Penticton is a small city in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. It is probably best known for being a wonderful vacation spot in the summer, but to me it's much much more than that.
My family moved to Penticton when I was six years old. I finished my grade one year at Queen's Park School, then went to Carmi Elementary School for grades two through seven. During this time I had my first exposure to the field of Radio Astronomy. I then went to Jr. High at McNicoll Park, and finished high school at Pen-Hi in 1991. Then it was off to UBC to get a degree!
At the end of my first year I went back to Penticton to work and enjoy the summer. I found work delivering flowers for Carl's Flowers, cleaning cabins at the Sandy Beach Lodge in Naramata, tutoring high school students in Math and Physics, and working at Okanagan Amusements. Ever since, working four or more jobs at once has been pretty easy, not to mention commonplace in my life.
I tried to get a job at the DRAO after my second year, but they felt (quite rightly) that I didn't have enough computer experience to work on their stuff. Luckily, Phil Gregory decided to take a chance on me and send me to Charlottesville, Virginia, to work at the NRAO Headquarters. I worked alongside Jim Condon in reducing data that would eventually make the GB6 Catalogue. I continued this work in Vancouver with Phil after my third year of university.
By the end of my fourth year I was successful in convincing the good people at DRAO to let me work there for a summer. Under the supervision of Andrew Gray, I worked on a few projects including a holography experiment with the DRAO Synthesis Telescope. It was a great summer, and I learned a lot and enjoyed being back in Penticton. The 1995 CASCA meeting was also held in Penticton that year, so I had a great time meeting people there.
Although I went to the other side of Canada to do my Master's, I vowed to return to Penticton the next summer for the DRAO's Summer School on the Interstellar Medium in August of 1996. It was actually in Naramata but that's close enough to Penticton for me! That was an incredible trip; it was right at the end of summer and afterwards my friend Rene and I drove across Canada to Halifax. My girlfriend at the time, now my lovely wife, Hema, came from SMU with me to this school. It was an unforgettable time.
In May 1998 I returned to Penticton, having completed about 95% of my Master's thesis, but having also received 100% of the money I was going to get out of SMU. So, Tom Landecker was kind enough to let me work for him that summer, while I finished off my thesis. The first thing I worked on was polarization tests at 408 MHz. I also looked at the CGPS data that was finished to that point, looking for circularly polarized radio sources. Also while doing all that I was also part of the Local Organizing Committee for the New Perspectives on the Interstellar Medium conference that the DRAO hosted.
In September of 1998 I started a one-year term with the Space VLBI group at DRAO. I was in charge of shipping and receiving all the data that came in from all the telescopes around the world, and I did a large amount of the correlator operations too. Being able to live in Penticton, working at the DRAO as an actual staff member (or guest worker, since I was being paid by the Canadian Space Agency) was a wonderful experience. But eventually I had to get on with my academic life and move to Calgary. As you can find elsewhere, though, this hasn't stopped me from getting back to Penticton many times.
In June 2000 I went to Penticton (DRAO) and gave a talk on my MSc Research.
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