Monthly Archives: January 2011

What to pack before coming to UBC – if you’ve heard about Whistler…

A year and a half is a long time.

In August 2009, I arrived in Vancouver with my sister, eager to start my research adventures at UBC. My sister flew out here to help me settle down and carry the luggages that contained essential items to last me for the upcoming two years. Belonging to a highly non-athletic individual, my luggages did not contain anything that looked like sports-wears or equipments. The sportiest item I brought out to Vancouver were a pair of yoga pants. These were purchased for occasional stretching at home and much more frequent rolling-around-the-house type activities.

Some people choose to come to UBC because of its outdoor beauty. I certainly didn’t pay much heed to the outdoors section of Vancouver tourism handbooks, and I have my reasons.

Being a landed immigrant who lived in the snowy Ontario for about a decade, moving to Vancouver didn’t relate to ‘more outdoors’. In the geographically small country Korea, where I am originally from, the weather throughout the country is pretty much the same. From one tip of the country to the other, you normally see about a couple degrees of temperature differences, and maybe a bit more rain or wind over here compared to over there. Obviously, Canada is a bit larger than Korea – only about a hundred times bigger (100,210 km^2 [Korea] vs. 9,984,670 km^2 [Canada]). So you would expect more climate variances across the country, right? Well, I expected it, but didn’t realize the climate differences between Ontario and British Columbia even after my first visit to UBC in December of 2008. Why? Because on it started snowing the moment I landed in Vancouver, and what I saw in Vancouver weather was quite similar to what I was used to from Waterloo, Ontario. So I thought Vancouver is just another snowy city in Canada – typical, cold with slushy roads in the Spring too cold for me to go out and enjoy the outdoors.

Quite fortunately, I was wrong.

Vancouver is nature-loving, outdoor-lover friendly sporty city. In the summer, you have a handful of beaches to choose from (feel free to be picky about where you get your rays of UV), more than a handful of places to go hiking, not to mention a long list of places to bike to and from. Winter is never boring either. If you enjoy snow sports, you can hop on a bus heading North to Whistler and get your fill of snowy slopes. This is something that I am beginning to realize only a year and a half after my arrival in Vancouver.

After a lot of convincing from my labmates, I decided to go skiing to Whistler. Convincing was necessary because I am the kind of individual who has attachment issue with my laptop. Activities that does not involve my laptop scares me a little. And ski is no sport to be enjoying with a laptop on your hands.

Anyway, I figured that if I am going to graduate from a school in Vancouver, I might as well make sure that I go to places that make living in Vancouver much more epic. Whistler was an obvious choice due to rumours and other word-of-mouth obviousness.

So yesterday was my first time going to Whistler, and my first time skiing in about a decade. What I got out of it was epic-ness, aching of muscles to satisfy my need to exercise, and an immediate wiping-out of work related thoughts from my brain – in a good way, of course. The cellphone pictures here totally don’t do the justice of what Whistler view can offer you. It was too snowy for the camera to capture the snow-covered trees all over the place, and too white and bright for the camera to not resist white-balancing the picture and make it look rather grim. But trust me. It’s beautiful up there.

With about 130+tax, you can hop on a bus leaving the Vanier Place residence on campus, or the UBC North Bus Loop heading to Whistler, rent all the gears you need, go up the slopes on the lifts, and get a ride back to UBC on the same day. At first, I thought it’s pretty expensive. It still is. But the following epic-ness is worth it.

Obviously, my yoga pants weren’t going to be too appropriate for skiing. So I had to borrow my friends’ and labmate’s ski-wears, all of whom are male and are not as small as me. I will spare you the joy of laughing at my funny outfit for the day, and will also spare you the stories of how I got so many blisters from my skiing experience yesterday – which are healing very nicely, thank you.

But the point I’m trying to get across to you is this: For those of you who are planning to attend UBC, I think you should consider the things that you might end up loving – like skiing, or swimming. Because you might end up with one pair of yoga pants in your luggage, and wish that you had your ski jacket/pants/equipments with you for the next two/four+ years of your stay in Vancouver.

To make up for my lack of photographing skills, here’s the kind of picture of Whistler that I was trying to take:

Complaints… the hidden transaction at the CARIS lab…

Last Friday, I took my time getting up from the bed. Having no classes this term has essentially eliminated the need to wake up early. I am no longer the usual first person to turn on the lights at the lab.

Instead, what I found when I got to my desk was a familiar complaint note that wasn’t there the night before.

The orange sticky note on my bag of truffles complained as follows:

Dated: January 20th 2011

Hour: 13, Minute: 18, Second: 58

“Your truffles are just too darn good… so I took a few”.

To: AJung Moon

Whose Fault: Yours

Desired Outcome: Explanation

Complainant: Anonymous

So here it is, Mr. Anonymous. An explanation.

The complaint was from the usual suspect who shamelessly asks for my chocolates, crackers, and other peanut-free snacks during work – most of which I offer first. One time, this labmate of mine wanted some of the Hershey Hugs and Kisses chocolates. You know, those delicious chocolates wrapped in tiny foils…  One by one, the chocolate in the bag started to disappear until the whole bag was gone.

The truth is, I really don’t mind sharing my snacks with my labmates.

In fact, when you start sharing snacks (offer the first tiny bite of your own snack that is) then the person who gets snacks from you become quite unconsciously addicted to consuming ‘the other person’s snack’. It’s quite funny to see the subtle addiction surface until there could be no more to be had.

I remember there being a bag of leftover chips in the lab that was floating from one desk to another. I couldn’t help it. I had to have them until the entire 700g bag of chips were gone. I hogged it so that I could satisfy my addiction before others got addicted to it too – crunch crunch…. the satisfying sound you get when you can’t focus but need to stay awake by chewing something like the chips. The particular labmate has a tendency to keep a huge bag of chips around his desk as snacks. Go figure. It’s the kind that I easily get addicted to but usually do not purchase for myself.

Anywho, after being addicted to my stash of chocolate (perhaps unbeknownst to himself), my labmate sometimes feels like he owes me chocolate – oh, the guilt one feels after giving in to his/her addiction.

So became our hidden (chocolate/chips-based) transaction where he would be addicted to some of mine, and get me some chocolate to make up for the chocolate he helplessly consumed. This has been happening since the labmate and I named our computers, according to the lab’s tradition (our lab computers mostly have chocolate names) about a year and a half ago.

Looking forward to your next stash of chips, Mr. Anonymous …!

PS. Do you have a hidden transaction going on at your lab? Maybe we should promote using more of these complaint notes throughout the department to voice your complaints regarding your neighbour’s stash of addictive snacks. In the end, it secretly promotes win-win situations between colleagues don’t you think?

Pretty Soldering

Hello Readers,

I am starting to wire up my pump and system, and have been thinking it is about time I learn a bit of a more professional way of doing this sort of thing over the “meh, it will work” style you can get away with on more short term projects (ie. below).  Apologies for the horrible quality of these pictures, the lighting in my lab isn’t ideal for this sort of thing.

So I turned to my all knowing mechatronics friends/YouTube, and have found this way of doing a much cleaner job.  Incase you have never done this sort of thing, I am using a soldering iron, solder, heat shrink, and a heat gun, which leads to *drum roll*:

Isn’t it pretty?! Ok, here’s how you do it.

Step 1:

Thread a piece of heat shrink onto your wire.  You can buy this in pre-cut pieces or as a roll from DigiKey.  Push the heat shrink down the wire as far as you can as the heat from soldering can make it shrink before you want it to.

Step 2:

Strip the ends of the two wires you want to join.  I stripped off about a centimeter at the most.

Step 2:

Push the ends of the wire together and twist a little bit (once or twice around maximum).

At this point I also bend the wire so the two ends to join is up in the air, which makes soldering it a lot easier.

Step 3:

Place the soldering iron under the exposed wire.  Hold the solder on the top of the wire and wait for the heat from the soldering iron to melt the solder. Realize nothing is happening, turn the soldering iron on, and repeat.

This way of doing it really does make a lot stronger of a joint.  I had been touching the solder right to the soldering iron to melt it (hey, its faster!) but today I tried both, and I could hardly break the “slow” one when pulled, while the fast way was really easy to pull apart.

Step 4:

Move the heat shrink over the joint, and heat with a heat gun (or blow-dryer) until its really tight, and you’re done!

Look how great the wires connecting to my power supply look! Love it!