Finished my thesis, and lessons learned.

So I’ve been spending the last 2 years doing research, and have never written about it.  My thesis was “Automated Synthesis and Topology Optimization of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Powertrains”, and is freely available to read here.  I assume most people don’t want to read it all, but I’ve included the abstract at the bottom of this post.

In laymans terms, I created an algorithm to automatically assemble different configurations of hybrid electric powertrains.  Because there more components than a gasoline powertrain, you can connect them in different configurations.  Therefore, the question arises:  what is the most efficient configuration?  I like to think I’m a big picture guy, so I’m more concerned about the system architecture, than the performance of the individual components.  As soon as I heard the project, I immediately agreed to do it.  One (small) regret is that I didn’t choose do to this as a PhD project from the start.

I also liked this project because I wanted to see if I could spend an entire year doing a programming project.  I learned quite a few lessons along the way:

  1. If you keep worrying about the big picture and don’t do any coding, you’ll ever get anything done.  When I first started, I spent a few weeks trying to outline the whole algorithm.  I had no idea what the inputs or outputs to each code block would be.  I didn’t start making any progress until I arbitrarily set a target and started coding towards it.
  2. Sometimes the best way to learn is to fail repeatedly.  I wrote the Dynamic Program from the ground up about 4 times.  I got to know the algorithm really well, and learned about efficient Matlab coding.  In the end, It ran somewhere on the order of 20x faster than the original code.
  3. If you are unfamiliar with a subject, books are definitely the best way to introduce yourself.  Articles give you many vantage points and applications, but they do not contain any of the depth.
  4. Design from the interfaces outward.  Make sure two programs can talk to each other!  I spent a month and a half trying to make MapleSim automatically generate code for Matlab.  It didn’t work.  I worked around it by writing the Graph Theoretic Method by hand.


This thesis presents a framework to automate the process of designing Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) powertrain architectures. An algorithm was developed to assemble and compare all possible configurations of powertrain components. Combinatorics was used to discover all possible combinations of: an internal combustion engine, high-torque low-speed electric motor, low-torque high-speed electric motor, planetary gearset, and five-speed discrete gearbox. The Graph Theoretic Method was used to generate the powertrain models. The powertrain models were comprised of steady-state equations in symbolic form. An optimal control strategy is required to fairly compare the different topologies because a powertrain control strategy is dependant on the configuration. Dynamic Programming was used to determine the control law that minimizes the energy consumption for a given drivecycle. Evaluating every possible topology would take an extremely long time, so topologies were evaluated using a multi-stage screening process. The first stage examined the structure of the powertrain and used heuristics to eliminate infeasible topologies; 512 topologies were feasible. The second stage eliminated topologies that could not meet basic driving performance; 193 topologies were feasible. Basic driving performance was tested using a section of the US06 drivecycle. The sizes of three components were optimized to ensure the topology is feasible independent of the size of the components. The third stage eliminated topologies which could not achieve driving performance design goals; 159 could achieve the performance requirements, but only 119 were reasonably fuel efficient. The driving performance goals were implemented with a drivecycle based on the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) goals. The sizes for five components were optimized at this stage. The 20 most fuel efficient powertrains were selected for further evaluation. Additionally, 4 common powertrains were evaluated for reference. The size of the components were optimized for a combination of the PNGV drivecycle and the HWFET drivecycle. The most fuel efficient topology was found to be a Powersplit hybrid which has a discrete gearbox between the final drive and the powersplit device. The electric motor, planetary carrier gear, and gearbox were connected in parallel. It was found that Parallel-like, Powersplit-like, and Complex-like topologies were were the most efficient powertrain configurations. Powertrains containing two gearboxes were more efficient because the geartrain models ignored mechanical inefficiencies.

Farewell to the MoRG

Last week Wednesday, I completed the final step of my Masters’ degree:  uploading it to UW-space.  The next day, I had a job offer.  Finally uploading the thesis was a relief, but it wasn’t the same “BAM.  GRADUATED.” feeling as it was in undergrad.  The masters’ acceptance process took about a month.  I had more of a graduating feeling when I received the ceremonial mug during the fall MoRG (Motion Research Group) party.

Left: My supervisor (John McPhee); Middle; Xinxin Zhao (Chinese exchange student); Right: Me!

After writing papers for so long, I have the urge reference the picture:  “Shown in Figure 1:  Receiving the ceremonial U.Waterloo Mug upon graduation”.

MoRG Farewell at Grad House. From left to right: Mohit, Amir, Chris (covered), Andrew, Brock, Me, Mahyreh, Naser, Dan, Yiteng, Tony, Borna, John, Peter, Ramin

Another tradition we have in our research group is to meet up at Grad house for a beer.  This time we were celebrating Amir and Nasers’ successful PhD defence, and me leaving the group.

I’m happy I joined this research group.  When you think back about a place, you don’t remember the work you’ve done.  You remember the people.


I’m expecting to graduate in Septemeber 2014, so I should be looking for a job.  To whomever is interested, I  have up to date copy of my current resume here.  (Last updated:  July 20th, 2014)

Also of interest, my linkedin address can be found below:

I’m looking for jobs in advanced technologies.  I have 7 years of programming experience, and have some experience with hardware configuration and integration.  I am very goal oriented, and enjoy working in a team.  I’m a member of a Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) working towards a professional designation, and also a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).  If you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact me!



Your environment can shape you

Much has changed in the last few months.  My first long term relationship has ended, and reflecting on it, I’ve learned many lessons.  Choosing a partner may possibly be the most influential life decision.  Two people’s lives come together, and where your personality starts and ends becomes blurred.  I typically take the Myers’ brigg test a few times a year, and this has given me some objective data to look at my own personality.
Myers’ brigg test, taken today.
Extravert(44%)  iNtuitive(62%)  Thinking(12%)  Judging(56%)
  • You have moderate preference of Extraversion over Introversion (44%)
  • You have distinctive preference of Intuition over Sensing (62%)
  • You have slight preference of Thinking over Feeling (12%)
  • You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (56%)


Compared to about a year ago, whist in a relationship with a ENTP.  At this time I was quite sick, and also very stressed out from school:

Introvert(10%)  iNtuitive(80%)  Thinking(20%)  Judging(46%)

Compared to the personality test results taken from a previous blog post on September 22nd, 2009.  At this time I was also single, just starting 2nd year:

Your Type is

Extraverted Intuitive Thinking Judging
Strength of the preferences %
22 62 38 22

ENTJ type description by D.Keirsey
ENTJ Identify Your Career with Jung Career Indicator™ ENTJ Famous Personalities 
ENTJ type description by J. Butt and M.M. Heiss


I believe that sick, and around extroverts all the time pushed me really pushed me towards an introversion.  Health and who you surround yourself can really change who you are.  Pick your friends carefully and make wise life choices.


Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays.  Ever since I was a child, I had always participated in the ritual of dressing up.  This is one of the only holidays where it is encouraged for men to wear make up; I am no stranger to face paint.

I’ve noticed the last few years, the emphasis on Halloween has strewn away from trick or treating, and towards halloween parties.  By convention, it is inappropriate for adults to show up at strangers doors and ask for candy.  Instead, it is expected that one should conceal their identity and get as drunk as possible because nobody will recognize you.

Halloween in Beijing was interesting.  Halloween is only really celebrated in North America; it is just another day in China.  Luckily, there is a strong expat community, so there is always some house party to go to.

2007:  Halloween in Beijing.  Tomas (afro) won the best costume contest.  I’m supposed to be an Italian gangster, but I’ve never seen Tony Soprano do that pose.


During my first few years of engineering, I couldn’t really spend a lot of time on costumes due to usually having a few midterms the week of Halloween.  Even if I didn’t get to go out the night of, I would still dress up to get in the spirit.

2007:  1st year engineering.  Notice the hard hat, and the streetcar in the background.  I wore this to lectures.  It was really REALLY hot.


2007:  This is actually the first time I met Thuy.  I was also supposed to be studying for an exam and threw this costume together with whatever I had in my closet.  I was supposed to be an "engineer", but ended up looking like one of the village people.
2007: This is actually the first time I met Thuy. I was also supposed to be studying for an exam and threw this costume together with whatever I had in my closet. I was supposed to be an “engineer”, but ended up looking like one of the village people.


2009:  Jack-sparrow inspired pirate.  Notice my mom's costume.  She made that by hand!  Ricky on the right is also very crafty with a sewing machine
2008: Jack-sparrow inspired pirate. Notice my mom’s costume. She made that by hand! Ricky on the right is also very crafty with a sewing machine


2009:  I'm pretty sure I didn't go out to a club in this getup.  I mean, this is a costume my mom made for herself.
2009: I’m pretty sure I didn’t go out to a club in this getup. I mean, this is a costume my mom made for herself.

I believe I’ve gotten better at dressing up.  Or perhaps I’ve just learned how to put on makeup.

2010:  I believe this is one of the most (unintentionally) creepy costumes I've ever done.  I learned an important lesson that night:  do not buy the cheapest facepaint on the rack.  I think I ended the night looking like a crack addict.
2010: I believe this is one of the most (unintentionally) creepy costumes I’ve ever done. I learned an important lesson that night: do not buy the cheapest facepaint on the rack. I think I ended the night looking like a crack addict.

This is probably the best costume I’ve ever done.  The chinese shirt cost me about $20, the wig another $20, and I bought the fan in China for less than $1.

2011:  From this point on, I’ve done couples costumes with Thuy.  This year I was the zombie emperor and she was my concubine.  You can buy Chinese clothing surprisingly cheap in Chinatown.



2012:  This year I was a vampire and she was my victim.  If you are ever a vampire, make sure to draw the widows peak into your hairline!
2012: This year I was a vampire and she was my victim. If you are ever a vampire, make sure to draw the widows peak into your hairline!

Doing a group costume is actually a lot of fun.  The theme was ‘army’ and people generally have different ideas of what that means, so there is a lot room for creativity.  I jokingly wanted to do a Chinese military costume or a confederate solider, but I was discouraged to do so.

2013:  This year was the first time I've ever done a group costume.  it's also the first time I've ever been allowed to bring anything gun-like into a nightclub!
2013: This year was the first time I’ve ever done a group costume. it’s also the first time I’ve ever been allowed to bring anything gun-like into a nightclub!

I think its much easier to do costumes as a guy.  There is no real pressure to be ‘sexy’.  As you can see, most of my costumes have been rather silly.  But sometimes you can mix silly and sexy:


Sexy banana.  Really ...?
Sexy banana. Really …?

Achalasia Update: 6 months

It’s been a little over 6 months since I had the Heller Myotomy.  My life has really returned to normal.  I went from 125lbs to 145lbs in about 3 months, and have been hitting the gym regularly to put back on all the muscle I lost.  I don’t often get heartburn, but for the occasional flare up, I keep tums handy in the office and in my car.

Looking back, I was horribly miserable while suffering from Achalasia.  I wish I had done the surgery earlier.  For anybody suffering from Achalasia, DO NOT FEAR SURGERY.  IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER.

I’ve also been getting a few emails asking if I had tried POEM.  Honestly, I am 100% satisfied with the Heller Myotomy.  The POEM technique is still experimental, and there haven’t been any long term (25+) year studies completed.  I would recommend going the conventional route, skipping balloon dilations and going straight for the surgery.

Achalasia update: Post Heller Myotomy

My experience with the Toronto East General hospital and going through my first surgery.

It’s been a little over two weeks after the surgery.  Things aren’t perfect.  I still have to eat slowly, and liquid things are easier, but in general swallowing is much easier now.  The surgery has definitely met my expectations.

I had to do two checks before the actual surgery.  One was a upper GI series barium swallow, and the other was a short chat with the anesthesiologist.

The day of the surgery, I was at the hospital at 6am.  Getting there on time can guarantee you a first spot, because by 6:10 a line up was starting to form at registration.

Going up into the waiting room, I had some blood taken by a nurse and changed into the reversible front/back hospital gown.  I actually think it kind of fits like a yukata.  Finally I had an IV bag put into my hand before being sent back to wait.

When you walk into a surgery room, it’s almost like you are celebrity.  The doctors all know your name and are focused on you.  The surgery table is in the middle of the room with all the instruments angled towards it.  I lay on the table, and was given two warm towels because I was shivering so much.  I asked how long until I was going to be out, then I don’t remember anything.

I woke up in a recovery room immediately in pain.  I had a pain in my shoulder, and my abs hurt.  I was getting morphine put into my IV, so I had problems concentrating.  Things just didn’t seem to matter…  I was wondering what it would feel like, and I wouldn’t exactly describe it as ‘fun’.  But definately an escape.

I zoned in and out of consciousness for the rest of the day.  About 10 hours after surgery my family came to visit.  I needed to take my first pee so I tried to get out of bed, but extreme pain from my shoulder prevented me from getting up.  It was then I finally realized that my shoulder was in fact dislocated.  Now when I’m out of shape my shoulder actually dislocates quite easily, so I assume it must have been done while I was being moved under anesthesia.  The nurses refused to handle it and would much prefer to call a doctor, so I youtubed a video and had my brother do it to me.  Still thinking pretty clearly for a person with a morphine IV drip 😉

I had some interesting “roommates”.  One was an older guy who had knee surgery who liked to talk about his hippie years, and the other guy broke his leg in two places during a company ski-get away.  Having guys that can joke around can really lighten the mood in a hospital.

I didn’t get anything but broth and jello for the first day or two.  After the second day I was getting things like cream of wheat and split pea soup.  I was out of the hospital in 3 days, which is slightly longer than I expected.  The doctors were waiting for me to fart before I could be discharged; opiates are constipating.  I spent the rest of the week playing video games.

What is it like to be a battery engineer?

Over the summer I returned to Magna ECar to work.  I did my PEY placement here 8 months ago, and was liked enough to come back without an interview.

I was placed on a different project as the battery team was moved down south to Michigan.  I was now part of the cell manufacturing team in R&D.

What did I do there?

My major duty was to develop a process to manufacture smaller cells.  Most of the equipment was ordered already, but I had to use it and create a process manual so somebody else could follow it.

From my Materials Science and Engineering undergraduate degree, I applied skills from the materials science, diffusion, powder processing , and ceramics classes.  Materials science class helped me understand the crystal structure of electrodes, how lithium ions can intercalatite between graphite layers, and how crystal structures in electrdoes can collapse and render a cell nonfunctional. Diffusion was useful when understanding how electrode wets everything in a cell. The powder processing class was helpful understanding about powder when we were using nanopowders to create electrode slurry.  Ceramics was also useful in understanding the electrode powders.  My undergraduate degree was most likely NOT needed to do this job, but it would be pretty hard to understand some of the inner workings of a battery cell without it.

This was the first time I worked in a clean room.  Canadian safety standards are quite high so you have to wear a lot of safety equipment.  I had to wear a dry suit, medical mask/respirator, safety glasses, and steel toe shoes.  The white dry suit seen in the picture below has thin wires, which look like stripes, running through the fabric; this is to ground the suit so we don’t short circuit any of the cells.

ready to make some crystal meth!

On this project, I was the only one actively acting on the project.  My supervisor would come in sometimes to show me how to operate machines, or give me an introduction to a manufacturing technique.  But for the most part I was the only one pushing the project forward.  I asked for a lot of help from the machine operators and technicians to help me complete this project.

What did I learn?

When I first started I was super excited to try and CAD something.  I ended up CADing a punch in solidworks.  Solidworks is a well known program, and it took me about 2 weeks to really get the hang of it.  I spent a lot of time designing that machine, but in retrospect I really didn’t need that detailed of a drawing to have it built.  I found out later that my pencil sketches are actually detailed enough to pass to someone else who would make it.  CADing is a great tool, but you probably only want to do it if your specifications are really specific, or you are going to go into high production of that part.

Another duty I was given was to try and come up with a mathematical model of a cell.  I was eager to try because I had previous experience with mathematically modelling a battery coolant system.  Last time I picked up MATLAB, but this time I tried using MAPLE.

MAPLE is good program if you want a lot of accuracy in your calculations.  Maple is a symbolic langage, which means it keeps all of the numbers in its symbolic form rather than making simplifications.  For example, in MATLAB (a numeric language), 10/3 would calculate to 3.33333333 at the end of the line of code, and all subsequent calculations would use the 3.33333333 value.  If the next line of code was to multiply by 3, then 3.33333333 * 3 = 9.99999999.  In MAPLE, 10/3 would calculate to 10/3 at the end of the line of code.  If the next line of code was to multiply by 3, then 10/3 * 3 = 10.

I read a lot of journals regarding different ways to mathematically model cell chemistry.  I understood the theory and equations, but putting them together to make a working model took a bit too long and I ended running out of time and needing to focus on working on the cell production.  I didn’t get to finish the model, but I gained valuable experience working with MAPLE, which I am supposed to use in my master’s thesis at Waterloo.

Final thoughts

All in all, working at Magna is great.  We are right next to head office, which gives us access to all of the biggest corporate parties, an awesome cafeteria, and great groundskeeping.  It will be hard to beat Magna’s corporate benefits and excellent education plan, although I’ve been told that they don’t pay as much as say… RIM or Hatch.  Working in R&D is fun because there aren’t as many rules, and you can try creative solutions to problems (think duct tape).  Many of my coworkers has been at Magna for over 5 years, with one even reaching 25 this year.  This was my best summer job yet.

How to rent an apartment in Waterloo

How to rent an apartment in Waterloo

I’m moving to Waterloo and plan to stay there for an entire 2 years!  This guide should pretty much be applicable to renting anywhere.

Step 1:  Find a place

I used the Waterloo renters website.  Its quite good as has a map and a format which would be easy for most renters to fill out.

Step 2:  Arrange and visit the place

Call the people.  I am amazed at how judgemental I am just by talking to someone on the phone.  I talked to this one lady with a really strong Chinese accent and immediately decided that this was not going to be the place for me.

So I called a few places and booked viewings all on the same day.  I made 5 viewings with 1 hour gaps in between, but in reality you probably only need 30 minutes between appointments.  You get a pretty good idea if you could live in the place after about 5 minutes of looking around.  I went to one house with a live-in landlord, basement suites and a shared kitchen.  It definitely was the best maintained, cleanest, and had the best furniture, but I really wouldn’t want to have to share a kitchen with another family.

I decided on Sunnydale Place.  It’s a 15 minute walk from UW campus (engineering/optometry side), has 3 person townhouses, and free parking.  Here are some pictures of my new unfurnished place.

One of these keys is to my new room! The other is to my heart <3
A walk in closet so big I could sublet it out to a small immigrant family
I have a living room! But a couch without a TV…?

Step 3:  Negotiate with landlord

You should talk to the landlord to see if you can get deals.  Our contract only has 1 parking spot, but they told us we could have 2 if we wanted.

Always ask if the place is furnished!  Apparently I could have requested a queen size bed if I specifically asked for it.  Unfortunately I missed the boat and ended up with a single.

This is where the magic happens

Step 4:  Arrange deposits

Our landlord wanted the last months rent and key deposit immediately to secure our place.  He accepted email money transfer so this was relatively painless.  With our contract we were to submit a cheque post dated for our first month of rent as a minimum.  I will also need to give him a post dated cheque for every month thereafter until the end of the contract; in total 10 more cheques.  I don’t ever write cheques, so I’ll have to order them and give him the rest of them to him when I actually get to Waterloo.

Step 5:  Arrange utilities

The landlord provided us with a list of phone numbers that we could call.  Included on this list are:  electricity, hot water heater rental, landline phone, cable, and high speed internet.  We pay for hot water rental is $30 a month up front per person, and whatever we don’t use we will be refunded at the end of the year.

The landlord said that budgeting about $60 a month per person should cover all utilities except for water.  We also don’t have air conditioning, so that will probably save a lot on the electricity bill.

In our case we had a nice pamplet with all of the necessary phone numbers prepared for us.  Setting up the utltiles (electricity, hot water, natural gas) was a relatively easy 5 minute phone call.  Make sure you have a lot of cash available for the first bill, because the utilities companies each charged me an extra $150 deposit, and a $30 account set-up fee which will be tacked onto my first bill.

We didn’t bother with a landline or cable.  I hope I’m not regretting the lack of cable in the future…

Step 5.5:  Change Cellphone Number (?)

Many Waterloo students who go on co-op do not change their Toronto cell phone numbers to a Waterloo number.  I am on Rogers, which has Canada-wide roaming. This means I can use my data and voice plan anywhere in Canada without incurring  extra charges.  In comparison, long distance is extremely complicated, so I have prepared an example.

Consider the following example:  assume person T has a Toronto number, and person W has a Waterloo number.

Scenario 1:  Person T is in Toronto and and Person W is in Waterloo.  Person T calls person W.  This is considered long distance.

Scenario 2:  Person T and Person W are both in Waterloo.  Person T calls person W.  This is considered a local call and no long distance charges would be applied.

Scenario 3:  Person T and Person W are both in Waterloo.  Person W calls person T.  This is considered long distance because they are calling Toronto, which would be long distance.

In conclusion, to avoid receiving long distance charges, get a long distance package!  Yes, you may cause your Waterloo friends to incur charges when they call your Toronto number, but that isn’t your problem is it?  Alternatively, you could always text without fear.

Step 6:  The physical move

How the hell am I going to move 25 years of accumulated crap 1.5 hours away into a tiny room?  By minivan of course!

Putting the seats down in the minivan actually allows for a lot of space.  A quick tip for packing the van is:  make sure that you adjust the seat before you start packing the van.  I didn’t, so I was stuck on my mother’s ultra-back support seat settings the entire 90 minute drive.

We also considered a moving truck and making single move, but most companies charge a small base price, then a surcharge per kilometer.  After adding the price of gas, it generally isn’t worth renting to save the extra trips.  Save the rental trucks for big moves, like furniture.

Step 6.5:  The identity move

So now that I don’t live in downtown Toronto, there are certain things that can become a lot cheaper; namely car insurance.

I was originally using Cumis for car insurance, and had a yearly premium of $3600. I switched to TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, and am now paying a little over $1000  annually.  A quote from Cumis just factoring in just moving location and getting older dropped my insurance to $1900, still almost double what I am paying at TDMM.

Now there are a few factors leading up to my cheaper insurance:  I just turned 25 which puts me in a lower risk bracket; I’m moving from gridlocked downtown Toronto to open highway Waterloo, I just graduated from University of Toronto, and I’ve just started my P. Eng designation.  TDMM gave me really low rates JUST because of the P. Eng.  Even if you factor in the annual $220 fee for the P. Eng licence (which is also tax deductible), it’s still cheaper.  Get your EIT if you are a graduate just for these bonuses!

Another major bonus is that when I bundled home and auto insurance, I got a discount which basically made the home insurance free.  This lets me build home insurance history for free.  Horray!

Step 7:  Settling in

This step I haven’t completed yet!  I assume I’m going to have to find a place to buy groceries, or at least a place to get food cheaply.  Not to mention I have to clean the house and move furniture around.  To be continued…

Everything to know about Esophageal Achalasia: Introduction to Achalasia

Yesterday I went to see my GI specialist about my condition; Achalasia.  This would be the second visit.  The first visit was approximately a year ago, although I seem to have had symptoms for a little over two years.

I’ve done about a years worth of internet reading about Achalasia, as well as had firsthand experience.  This post will be a summary of my knowledge and experience, and I hope this will help others who suffer from this affliction.

This will be the first part of a series.

What is Achalasia?

Esophageal Achalasia (aka Achalasia cardia) is a degenerative nerve disease which causes loss of the involuntary esophageal movement when swallowing (this is called parastalsis) and increased pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

My Personal Experience

From my experience, this result primary symptoms such as: difficulty while swallowing, regurgitation, chest pains, waking up choking on saliva in the middle of the night, unintentional weight loss, and spitting up large amounts of saliva.  This is a relatively rare disease, affecting 1 in 100000 people.

One of the secondary symtoms I’ve encountered is an  inflamed esophagus (esophagitis) due to excess stress which made regurgitation much more frequent.  I believe the freqent regurgitation also caused some reflux problems, and this caused stomach acid to irritate my esophagus.  Symptoms of esophagitis included  nausea, vomiting, a burning sensation in the esophagus.  The nausea was so bad that I couldn’t keep any solids or liquids down, and my body weight dropped from 140lbs to 124 in two weeks.

I first noticed symptoms about two years ago while I on my PEY internship.  I woke up one day with a burning in my chest which hurt so much that I thought I was going to die.  I later found out that it was just heartburn and I could have taken an antiacid for that.  Afterwards I would get heartburn whenever I was walking around the shop.

Over the next year I started developing problems when swallowing.  I used to eat extremely quickly, but things started to get stuck while eating.  I’ve developed techniques like eating with a straight back, or drinking warm or carbonated liquids to push the food down.  I’ve managed to eat normally without losing any weight.  The biggest difference is that I’ve gone from eating a meal in 10 minutes to about an hour, and I need to drink somewhere between 4-8 cups of  water with each meal.

Chugging a cup of water at the end of every meal is extremely important because it washes whatever is left down to the stomach.  I’ve had times where I’ve spit up breakfast food during the evening.  Also, I find that if there is solid blockage, salivia will accumulate on top of it, cause discomfort and I will have to spit it out.

Review of Algonquin Park: Canisbay Lake

Review of Algonquin Park:  Canisbay Lake

I got the chance to go to camping for a weekend.  This would be my second time camping at Algonquin park this summer, and I’d like to document the experience so each time I go it gets better.

The drive:  4/10

This time of year traffic is bad, so what was calculated to be a 3.5h drive from downtown Toronto turned into  a 5 hour drive.  After hearing the 400 was packed, we decided to go through some of the country backroads instead. We got stuck on the Northbound rush out of the city at 3PM, but it looked like traffic was heavy since about noon.    I think its safe to assume that everybody is heading is either taking Friday afternoon off, or heading up to cottage country.

View Larger Map

About 10 minutes before you enter Algonquin on highway 60, there is a Walmart and a Dollar Store on the way at highway 60 and 11 (C on the map above).  Between these two places, you should to buy anything you forgot to pack before entering the park.

There’s also an East Side Mario’s that we ate at on the way back.  I got a free desert and felt like a kid when the staff sung me happy birthday :).

Camping and the Camp Site: 7/10

We had two camp sites maxed out with 6 campers each.  We stayed at campsite 42 and 43, which is in the middle of the loop.   The camp sites were clean and large enough, but a little too close to the other sites.  At 11 o’clock at night the park ranger came and told us to shut up because he could hear us from the entrance.  Next time I would suggest picking a more secluded camp sites such as 126-128.  This is next to a water fountain and outhouse, but farther from the beach and showers.  This would give our large group a little more space to be loud, and also its in a RADIO ON zone.

Two people in a 6 person tent gives you a lot room to move around.  We had an air mattress, which made sleeping MUCH more comfortable than last time.  I easily slept through the night, except for the first night when a raccoon decided tried to get into our tent, and when the wolves were howling at each other.

We also forgot a few vital things, such as a can opener.  If you think you can open a can of beans with a hatchet, you should probably bring a raincoat.  We ran out of bowls, so we improvised by using aluminium foil folded into a bowl.

Stargazing: 9/10

The beach was a 10-15 minute walk from our campsite using a shortcut through the woods to the beach.  When we got there it was  clear and great to look at for about 20 minutes, then the clouds came and made everything hard to see.  Some of us lay on the wet sand, and some of us sat on a wet bench.  Next time I’d either bring a towel or the folding chairs.

Portaging: 8/10

[Original Map]

Portaging was the highlight of the trip.  The route we took was long and challenging, but doable for inexperienced relatively-fit portagers.  This 12-hour route took us through 39.1km of lakes, 4.2km of portages (12 portages), short 100m puddle jumps, over beaver dams, and through difficult to maneuver river passages.  We left the Portage Store at 8:30AM, and got back at about 8:00, just before sunset.

All 12 of us went on this trip, so big groups are doable but some of the portage spots got a little bit crowded with 4 canoes.  We portaged our 3 man canoes with 2 people; one at the front, one at the back.  Portages ranged from 110m to 710m.   I carried the front of the canoe by resting the nose of the canoe on my shoulder; whereas the carrier in the back would put the back seat on his shoulders/traps.  The lifejackets can be used as makeshift cushions and allowed me to shoulder the canoe without pain for about 250m.  The canoe isn’t heavy, but it does hurt after awhile.  The 710m portage was painful, but doable without rest.

There is a 20ft high cliff an hour from the rental store.  We tied off the canoes at the shore and went down a cliffside path. The water in front of the cliff is about 2m deep, which makes is safe to jump off.

We didn’t see much wildlife.  We saw some crows, loons, and some ducks.

Everyone tried to bring at least a litre of water, but we still ended up running out .  Getting desperate, some of us tried drinking lake water without getting diarreah, but we’ll have them checked for parasites when we get back.  Apparently its okay sometimes but not all, and in the middle of the lake away from traffic, fishing, swimming etc  is generally the best.  Drinking water near a beaver dam is a no-no.

We packed a little more than 2 sandwiches per person, but the cheese singles melted and became visually unappealing.  We only had 8 peanut butter sandcastles which went first.  Apparently some campers like to pack ‘suicide sandwhiches’, which consist of peanut butter, jelly and cheese wiz.  Yummy.


– Traffic was bad both ways

++ I feel like I proved something during that 12 hour portage trip

– Forgotten items: can opener, dishwashing tools, area light (non-directional lamp)/head mounted light, hand broom, extra underwear, jacket

– Kicked a rock coming back up from cliff diving

– Sunburn on legs and arms

+ Got a free dessert at East Side Marios

=As expected, there are animal disturbances

 Trip Rating: 8/10

Captain’s log, stardate August 14, 2012

I’m starting to blog again to keep people updated about my life.  I’m moving to Waterloo in two weeks, only an hour an a half away from my family, which gives me just enough distance to fall out of touch.  This will be the looking glass into my life.

I guess I never really stopped blogging, just repurposed it.  I like bloging because its a way to organize thoughts that can be accessed anywhere.  I’m still getting used to wordpress, but I can tell you it’s a definite improvement over the last blogging webapp I used.

For the last year or two, I’ve been writing in paper journals.  There are some things that are just easier to write in pen.  Plus, since I’ve started working as an engineer, my sketching has improved.  Sketching on a computer just isn’t the same.

Looking back to some of the posts I made before, I can tell I’ve definately changed.  What the hell was I thinking posting that bad poetry in the last post?

Anyway, I think an appropriate first post should be where I am currently in life:

Well to start off, it’s a week to my 25th birthday.  I haven’t planned anything for it yet because I’ve been worried about my health for the last month.  I’ve been battling Achalasia, and I’ve lost 16 pounds in the last month.  I seem to have it under control now, but losing that much weight that quickly gave me a serious shock.

I’m currently working as a Battery Engineer for Magna ECar systems.  Without giving too much away, I’m working on lab scale battery manufacturing process development. I did my PEY year here, and decided to come back just for the summer to get some extra experience and make some money.  I was also considering taking the summer off, but ever since PEY, I’ve become accustomed to living with an income.

I’ll be starting a masters in Systems Design Engineering in September.  I applied to Waterloo SYDE in my final year, but not for this project.  I got scouted by another professor because I had interest in optimization and had some experience in electric vehicle modelling.  I’m really glad that I got scouted for this project, because looking back I don’t really think I was all that interested in the program that I applied for.  I’ll be working on a project for Toyota, and will be optimizing the Prius powertrain.  Horray!

This will be my second time moving away for school.  Compared to moving to China, I think this time will be more challenging, but less adventurous.  Since I’m living in an off campus townhouse, I’ll be doing grown-up stuff like paying hydro bills and cooking.  I’ll be paid a research grant by the university, but it probably won’t cover ALL my expenses.  Still, I’d like to give financial independence a shot.

My hobbies change over the years.  Currently I would say my hobbies are: dance (popping, house), music (classic rock, dubstep, house, hiphop), anything sci-fi related (reading ecotopia, watching futurama).  I’ve lost a lot of weight so I’d like to start going back to the gym religiously like I used to.  Autonomous vehicles also have caught my eye, and I might be trying to learn a little more about that in the near future.

… and thats me in a nutshell!  I bet I’m going to look back at this post 2 years from now and laugh at how naive I was.


In search of the golden fleece,

the Pearl following the souls of lost kings

absence of moonlight, slowly drifting

no wind, each crash only a indication of movement.

Jack, blind, lost in his senses

disguised as rewards

test loyalty through blood sacrifices,

every drop a little closer.


Masked behind daily rituals

unseen, unnoticed by anybody,

afraid to peek out from behind a
cautious guise.

A bad day, a bad experience,

speaking doesn’t soothe, nor does
bottling words

tranquillity only a temporary oasis.

Defending an ally from an ignorant

ignites a inextinguishable flame.

Turn the flame toward yourself to

Over bare skin,

gasping for air, salty.

Rap music only a distraction.

Shamefully hiding, but

happily opening.

Long awaited,

long avoided.

The unstoppable, the suddenly finished.

Lingering feeling that can’t be

sputtering like an engine about to die.


Realize the headache from the rap.

Dec 23, Shopping everywhere else

I only did one thing today.? I went out and bought a coat.? I bought it
from Bedo, on reccomendation from Tori.? It turns out im an XS, but
settled for an S.? The attendant said it was a little too big in the
shoulders… yeah.? But I got it 60% off, so whatever. ]]>

I only did one thing today.  I went out and bought a coat.  I bought it from Bedo, on reccomendation from Tori.  It turns out im an XS, but settled for an S.  The attendant said it was a little too big in the shoulders… yeah.  But I got it 60% off, so whatever.

Dec 24, Snowboarding in the rain

December 24th.? Ba’s birthday.? We usually try going to blue mountain
this day every year, but sometimes it gets canceled due to lack of
snow.? This is the first time it rained though.? Boarding on the slopes
in rain really isn’t as bad as it seems though.? You just need to wear
something waterproof.? The Ecko jacket I wore today wasn’t, so when I
took off my jacket at the end of the day my sweater was soaked.? Also
everything in my pockets (inside pockets) were damp as well.? My phone
takes tons and tons of punishment.? It might be time to get a new one.

?Remember when snowboarding:? overbalance, turn small, and “HOY, SAUUUUUU”

I’m watching speed racer… is it just me or is there major sexual tension between Takeo and his sister?

Dec 22, Winter shopping in all the wrong places

Woke up today at 2pm.  It kinda threw me off, but nothing major.  Today was the day that I would finally renew my OHIP card.  It’s been expired for almost 6 months now.

I was surprised at the efficiency of the OHIP renewal office.  The signs that call your number don’t only call your number… they even have arrows to point the direction of the desk.  Nice design.

Hit the gym today.  I want to get my stamina back up so I was trying the sprint a lap, walk a lap thing.  You are supposed to do it 6 times, but I coudn’t finish them all.  I tried the stairmaster as well for the first time.  Did intensity training on it for 20 minutes, and didn’t even break a sweat.  Running is so much more effective…

Went to Eatons to meet up with Anth and Fer after to do some shopping.  Shopping pre-Christmas is pretty much the same thing as shopping on boxing day.  Stupid long lineup, busy ass malls, same discounts.  No point in boxing day specials except for door crashers.  I should really do my Christmas shopping like… 2 weeks in advance so I can actually get the right size.  I checked the Bay, FCUK, bunch of other stores and I couldn’t find a duffel coat in my size…

Ate hosu after Eatons.  Then went back to Anths to eat gummy bears and play Atlantica.  Atlantica online is pretty innovative.  I was waiting for a MMO that was was party based instead of hero based.  You can control 9 mercs at once, nice.

I’ve been trying to finish the Sopranos for so long now.  I just need to watch the last season, which I already have… It doesn’t rank high on my priority list though.  I wonder if I’d even finish it…

200 Questions. Last time to slack off before school starts to kick in

200.My middle name is: Henry
199. I was born on: Aug 19/1987
198. I am really: AWESOME.
197. My cell phone company is: Rogers
196. My eye color is: sexy.? dark.? brown.
195. My shoe size is:? Is this a trick question?
194. My ring size is: Big enough to give you the finger
193. My height is: 163cm + 10cm of hair
192. I am allergic to: women
191. I was born in: North York
190. I live in: T. DOT!
189. The last book I read: Gossip Girl.? I’m reading the game right now
188. My bed is: Circular.? The type that rotates.? Surrounded by mirrors.
187: One thing you hate about yourself: I think too much.
179. My favorite Holiday is:? Kwanzaa.
178. The perfect kiss is: Built up, anticipated, desired.
177. The last three cd’s I bought are: Who buys music… Last 3 albums:? Show Luo – Trendy Man, wang lee hom – heart.beat, ayumi hamasaki – days/green
176. Last song that made me cry was: …? Heres to Adam… Heres to Adam he’s a horse’s ass…
175. Are you single or taken?: single
174. If your taken, by who?: STOP MAKING FUN OF ME
173. Do you like being single/taken?? honestly speaking, being single is more fun
170. What did you do last night?: went to 7 lounge
142. Love at first sight? Of course.? Girls fall in love with me at first sight all the time.? Then they come up to me and confess and I shoot them down.? The price to pay for being beautfiul…
141. Luck? There is no luck; only fate.
140. Fate? There is no fate; only luck.
139. Yourself? Do I have a choice?
138. Aliens?? We aren’t alone.
137. Heaven? Heaven doesn’t exist.? But apparently the 11th dimension exists according to particle physicsts
136. Hell? I believe in hell, it’s called University of Toronto engineering exam season
135. Ghosts? I want to try and eat one…
134. Horoscopes? Only the ones that I read in the Tokie.
133. Soulmates? I belive in true oppisites.? Someone who is your exact compliment.


129. Hugs or Kisses?:? kisses.? Dudes can hug, but dudes can’t kiss.
128. Drunk or High:? BOTH AT THE SAME TIME
127. Phone or Online: Phone.? Especially when drunk.
126. Red heads or Black hair:? Black hair that has been dyed red.
125. Blondes or Brunettes: brunettes that act blonde.
124. Hot or cold: Hot and dry.? Hot and wet is disgusting.? I rather have cold and wet.
123. Summer or winter: Hmm.? Summer you can go out more, but I tend to sunburn.? The only thing I don’t like about winter is snow.? Winter wins.
121. Chocolate or vanilla:? Vanilla rain doesn’t exactly have a nice ring to it.? Chocolate it is.
120. Night or Day: I like the day more, but I’m rarely awake to expereience it.
119. Oranges or Apples: oranges >> apples.? orange peels >> apple peels.? I eat that shit like candy.? It basically is candy though…
118. Curly or Straight hair:? are we talking about the carpet, or the drapes?


116. Abortion: DO IT… you know… if you like… want to…
115. Backstabbers: can never get me.? I’m a 3rd level rogue and cannot be caught flat footed.
114. Parents: You should probably listen to them, because they are usually right.? Why would they backstab you?
103. Went out of town: Niagra falls during the winter break?? Or Blue mountain last week?
102. Had food: 2.5 hours ago.? Had soba noodles made at home for the first time.? Yummy.
101. Seen someone I haven’t seen in a while: All those people I met up with at the club yesterday.
100. Cried infront of someone: I don’t cry.? I shapeshift into a werewolf and summon my pack.? We then proceed to raid villages and disrupt trading routes.
99. Grew: UGH.? Like 10 years ago.

90. Who is the ditsiest person you know: Double B would make that list.? Even if I did only meet you last night lol.
89. Who makes you laugh the most: Honestly, I crack myself up the most.
87.The last movie I watched: The Mummy 3.? The one with Jet Li in it.? Pretty standard action movie.
82. What I don’t understand is: why I can’t just settle for less.
80. The most unsatisfactory answer I’ve ever received is: “um… hahahhahahah i dono”.? Dumb bitch. lol.
75. Something I will really miss when I leave home is: Everything I will miss, I’ll probably just take with me.
74. The thing that I’m looking forward to the most: summer.
74. The thing that I’m not looking forward to is: finishing this questionnaire. Then I have to start studying.
73. Tomorrow: MSE290.? Gym.? Lunch.? MSE217.? MSE245x2, MSE235, meet prof, godiva week events.
72. Today: Woke up at 2:30pm.? Guitar lesson.? Went to bank.? Now.
71. Next Summer:? I’ll make some money hopefully.
70. Next Week: SCHOOL
67. People call me: Adam?
66. Do you have any regrets? I have no regrets.? Just a bunch of bad decisions.
65. What are you afraid of?? Raising a daughter that will grow up to be a stripper.
64. Who do you miss? You.? I miss you, reader.
63. Are you happy? Could be better, could be worse.? If your life is shit, then fix it.
62. The person who knows the most about me is:? I don’t know.? I should host a gameshow, and ask people questions about myself.? That way there is a fair way of figuring out who knows the best about me.
60. The most difficult thing to do is: wake up in the morning.
59. I have gotten a speeding ticket: Nope.? Just a ticket for doing speed.? LOLJK
56. My zodiac sign is: LEO
55. The first person i talked to today was: my mom?? It probably went something like:? “GAARRGGGAHHGHGHHAA. NO LUNCH”
54. First time you had a crush: On this girl named Sarah.? She was a white girl with red hair.? I thought we were going to get married.? I was 4.
53. The one person who can’t hide things from me: I can see through most people, but I pretend to be oblivious.
52. Last time someone said something that you were thinking?:? I don’t think.? I calculate.

51. Right now I am talking to: Nobody.? I’m hermiting right now.
50. What is your dream job?: Director of Research and Development in some huge electronics/biotech company.? Lead actor on broadway.? Travelling guitarist.? Those dudes that do press conferences and promote new cool gadgets.
49. First job?: “We all work at mighty mighy licks, mighty might licks, mighty mighty licks…”
48. I have/will get a job at: A company that designs computer parts.
47. I have these pets: They are called crabs.? They live in my pants.? loljk
46. I hope: To never be complete.
45. The worst sound in the world:
44. The last person that made you cry:? Why do they always ask about crying in these stupid surveys…? Are these surveys only make for emotionally unstable people?
39. My boy/girlfriend is: probaly wondering when they are finally going to find me
***What happened to 43-40 and 38-34?***
33. My favorite piece of clothing is: my new dress jacket =)
32. My favorite sport is: badminton.? Although I seriously don’t know if I’ll ever play again…
30. My friends are:? awesome because they know me.
29. My computer is: turned on.? just like you after reading this.
28. The school I go to is: University of Toronto.? Although sometimes I think engineering should be it’s own university.
27. Last person I got mad at: myself
22. The all-time best movie is:scarface. You can NEVER EVER get sick of it.
21. The all-time best thing in the world is: the close.? The second best thing is the approach.
18. The most annoying person you know is: I am probably going to rank somewhere up there as the most annoying person I know.
17. I lose all respect for people who:? can’t do anything for themselves
16. The movies I have cried at are: braveheart.? I was 7.
15. Closest friend name: You guys know who you are.
13. Favorite web site:

12. I want to be: influential

11. The worst pain I was ever in was? that one time when I had a fever of 41degreese and I couldn’t drink any water because I’d shit it out immediately.?

10. My favorite word is: social deviant

9. My room is: clean by my standards.? messy by everyone else’s.

8. My favorite celebrity: stephen chow

5. My weakness is: a nice smile and a sense of humour

4. What I like about the opposite sex: … that they aren’t guys

3. Who broke your heart: She broke my heart.? But my heart grew back.

2. One thing that makes you feel great is: meeting people

1. You filled out 200 questions because: I don’t want to start work.