I retired in 2007, after 39 years in user-support services, facility
management, and technology planning for central computing, campus
network, and Internet services at the University
of Waterloo. It was a wonderful place to spend 44 years (the first 5
as a student: BSc 1966, MMath 1968).
Retirement is a FINE way of life. I divide my time between a condo
in Waterloo and a cottage on
Lake Huron in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh
Township. In Ontario's 2006 municipal elections, I became the first
seasonal resident of ACW to run for Council. In 2010, I ran again and
won. I was re-elected in 2014 and was made Deputy Reeve. I ran for
Deputy Reeve in the 2018 elections, and was acclaimed. Council changed
the title from "Reeve" to "Mayor" in 2019, so I am now the Deputy Mayor.
Here is my council blog, and here is
How to reach me
I am rwwatt [at] uwaterloo.ca and I check for mail several times a
day, unless I am in some delightful place where that isn't possible.
What I want to be when I grow up
I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out.
These are a few of my favourite things ...
Self-help books that did
Passages (Gail Sheehy, 1976)
The Truth Option (Will Schutz, 1984)
Campus Networking Strategies (EDUCOM, 1988)
Decks & Patios for Dummies (Robert Beckstrom, 1998)
Run & WIN: a guide to succeeding in municipal elections
(Brian Clarke, 2004)
Sayings, from others
Never attempt to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and
annoys the pig.
(Lazarus Long in Robert Heinlein's Time Enough For Love)
Don't cry because it's over ... smile because it happened.
(Theodor Seuss Geisel [Dr. Seuss])
You can never have too much deck. (cottage friends)
Leaders are visionaries with a poorly-developed sense of fear and no
concept of the odds against them.
Leaders don't create followers ... they create more leaders.
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used
when we created them.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
What you do not measure, you cannot manage.
Document what you do, do what you document.
(the essence of ISO 9001?)
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
(Harrison's Postulate to Murphy's Law)
Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
(Suzette Haden Elgin)
The nearest thing to heaven is a child.
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is
better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And
we'll change the world.
(Jack Layton, last letter to Canadians)
Grandchildren are proof that grandparents should have the right to
Hugs cure damned near everything.
Be forceful about what you want. Be gracious about what you
There are two keys to success: read everything, and remember
Gift horses have two ends.
Communication is the art of handing out bullets. (They're going to
shoot at you no matter what you do, so make sure they're using the right
ammunition -- be shot at for doing what you believe is
Right is might. You can't solve all the problems. Pick
one. Pick the right one.
All's well that ends.
Value vision and decisiveness. Condemn complexity. Remember
compliments, forget insults. Disagree without being disagreeable. Motivate
others to greatness. Retire early.
What I am doing with my time
Sue and I are blessed with two daughters, two sons-in-law, two
granddaughters, and a grandson, all with quick minds and kind hearts.
In the 2006 municipal election, I became the first seasonal
resident to run for Councillor in ACW. I ran again in 2010 and won. In
2014, I was re-elected and appointed Deputy Reeve, which also made me a
member of Huron County Council. I ran for Deputy Reeve in the 2018
election, and was acclaimed. Here is my campaign blog.
My resume contains a full list of the
groups and organizations in which I am (or have been) involved in the
lakefront community, the Township, and the County.
I worry about the impact of noise and low-frequency vibration from
industrial-sized wind turbines. The Kingsbridge I project in ACW
Township has 22 1.8mw turbines, the K2 Wind project has 140 1.8-2.3mw
turbines, and there is always the possibility of the province approving
additional projects. Here are the concerns I
expressed to ACW Council some years ago. I also submitted this article
Bad Vibrations -- Where's the Science?
to Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights website in response to the
Ministry of the Environment's
Regulation 359/09. I believe the setbacks allow turbines to be too
close to homes by a factor of four.
As a Councillor in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, I authored a resolution that Council
passed calling on the province to impose a moratorium on wind-engery
facilities until proper scientific research has determined setbacks that
will guarantee that the health and well-being of all people and animals
are protected from any negative effects of being in proximity to those
I also represented ACW Council on a Huron County committee to
investigate actions that might be taken against problems caused by
low-frequency noise. I assembled a collection of notes that I submitted to the LFN Committee. However,
County Council terminated the committee before it had time to present a
final report; a majority of them were content with the province's position
that there is no proven scientific evidence of a health-impact case
against wind farms. I don't agree; as Carl Sagan said, "Absence of
evidence is not evidence of absence".
On 2011-12-16, MOE released Low
Frequency Noise and Infrasound Associated With Wind Turbine Generator
Systems: A Literature Review, a report it had commissioned some yeers
before and had had in its possession since before the 2011-10-06 election
was called. The
press release states that the review analyzed the latest findings on
low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines and concluded there
is no direct health risk from wind-turbine sound at Ontario's regulated
setback distance. I think the "no direct health risk" wording is
intentionally misleading. The report cites other reports showing that
low-frequency emissions are highly annoying to a non-trivial percentage of
the population, and that this on-going annoyance increases stress that can
lead to serious health-related impacts. The report also makes favourable
comments about Denmark's low-frequency regulation, which is based on
summing the sound-power levels at 13 frequencies from 10 hz to 160 hz. For
details on these aspects, read "Jurisdictional Review" on page 31,
"Conclusions" 5 and 6 on page 39, and "Recommendations" 2 and 3 on page
41. I believe that the government should incorporate low-frequency limits
into Regulation 359/09, and that, until independent health-impact research
proves some other measurement to be more precise, it should do so using
Here are my favourite recipies. Some I found
in books, and others were acquired from friends. Over the years, I have
adapted them to suit my own I-like-hot-and-spicy tastes.
I'm always trying to learn and improve. I was a member of the Canadian Tai Chi Academy
until the local branch disbanded, after which I eventually joined the
local branch of the Taoist Tai Chi
I think I started back around 1997. I remember that I took "beginner"
classes at least three times, and that it took me at least the first four
years of "continuing" progams to "burn in" the sequence of the full
108-moves set. I also learned a 32-move sword set (which I liked but have
since forgotten), plus a little of Qigong (I like it) and the first 30
moves of the Lokhup set (it didn't much appeal to me).
In 2012, I began learning a 53-move sword set (I love it, but I still
get lost when I do it on my own). Some day, I also want to learn a
short-staff set, and perhaps a sabre set.
When I was nine, my mother gave me her 1931 Kodak "Rainbow Hawkeye 2A
Model B" box camera (it still works, if you could find 116 roll film).
That was the start of a passion with film that progressed through a
Brownie StarFlash, a Minolta A4, a Zenit E, 30 years with a Minolta X700
and Tokina lens (17,35-200,500), and a brief fling with a medium-format
Mamiya 645. Some day I intend to tackle 40 years of aging slides with my
Epson 3170 scanner.
I abandoned film in 2004 and "downsized" to a digital 35-420mm
Panasonic DMC-FZ10. In 2009, I entered the DSLR world with a Canon 500D
and lenses (18-55,55-250). In 2013, I became intrigued by small devices
that have a built-in camera ... first with a BlackBerry Playbook, and
then an iPad Mini; they're okay if you can clamp them in a vise.
Here are some of my favourite pictures (those with *s are
I retired in 2007, after 44 years at the University of Waterloo (5
getting BSc and MMath degrees, and 39 managing computing, campus network,
and Internet systems and services). In 2008, I was made an Honorary Member of the University. Here is a profile that appeared in the Summer 2009 issue
of WATtimes, the newsletter of the UW Retirees Association.
Work isn't work if it's fun. When I was 21, the wife of a mentor read
my palm and told me I was going to be a writer. I'm glad I took Typing in
Grades 9&10, because I've had a keyboard in front of me almost every
day since 1966. Things I have enjoyed the most, most of the
Researching new technology.
Designing organizational structures and career-path job
Building organizations that build and manage networks.
Writing code to summarize mountains of data into predictive
Developing and maintaining websites.
My philosophy on infrastructure planning
Develop an end-point vision of the direction in which technology is
moving, as far into the future as you can comfortably predict.
Do not spend money on things that do not move in that direction.
Move forward in steps large enough to provide immediate benefits that
improve the environment for one or more subsets of the community.
Select products that are in the early part of their life cycle.
Prefer standards-based products that have achieved dominance in the "open