Jeff Powell
5 min readApr 22


Greetings everyone, and welcome back.

Do you recall the movie Groundhog Day? That’s what it feels like at the moment. The photo above is a typical view of North Vancouver from the SeaBus as we cross Burrard Inlet. Five days a week I see that view: cloudy skies, possible rain, the city receding into the distance. The occasional sunny morning is a glorious change.

But the interesting thing in my mind is that sense of repetition.

Each morning I get up at about 6 am, get dressed, put my stuff together, and catch the 214 bus to Phibbs exchange. There I transfer to the R2 bus, which takes me to the Seabus terminal in North Vancouver. The Seabus ferries me across the harbour to Vancouver. After a short walk through Waterfront Station I transfer to the Canada Line — part of the local SkyTrain system — which takes me to 49th Avenue and Cambie Street. From there I might catch the 49 bus (if I am lucky) or I might just walk the few blocks to campus.

Total travel time: 75 minutes.

After arriving I get breakfast in the cafeteria and go up to the Makerspace to eat. Then I power up all the computers we might need, unlock some tools, and generally put the place in order. Finally I open the doors and sit down in front of my computer to pull up the to-do list while I wait for the first interruption. We’re supposed to open at 8:30, but I usually open up at 8 because I can.

From then until about 3:30 pm the days don’t quite match anymore, but they are similar. Students might come in with questions or things they need to get done, but that has mostly stopped now that classes are over. Philip — the person in charge — has a number of students working for him on various projects. They still show up despite classes being done — because they’re being paid — but that’s about to stop. They have limits on how many hours they can work per term, and those limits are being hit.

Sometimes we get visits from other staff members and/or instructors. Those always come with conversation and questions.

The to-do list that Philip and I have built has many entries relating to fixing things that either don’t work, or that need a little TLC. Other entries relate to figuring out the hardware we have so I can explain it to others. Mostly I am fixing things for now, and I spend the day working on whatever makes sense in that regard. At the moment those things include:

  • Testing a new lens in our big laser cutter, to see if it helps it cut more effectively.
  • Finding new software to drive both our laser cutters, for complicated reasons that aren’t worth going into here.
  • Getting a tech from the company that makes the big laser cutter to come out and fix a couple of things, as well as tune up the machine.
  • Understanding why the small laser cutter sometimes misbehaves, essentially at random. This might also result in a maintenance visit once we understand it better.
  • Patching holes on the desktops in the room we work in. (I’ll probably start pouring resin next week.)
  • Trying to get a new 3D printer fixed. It was DOA.
  • Reworking the ventilation on the big laser cutter to make it more efficient.

And of course there are numerous other issues. The list is long, but nothing is particularly critical right now. A couple of weeks ago when we had dozens of students needing the laser cutters each week, things were different. We were busier and the work was focused on people. Now it’s focused on things.

Anyway, the day goes by. I get lunch around noon, and at 3:30 I start thinking about closing up. I power down all the equipment we don’t leave running overnight, lock up some of the valuable stuff, and put things away. At 4 pm I lock the doors and head home.

The afternoon commute is the exact reverse of the way in, but it always takes at least 90 minutes to get home. Traffic can make it worse. This past Thursday there was an accident on the Second Narrows bridge which completely snarled traffic on the North Shore. The R2 was 35 minutes late by the time it got to Phibbs exchange, and the commute home was two hours long as a result.

But that is not a complaint. I could shorten my commute times quite a bit on average if I drove to work, but I dislike that idea for environmental, social, and economic reasons. It’s my choice, and I’d rather not drive.

Once at home we eat dinner and I deal with any urgent email that has come in over the day. Mostly that’s related to the community association. Assuming that doesn’t take too long, Anne and I watch a movie and go to bed.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The weekends are — as I’ve said before — spent doing all the stuff that doesn’t happen during the week. One of those things is writing these posts, which I still enjoy doing.

Such an exciting life, don’t you think? That sense of repetition is very real, and I’m still coming to grips with it.

In other news, I got almost no reaction to the Oort Cloud art last week. C’mon… geeky word art? Surely some of you had to appreciate it?

But along those lines, I have a confession. The word lists I used were not good enough. It turns out I missed the very obvious “more” buttons on the website giving me words containing ORT and OORT. Anne looked over my shoulder at one point and said something like “Try pressing the ‘more’ button.” Boy do I feel dumb.

I’m working on a major revision of the Oort Cloud as a result of her being both smarter and more observant than I am. I’ll share it with you when it is done.

And with that I need to wrap it up for this time. I have a lot of work to do on the next issue of the Blueridge Bulletin, and more than a few other chores left as well.

Please take care and keep safe!



Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.