25 December 2018

I suck at Christmas

I'm alone this Christmas. And I'm okay with that.

On one hand, I'm grateful that growing up in such a small/ragtag family gave me the independence that has made me comfortable at traveling around and existing on my own in this vibrant/fabulous/sometimes-scary world.

But on another hand, these tendencies have always made it difficult for me to mesh in groups for long times. I need to work on the patience and discipline to nurture long-term relationships with people and things - even when they don't always jive with my whimsical and transient events. Especially when it's not convenient.

I don't think I'm alone because other people don't want to be with me. I think I'm alone, because I've opted to remain in my comfortable, perpetually insular cocoon of solitude. I don't need others to let me down - when the things that do let me down are in my full and (in-)capable control.

I don't care that I'm alone, for now. Because the reason I'm alone this year is because I've chosen to be alone. My conventional family has failed me. And I refuse to let that failure trigger a deeper crisis in myself.

There are so many failed families and empty domiciles out there this Christmas eve. I'm lucky to afford privilege for now that compensates for one day of peaceful yet ominous solitude with myself this Christmas day.

When I get older, I will no longer have the privilege of peaceful serenity. I will need others - begrudgingly. Each of you knows somebody like this in your neighborhood - that neighbor who everyone assumes wants to be left alone - the crazy cat lady, or the old man on the porch, et al.

Look, I wouldn't recommend bothering any of these fine people on Christmas with some obligatory phone call or visit. But maybe think about them - and consider a random drop-in at some unbeknownst hour. It'll likely do them as much good for their soul as it will do for yours.

01 June 2018

Montreal, reloaded

In a dazzling answer to my desperate prayers this winter, I was given the opportunity to move back to Montreal to work as a program engineer at a utility research/engineering consortium based here, blocks from McGill. This is my second time working at the company, where I had first worked around 2010-12 part-time as a technical editor to supplement my thesis studies at McGill.

I returned to Montreal this February. I set up temporarily in a place around Parc LaFontaine, before settling into an apartment along the borders of Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG) and Westmount.

17 January 2018

Hybrid EHV/HSR Concept

I am a passionate transportation advocate. In particular, I believe that dormant lies a revolution in how people get around, which could potentially ripple into long-term positive developments in sustainable urban design, environmental impact, socioeconomic division, public health, and more in the United States.

Governments and politicians often promise bold infrastructure improvements, yet routinely fail to work together in order to even provide incremental updates to our vast and aging infrastructure. Furthermore, even the most visionary and well stocked investors would be daunted by the paradigm shift necessary for Americans to truly embrace, sustain, and financially reward a whole new mode of transport that requires vast sums of capital outlay with uncertain returns dependent on changing Americans’ finicky behaviors.

Meanwhile, the investment community spurs continued construction of electric transmission lines throughout the US, unleashed by regulatory reforms such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order 1000, designed to harness economic competition among utilities in order to reform transmission system planning and to spur construction of $77 billion of incremental transmission investment nationwide between 2008 and 2015. The utility sector makes for a logical Hyperloop One partner, with considerable financial resources, capabilities in designing and constructing large-scale infrastructure, relationships with communities that minimize NIMBY resistance and enable critical right-of-way acquisitions, correlating demand corridors based on geographic population distribution, the need to haul bulky substation equipment quickly according to power system needs, and further potential inter-industrial and technical synergies..

Linked is a high-level concept proposal for a joint EHV/HSR project between the transportation and utility sectors, which I had the opportunity to present to executive leadership of American Electric Power (AEP) for their consideration and feedback. Without yet dictating technical details, it outlines a host of synergies achievable through constructive inter-industrial collaboration, helping boost the prospects of high-speed rail and securing the relevance of electric transmission systems in an uncertain yet exciting clean-energy future.

Broken Down and Broken Up

This past December was an immensely difficult month for me. I suffered a weed-induced manic attack on 30 November 2017, which resulted in my boyfriend Matthew breaking up with me, my friend Leah cutting off ties with me, and the loss of my housing in Portland, Oregon. In a nutshell, my mental breakdown was costly and resulted in an overturning of my life and my living situation.

The month of December was tumultuous for me personally. I was arrested in Portland when police confronted me about smoking cannabis in my car (which is legal in Oregon). I was checked into a psychiatric hospital for a week in Portland after a dramatic confrontation with Leah and the police. During my 36-hour cross-country drive home from Portland to Steubenville, I was pulled over for a burnt out headlight, only to have the police search my car, which resulted in my arrest for possessing less than 1/4-oz of cannabis on my person. I served 8 days in jail prior to my court date, which was an embarrassing but oddly pleasant chance to clear my mind of the fog in which I had found myself at that time.

Since then, my time in Steubenville has been splendid and healing. My friend Whitney has been gracious enough to open her house and her family to me, while I spend the next several weeks recuperating and continuing my eternal job hunt. In my hometown, I've spent time productively applying for jobs, interviewing, volunteering at my high school, and reconnecting with cherished friends of mine from high school.

At this point, I am still applying for jobs, awaiting interviews, waiting on prospective employers to follow up, trying to rekindle a relationship with Matthew, and basically trying to put my life back together again. I'm thankful for the love and the support I've received from my beloved friends. And I'm hopeful for the future, as I climb from out of "rock bottom" in order to restore the greatness that I once had.