Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Life in Twenty-Twelve

A summary of my life in 2012...

Time is a mysterious thing. At times,  memories created years ago are as if they occurred yesterday. At other times, events from mere months or even weeks before seem ages apart.

Since I started this blog, my Life in Twenty-Ten and Life in Twenty-Eleven posts have not only served as something for me to write about, but have also allowed me the opportunity to look back upon the passed year, and reflect on instances that are now memories. So, without further ado, let me step back into time...

January: The New Year started off with a continuation of my search for suitable accommodation for the Winter 2012 Co-op work term.

2012, Day 2 © Osama Sidat

On January 3, 2012, I joined Loblaw Inc. as the SAP Organizational Change Management Co-op Integration Analyst. The first day was basically an orientation about Loblaw in general and its SAP program in particular, an introduction to a few individuals, followed by a short tour of the building. We (that is myself and the other co-ops) were provided with the laptops we would be using, and were asked to initiate the setup of our email accounts, plus other related "stuff". Meanwhile, I waited for my boss to "collect" me and provide further instructions.

The rest of the day went by pretty rapidly; met my boss, had lunch and conversation with him (trying to get a feel for what it was that I would be doing). He showed me to my desk, provided me with relevant documents and showed me a few things that I could work on.

My assigned desk wasn't exactly permanent (and it was separate from the rest of my team), so I spent the next few weeks switching seats, in order to be closest to the people I would be working with. Some may have found this to be an annoyance; I actually enjoyed it as it prevented monotony from creeping up and also gave me the opportunity to interact various people in the team.

I was assigned a few daily/weekly tasks (nothing that caused any grief). I spent the month mostly tinkering with Excel VBA and investigating ways to automate the data analysis processes from surveys.

Starting from my third week, I was assigned as a tester/guide/overwatch for an Access developer, who was called in for a short term contract to fix a database tool that we used...

I was able to find a room a short bus ride away from my workplace. Best part about the place? There was a cat!

Am the Cat © Osama Sidat

My Street in Brampton © Osama Sidat

February: By this time, I started liking work life a whole lot better than university life. The best part about it was not having to worry about work after getting back home. Another thing about it was the sense of accomplishment after successfully completing a task or side project... something that is absent from most university assignments/exams.

By the end of the month, the developer had left. The question of whether the goals of the contract were completed remain debatable to this day. In any case, my previous experience with Access helped me assume administrative responsibilities of the database (along with the responsibility of "fixing" the "fixes"!)

I found that a co-op term is a pretty good time to experiment with photography projects that had been on the back-burner, such as this:

Water in Glass © Osama Sidat

Visited the Toronto AUTO Show - quite an awesome experience! Would definitely try to check out the show whenever it happens next (equipped with more camera gear, of course!).

A Piece of History © Osama Sidat

March: Sometime during March, some of my colleagues started calling me "The Overlord". I have no idea what triggered it (I'd love to know!).

A couple of my cooking experiments from then:

Chicken & Mushroom Spaghetti © Osama Sidat

Pasta with Ground Beef © Osama Sidat

April: Couldn't believe that the co-op term had reached its final month! Started the preparations for the return to Waterloo...

Meanwhile, Ludwig dropped by for a visit. Who's Ludwig? This gorgeous fellow:

Ludwig © Osama Sidat

The term concluded on a happy note, with a great evaluation from my boss. I also signed up to come back in Fall 2012 (at this point in time, I wasn't exactly sure about continuing with Actuarial Science, my original career path since I started off at Waterloo).

My work term ended on Friday, April 27, 2012. Packed up my room overnight and moved to Waterloo over the weekend.

May: The school term started off on May 3. Had little time to get my bearings straight.

In Spring 2012, I took up Intro to Actuarial Mathematics, Intro to Combinatorics & Optimization, Linear Algebra II, as well as two Computer Science courses, Logic & Computation and Object-Oriented Software Development.

My schedule during the term was fairly spread out. Really busy Mondays, fairly busy Wednesdays and Fridays, really busy Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Rather challenging weekly or fortnightly assignments, as one should expect at the end of the second year.

Won myself a delayed birthday present... an HTC One S from Techvibes! Embarked on a Project 365 using the phone soon after.

HTC One S © Osama Sidat

June: By mid-June, midterms were under way. Most of them were pretty challenging, but none more so than Linear Algebra. Despite being in class for every single minute of the lectures, the material seemed totally foreign to me. Ended up dropping the course to avoid further damage.

I finally made the decision to switch from Actuarial Science to Computer Science. My interest in ActSci was declining rapidly, whereas I found CS fun and enjoyable. In the end, the decision was logical, and in my head, the right path to follow.

Towards the end of June, FEDS Waterloo arranged a visit to Canada's Wonderland. What a thrilling experience!

Me at Wonderland © Osama Sidat

My first ride: The Leviathan, a roller coaster, which has a highest drop of 306 ft. and a maximum speed of 148 km/h. Everything else seemed tame after that...

Leviathan - The First Climb © Osama Sidat

July: Spent Canada Day in Waterloo - witnessed a pretty impressive fireworks show over Columbia Lake.

Over Columbia Lake © Osama Sidat

The rest of July was spent pursuing the end-of-term CS project along with the preparation for exams. This also marked the first Ramadan I actively spent in Waterloo - a completely different Ramadan from the ones I've experienced all my life.

August: The exam frenzy started off... Looking back now, given the way the exams went, I feel lucky that I was able to clear 'em.

My 5-year Sony Alpha was showing signs of aging. Instead of continuing with a new camera from the Alpha line, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to downsize, by switching systems. After a few months of research and comparison between the Sony NEX and the Micro Four Thirds Systems, I decided to go with the latter, starting off with the Olympus OMD E-M5 as the camera. Based on the system-building lessons learnt over the past five years, I am now able to start afresh, taking a slightly different approach by focusing on quality rather than quantity of gear. So far, any cons of switching systems have been overshadowed by the pros.

Since term ended early and I wasn't due to start work until September 4, I moved all my stuff to Brampton as soon as the exams ended and then flew back home to spend Eid with family. Had quite a long flight (via Lahore) but it was definitely worth it.

Home © Osama Sidat

Watched The Dark Knight Rises... an awesome and deserving finale to the trilogy...

September: Flew back to Canada on the 2nd... the troubles I had at the Karachi Airport this time round made me seriously doubt the wisdom of flying with PIA in the future. Moved into the familiar accommodation from last term and returned to Loblaw as the Overlord OCM Integration Analyst - for a second time.

It was nice to see Am again - no Ludwig, since he had gone back to whoever owned him.

The Majestic © Osama Sidat

Earlier, my role was quite small. However, since we were in a major phase of the program, my role inherited (according to my observation) around three times as many responsibilities - not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to my boss, I was able to keep my working hours in check, would've definitely gone overboard had it not been for his reminders.

October & November: Nothing of much significance, other than routine work, and a bit of photography here and there. Oh, and I got my G2 driving license - street legal now!

Square One Mall, Mississauga © Osama Sidat

A Gaggle of Geese, Fletcher's Creek, Brampton © Osama Sidat

December: Started wrapping up my projects, since I was getting a week off at the end of my scheduled co-op term. Handover of responsibilities was smooth (or as smooth as can be).

On my last day, my team presented me with a fitting poster - something that should definitely be up here, part of this post. Unfortunately, to date, I have not been able to get a scan of it... I'll definitely put it here sometime soon.

A shout of thanks to all the people I worked with, especially my team and particularly my boss. My great experience at work wouldn't have been the same without all of your contribution, and your roles in the initial stages of my career shall never be forgotten.

Now: spending the holidays peacefully (read: lazily), until I jump into the fight again, 7 days from today.

The Sight I Wake Up To! © Osama Sidat

Looking back now, I have a feeling that this year was an important one. Not that any year was/is unimportant... it just feels that this year was a tad bit more...

Just like last year, I'll end this year with the following prayer:

Dear Allah, 
On This New Year, And The Years To Come,
Grant Us The Serenity,
To Accept The Things We Cannot Change;
The Courage, To Change The Things We Can;
And The Wisdom, To Know The Difference.


  1. May Allah continue to help you in all phases of your life with success and dignity.

    On a side note, you totally forgot to mention a major change in your life in 2012... ; )) From the Alpha A100 to the OM-D E-M5 ;).

    Love you.

  2. My dear baita janoo may Allah always keep you on the right path and fullfil all your dreams.tons of love and duas amma