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Feb 25

I’ve been waiting to write this one and it’s finally time!

Last winter I began the search to buy myself a car! A very exciting time for me, as well as a very confusing one. Along with figuring out what was available on the market, I wanted to know how much it was going to cost me to own this thing, and there were a lot of questions to ask, and very few clear answers to be found. Do I go new or used? Buy or lease? Finance or buy outright? Loan from the dealer or the bank? What’s the cost of ownership; fuel, maintenance, etc etc. . .

Since I was only able to find very vague information online, I decided to do my part and record every cost related to owning my car. Well, almost every cost. . . I’m sure I missed a car wash or an oil purchase somewhere, but I know I’ve got all the major expenses recorded. So let’s get started.

The Car


During the search for an automobile to call my own I decided I would get something on the smaller side, but with enough room for me to pack up some stuff or people in case I wanted to do something. It also had to be good with fuel, which generally comes hand in hand with a small sized vehicle.


I ended up choosing a used 2008 VW Rabbit. It has had one previous owner (a 3-yr lease from Enderby), and only 42,933km. From what I figured, this was a fairly lightly driven car, likely an older person using it to trips to and from Vernon or Salmon Arm on a weekly basis. It’s a red, 2-door, manual 5-gear hatch back with a 6-disc CD changer, Aux input, heated driver and front passenger seats, heated power mirrors, and power windows. I think most of that stuff is stock on VW’s. under the hood is a 2.5L 5-cylinder gas engine that pumps out 177hp with an estimated 22 city/29 hwy mpg. The power is more than enough to give the little rodent some kick. The estimated fuel mileage certainly isn’t the best in it’s class, but that’s mainly due to the extra cylinder that helps give it that pop.

It’s got lots of room in both the front and back seats, and plenty of space under the hatch to pack up for a week of camping.

Monthly Costs

As I would hope most people will be able to infer, these costs are the ones that occur on a regular monthly basis. Kind of like that time of the month for my bank account.

Car Loan

The first of the monthly costs is the dreaded car loan

I decided to go the route of financing through the dealership because they were able to give me the best rate over 5-years. Because I wasn’t technically employed at the time (even though I had accepted my position with TRUE) my mom had to co-sign with me. No problem, thanks mom!

So, what does a car loan over 5-years cost me? $424.06 per month.


Now this one could go either way: annual or monthly cost. I chose to go with monthly costs when i moved to Kamloops so that I could keep better track of it. I’m sure it would have be marginally cheaper to do it as an annual cost, but at the time I didn’t have the cash flow for that.

So, because I use the car for work (the whole reason for buying it in the first place) I have to have it insured for work, which adds a little more to it all. In the end I fork out $153.88 per month.

Total Monthly Costs

Bringing together loan repayment and insurance, my total regular monthly cost for owning my car to $577.94

Regular Costs

These costs are the ones that happen regularly, but not according to any sort of schedule. Now that I think of it, I could probably re-title this section “Fuel” costs. . .

Fuel Costs

Okay, so now we’re calling it Fuel costs. . . I’m not even going to explain this one.

I generally try to fill up around 1/4 tank so that I’m not pushing my fuel pump too hard. I fill up with regular octane 84 fuel, and I try to always fill up at the same place, unless of course I’m travelling somewhere.

The tank on the bunny is 55L.

Over the course of the past year I have put in approximately 2550L of fuel for a total cost of about $3,000. For the mathematicians out there, that works out to an average cost of $1.176 per litre.


Not to surprisingly, these are the costs related to maintaining the operation of the vehicle. While I`m sure I could argue my way into putting all sorts of things under this category I`m going to try and keep it straight forward. So, at this point in time it includes two things: oil changes and tire swaps.

And to be even more simple, the total cost of these things is about $1,850.


Alright, I’m getting a little worn out on this subject, so it’s time to wrap it up.

Total Cost of the Vehicle thru the year 2011: $12,000

Kilometers Driven: 32,600km

Cost per kilometer: $0.37/km

There we have it. I’ve probably left out a lot of detail, but if there are any questions feel free to comment!


Dec 7

Couple things that I’ll be posting about in the new year:
– Cost of owning a car
– Cost of an undergrad degree

Oct 23

I’ve got one, or rather, a string of them. Skydiving related:
1) Achieve my A and B licenses next season;
2) Obtain 100+ jumps next season as well;
3) The following season, get my C1 coach rating.

First step to all this: keeping jumping 😀

Aug 20

But where does it come from?

Seem like a pretty trivial question, and I’d imagine most people would say anything along the lines of, “The tap”, “the lakes”, “the streams”, “the well” or even “the great land of Dasani”. And really, these are all essentially right. But that’s just the original source of the water, what about everything in between the source and the tap? (Bare in mind, I’m just going to touch on these topics, if you want to know more the internet is an amazing place).

Scrub Dub Dub. . .

No, the water doesn’t stop in a homophobic’s worst nightmare.

I should hope that the vast majority realize that the water they get from their taps isn’t “as is” out of the lake (I’ll mention now that I’m generalizing all this to water provided through some level of municipal infrastructure). Most water sources make their first stop in some form of water treatment facility. Many also stop briefly in a reservoir, but we’ll touch on that later.

Water treatment facilities are wonderful places that can do lots of things to the source water. Put bluntly, it cleans out all the harmful stuff that might be in there, as well as some of the stuff that makes it look poor or taste like it came from that over populated tub.

In no specific order, and in no great detail (because I’m not keen on reproducing all my notes from Water and Wastewater Design), and likely missing some other steps, the things we can do to water in a treatment facility include:

  • Screening: Removing big things, like stick, garbage or goats. . .
  • Filtration: Removing small things. . . like silt, sands and even bacteria
  • Coagulate and Flocculate: Making REALLY tiny things bigger, so they can be removed with Filtration or settling
  • Settling: Letting stuff sink out of the water
  • Aeration: Makes stuff float to the top of the water so we can scoop it out. . . like the flocs we made in flocculation. It also helps remove minerals that can make the water look or taste bad.
  • UV Treatment: Kills/deactivate microorganisms that can harm us. It doesn’t remove the subject contents, but rather renders them unable to make us ill.
  • Chlorination: Kills/deactivate microorganisms. Unlike UV though, we can put a residual amount of Cl in so that is can continue to disinfect the water as it travel between the treatment facility and your tap.

What happens to the water in a treatment facility is completely dependent on what’s in the water to begin with. If the water came straight from Dasani-land we may not do very much to it (possibly a little chlorination for the road, but that’s a different story).

Time for a Rest

What do most people do once they’ve gone to the spa? Take a nice long rest of course!

Okay, maybe they go do other things, and maybe a spa is a really bad metaphor for a water treatment plant, but regardless, most water will make its way to some place for a rest after being treated. This is water we call a reservoir.

There are lots of kinds of reservoirs out there: concrete boxes, steel tanks, water towers, or even open air ponds. Now-a-days most reservoirs are sealed and monitored structures where the water is protected from exposure to the elements, and more importantly, anything that could dirty or infect it! It makes sense since we just put all the effort of making it all clean and tasty!

But why do we keep it in storage? Why not just pump it right out into our taps?

What a great question! And there really isn’t any one reason, so I’ll list some:

Fire flows: When fires occur, those shiny red trucks pull A LOT of water through the distribution system. Put simply, if we didn’t have big boxes of water sitting around the area those trucks would suck the pipes dry. . . and then we’d have even more problems in addition to Billy Bob’s shack burning down.

Energy Saving: Water unfortunately doesn’t flow uphill. So we pump it instead. If we had to equip our systems to pump water from the source to all the taps during peak hours we’d have to have a lot of massive pumps. And then during the day when less water is used, most of those pumps are just sitting around. So instead, we use fewer smaller pumps over longer period time to fill these boxes when there isn’t a lot of demand. Then, once there is a lot of need for water, rather than pumping it all from the source, we can let it fall out of our tanks (did I mention reservoirs are usually kept in higher locations, like on hills above town? Or where there aren’t hills, in tall water tanks? There, now I have and now you know).

Redundancy: Is really a wonderful thing when you’re dealing with unstable systems. What’s an unstable system? It’s one that’s not stable. Still lost? It’s a system that doesn’t remain in a constant state. Why is water distribution unstable? Because we all open taps, close taps, flush toilets, have showers, wash dishes, water the lawn etc etc. So water is constantly moving and stopping and going different places. If we tried to just pumps this from our source, the pumps would be on and off all day, which would easily wear them out. And I won’t even get into water hammers. . . short story: they break everything! having reservoirs in the system helps to relieve these issues by providing various sources where water can be drawn from, meaning that any one source or pump has to work excessively hard whenever you feel the need to wash your abundant head of crazy curls.

Okay, I’m really dropping the ball on reservoirs, so I’m going to move on and come back to this another day.

The Long Lonely Road

So, we find water somewhere, we make it pretty and tasty, we store it in a box, but how did we get it from A to B to C to tap?

Pumps and pipes do all the work! I’m going to leave out valves and monitoring and control systems, but they’re there too. Oh, and the many operators that keep everything in order (most of the time).

I don’t think I really need explain these two things too much. Pumps pump. They also provide pressure to the system so that you can wash your car. And pipes are pipes. . . They can be a variety of sizes, from 3/4″ (which believe it or not, is the size of pipe all the water for your house likely comes from) to massive 120″ or bigger.

End of the Line

Now, I’ve really over simplified this, and probably missed some points, but I hope it added even a small amount of insight into the water you use everyday. Where this whole post spawned from was a discussion as to why we have to pay for water. “Water is free, but clean water delivered to your tap costs money”. Anyone can walk to the nearest stream with a bucket and fill it up, but to have that water cleaned, disinfected, stored and distributed costs big money. But, these systems are out of sight which takes them out of mind, so it can feel like your money hasn’t really gone anywhere. Hopefully, you’ll now think a little more about your water today.

May 14

. . . of what? Life I guess? But when does “life” actually begin. I’m not talking the life that’s argued over in the abortion debate. I’m referring to that thing most career-minded students strive for, whatever it is.

I’ve started my career in Civil Engineering Consulting, I’ve moved into the first place I can really call my own (even if it is just a basement suite), I’ve got the first car that I’ve bought, and I’ve passed my Bachelor’s degree. They all seem like good indicators that I’ve “started” my “life”?

But if this is the start of my life, what was I doing before? What were those 5 years in school all about (including Co-op, I didn’t fail anything :P). I seem to just be asking questions.

It’s hard to perceive where I am as being different from where I was. Of course there’s the obvious differences: school vs work, physical location, free time, you name it. But really, regardless of all that, aren’t I still the same person? How I spend my days and where I am are different, sure, but I’d say that’s a very far cry from defining who I am. I guess I should clarify here that I’m relating “where I am” to being “who I am”, if you didn’t get it already.

Although, it does make sense that I don’t see myself as a different person. I can only see myself in the here and now (Here and now, great song by Great Big Sea, FYI). To make a true comparison I’d need to step outside the timeline of me and compare the then me to the now me, all without taking the actual me making the comparisons into account. Yes, that quite possibly made no sense. . . Yet, I see myself as me today, and tomorrow I will still see myself as me, and the perception of me today compared to how I will perceive myself tomorrow would fairly undoubtably be the same, because I have and always will be just me, or so it seems. Yes, still very likely making very little sense, maybe I should have taken more philosophy courses, I love arguing over this stuff, because there’s never any answer but it’s so easy to pour everything you have into your argument for absolutely no rhyme or reason!

Okay, so, where is this going?

Next time you look in the mirror, take a good long look. Take in all the detail. Then try and remember yourself before you looked like that. Maybe the you five years ago; how about the you before your last haircut; what about the you the last time you went to a formal event. Can you remember all those details? How does that compare to your physical self now? What about your mind-set back then. What were you thinking, or even better, HOW were you thinking. If you really get into it it can become a pretty surreal feeling. We always live in these simple, physical 3-dimensions. But it’s the 4th one, time, that can send you through a loop.

*Sigh* This is definitely NOT where I had originally planned for this entry to go!

Regardless, before I start to hurt myself, I leave you with this:

Apr 8
Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid
Copper for the craftsmen cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall
“But iron, cold iron, is master of them all”
– Rudyard Kipling “Cold Iron”

That’s the first stanza from one of Kipling’s poem. Kipling himself wrote the iron ring ceremony, which is officially known as “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer“, back in the 1920’s.

A week ago today I received my iron ring. I won’t repeat the obligation or details about the ceremony itself. Not because the ceremony is secret, but because it is private. The short story behind the ring is that it is a symbol and reminder of the obligation my peers and I took that day. The obligation itself calls for us to remember the importance of our work, the dangers of our mistakes and the standard to which we will be held as professionals. It asks us to work to the best of our ability, to admit what we don’t know or can’t do, to look for assistance when we need it and to ask for pardon when we make our mistakes.

I’m very proud to wear this ring. Not for the ring itself, but for what it symbolizes. It will serve as a constant reminder of the obligation I took, the five years I studied, the lessons, mistakes and achievements along the way, and what I hope will be the many years of my career.

It’s not a perfect fit, but I think that’s just part of it. I’ve noticed that myself, as well as many of my peers, have been consistantly fiddling with the ring. Spinning it around, sliding it up and down the pinky, or tapping against the nearest hard surface (it makes a very satisfying tap tap tap sound). I don’t know about the rest, but I know that every time I notice myself doing this I’m reminded of that obligation and where my future is headed.

On a lighter note, I hope that I never lose it. It’s a very tiny thing, not meant as a flashy piece of jewelry. Regardless, this ring cost me well over $40,000. . . but I’m told a replacement is a much more affordable $10    =P

Mar 17

So I’m quite late making my statement on this, but none the less, here it is.

As I’m sure anyone in Kelowna is aware of, UBCO engineers hung a boat, captained by the mythical Ogopogo, beneath the WRB bridge spanning Okanagan Lake a little while back. Talk about uproar of opinions. But hey, that’s what a large population of Kelowna likes to do: voice and complain.

Anyone reading this knows that I am infact a UBCO Engineering student. And with that, no, I had no hand in this. Furthermore, I don’t know who did it, although if I did I wouldn’t ruin the secret. All I’m going to do is give my view on it, because I can. I expect many people will agree with me, and on the same note, I know many people will disagree.

What follows are MY opinions, I speak for no one but myself.

The Stunt
Sometime during the night a small (I’m assuming a vehicles worth at most) group of what are very likely engineering students from the UBC Okanagan campus hung a boat, with the likeness of the Ogopogo on board, from the WRB Bridge. Discovered early in the morning by a local it quickly became the talk of the town for that Monday morning.

Hands down: attention. And why not? It worked. People gave it attention. Society loves drama, uproar and absurdity, but more importantly society loves to blow all that up. As an engineering student I’m quite proud of what happened, both the prank and the aftermath. People voiced their approval, dislike, and general opinions on it. Arguments were had between complete strangers over why it was so great or horrible, and hey, that happens.

Anyone who does a little digging will find just how popular this little story became for a few days. News stories were produced as far away as PEI. Now that’s what I call advertisement.


The "Maria" beneath the WRB Bridge - Photo by AM1150

I’m sure at this point some people are thinking, “Well why can’t you engineers do something more productive for attention instead of something so ridiculous?”

That’s an easy answer: this is RIDICULOUS. Like I said, people LOVE the absurd. If it’s normal or accepted: it’s boring. Since I’ve been at the school I’ve personally been involved in the following:

– Shaved my head to assist in raising over $10,000 for Cancer Research;
– Raising hundreds of dollars each year for the food bank (by shoving pies into the faces of complete strangers);
– Destroying a car to send a peer to Africa to help a developing community;
– Carolling for donations (whether as thank you for the song or to make us stop) to go to United Way.

These definitely aren’t all of them, I can’t be involved with everything. But what attention did these gather? If we’re lucky, a post on Castanet (no down talk to them of course, they do a great job). Frankly, we’d be lucky if word of these things made it as far as Vernon or Penticton.

This is possibly everyone’s favourite argument against the stunt. “The people doing it could have gotten hurt or killed”, “The people who did this are putting the staff and crew for the bridge in danger”.

“hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace”

That’s the first statement in the Code of Ethics for engineers in this province, and it’s something that’s been carved into our minds from day one. Is there a level of danger in what occured? Of course. But what isn’t dangerous these days? How long have you stared at this computer screen – you could be putting your vision in danger. How long have you sat in that chair – your back could be suffering. Did you get into any motor vehicle today – the number of lives lost each year in accidents is disgusting. Heck, did you enjoy some sunshine or breath today – your risk of cancer may have just gone up.

Let’s look at what happened that Monday.
– Boat was discovered;
– Situation was reviewed by staff;
– Media had a hay-day;
– Boat was lowered in 20min;
– It was discover to be stripped down to its fibreglass hull;
– No one was injured;
– I haven’t a clue what they did with the boat.

Could something have gone wrong? Sure, but could you have choked to death on your toothbrush this morning? Why not?

Now here’s what I would think would have happened up to the hanging of the boat. Like I’ve said, I had no hand in this stunt, nor do I actually have any definite information by anyone who did help out. I just know that the people who did it were taught to think and design like myself, and I think I’m a pretty bright guy.
– There’s a time limit, needs to be done quickly but safely;
– Dealing with heights and unknown weather conditions, going to dress appropriately and bring the needed safety gear;
– Very little chance of having any big machinary available, whatever is lifted should be done so by hand;
– Thus it should be light;
– We’re working on a big public asset, there will be no damage to the structure;
– On the same note, the operation of it should not be disrupted;
– Someone is going to have to take this down later;
– Should be simple, not time consuming, and most of all SAFE;

There, that took me two minutes, and I guarentee that those involved put a LOT more time and effort into this. Will someone tear that apart and point out flaws and errors – definitely. But that’s your opinion and I won’t hold you from it.

I’m just going to look at the end product: the boat was hung, the boat was taken down, and no one was hurt during any part of it. Oh ya! People across the country were talking about it. Maybe the designer of the next super-efficient vehicle was swayed into coming to Kelowna. Perhaps people who have never heard of UBCO or Kelowna have considered coming out and seeing this place. Who knows? Perhaps I’m oddly optimistic.

Completely. But why not do something tried time and again? It works. People talk about it. Perhaps the next group who steps up will be a bit more original:
– Car on City Hall?
– Ogopogo crossing the pedestrain overpass at Parkinson?
– All of the City of Kelowna webpages lead to Rick Astley videos on Youtube?
– Downtown Kelowna is all of a sudden host to 800 two inch tall figurines of Dilbert positioned along the sidewalks, each performing one stance in the YMCA (of course placed in a repeating order)

I think I’m about done with this. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but I’m only human. My one last comment is this: It was pretty obvious who did it. And if it was SO dangerous to take down and if we should have been held responsible, why didn’t anyone ask us to come get it? Obviously some of my peers know how it got there and it wouldn’t be too far fetched to believe that we’d figure out how to get it down. Like I said, I have full confidence that the removal of the boat was considered well before it was ever hung. Even if the students who hung it didn’t step up I would gladly be one of the many who wouldn’t give a second thought in helping out.

Mar 15

I’ve recently got myself a new phone. Specifically the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate. This little beauty is running Android 2.1. I’m very happy with it so far and thought I’d make a practice post with my WordPress app. Very simple 🙂

Dec 22

And it’s done! One more term in the books!
Along with that, another round of studying, grinding, cramming and reviewing complete. Not a shabby result this year either. The marks of the first couple exams are starting to trickle in and I’m no less than pleased with them. That said, there’s still three more to wait on.

But of course the end of term and exams means one thing: BREAK!
Winter holidays are a nice way to wrap up the year. Christmas with the family and New Years with my friends (which conveniently also doubles as my birthday).

And once that’s all over it’ll be back to the grind for my last term of school (woo-hoo!)
The BIG focus of this last term is going to be my Capstone project! But I’ll touch on that later.

Enjoy the Holidays in whatever fashion you might!


Dec 22

Okay, after a short technical hiccup I’m back up!

This is the first of what should be my periodic posts about. . . me. First of all, I have to give a big thanks to Steve who has held my hand through the process of getting this webpage up, as well as hosting it for me on his server.

This first post isn’t too exciting. A short summary of what’s happening currently in my life:
– Capstone Project
– Just accepted a job with TRUE Consulting in Kamloops, BC

But details on all these will come later.