Dear Friends & Family,

Here we are once more at the holiday season, looking back on a very wild year (both for me personally and for the world at large). The yard is lit, the tree is up and decorated, and the gifts are bought and wrapped. It is Christmas Eve and the house smells of all the traditional Christmas baking. It is time to relax and enjoy some time off.

For me this has been a year of obstacles, all of which have been overcome. It started with a month long snowstorm - which for most people is nothing of note, but I live in Victoria where snowplows are mythical creatures and the drivers think bald summer tires will do the job. Though I had a four-wheel drive vehicle with proper snow tires, my constant fear of other drivers left me walking and taking buses wherever I needed to go. When the snow finally melted, we were met with a day long power outage. 

At the start of April the municipality decided that the road in front of my house needed repairing. They spent all of April digging up the roads and private driveways, then May,June and July were spent digging trenches and replacing all of the utility pipes. This also resulted in a confused excavator driver demolishing a landscaping wall and removing all of the plants and tree, and months of trying unsuccessfully to get Saanich to repair the damage he did. In July a mistake in the installation of the new water main resulted in serious illness for myself and others on the street due to contaminated water, and soon after I discovered that some of the blasting that the crews were doing to remove old cement fixtures had broken my home's water pipes and the windows. Finally in August the road was paved again, and I spent September and October rebuilding my yard, planting new bulbs and seedlings and arranging for top soil deliveries to replace the missing soil. It was a real nuisance, but ultimately I do believe that the yard is looking better than it has in thirty years.

On a more positive note, I have also completed a number of research projects this year in the fields of mathematical physics and cosmology. I still have to write up the complete reports in the new year, but I am really excited by some of the preliminary results of these new theories and calculations. In addition, I am now volunteering with several astrophysics and particle physics experiments, providing my expertise and time to help graduate students and postdoctoral researchers process their troves of experimental data. It is very rewarding work, and I am enjoying it greatly.

I also completed a few more courses online, mostly in advanced mathematics and graduate level engineering, because as many of you already know I am addicted to education! 

On the career front, I am still doing freelance programming and scientific consulting work. In addition this year I have been working more steadily for Exadyne Research, a local tech startup that is developing some amazing new technologies. They are still small, but they are growing quickly and I look forward to working with them more in the coming year. I am also doing more work in the fields of architectural and scientific visualization, utilizing my years of experience as a hobbyist in computer rendering to produce realistic images for assorted projects. It is quickly becoming one of my most profitable ventures, and as a result I am currently setting up a formal company to handle this work under the name Intergalactic Visuals. I am really excited about this new venture, and hope to make it a fulltime career in the coming year.

My mother and brother are still doing well enough, but I am still devoting several hours per week to helping them with household work. Increasingly I am having to manage the shopping and banking for them, but I am hoping that with some of last year's troubles over I will be able to get them more independent and self sufficient early in the new year. I also have a new reason to want more time for myself now, but I will leave the details on that major news for later ;)

So I think that those are the highlights of this year. Not the greatest year, but also far from the worst. Just a nice average year.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may you all have a very Happy New Year!!