Sunday, 11 December 2011

Another Grad, another coast trip.

 Originally posted to Multiply June 30 2010

Son Alex had lost his geology job in the economic downturn, and cleverly used the enforced idleness for some upgrading. He added an intense one-year course in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to his BSc.
GIS folks make sense out of the mass of data that surveyors and satellites deliver. It has a wide range of applications in many fields. Serious nerd work. Alex can now make computers sing and dance and knows even more stuff his old backwoods mother doesn't have a clue about. 

The course (at BCIT in Burnaby) came with a graduation ceremony with all the trimmings. Alex had missed his college grad, because when it happened he was already working way up North, so we all showed up for this one.

Entering Metro Vancouver is always a treat. Approaching the Port Mann bridge.
It is too bad one can't just stop on the bridge and gaze at the spectacular view. The barrier even makes it hard to take pictures, but I stubbornly keep trying. Pictures taken through the side window are not the same quality as those taken through the front.

The day before happened to be Chris' birthday, so the kids treated us to a lavish dinner at the Korean Barbecue place, quite an experience!

The next day we faced two dilemmas: how to spend the morning till the ceremony at 1.30 and how to get there. We had been warned parking might be a problem. Our normal accommodation had not been available. We were staying at some distance from the sky train and were not sure which buses go where. We solved both problems by hiking to the site, approximately 10 km. This gave us the chance to walk through Deer Lake park. 
I have always been intrigued by those Burnaby lakes, but they are hard to get to with the car if you don't know the city.
Notice the pair of loons in the water! On the way out of the park we saw a sign with: "Warning, coyotes!" Good thing too, some predator needs to cull the geese.
We had not brought enough food or drink, so the salmon berries along the trail were welcome.
The ceremony was the usual pomp and circumstance with dignitaries decked out in crazy fifteenth-century hats. The grads entered the auditorium to the strains of  "Land of hope and glory". A lovely melody, but an odd choice considering the vast majority of students is of Asian origin. The chorus brings memories of my dear anglophile Dad. He loved listening to the radio broadcast of the last seasonal Prom concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
This song was one of the traditional highlights, right up there with 'Rule Britannia!', which he lustily belted along with. We digress.
We will have to wait for the official photo to get decent pictures of the moment on stage, but there was plenty of photo-opping afterwards.
Nienke took this one with the timer.
An immigrant moment: I keep under-estimating the formality of these occasions. Many family-of-grads folks were milling around dressed to the hilt. I felt quite under dressed. My most presentable outfit was vaguely smelling of Korean barbecue after the night before and had to be replaced with something more casual. Besides we were somewhat sweaty and bedraggled after our epic hike. Alex made up for it by being resplendent in a suit.
And there we leave him for now. A smart, handsome and kind young man who is finding his way in life. 
 Postscript: the training led to a job as a mapmaker for a small mining company, just what he had in mind. Eventually it too ended. 
Read all about it at Alex' own blog,

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