It’s done!!!

Ok, It’s now official:  I’m only a few more hoops away from my PhD being complete!

My defense was incredibly smooth – My committee was incredibly friendly and kind, and I can finally look at closing the door on the last 5 years of my life.  Pretty soon, I’ll be Dr. Fejes.  Not really sure what that changes, but I had thought the day would never come.

What a long journey it’s been, tho… and so many twists and turns.  I put up a slide at the end to thank the people who’ve helped me get through it all, but I really couldn’t list everyone… and I realized I missed the most important people of all: my wife and family, who’ve watched the whole process unfold.  Really, their support has been everything to me, and I wish they could have been here for the defense.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I should lie down for a bit.  Jetlag and oral defenses should really be counter indicated.

By the way, I think this is the last time I’ll be able to use the “Grad School” category for a post.  Good riddance!
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Day of Reckonning

I’m standing in my hotel room, pacing around while I practice my defense talk.  The currently length is 18:36, which is just under the maximum 20 minutes.  I hope, if I have any neighbors in the next room over, that they’ve brought earplugs.

Frankly, I’m pretty nervous about the exam.  I have no idea how it will go.  What I know, I know well.  What I don’t know, I know that I don’t know at all.  I just hope my examination committee can accept where those limits are.

Anyhow, 12:30pm is about 14 hours from now.  I plan to spend at least 6 of those hours sleeping, an hour traveling to campus, and a few minutes, at least, picking up sandwiches.

Considering that it is currently 7am in Denmark, and I still haven’t adjusted to Vancouver time, I’m amazed that I have any functioning brain cells left at all.

On that note, I’m going to run through it again.  On your mark, get set, go….

Back in Canada

I told my aunt I’d post a bit more to my blog, when I got a chance… and I have a couple of spare minutes before running off again.

Anyhow, I’m back in Canada for my defense, which is coming up on Friday – I feel completely unprepared.  I have no idea if that’s justified or not, but it could go either way for me.  I’ll be reading a few more papers and tidying up my presentation before Friday, in addition to trying to rekindle a few connections to friends – the 9 hour time difference has been murder on friendships.

The worst part of this is that I’ve left my wife alone in Denmark, so if anyone has a spare minute, I’m sure she would appreciate a few words of support to help her through the next 5 days while she’s alone.  There’s nothing worse than being stuck at home and isolated, when all your friends are too far away.

The only real good news is that, once I get home, we’ll be moving to a new place – closer to the city.  I have some hopes that it will help us feel less isolated and a bit less restricted in our ability to get around.  I can’t wait, and I really hope it changes how we feel about the city we live in.  Moving from downtown Vancouver to a suburb of a small town was really a harsh shock – and hopefully this goes some way towards fixing that.

Little steps… hopefully they add up to big changes.

A few stares

There is SO much going on right now in my life that I’ve just been holding off talking about anything recently – but I haven’t abandoned the blog.  I’m just trying to find a better balance.

Anyhow, I have some entertainment to share.  I often find myself thinking “I never imagined I’d be doing…..  in Denmark.”

Today, that phrase was wrapped around “biking to work with a two-foot (60cm) tall stuffed Emperor penguin in my backpack.”  Obviously, it wasn’t high on my list of things to do, but it was a gift to a colleague’s daughter, and yes, I do bike to work every day.  So, in the back pack in went.  And clearly it didn’t fit.

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Plenty of people stopped to stare at it – and me – along the way this morning, but the story doesn’t end there.  My colleague also biked to work, and he got to bike home with the penguin on *his* bike as well.  So, here’s a picture of the penguin in the pannier, before he went home… and I’m pretty sure the stares won’t end till the penguin arrives at it’s new home.

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“Nominated to receive a Ph.D degree”

Three weeks from my defense, and I get this email:

WISH to DOUBLE YOUR INCOMES? In this business that allows you to receive
your knowledge and Our wide experience that you want! Bachelors, Masters
and Doctorate degrees of various specializations are already waiting for
you! They are fully verifiable! Many people share the same frustration,
they are doing the work of the person that has the degree and the person
that has the degree is getting all the money. 

We accept your phone calls 24 hours a day, not to postpone your 
Improvement of qualification.We send the certificate to all countries

Who knew, I could have had the PhD without doing any of the work – and I’d double my income because I’ve been doing the job of someone with a PhD…

Drat – seriously, people, where were you 5 years ago?  And hey, they even ship to Denmark!

Snow expected on Wednesday

It’s a long running joke – it always snows on my birthday.  Usually its a freak dusting of snow, but there’s no clear rule – just that where ever I am, it will probably snow.

Ok, so it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the trend is pretty strong.  In fact, several years, I’ve seen storms show up out of the blue just to dump a light dusting of snow on March 7th – and occasionally in unlikely places.  Vancouver has had snowfalls nearly every year I’ve been there, despite the fact that Vancouver generally doesn’t get much snow at all. Before that, Snow in Ontario or Manitoba wasn’t exactly a surprise in early March, but as I move to warmer climates, I expect snow to be harder to find in the spring.

Denmark doesn’t seem to really be a warmer climate, but, I was hardly expecting the trend to continue. Last week, the daytime high was up to 14C and it was even sunny for a few days, although a sudden shift on the weekend turned that around bringing a cold wind from the east with temperatures that should last until… yes, Wednesday.  Several weather forecasts are calling for snow, now, followed by warmer temperatures on Thursday.

I know when spring starts – it’s always the day after my birthday.(-;

Pictures of Aarhus in March

I’ve been slacking in blogging for a while, for good reason.  February was the “hump” month for us.  We hit several major crises all at the same time, but the past week has been a very sudden reversal for us, as things have started to get sorted out, both financially and with respect to our living situation – and of course, now that I finally have some resolution on my thesis defense.  I’ll admit, for a while, we were seriously ready to toss in the towel and head back to Canada on the next flight, but I’m pretty sure we’ll pull through.  We’ve been looking at moving to a new house, which will cut our expenses dramatically while moving us out of the suburbs.  (NEVER move to a suburb if you don’t have a car!)  Suddenly, our outlook on life in Aarhus has improved dramatically!

Anyhow, with things looking up, I thought I’d share a few pictures from my phone.  Some of them are terrible – but they give you some insight into our world.  I haven’t yet pulled out my real camera, but as soon as the temperatures warm up a bit more, I’ll get around to it.

The first is the view in the morning from the bus stop, taken back at the start of February, when the sun was just rising when I left the house at 7:45am.  At this point, I’ve got my bike in working order (for the most part), and the sun is up by 7am.  Not that every day is sunny, but all the snow is gone, and I’m not really out of the house to see sunrises anymore.

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The second is a bottle of ginger ale.  You don’t know what you’ll miss till it’s gone – and after three months of searching, we came across this bottle in Germany during a weekend trip with my parents – and we’ve now found a source closer to home.

Apparently, ginger ale is American, here.  (And I’ll my life, I’ve been drinking Canada Dry…)

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Last weekend, we went for the opening day of the Paradis ice cream shop. (A play on words, as “is” is the danish word for ice cream.  We stood in line in temperatures hovering around 4C, with a 30km/h wind for about an hour to get two scoops of ice cream in a bowl.  It was worth it.  Danes seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to ice cream.  It was so good, I forgot to take a picture till we were down to the bottom of the scoop.

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And this is the line – it never really shrunk as it just stayed the same size the whole afternoon.

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You might find this odd, but this is the parking lot at the grocery store.  Danes seem to be in love with paving stones – and I thought it was a nice “texture” picture.

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We were at the grocery store on one of the warmest days of the year  – it went up to 14C, and the whole city seemed to be breaking out of it’s shell.  In fact, the warm temperatures were supposed to end today, going back to the freezing point again, but somehow, they’ve stuck around.

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At home, the “death ray” has repeatedly sucked us all in to taking naps in the sun.  The dog even warmed up enough to start panting in the sun.  Fortunately, with the warm weather, we’ve been able to turn off the heat in the house, and let the sun warm it up.  I really hope our hot water bill goes down a bit.

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And this is lunch at Ikea.  the $1 hot dog is in the front, and the $2 hot dog is at the back.  Frankly, I don’t get either.  The bun on the first one is about half the size of a regular North American bun, and the hot dog is long, skinny and doesn’t even fit in it.  Condiments are limited, comprising two types of mustard and one type of ketchup.  The more expensive hot dog is actually made up of a bun with the end cut off, and a circular hole in it, inexplicably called a “French hot dog”,  which enables you to fill the cavity with ketchup before putting the thin tube of meat into it.  What you end up with is kind of like a “pig in a blanket”, except the ketchup gathers into a pool at the bottom making it soggy and inedible.   Frankly, I don’t think I’ll trust a Swedish company in Denmark with French food anymore…

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Our current house is situated at one of the higher points of the city – which makes for a long bike ride home from work, but some nice views.  I took this while taking the dog out for a stroll.  Yes, we really do live within 3 minutes of a forest and a farm.

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This morning, we decided to go have lunch out. (Dinners here are way to expensive, so once a week, we try to do something out of the house.)  We ended up splurging at Emery’s, for our first real lunch out in nearly two months (excepting the misadventure at the pub with my parents, of course.)  They have a relatively expensive brunch special, which comes with a bread buffet, some meat and cheese and sauces.  I’m sure we didn’t look at all like Danes eating it, but it hey, no one called the cops on us. The people next to us used their hands too, instead of the usual Danish fetish for cutlery, and they didn’t seem to be Canadian.  Either way, they make a wicked hot chocolate.

For the record, the brunch is overpriced on weekends – it’s cheaper on weekdays, and the charcuterie platter seems to be similar, but slightly cheaper on the weekends. (-;

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After lunch, we spent part of the afternoon walking around in the cobbled streets, checking things out.

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Well, there you are – a quick snapshot of our life in Denmark, with a few of the highs, this time!  I promise that if the weather turns a bit nicer, I’ll pull out the real camera and get some decent pictures for next time.

Committee Set

Just a quick follow up post.   I’ve heard from the university today about who the chair for my exam will be, and I couldn’t be happier.  Oddly enough, I’m starting to look forward to the exam.  I know most of the examiners, and they’re all tough, but fair.   I can’t wait!

Thesis Defense… scheduled!

So, it looks like I will have a shot at getting my PhD after all – the first PhD in my family, really, despite being surrounded by innumerable relatives with Masters degrees.  Anyhow, as I was recently notified in an email:

Your Final Doctoral Oral Examination has been scheduled to take place on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM in Room 200 of the Graduate Student Centre (6371 Crescent Road).

Anyone who feels like attending will be welcome, of course..  I have no idea how large the room is, and if you arrive late, you won’t be allowed in, as per UBC regulations.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s also bloggable and tweetable – though I’ll be a bit too busy to do it myself. (-;

I have to admit, the scheduling was a pretty tight squeeze – and a huge thanks goes to my supervisor’s administrative assistant for helping arrange it. Without her help, I wouldn’t have been able to defend till sometime next year. No names mentioned here, of course, but I will be proposing naming my daughter after her.

I’ll also be thanking CLCbio for their help as well, but it’s a bit premature for that.  And,  I don’t think the Danish government name registration agency would allow me to name a child after them anyhow.

(As a closing remark, my long standing self imposed condition was that I had  to get the thesis done before Robert Jordan’s (and now Brandon Sanderson’s) The Wheel of Time series was completed…  the final book of which is now due to hit the stores January 2013.  For a series of books I started reading 20 years ago, I have to admit, I’m cutting it a LOT closer than I expected.)