Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back in O-town

Our FPInnovations Fibre Forum 2010 wrapped up on Thursday around noon, and the overall impression was that people thought it a success! That is always nice to hear, and I have to concur that everything went well. We ran into one of my colleagues at the airport on Friday morning, and he told us how he was able to establish some very valuable partnerships with other provinces and industry. Another sign the forum was a success!
The organizing committee had arranged for a tour of (part of) Jasper National Park on Thursday afternoon, which was really nice. We'd spent most of Wednesday indoors, so we finally had a chance to actually see the mountains, and soak up some of that fresh air. First we went to see the Athabaska Falls, which were stunning. Especially with some of the branches covered in ice. After that, we went up to Marmot Basin, a hill well used for skiing. November is off-season, so the town itself was extremely quiet. But they had 53 (!) runs open at Mamot Basin, out of about 150 in total... I can only imagine how busy it will be during peak season...

Now I'm back in Ottawa and life should slow down a bit. At least I hope so! The weekend was good: we went to see Fiddler on the Roof yesterday, which was absolutely well done. We both really enjoyed it! Nolan, unfortunately, had to work today, but for him life should slow down a bit as well. Only a few more days before he will shave off his moustache, but it was worth the cause!

We're trying to get our acts together and go running more often, but with our busy schedules it has been challenging at times. Hopefully we can really get at it again, especially since there is no real snow yet, so the trails are still accessible. Who knows for how long...

Below some photos of Jasper, and one of Murphy, just for fun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jasper. Again!

So when do you consider a cold winter day to be really cold? When is it too cold to go into the field? That was the recurring question today during our field day, as part of our annual forum. The thermometer measured around -27 this morning, so indeed a little frisk. But put a bunch of forest researchers on the bus, take them to a site and each and every one of them will actually get off the bus and listen to the presentations. Absolutely kudos’s to the people presenting their research work, who had to stand still for about 45 minutes, and do their little spiel several times to make sure all the people could hear about their work. Frosted hats, beards, and shivering people were all paying attention and learned more about the lodgepole pine partnership. I should add that by the time we actually got to the site, it had warmed up to about 21 degrees. Below zero that is.
Luckily after the site visit we didn’t have to wait long for our lunch stop, which was inside. After lunch we stopped at another research site, where we learned more about the boreal plains, which was also interesting. At this point, it almost felt warm with temperatures hovering around -15 degrees.
It’s interesting to see and learn more about the work we do in Alberta.
Tonight I have to provide an overview of today’s field tour, and how it links in with the next few days, what we’re hoping to achieve, and some of the questions we would like to answer. I’m not a very good, or confident, public speaker, but some people thought I would be the perfect person to do so. Not sure if I agree, but we’ll see. I’ll be happy when tonight is over though!
The rest of the forum, which runs until Thursday afternoon, will be indoors in Jasper. Similar to the CIF AGM in September, we’ll be locked indoors surrounded by beautiful mountains and green space. I guess we’ll have to try to sneak out a few times trying to soak up that fresh mountain air.
Oh, and on a little side note. I found myself on the cover of an Alberta industry magazine: Forest Innovations, The Edge. Totally unexpected, and perhaps not my most flattering pose, but still fun! I might get famous now! Nolan’s first reaction: don’t you think it’s time you buy a new jacket?

And even in Edmonton you see several people sporting that very popular Movember stache. Did you have a chance to donate?

Monday, November 22, 2010


This morning I travelled to Edmonton, to attend our anual FPInnovations Wood Fibre Forum. This year I'll be extra busy, since I've been involved with the organisation and logistics. Needless to say that I will be very happy when it's Friday... But so far it's been great. I've been able to catch up with some of my colleagues I hadn't seen in a year (since last year's forum...).
Edmonton right now is very, very cold... It was -24 when we got in this morning, and they may have made it up to -18, but that was pushing it. Tonight will be cold as well, close to -30, so nice and frisk before our field tour tomorrow! Should be fun.
I'll give an update later this week. Right now all I want to do is sleep!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I think I can say that Tuesday was the highlight of my week: I actually got to spend a day in the field! Together with some of my colleagues, we looked at a long-term research site, as well as several new research sites for a potential biomass trial. The weather was fantastic, the company was great, and the fresh air was, well, refreshing! The timing was great, since it poured all day on Wednesday, which was when we were stuck inside all day for meetings. Tiring, but still fruitful. Today will be my last day in Petawawa and at the PRF, and we'll host the Management Advisory Committee, for a meeting to update them on the progress on our strategic and management plans. I'll be presenting a part as well, so we'll see how that goes!

Tonight I'll be sleeping in my own bed, and then tomorrow a day in the office to do some last minute preparations for our upcoming forum next week. I just checked the weather forecast and it looks like it might be a good idea to dig out my long john's, especially for the field day on Tuesday. Snow and -15. Great!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tha mouse in tha house!

As mentioned in my last post, this week was a short work week. Not that it made it any less busy! We're getting really close to our employee science forum in two weeks, and there is still a lot of work to be done, but we're making good progress! But on top of that, I'll be in Petawawa for the better part of next week as well. But this time I'll actually be spending time in the bush, which is a huge treat! I'm really looking forward to that.
Thursday was Remembrance Day, and I watched the Ceremonies on TV this year. Still impressive, and I feel privileged that I can remember in two countries now.
I spent the rest of Thursday cleaning up my office and putting the books into the bookcases. There is still some work left to do, but it's looking so much better! A few more boxes to unpack, and we also still have to hang up 95% of our wall hangings such as photos and some smaller paintings. And then last but not least, we want to clean up and organize the basement. Hopefully we can have all that ready by Christmas, and then we can start painting and add some desperately need colour to this house!

The weather has been incredibly lately, lots of blue skies, sunshine and very comfortable temperatures, especially for this time of year! I made good use of that and went for an awesome trail run yesterday. I tried to go slow and relaxed, but then I miscalculated the distance (the loop was 3k longer than I had anticipated, not sure why!) and I started to worry that Nolan would get worried since I was supposed to pick him up by 4 pm... Long story short, I pushed myself a bit and had one of the best runs in a while. The trails were awesome, the sun was gorgeous, especially when it started to set, and I just felt so lucky being out there! And yes, I made it in time to call Nolan I would be a few minutes late :-)

I have a hard time sleeping in on the weekends, and when I got up at 7-ish this morning, Nolan was still asleep and I tried to go downstairs without waking him up. Well, that went well until I got to the bottom of the stairs where a mouse was nicely positioned for us. The cats were out and about, but didn't really pay attention to the mouse. Obviously, they were the ones that had killed it earlier that night. I woke Nolan up, just so he could enjoy this present as well! We're not sure how we got a mouse in the house, but the cats don't go outside so it must have gotten into the house somehow. At least we have the cats to help us take care of these issues. Although I have to admit that I do feel a bit bad for this poor little critter, but we rather have them outside!

Nolan's stache is slowly but surely getting bigger and thicker. I'm still not sure I like it, but it's for a good cause, so I can't complain too much.  I'll be gone for a good part of this month, so I'm lucky that way. We went for a walk this afternoon, and I took a picture of Nolan. If I remember, I'll grab it of my camera tomorrow and you can all see how his stache is progressing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Short week

Monday morning, again. It seems that this past weekend has flown by! Regular three day weekends would be nice, however, I can't complain too much since this will be a short week. Thursday is Remembrance Day, and Government employees get the day off, so we can take time to remember. Since it's a Thursday, I decided to take the Friday off as well. Short week, longer weekend! Which is great, because there is still so much to do around the house. We are making progress, and I hope that we can finish unpacking and arranging the upstairs this week and weekend. After that it's on to the basement, and then we can really start painting and add some colour to the house.
This past weekend we put my desk together, and put the bookcases in place, which definitely makes a bit of a difference. We've had some people over this weekend (Carrie, JoAnn), and everyone seem to love the house! Which, of course makes us feel proud! We're still happy as well and the cats really seem to enjoy it as well. Murphy seems to be full of energy these days, and discovered a new 'game'. Running around the corner, sliding on his back (!) at the bottom of the stairs and then moving forward by pushing his claws into the carpet on the stairs. Not sure if it makes sense, but he seems to be enjoying it immensely!

I am still riding my bike to work, unless the weather is too crappy. This morning it was chilly (-2, windchill of -6), but still enjoyable. The hardest part is getting changed at work, and having to put on clothes that are freezing cold!  But it's definitely a nice way to wake up in the morning. I wonder how long I can keep this up, before winter will really set in.

In the meantime, Nolan's moustache is growing well... He should update the photo on his Movember page! I'll try to convince him to do so soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


That's right, Movember. No typo here! Movember was initiated in Australia in 2003, and focuses on raising awareness and funds for men's health, and prostate cancer in particular. What is it? It just means that participating men will (try) to grow a moustache for the month of November, and raise money and awareness in the process.
Last year, the Canadian campaign was the second largest in the world, with only Australia raising more money. Of course, this year the Canadian Mo Bros would like to raise the most money and run the largest campaign!
To help them reach this goal, Nolan and his team decided to sign up. You can find his Mo Space here:
I'll start donating shortly as well, since he needs a little bit of help there. I have to admit, I'm really curious to see how he will look like after a month of growing facial hair on his upper lip. He will probably turn into some sort of bushman, since he has no problem growing facial hair whatsoever.
Of course, photos will follow shortly, and will become more interesting once we get further into the month of Movember.

Riley participated last year and quite successfully I might add! He decided to do it again this year, and his Mo Space can be found here:
And yes, he can use some help with donations as well. Maybe those two can start a competition. Two fold of course: who can raise the most money, and who grows the best moustache? Maybe I should ask Tina to judge with me, so we have a somewhat balanced verdict.

-- To be continued --