Happy, Happy, Happy

Wednesday  Starting a workday from home with cappuccino in my favourite mug (painted with my favourite flower). The artist is painting mugs to sponsor a two year missions trip to India. She’s an inspiring young woman I’m very proud to call my cousin.

Life on Van Island

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Back to work

A few people have been wondering what I’m doing, now that school is finished. I was planning to take the summer off… but an amazing project in my former field dropped into my lap. It’s turning out to be not just a fantastic opportunity for me, but for my community… and since community development is what gets my mojo running, I just couldn’t pass it up. I’m starting with a research project (in the area of employment and adult education), which led me to stumble across this:

Robots

A few people have recently asked me to explain exactly what Jeff does. I asked him to explain his work and here’s what he said. “As part of an engineering team, I design industrial video inspection robots for diverse applications. Some of these include municipal pipe inspection vehicles, search & rescue vehicles, others for inspecting natural gas mains, inspecting in dangerous industrial areas, under the ocean, and even bomb disposal and investigating smuggling tunnels.’

That’s a lot of robots. Here’s what some of them look like:

Photographer Sean Fenzl recently photographed a new robot (the Versatrax 450TTC Crawler) and has great commentary about his visit to the company and some stellar photos you can see here.  

You’ll see Jeff (and his arm) in this video with his new vertical crawler (a robot that can drive up or down a completely vertical pipe). 

Jeff has robots working all over the world. They are in the US Swim Team’s training pool and NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations training pool, they are cleaning nuclear tanks, helping maintain healthy public water systems, monitoring smuggling tunnels, inspecting the underwater structure of off-shore drilling platforms and doing routine work in Venezuela, Turkey, JapanIraq and Afghanistan (among many other countries). Jeff has also seen robots be part of major search and rescue efforts:

Inuktun robot in use after Hurricane Katrina

Inuktun robot in use at Ground Zero

Inuktun robot used for search and rescue after the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse (Jeff was on site for this project- he’s on the far left in the final group photo at the end of the video).

There are also countless robots he can’t talk about or simply, doesn’t know about their true location or application. His robots go just about anywhere a human can’t go. Except the moon. The one thing Jeff CAN say is that he has no robots in space. Yet.

Now, in case this all sounds exciting and glamorous, Jeff wants everyone to know that engineering usually encompasses long hours of drudge work. That being said, I can affirm that Jeff  leaves for work most mornings with a spring in his step, and clearly loves what he does. As a former career counsellor, I know just how unusual that is. I think a lot of little boys dream about building robots, and Jeff is one of the few adult “kids” who actually lives this dream each day. Pretty cool, huh?!

Transitions

I took a leave from my job at the end of June- a leave that probably should have happened a year or two ago. While I won’t go into details here, I have enjoyed the people parts of my job (clients, colleagues) but the environment has been exceptionally difficult and disheartening to work within. My decision to go back to school was, in part, out of the realization that this work environment is not going to change.
It was wonderful to have the summer off to regain some health and perspective. It has enabled me to see how being so unhappy has affected our home life… and do some pretty honest soul searching about priorities and values. Actually having energy to garden, cook and have real conversations with Jeff was something I really missed.
In the end, it was pretty clear that going back to work in this job was not the best thing for us. Jeff has been beyond supportive of this decision and for this, I’m immeasurably grateful. Last Thursday, I cleaned out my office and said goodbye. My plan is to continue with my master’s degree (something I am enjoying very much) but beyond that- I’m not sure. It feels really good to have some quiet to let this unfold. For now- this view (outside my basement office window) seems to be exactly where I need to be.


School stuff

Since that first view outside my new window, I had great intentions of taking my camera around on a campus tour and sharing my walk past that castle every morning. Alas, my 18 hour days of learning and writing (and more writing, and more writing!) along with a week of rain have postponed that tour for a few days.
While I won’t go into all that I’ve learned about good intentions (TONS on that topic alone!), I will share a video that was used in a lesson about organizational structures. I was inspired how the combination of something untraditional (a flash mob), something traditional (an iconic song and the voice of Julie Andrews) within a simple organizational structure could create something completely joyful and unexpected. Even if you don’t see it as a symbol of organizational potential, it’s just plain fun to watch.