Off to Enlightened Warrior Training Camp – Squamish, British Columbia

Enlightened Warrior Training camp, held every summer in the mountains fo Squamish, BC.

In a few hours I’ll be off to Vancouver, and then onwards to Squamish, for a 5-day intensive training camp entitled “The Enlightened Warrior Traing Camp” organized by Peak Potentials Training. Through an incredible five day journey, I will discover who I really am and learn how to succeed in spite of any obstacle. This camp is truly a “roughing it” experience. I’ll sleep in a tent in the beautiful Squamish valley with glacier-capped mountains all around me. The camp is extremely physically and mentally intense as it runs from 7am-11pm every single day.

Stay tuned for stories and pictures upon my return!

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Preparing for a Professional Experience Year… in Spain!

A shot of Raphael in the Sicilian countryside.
Raphael in the Sicilian countryside.

It was two summers ago when visiting my family in Europe that I first got the travel bug. At the time, I had just finished my first year of Engineering Science and dreamed of working in Europe for a summer. The prospect of learning a new language, being immersed in another culture, and having the freedom to travel to many fascinating places has always excited me.

When it came time to decide if I was going to do a Professional Experience Year (PEY) term in third year, I came to the conclusion that I would either find a rewarding international experience to pursue or continue on to fourth year and complete my degree. As a student of the Infrastructure Engineering program, there were great opportunities to work in different countries and I applied to jobs in the both the United States and Europe.

Last December, I was hired to complete a 12-month work term in Alicante, Spain starting in September 2009. I’ll be working with a local Spanish engineering firm called CYPE Ingenieros, S.A.. My main focus will be on the expansion of a CAD software that can automatically verify if the designs for a structure meet the building code in the country where it will be constructed. I’ll be succeeding another Engineering Science Infrastructure student, Geoff Frost (0T9+PEY), who has worked at CYPE since September 2008. While I can’t share my PEY experiences yet, you can follow me on my journey by visiting my blog at

Raphael receiving his first place prize at the Canadian Engineering Competitions in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Raphael receiving his first place prize at the Canadian Engineering Competitions in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

In addition to finding work abroad, I was able to fulfill my appetite for travelling during the school year as well. This past winter, I competed in the University of Toronto Engineering Kompetitions (UTEK) and won first place in the Engineering Communication division for my presentation on emerging applications of RFID technology. This led me to compete in the Ontario Engineering Competitions (OEC) in Guelph where I won second place and qualified for the national level of competitions. At the Canadian Engineering Competitions (CEC), held in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I built upon all the feedback received from the earlier competitions and won first place along with a sponsorship to attend the first National Engineering Summit in Montreal held last May.

Currently, I am working with Professor Evan Bentz as a summer research student. My main projects have been related to the development of Augustus, a software suite that acts as a post-processor for the Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis of structural elements. Augustus has recently been expanded to allow easy modelling and simulation of entire structures.

It Was the Death Eaters!

Just got back from seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My previous favourite in the series was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the new film has clinched my vote. The cinematography was excellent, the acting has improved, and the overall feel of the movie was true to the novel.  If you get a chance to see it in theatres, I’d definitely say it’s worth it.

One detail remains fresh in my memory, and I feel like I must do it some justice. The movie opens (don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything important) right were it left off with Harry and Dumbledore facing a barrage of photographers in the Ministry of Magic following the official return of the Dark Lord. Shortly after, three death eaters streak across London (no, this is a PG film, I’m referring to how they fly around and leave a trail of black smoke behind them) and kidnap Olivander, the wandmaker from Diagon Alley. As they’re flying back from their mission they pass by a very remarkable and unique structure: The Millennium Bridge. Shortly after whizzing past the bridge, it begins to shake uncontrollably, its load-bearing cables snap, and the entire bridge collapses into the Thames river.

The Millennium Bridge, following its collapse in the movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
The Millennium Bridge, following its collapse in the movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

So, what’s so special about this bridge? If you’re from the UK, or happened to be around when the bridge was officially opened, you probably would have found its collapse in the movie ironic, amusing, and incredibly brilliant. Continue reading “It Was the Death Eaters!”

So, Your Host Didn't Give You Enough Memory?

“Allowed memory size of 33554433 bytes exhausted”

Are you getting this error? It seems to be pretty standard for most hosting services to set their default php settings to 32M when it comes to the memory limit for php scripts. For some users of the most recent versions of popular CMS software like Drupal and WordPress, 32 megs is cutting it quite close, especially if many plug-ins are activated. This post is a solution directed to the problem of NGG users running WordPress 2.8 +, but of course, fixes any php memory issue.

Continue reading “So, Your Host Didn't Give You Enough Memory?”

The Emperor is in Town

As I was walking down University Ave. on my way home on Wednesday, a curious thing happened. Police, leaning against their motorcycles, were blocking every intersection I passed. As I reached Queen Street, the Policeman on duty suddenly sprung to attention, activated the sirens on his bike, and blocked the intersection while screaming at pedestrians to stand their ground. The city stood still. Nothing happened. A few drivers honked their horns, eager to get moving, and some pedestrians started to shuffle their feet. The policeman continued to bark at everyone, assuring them that they only need wait another minute. Sure enough, the sound of sirens began to crescendo until a full convey of police cars rushed through the intersection followed by several black cars, one of which was sporting a small Japanese flag. As the last of the police escorts were passing by, the Policeman blocking the intersection jumped on his bike and joined formation with the convey. City life resumed. The Emperor of Japan has arrived.

Japanese Emperor visits Ontario legislature

Canadian visit a break from cloistered existence

Consider buying foreign currency..

This week, gas prices in the GTA have dropped anywhere from 5-10 cents since last week. Now, after gas prices have been climbing steadily for the past few months since the last big drop late last fall, prices are dropping again. I am no financial expert, but after following the major currencies for the past year, my observation has been that the Canadian dollar tends to follow the trends in the oil market fairly closely, likely because Albertan oil is one of Canada’s major exports. When gas prices were severley over-inflated last summer the Canadian dollar surpassed the American dollar, which hasn’t happened for decades. When the oil prices dropped sharply last fall, the Canadian dollar dropped in value.

The current drop in oil prices is certianly a good indicator that the Canadian dollar is due to plummet, especially if the estimates in this Chicago Tribune article are true and the price of oil drops to $20 a barrel by the end of this year. There is a lot of buzz about dropping oil prices in the finance world right now, so you may want to investigate for yourself. If you need to buy foreign currency, now might be a good time!

A few  more articles:

Mandarin's Free Canada Day Buffet

In celebration of Canada Day along with Mandarin’s 30th anniversary in Canada, all 21 Mandarin restaurants in Ontario offered a complimentary buffet for Canadian citizens. This promotion occurs once every 5 years, and needless to say, is extremely popular since a typical meal at Mandarin is $16.99 + tax + tip for lunch, and as high as $23.99 + tax + tip for dinner.

My family, always ready for a free meal, not to mention one of such high value, arrived at the Burlington Mandarin at 11:15 am not expecting anything too crazy since the first seating was at noon. Upon arrival, we discovered a good 400 people in line outside the restaurant that snaked its way along the entire plaza and onto the sidewalk of the adjacent street. Despite the size of the line, we braved the 4 hour wait to get inside, and enjoyed an amazing meal. Mandarin went above and beyond by even handing out complimentary water bottles to all those waiting in the hot, sun-baked parking lot, along with miniature Canadian flags with which to celebrate Canada Day.

Thank you Mandarin for your incredible generosity! It is no small feat to feed the tens of thousands of hungry Canadians that showed up at all your locations, and you handled the event with great kindness and patience.