Greetings! I bid thee welcome, traveller, to my small corner of the Internet. (^_^)
Welcome to the personal homepage of Bert Van Vliet, aka 'SkyKnight' in some circles.
I grew up on a small family farm in rural Ontario, but I currently live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Oakville is located on the shore of Lake Ontario, approximately a two-hour drive from the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Fort Erie/Buffalo, N.Y
Because of my rural roots, I'm pretty straightforward with everyone I know (which explains why office politics where I work drive me up the wall). I operate by the principle of treating others how you'd like to be treated in return. I'm generally described as a nice guy, which I guess is a good thing. (^_^)
I graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the Chemical Engineering program at the University of Waterloo in 1995. After a couple of years of unsuccessfully trying to break into engineering (my specialization at the time was Air and Water treatment), I shifted gears and began working in information technology after obtaining my Microsoft® Certified System Engineer designation for Windows NT 4.0.
I've now been pursuing a career in computer networking and technical support for a little over 10 years now, and have developed a good deal of expertise with networking and the support of Microsoft Windows platforms and applications. The last 6 years have found me employed at a small flooring distribution company, supporting their laptop-equipped remote sales force, and the internal network and servers in the main office. Although I work with some good people, things are starting to feel stale...I think it's time to move on.
For anybody interested, the complete list of my professional credentials can be viewed by selecting this link.
I have WAY too many hobbies and interests, including:
And of course, I like watching movies, playing 'City of Heroes', and talking with folks about various topics through email.
As I mentioned above, I really like anime. I first saw it about a year and a half ago at university when I wandered into the movie night being held by the university's anime club. I really liked what I saw, although I didn't really know just what it was I was seeing at the time.
One film that I saw that night in particular caught caught my attention, and instantly hooked me. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I found out the name of the series that the episodes I'd seen belonged to. That series was Bubblegum Crisis.
I've never quite been able to quantify what it was about that series that I liked so much. Maybe it was the storylines coupled with the complex characters and the great animation. Whatever it was, it struck a chord somewhere in me. I voraciously tracked down and watched all eight episodes of the series, enjoying them all immensely. I even watched the three episodes in the sequel series, Bubblegum Crash!, but I didn't like it as well....it seemed to lack some of the atmosphere, the 'feel' that Crisis had.
(NOTE: Now that I've seen some of the garbage that was 'BGC 2040', I'll never complain about Crash! again. 2040 absolutely butchered the characters and storylines I cherished, and the music was terrible. I despite it completely. While I admit I'm far too fanatical about the original BGC to ever be able to look at it without bias, even without that filter, it was CRAP compared to the original.)
As time progressed, and I wore out my VCR watching and re-watching tapes, I lamented the fact that the series had ended after eight films, and that there wasn't any more BGC stuff out there. I found out how wrong I was when I discovered the anime fanfiction archives on the Internet: reams of material written by other people who were as enthralled with BGC as I was. I started downloading and reading constantly, enjoying many of the stories people had added to the Bubblegum Crisis universe.
Then the wheels began to turn....why didn't I write my own fan-fiction based on BGC?
I spent about a week putting together a rough draft for a story, but I wasn't satisfied with what I ended up with. It was a lackluster effort, in my somewhat biased opinion. I couldn't seem to get any characters into the story that I could identify with and write believably. I decided to shelve the project, turning off my terminal in the computer room, and trudging home, somewhat discouraged.
When I got home, I flipped on the television and skipped around the channels, finally settling on an Twilight Zone re-run. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the episode now, but in it the main character finds himself displaced in time and space, and on an alternate earth.
That really started the wheels turning. Why not put myself into my story? Who hasn't dreamed about somehow getting into the setting of one their favourite stories or movies? Thus inspired, I returned to the computer room later that night and began hammering my ideas into the long-suffering terminal.
Almost two weeks later found me with about twenty pages of fanfiction, written through a combination of really late nights and rushed lunch-hours. Tentatively titled 'The Bubblegum Zone', I felt it was the best I could come up with at the time, although I still had other ideas bouncing around in my head. I gathered my courage, and posted my fledging fanfic to the newsgroup devoted to BGC stories, and waited to see what kind of response I'd get.
The responses I received for that initial effort were all positive. Thus encouraged, I wrote my second episode, further expanding my story of a displaced twentieth-century anime fanatic given the chance to play the heroic armoured knight in futuristic hi-tech armour. My second installment went out to the net fairly soon after that, and again positive email rolled in.
Ten episodes and one short story later, I think it's safe to say that SkyKnight has made a distinctive impression on BGC fanfiction. (For the length of my stories, if for nothing else! ^_^)
I've thoroughly enjoyed both writing my fanfics, and discussing (sometimes arguing) with people about some of my story ideas. I'm hoping that someday I can parlay that writing experience into something of a full-time job, but we'll have to wait and see.
I should point out that I've had a great deal of help in compiling my fanfiction series and in keeping my writing at a good level of quality both in terms of storylines, and grammatical content. I can't thank enough everyone who's helped me over the years. (^_^)
So that's the scoop. If you need any more information about what makes 'SkyKnight' tick, you'll have to read the fanfics. (-_^)
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|SkyKnight, the Bubblegum Zone, and KnightWorks are ©1995-2008 Bert Van Vliet. Bubblegum Crisis & related characters are all © Artmic, Inc., Youmex, Inc. Please feel free to email all comments to Bert Van Vliet at "skyknight-at-sentex-dot-net"|