Personal Information

What I look like

Hi there! The above picture is of me and my wife Jeannine. We were married July 18, 1992, the Year Without a Summer (in Southern Ontario, at least). We first started dating on June 14, 1986. Our lives have never been the same since... We have 4 sons.
In case anyone is wondering (or cares), I'm 6'1" tall, weigh about 190 lbs, my eyes are hazel (not quite blue or brown), and I wear glasses for nearsightedness. My birthday was September 5, 1966, making me a Virgo by the newspaper definition, but a Leo according to my astronomy program. Yes, the horoscopes are about a month inaccurate!

Personal history

I was born September 5, 1966, in London, Ontario, spent the first 4 years of my life there, moved to Kitchener for 6 years, then returned to London in the summer of 1976. There I stayed through my high school years (at London Central Secondary School) and also through my undergrad at the University of Western Ontario, from which I graduated in June 1989 with an Honours Scholar's Electives BSc, concentrating in Applied Mathematics. My primary interest has always been meteorology, specifically severe storms, so I moved to Toronto in May of 1989 to begin the Master's in Atmospheric Physics program at the University of Toronto. Taking one of the fast-track options (four half-courses and a summer research paper) I got the degree in November 1990, with my research paper being on mesoscale convective complexes. I stayed on for another year trying to get something together for a PhD, but it didn't work out, so I left in April, 1992.

I worked for nearly a year at the Atmospheric Environment Service, helping to modify an upper atmosphere ozone layer chemistry model, and then writing an internal survey paper on non-CO2 greenhouse gases.The government cuts finally caught up to me and I could find no more work there.  I landed a research assistant job at Dalhousie University's Department of Oceanography, where I did some support work for the meteorology group. It was there that we bought 2 kittens, Stormy and Sylvester, and it was Stormy who became the inspiration for the now well-known Bad Kitty List in September, 1993. The response to my first post to rec.pets.cats was overwhelming, and I collected all the responses and kept reposting. The Bad Dog List came into being a couple of months later as an offshoot of Bad Kitty, and the Cat Rules were based upon a posting which turned out to be a copy of Basic Rules for Cats who Have a House to Run, which I much later found to have been written by a Cynthia Whitney.

We returned to Toronto in May of 1994, having realized that our future did not lie in Nova Scotia. The support of my mother's family there made our stay much better than it would otherwise have been, and we wish circumstances (money, time) would allow us to go back soon! I had a job modifying a 2-D climate model for Dr. Danny Harvey in the Geography Department of the University of Toronto for the summer, but leaped at an opportunity to teach the Geography Statistics course in the Fall. It was a lot of hard work, but I enjoyed it and learned almost as much as the students did. The next three months were spent doing research into the Modifiable Area Unit problem for my boss, Carl Amrhein, the Chair of the Geography Department. I also looked for work, but had no luck, and the research was going so well that I was convinced to make an "honest man" of myself and to get into the PhD program, which I did. I have passed my thesis proposal defense, so now all I have to do is get the research done and write the dissertation. Easier said than done, especially with all the distractions around...

In June of 1998 I was awarded my Ph.D. after my successful thesis defence at the end of January. Follow this link to read my thesis. On May 28, 1998 I began work with a small company called Generation 5 Data Modeling and Statistical Analysis Inc as their GIS/mapping "manager" (I got to manage myself!). Our primary purpose was to aid target marketing with our postal code level datasets and segmentation systems. Among the other skills I picked up while there are MapBasic programming and MS-Excel macros.

I was laid off from my job at Generation 5 on May 21, 2008 due to extreme financial duress on their part. I was too expensive, and there wasn't much for me to do to earn my keep. I was unemployed the whole summer, which was a great time to be unemployed (made handling soccer season easier!), but a lousy time to be looking for work. Eventually, at the end of September, I was able to get an interview with Geomedia Inc (not to be confused with the Geomedia that is in France). I impressed them enough that they offered me a job 2 days later, which I gratefully accepted. On October 16, 2008 I started, after 142 days of unemployment. I am a "Senior Analyst and Technology Developer" and have written and introduced a number of MapBasic and Access applications to help reduce the drudgery of the various mapping projects.

As I've always been a computer person, it seemed natural to focus on the Geographical Information Systems concentration. I had to teach myself how to use the MapInfo program so I could turn around and explain it to a planning class, and I've since used my increasing knowledge of GIS principles and practice to give a number of successful seminars introducing GIS and MapInfo to students and alumni of the department, and Geography teacher candidates from the Faculty of Education. If you wish, you can see an HTML-ized copy of my handout.

This Web Site

The Bad Kitty List started in September of 1993 while I was at Dalhousie University. I had just found the rec.pets.cats newsgroup, and was inspired by the destructive antics of my then-kittens Stormy and Sylvester and by the Simpsons to post some things that I would have them write on the black board like Bart does at the start of many of the shows. The response was amazing. Not wanting to lose any of them, I started compiling them and reposting them as the Bad Kitty List. The Bad Dog List followed shortly afterwards.

After returning to Toronto, I was able to set up a Web site on the Geography deparment's computer in September 1994, where it expanded to include lots of the various humour lists, jokes, and other stuff that get shared by e-mail. When I left the department after my PhD in 1998, I had to move the site to Geocities because the bandwidth was slowing down the Geography computer. To my annoyance, Geocities' bandwidth restrictions for free sites made my site unavailable for significant chunks of time, but a contact was able to rescue me by setting up the Badpets.net domain and keeping it going, for the price of my allowing banner ads at the tops of the pages.

Over the years, the site has continued to grow. I have experimented quite a bit with CSS, small scripts and various formats to try to make it more readable and easy to navigate. In case you're wondering, I edit the HTML files with a text editor, with no help from HTML editor programs. A list of awards (all old now) that my site has acquired, plus a list of countries I have been read in and a hit count list can also be viewed.

Interests

Meteorology

The weather has fascinated me since I was a little kid, and for a long time I wanted to be a meteorologist and/or study the atmosphere. Severe storms, summer and winter, but primarily thunderstorms, are what interest me the most, though I also like looking for atmospheric optical phenomena like solar halos and various oddball arcs (I haven't seen any of the arcs, alas). Meteorology data abounds on the net, so here are only a few starting points.
sci.geo.meteorology FAQ list, the very comprehensive source of meteorological information
The Atmospheric Environment Service of Environment Canada
Earthweek, a nice summary of the world's significant meteorological events (as seen in the newspapers).

Geographical Information Systems


FAQ for the comp.infosystems.gis news group.
GIS Resources from Go-Parts.com. Some info and interesting links.
A great source of US demographic (census) and environmental data and information is CIESIN, the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network.

Magazines

The only magazine I subscribe to is Canadian Geographic is, in my humble opinion, well worth reading!

Books and Games

I like to read books whenever I get the chance (which is far too seldom these days!). I read a wide variety of things, with an emphasis on science fiction, nature, and the occasional military "thriller" type book. James Herriot and Gerald Durrell are two of my favourite authors.
I also enjoy the GURPS role-playing game system. Many happy hours have been wasted playing. 8-) Alas, none lately, nor for the foreseeable future either. Sigh.
I also occasionally play Diplomacy. See my Diplomacy section. My chief claim to fame in the "Hobby" is compiling (from various sources sent to me) the Diplomacy A-Z.

Television

Difficult as it is to believe, not all the stuff on the boob tube is drek (of course, this is highly subjective!). Among the few shows I watch regularly are:

Cartoons

Favourites available from the Net include:
Get Fuzzy, Monty, Dilbert, For Better or For Worse. Calvin and Hobbes, Mother Goose and Grimm, and Garfield.

Comics links are here.

This page last updated .