Monday, July 31, 2006

My M.Sc. - Part II: The Beginning

I seem to have several posts here in the form "XXX - Part I: YYY". Perhaps it's time I posted a Part II.

The logical place to discuss the beginning of my M.Sc. degree is in a chapter II, obviously. Also, the story of how I met Felix and began my M.Sc. has been on my mind recently.

At the beginning of 2002, I was working for a company in Victoria named Cellfor. The funny thing about that website is the picture of the smiley, happy people at the top of the "our team" section - I'm pretty sure all of those people were laid off on the exact same day I was - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, at the time, I was working, I had completed my B.Sc., and I knew I wanted to go to grad. school (perhaps I was suffering some form of neurological parasite infection?). I'd already talked to a professor at UVic, who basically told me "I have no room in my lab, but you should talk to [long list of names of professors] at other universities". Among the names I was given was that of Dr. Felix Breden, at Simon Fraser University.

I was laid off from Cellfor on March 20, 2002. That's a story in itself, so I won't go into details here. By a fortunate coincidence, the family my girlfriend of the time, Christine, lived with, was going away on vacation to New Zealand for a month starting March 22. So I had no good reason to spend much time in Victoria, and I went over to North Vancouver to relax, and check out grad. school prospects in the "Lower Mainland". I contacted Dr. Breden, as well as a few other people, and arranged to meet with him.

I had driven my van over from Victoria so I had wheels in Vancouver, but I needed to return to Victoria. I ended up meeting Felix fairly late in the day - I think it was a Friday - and I wanted to catch an evening ferry. Felix seemed enthusiastic about my enthusiasm for science, but he needed to confirm my commitment.

"Do you have a car?", he asked. "Yes, it's a big old minivan, I parked it in the visitor's lot here."

"Hmmm... could you give me a ride home? My wife took the car early today."
"Yes, no problem"

"How about dogs? Could you transport my two large dogs, too?"
"Yes, no problem"

And so, we went out to the MVoDL, the large dogs happily jumped into the back, and Felix took me to dinner at an Irish pub near his home. Potential research projects were discussed over shepherd's pie and ale, then I dropped Felix and the canines off and drove back to Victoria, with a plan to apply for grad. school at SFU firmly in my mind.

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