri Chimnoy 24 hour runs - this year was a disappointment. Two weeks after the Quebec City marathon, we ran the 24 hour Sri Chimnoy around the Terry Fox 400 meter track in Ottawa. Every six hours every changes direction – you can imagine the anticipation building. The Sri Chimnoy vegetarian food is amazing, and the people are admirable. I only ran 97 km this year (we're supposed to run 100 miles, but I am happy to break 100 km), and slept for six hours in the middle of the race – this is really getting lazy! This is a "Beauty and the Beast" run - it's amazing how beautiful it can be 10 to 12 hours into the race. But eventually, it plain hurts (with the beauty!). (Dec03 Xmas letter)

"Needle's", my long distance running friend, didn't run it this year. Two years ago, she passed out the morning after from dehydration, after over-heating in the brutal heat (high 30's!!). I had run stuffing ice cubes in the ball cap that I borrowed, and more ice cubes continually in my mouth. Needles did well last year, though. (Dec03 Xmas letter)

Homeless Person (again) Because my kids no longer live with me, there has been no reason for me to live close to the schools that they attended. I was getting sick and tired of commuting to work (4 km, 5 minutes drive or roughly 40 minutes walk which I never did), so I needed to move closer to work. However, a concrete high-rise, the absence of cockroaches, and a limited tolerance for sky-high rents narrowed my options to a single building that I had already lived in. Snow in the summertime, deep underground (Dec04 Xmas letter) M.V. Bodnarescu - I've seen Bodnarescu fairly regularly at the annual IJCNN conferences (see my stories below), starting with IJCNN'2000 in Como, Italy, 24-27Jul00. He also has the good sense to spend his "vacation time" (actually, he's been retired for something like 20 years) at the conference. Having a long career in engineering in Germany, including the "Atoms for peace" commercial nuclear power program post WWII, Bodnarescu has a very broad interest in science and engineering.

As I like to tell the story: "...My friend came from Germany in May, and I took him to Sudbury to see the SNOW (...this was a little hard for my friends to believe given the balmy weather at that time...). But in order to get to the SNOW, we descended straight down 6,800 feet into solid bedrock, then walked out a kilometer or so. And in getting to the SNOW, we could better see the sun..."

The story actually refers to the "Sudbury Neutrino Observatory" (spelled "SNO" – http://laurentian.ca/physics – look for Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/sno/), which is currently he deepest neutrino observatory in the world. Neutrinos are by far the most numerous particles in the universe. Given that their mass is extremely small, and that they have no charge, they pass right through most materials. Actually, most neutrinos from the sun pass right through the Earth sithout colliding! Muons (other particles – I get them all mixed up too) also tend to penetrate, but not as easily – they tend to be screened out by several thousand feet of solid rock. Therefore, by burying a lab deep underground, you can better monitor neutrinos without interference from other particles, getting a clearer picture of solar physics.

Bodnarescu had already visited the "Super-Kamiokande" neutrino detector in Japan. (On 11Nov01, about half of the really special, sensitive photomultiplier tubes in the Super-Kamiokande were destroyed in a "chain-reaction" of "exploding bulbs".) He really wanted to see the Canadian observatory before the conclusion of the program (31Dec06 or thereabouts), especially given the Canadian success in resolving the "solar neutrino problem", whereby only two-thirds of the neutrinos that hould have come from the sun according to the standard solar model, in fact could be measured by other neutrino observatories.

Well,the long and the short of it is that we sat in on the two-day workshop involving planning for future experimental programs at SNOLab, then we went deep, deep underground for a fascinating tour, and we had an amazing dinner with Josef and Barbara Stachulak. Joe is the chief ventilation engineer for INCO, and dinner conversation got deeply into European history and events. Fascinating... and very revealing of my ignorance of recent modern history!

Thanks to Dr. Doug Hallman of LaurentianU, Dr. David Sinclair of OttawaU, Dr. Tony Noble of SNOLab, and Dr. Art McDonald of QueensU, and of course the company INCO for letting us participate in the SNOLab workshop 12-14May04, and to tour the underground observatory. Note that Art McDonald was awarded the 2003 Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada's top science prize (Nov. 24, 2003).

original 27Jan07
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