Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Where I am in My Life Right Now, How I Got Here, and What I'm Doing

Bonjour, hello, gute(n) Morgen, Tag, Nacht! Welcome to Embrace Space, the only blog out there that is this one! Today's post is going to answer those questions in the title, update you, and allow some reflection on my life's journey. While that probably sounds like the most pretentious thing you've read today, I think you may find it interesting.

Note: Upon completion, I realized this was one of my longer blog posts, so take your time, come back in multiple readings, grab a coffee, whatever you need.

First, I want to acknowledge a seeming gap between this blog's content, and its title. The blog is called Embrace Space, one which started under the premise of sharing space-related things. However, life events and reflection are generally easier to write about, more interesting to absorb visually (travel pictures and such), and also, it can be difficult to say too much outside of my work environment.

However, I will point your attention to some articles I have written in the past few months, which are all about my assessment on certain space industry-related topics:

Turning up the Volume in EO Imagery
Earth Observation: Analytics-as-a-Service

EO Constellations: Virtual or Reality?

For more such updates, feel free to either subscribe to all Bottom Line article posts through NSR's website, or follow me on LinkedIn and/or my work Twitter.

If you know me at all, you know that I tend to be very careful with my opinions and analysis. Thus, while it might be more interesting to write about my opinion concerning SpaceX's launch/landing, and other such topics, I prefer to concentrate on more researched efforts and present them as such. If you're curious about other space matters, do feel free to contact me, and I will either answer your questions as best I can, or direct you to someone currently working/researching in that field!

So, most of my recent space-related thought-efforts have been in the form of those Bottom Line articles. Do I plan to stop writing about space here? Of course not, but I have to make sure that I have enough interest and experience in the matter, and that you, my readers, have enough interest to make it worth the time and effort. If you have suggestions, let me know, and I'll continue working on some ideas of my own.

Okay, next, let's dive into those questions.

Where I am in My Life Right Now


Well, funny enough, answering that question in its most literal sense will be a little challenging. For one, I do not know when you'll be reading this, and secondly, the next month or so involves more movement than the ones prior.

Currently, I am in eastern France, in my apartment. I am enjoying an afternoon of work mixed with pursuit of creative projects (such as this blog), and enjoying the fact that my girlfriend is here too, working away on her new computer.

Later this week, I will be in Paris for one night, then flying to Washington, DC, through New York, on my way to the Satellite 2018 conference. There, for a few, very intense days, I will be interacting with leaders in the satellite communications industry, while also spending time with my colleagues. All of the work done for my company is done remotely, so our analysts live all over the world, and Satellite is the one time a year when we are all together.

After that, I'll be in Canada, bouncing back and forth between visiting friends and family, then back to France! It will be a busy, fun-filled month! Sadly, my girlfriend is not able to come with me. Her job isn't done remotely, and she wasn't able to accommodate much time off. That will be tough, but we've been through worse (try 7 and 8 months apart!), and I'll be doing my best to keep everyone happy and connected. Plus, I'll likely bring her back some souvenirs!


No no, this blog has not taken a risqué (albeit spicy) turn, but I could not get very far in life, nor this blog, without acknowledging my girlfriend. Trouble is, anything that I feel comfortable sharing also sounds like lyrics to oh too many songs. Let me just try to cut to the heart of the matter; my girlfriend is absolutely amazing. She is such a fantastic and beautiful person that I find myself admiring her in new and deeper ways each day. I do not know how I was lucky enough to share her life, and there are many days when I cannot understand how I deserve her, but what we have is unique, complex, and forever. More practically speaking, it is amazing the confidence and content fulfillment she can inspire within me, and while I consider myself always on a journey toward perfection, I always find myself chasing her example.


Career-wise, I have been with NSR for two years, working hard, learning a lot, and really relishing the challenges and opportunities presented to me. The two most satisfying things about this is both the feeling of productivity and progress I am making with my career, and the financial security that comes from it.

Financial security is still a fairly new concept for me. If you're a European reader, you may not fully appreciate the crushing weight of student debt. While I was fortunate enough to receive loans from the Canadian government to cover my education costs, paying it back is still a tremendous responsibility. Before working with NSR, every single dollar I earned went straight to loan payments, and most months I barely broke even. I have talked about this here before, but let's just say that it is very comforting and rewarding to move from debt-crisis to debt-management.

Moving past that, I have slowly begun learning how to spend money on myself. I know, it may sound strange, but spending money on myself has been a difficult, if not impossible, thing for me in the past. Now, as I attend more conferences, lean more into European fashion, and grow older, I feel the drive to improve my life in simple, yet sometimes materialistic ways. However, old habits die hard and I sometimes have to convince myself that it's okay to purchase something, that I can afford it, and that I deserve it. 

I'm sure most of you are like this, and can completely relate. "Do I deserve to buy ___? No, I'll get it later, next time" or "I don't really need it." It's a good habit to have, useless spending is part of a larger problem faced in the world today, but sometimes, this habit is needlessly crippling.

A great example of this can be found here, in this Twitter thread I wrote about finally feeling worthy enough to buy several pairs of shoes for myself.

So, now, I've begun accepting that I both have the ability and maybe the worth, to spend some money on myself.

Beyond that, it is also such a joy, a comfort, to be able to spend money when it is needed. That may sound silly, who wants to spend money, especially for some emergency, but being able to say, "It's okay, we can afford this" or "It's okay, I can cover you if you need it", it's an incredible feeling and not only puts me at ease, but those around me. I'm not saying to drop comments looking for a loan, but it is comforting that I can think ahead, not just living paycheque to paycheque.


I continue to look outward and elsewhere. I mentioned before that I am looking for ways to support others. Not just friends and family, but the work of talented people I respect, as well as my community. There are a number of ways to support talented people, and I am still on the fence about using them. Patreon, Kickstarter, very useful, but it is still tough for me to dedicate a portion of my monthly finances to such talent. The leading feeling is to isolate myself until I pay off all of my debts. It is a reasonable action to take. However, I feel like much of life is assumed to be stepping stones, when it is more like juggling on an escalator. So, I need to work out some long-term plans regarding my life, especially as it concerns being a Canadian, living in France. Once I do, and once I better understand how the taxes and such will play out, I think I will begin trying to help others more.

Regarding community involvement, it's tough. I'm trying to find ways I can help my local community, but there are a lot of directions this could take, and a lot of people willing to take advantage of my ignorance here. The language is a bit of a problem, I'm getting better, but it does limit me. More than that, is the need to have knowledge of the practices of the community involvement, in order to know that my efforts are truly going to help those in need. It is something I'm continuing to research and try to make time for, but it can be difficult.

Next, let's move away from such serious conversation, and talk about, well, conversation.

Creatively and Linguistically

How is my French? Short's okay. The trouble is, my girlfriend and I converse almost entirely in English, and my work is in English, and at the end of a long day, I do not feel like "working" by trying to learn French. It's a tough cycle to break, but I'm working on it. I have some textbooks, I watch French TV with subtitles when I can, and I make efforts. I know the easiest thing would be to have my girlfriend speak to me only in French, but the difficulties in my following make that tiring and frustrating as well, at times. So, it's a work in progress. Truth is, I can get around, I can say what needs to be said, with some nuance, but I have a confidence in English that I do not in French and until I am there, I will not be satisfied.

I would love to write these blogs in French as well as English. Open things up to a wider audience. However, it's not a simple manner of translation. It would require an entire re-work of the text, especially for those times when I would be told, "We (the French) do not say things this way." Thinking in French is still something I'm learning to do.

I recently found a new way to practice my French, by playing video games! If you follow me on Twitter, you likely know that I am a very big fan of the Destiny franchise, the first-person shooting game from Bungie, the makers of Halo. It's a fun game with an exciting universe and I have enjoyed the game so much that I made my own YouTube channel about it. The channel is called Embrace Destiny and I've been uploading videos at a pace of one/week. 

I have been enjoying the craft of editing video and audio from my gameplay and commentary into something unique and interesting, and happy to see my subscriber list slowly grow (yay 22!). I meant to cover my motivations here in another post, and perhaps I will expand there, but I'll talk a little about it now.

Embrace Destiny is a place that offers fun, inclusive, and (hopefully) interesting content, especially aimed at those who like the Destiny games. There is an ample community of streamers and YouTubers available for this franchise, and I am not looking to compete, but just offer a refuge, a unique voice, a place where responsible and interesting people can come hang out. Now, it may sound weird to talk about a video game YouTube channel so seriously, but if you look too closely, you will see so much negativity out there that it is necessary to combat it with overly present positivity.

I take the same kind of direction with my channel as I do here. I do not post every day, but when I do, I try to make it uniquely interesting. Often, it's just recounting current events (in the development life cycle of the game), but sometimes I provide commentary and analysis. When I play my games live on Twitch, the tone is less regulated, just a place to play and have fun. Sometimes, I talk about non-Destiny-related things, such as my commentary on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch, featuring Destiny gameplay in the background. While I mentioned earlier that I haven't commented on that much here, I think you can see that it is easier to quickly and casually comment on something like this in a YouTube video, rather than in writing which I hold to a higher standard.

It can be tough to maintain a schedule, and I am aware that my production value on my videos is likely much lower than the community average, but I have good reasons. I am teaching myself how to edit audio and video as I go, but I am unwilling to spend too much time/money on the process. Additionally, life can be unpredictable so while a consistent schedule would be nice, it's not always possible. If you play the game, or are interested in learning more, come hang out!

As I mentioned, I have begun speaking French more through video games. Recently, I tried my best to reach out to people in the game around me, in order to find more people willing to hang out and have fun. Because I am in France, the majority of the people around me spoke English as a second or third language, so it was a fun, interesting challenge to describe gameplay mechanics in French!


Answering the above big question socially, things have been a bit difficult lately, and I sense it is because I am making a transition in my life.

Most of my friends live in Canada, and the time zone difference, our busy lives, and the general difficulties most people have in long-distance communication sometimes make the Atlantic Ocean seem even bigger. It has been an ongoing problem for me, even before I moved away, as I find myself more willing/able to write and message and connect with others, than they with me.

Now, I do my best to understand, but it can be frustrating to always be the one initiating conversation. I have not seen most of my friends in over a year, and many of whom have barely said more than two sentences to me on social media or in any other form in all of that time. 

I used to take this fairly personally. I did not understand how anyone could ignore a blinking notification message, or an unread email. Or when an email/message was read, I could not understand the delay in responding. To be honest, I still struggle with these ideas. I work to be very prompt with communication, both in and out of work. I have no unread emails or messages of any kind. When I get a message that requires a response, it is replied to as soon as possible; maybe not immediately, but as soon as I make the time to answer fully.

Most people are not like this. I know that now. Some people are generally terrible at it, but there are ways around it. Example, one friend of mine is almost completely inaccessible except by phone, or, weirdly enough, Snapchat. I will sometimes send him a picture of my frowning face with the text, "Check Facebook", to make sure he sees my messages. Some days it can be tiring to use such methods, but I'm glad they exist.

Much of my contentment, socially, has been at an impasse this past year. With most of my friends so far away, and Skype calls and messages so far between, I have often felt frustration with those back in Canada. Even while I'm making excuses for them, trying to better understand the delay or the lack, I have sometimes become more frustrated with them as a result.

In the end, I know that it is no one's fault, not really. I know that communication works both ways, and I know that I am super particular and attentive to messages, whereas others are not. I have learned in this past year to just let it go, move forward. That is not to say that I am moving on from my friends, but rather I am moving on from allowing their attention, or lack thereof, to define my happiness. I am going to treat my relationship with many of my friends like how most of us treat our cousins. We love them, we don't see them often, but when we do, we smile and have a great time. No more feeling disconnected. I have begun to channel my energies elsewhere, but still save a place for them when I see them. I'm going back to Canada later this month, and I am very excited to see my friends and family!


Finally, we're going to talk about social media, just a little more. If you're like me, I'm sure you have seen a growing amount of unpleasing content on social media. Opinions, arguments, just all kinds of things that are usually best left to be scrolled past.

For me, Facebook has become very difficult to enjoy, as a platform. While it is my primary place to connect with friends and family, I find myself seeing fewer updates, and more opinions dressed as fact, and fewer opinions with which I can agree. This is obviously a larger issue, affecting many, but I will focus it here, on my experience.

Now, I do not want nor expect everyone to agree with me. I am not infallible and if everyone were like me, life would be boring and have very specific misconceptions, I'm sure. I invite discourse, and debate, but there are some things that make scrolling on Facebook almost painful. I have seen it everywhere; close friends, close family, there is a division that I feel and it makes it more difficult to speak with them, even notwithstanding the communication issues I mentioned above.

It had gotten to the point where I found myself not going on Facebook for some time, and I started "hiding" content that people were sharing. Now, you might ask, "Why not just unfriend them?" Well, three reasons: 1) Facebook might be my main/only way of connecting with them. If I unfriend them, they'll never be in my life at all, 2) People are a spectrum so while they may post 1 thing I really don't like, that doesn't necessarily disqualify them as a person I want in my life 3) I think it is necessary to hear opinions I do not share, to better myself and improve my knowledge on the issues.

Now, I have no problem with a person having an opinion different than mine, even an opinion whose perspective, I feel, is wrong. I do have a problem with opinions stated as fact, I take issue with people unwilling to properly debate their point, and the existence of some opinions are very difficult for me to accept. Speaking more to that last point, I just mean that some opinions are so strong, and counter what I believe or know so much, that I feel compelled to question them.

Recently, I have begun to do just that: Ask questions. I try to be a very logical person. I try to accept my fallibility and my limited perspective, and I almost never react emotionally. Blame my respect for fictional characters like Spock and Data, from Star Trek, but I do my best to ingest information and never react in an illogical manner.

So, when I see opinions I do not like, understand, or agree with, my first response is to ask questions. What do you mean? How so? Why do you believe this? Where are you getting your information?

I have had some confrontations with people online recently, which is great, honestly, discourse is healthy. I know that neither my efforts, nor this post, will effectively "solve" anything, but efforts like this help, I believe, to create a more positive world around us.

My questions, I can tell, are rather annoying. When you believe something, and believe it to be so present and persistent that it is upsetting you, it is very hard to understand how someone can be blind to it. Worse yet, my ignorance of these issues could be part of what is upsetting them in the first place.

Next, it is easy to misread tone. When I question you, you can think either "Oh, he wants more information", or, "He's challenging me." I have had to point out several times already that I was not stating an opinion, nor a fact, I was merely trying to better understand exactly what was being said, and argued about.

Altruistically, this is to better my knowledge and perspective on the issue, but I do have to admit, asking questions is also a key strategy in breaking down an opinion I do not fancy. It is the Socratic method, and one I use most consistently.

I also have to admit that my privilege allows me to escape a lot of the stress and frustration over these issues, these opinions. I am physically removed from a nation undergoing massive societal and political frustration, and since I work from home, I rarely encounter day-to-day issues, not even frustration over a rude grocer. So, I have been able to "afford" to not speak out on many things, and I do not really have the "right" to step in on other topics, but I have begun speaking out more, questioning statements, when I can.

As I've said, I know I will not fix anything, but perhaps I can slowly help encourage dialogue, exchange and broaden perspectives, and in the most impolite sense, perhaps I can stop people from acting in a way I find to be foolish. Opinions are not facts, and facts are statements which are empirically true, which can be proven, time and again. On top of that, while I may be heavily accused of being a liberal, a blind progressive, or some such, I will say that I hold many things of value, but I will not abide intolerance, willful ignorance, inciting aggression, racism, or sexism. I know it is easy to be angry at certain people, and I know that while everyone deserves a chance, many make us lose faith in giving that chance. I also have gained an interesting perspective by living over here in Europe, and I think a broad perspective is sometimes lacking, yet necessary, in many online debates.

I know that many of the people I have and will confront will not believe me, but I want it known that I am not attacking anyone. My questions, my debate, it is not there to belittle a person. A statement a friend of mine shares all the time is, "You are not your ideas." Yes, it can be difficult when something you agree with, believe in, is questioned, and yes that difficulty often feels as if it spills over to an attack on oneself, but people can change, and beliefs should be stronger than that.

Many people do not have that disassociation, and even I in my most Spock-like devotion, can be guilty of it. Oh, you didn't like the newest Star Wars? Oh, you've never seen Star Trek? Well, since I like those things, you must both not like me and think I'm dumb. But, obviously that is not (usually) the case. So, while I have argued with extended family, I still look forward to seeing them. But, I understand if they'd rather not. Socrates is not for everyone.


Well, that is an extremely long post, one of those most verbose I've composed in a long time. Let's try to wrap this up so you can get on with your day.

Where am I in My Life Right Now? France, sometimes Canada, working hard to provide a good life for myself and those around me, and very grateful for the opportunities and privileges I have in my life.

How did I Get Here? Hard work, lots of support, lots of luck, did I mention support? And persistence.

What I'm Doing? You can catch all the links to my relevant work on the left, or on my Twitter profile on the right. Besides work, I am occasionally making a podcast with friends, making video game videos on YouTube, and I've begun trying to help my community, as well as taking a firmer stance on #FakeNews.

I want to thank you all, again, very, very much for reading this article. I know it was long, I know it was seemingly all over the place, perhaps a little personal and/or controversial, jumping from topic to topic without interruption, Still, I had many things I needed to say, and I feel much better now that it is all written here. If you have any comments, feedback, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave them below, or email me from the address above.

Stay tuned to my Twitter account for more quick updates on my trip to Washington, DC, and Canada, and hopefully my next blog post will be full of pictures! (And not so much text!) Anyway, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I hope all is well. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you back, hopefully, in a month or so!

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