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It is often said that red Smarties should be kept for last because they are the best. Although I have argued on many occasions that blue Smarties are much superior in taste and appearance to red ones, I cannot dispute the fact that acknowledgements are definitely the best part of writing a thesis. So, I wrote them last.

My years in Victoria were enriched by so many people. They helped me grow both as a person and as a scientist. My apologies for not mentioning everyone. I just did not want these acknowledgements to sound like Oscars' night.

I do not know how to thank my supervisor, Chris Pritchet. How can you thank someone for showing you what kind of scientist you want to be? Chris is an outstanding researcher, but he remained a ``normal'' person. His broad range of interests outside of astronomy has convinced me not to be afraid to follow my own interests. Chris was always there to answer my questions, and I will always keep fond memories of the discussions we have had together. I will not rest until I find out how he managed to break the law of momentum conservation every time we played pool at Hale Pohaku.

I would like to thank my parents, Lise and Pierre, for their constant support and love. They always encouraged me to pursue my goals. They helped me with my first telescope, took me on tours, bought me a zillion books and always had time to satisfy their odd offspring's request to come and have ``one more look at Saturn!''. Their faith in me did not even falter when I started putting up weird structures in their backyard which I claimed would receive radio waves from the stars. They also managed to keep me down to earth. Good parents are one of life's true gifts. I am thankful that I have a chance to spend some time with them every summer in our little paradise deep in the woods of northern Québec.

A very special thank to Jim Hesser for that dinner on a dark, winter night which prevented me from making the biggest mistake in my life. Jim's love for astronomy radiates from everything he does. The astronomical community in Victoria is lucky. Thanks also go to Peter Stetson for saying:``Boy, that's stupid!'' when I needed it. I hope the people at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory on little Saanich Hill will never lose their gift of heartily welcoming students among them.

The various incarnations (softball, floor hockey, volleyball and soccer) of the Glorious Blue Stragglers have greatly contributed to my fight against keyboard insanity. Post-game analyses were particularly gripping. May the Blue Stragglers shine for gigayears to come.

Amusement was provided on many occasions by AHnold, StevoCop, RoboBob, SuperDave and Rookie who foolishly tried to defeat Rebel Scum. May they understand one day the hopelessness of their efforts. I ask my fellow graduate students for forgiveness. My habit of running x_kinfit2d.e on every single workstation probably generated some well-crafted curses.

Working on this project would not have been nearly as much fun without countless hours of musical accompaniment by Rush, Pink Floyd, the Tragically Hip, Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt and Enya. The last three are highly recommended for observing, but the first three would probably shatter the primary mirror. Special thanks to Baka Beyond for bringing far-away Africa to Elliott 404.

Random bits contribute significantly to the tapestry of life: sunset canoe paddles, Victor Hugo, 7-Eleven slurpies, noodles and sauce on a Whisperlite 600, the puzzling psychology of the slugs of the Gordon Head field, the view from the CFHT catwalk, la Rivière de la Misère et le Lac au Mirage, the Lucky Toaster, giant turtles and the blue ocean, Rock et Belles Oreilles, East Sooke Park Astro hikes, the past denizens of Nowhere in the Ghetto, shooting stars and the colorful northern lights, les Sentinelles de l'Air, les Grands Equipages de Lumière, frogs, late-night music on the radio, la tarte au sucre and Jésus de Montréal. Just to name a few.

This thesis has made use of data obtained at the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), which is operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France and the University of Hawaii. I would like to thank those agencies for funding such a wonderful instrument and allowing graduate students to use it. Many thanks to the people at CFHT for their assistance during many nights at 4200 meters.

By the time she gets here, my fiancé, Salome, will probably be asking herself why she should marry a goof that does not even include her in his acknowledgements. I kept her for last because she is the best part of my life. Every day, I am amazed by how much she has become a part of me. It will be a unique privilege to share the rest of my life with her, and I look forward to all our years together. Her parents have often assured me that my life with her would definitely not be boring. Guess what? I totally agree!

I hope this thesis will take you up to eleven. It certainly did for me.

next up previous contents
Next: Introduction Up: No Title Previous: List of Figures

Luc Simard
Mon Sep 2 12:37:40 PDT 1996