Saturday, June 25, 2005

Orchard Update

The back yard orchard is coming along well, although we're still a ways off from having a really big harvest of anything.

Our cherry tree produced one cherry this year. Yep, just one. You can see it here, and I'm afraid it kind of got damaged by birds or bugs, so we didn't actually get to eat it. But it's a start for a first year tree and I hope next year will be better.

The apple tree is the oldest one in the yard, and definitely has the most fruit of any of the trees. Here is a picture of one of the apples. The apples don't seem to be growing as quickly as last year, and some of them don't look good either. Could be the weather hasn't been as good, or maybe some kind of bug got to the tree for a while. Hopefully we'll still get a few apples out of it, make a tasty pie or something.

The plum tree is growing rapidly and might be as big or bigger than the apple tree already. It's a very pretty tree, lots of leaves. This tree isn't producing fruit as well this year either, but there are a few plums that we should be able to taste by the end of the season.

A week ago we planted a small garden consisting of cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, and watermelon. Last year we had pumpkin and cantelope but didn't get to taste either one. We waited too long to pick the cantelope and it got way over-ripe. And the pumpkin grew to the size of a basketball before the slugs attacked and devoured it within days,

More updates to come as things progress...

Protest Action This Week

It never ceases to amaze me how protests spring up out of nowhere, and somehow they end up really near the office where I work! This might be due to the fact that the general area contains the offices for a number of governments. The US consulate is two blocks away, and there's a Japanese and Mexican office nearby, and many more I think.

This was Tuesday, and a guy in the office shouts "Andrew there's a protest, grab your camera!". You can tell everyone knows I love to take pictures of this kind of stuff. Anyway, I went downstairs to see the crowd and see what's going on. It wasn't a large group at all, but it was definitely different.

It appeared to be a native indian issue, and they were shouting things about land and self determination. I didn't fully understand exactly what they wanted, but they really didn't seem in the mood to talk to people and explain things either. Most other protest groups do, this one was much more aggressive.

As you can see, some were wearing military style outfits, and face masks. This immediately set the tone with a much more aggressive attitude. I did notice a larger number of police units around as well which was interesting. Then I caught sight of something I've never seen before! Across the street was a video camera being used by a police officer! They must be really serious to be right out in the open filming everything and everyone.

There you can see the police and the video camera.

Then something else happened which I've never seen before. I've seen a number of rallies in the area, and some very large ones, but this is the first time I've seen police on horseback show up to a rally. I thought maybe they were just there because they were available, and I've seen them around the west end before. But this time was different. In the end four showed up and were apparently there for crowd control.

What happened was some of the best conflict I'd seen in a rally. The four mounted police moved up towards the crowd and started pushing them towards the sidewalk. This, of course, got the crowd worked up and some shouting ensued. I thought for sure I was about to see people start throwing things, etc. But it kind of cooled down after that, and the protest group began to move down the street to a new location.

I suspect that part of the reason the police were there in force and trying to control them was because they were roaming from building to building creating problems, as opposed to other rallies which are more organized and predictable.

Keep the rallies coming, people!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

New Furniture: The Loveseat

A few years after buying my couch, I decided I needed the matching loveseat. Particularly since I'm looking to buy my own place... I'll need more furniture. The model was discontinued, but there was one left and we picked it up last night, brought it home.

Since I'm currently living at home, my furniture is here too, and while much of it could be taken apart and stored, some things like my couch can't. So, it's in the living room right now. There's no room for the loveseat in the family room downstairs either, so the only other option is to put it in my room.

Really moving up in the world, I now have a matching couch and loveseat!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Corey's Memorial Service

Yesterday was Corey's memorial service at the Bayshore Inn. Most of the IMC team was there, as well as family, friends, business associates, etc. To allow everyone to attend, the office was closed for the last half of the day, although the whole day was given off to those who wished. The speakers were as follows:
  • Corey's best friend (I've forgotten his name)
  • Derek Gehl
  • Corey's sister, Hope
  • Corey's wife, Tracy

Afterwards there was some light snacks and drinks in the foyer and everyone spent some time talking about old times, catching up with people they hadn't seen in years, etc.

It's unfortunate that it took a sad occasion to bring together so many people, but I took the opportunity to get some contact information so I won't lose touch the second time.

We now look to the future, and hope that the Internet Marketing Center will continue on and take the company to where Corey was going... on to bigger and better things each year.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mortage Lesson: There Is No Magic Mortgage

Okay, so we found this nice townhouse complex today. They are boasting mortgage payments as low as $800/month plus taxes and maintenance fees, possibly under $1000 a month for some of the places. Wow, sounds like a pretty sweet deal for a new building. You may have heard of the new fad in mortgages where you only have to pay the interest, not the principle (although you are able to if you want to). This is good for people who want to own something but don't intend to pay it off and perhaps just want to build equity in a home by waiting for the price to rise.

Click here to see the building development

We took a walk through a few of the showhomes... really nice places. They include the appliances, laminate flooring, and even a 42 inch plasma TV! Too good to be true, I said, something must be up.

And then the lesson was learned! There is no magic mortgage! I sat down to talk to the guy and we worked out the numbers. When the monthly payment turned out to be almost double their advertised special rate, I clued in. To get the lowest rate they showed, you had to have 25% down. So basically, no matter what kind of deal or setup you have, you can still only afford something based on your income and your down payment.

Back to square one and a half...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Aerogold VISA

On the way home from my last trip, I came across a nice old gentleman who was taking applications for a CIBC Aerogold VISA. Typically I avoid these, because who really needs another credit card... just more money to spend. Makes my life more complicated. However, this card offered Aeroplan points, one for every dollar spent. I started to calculate, and with what I normally put on my credit card, I could really collect up a lot of points.

Well, yesterday a fat envelope came in the mail and what was inside? My new CIBC Aeroplan VISA card! Guess they figured I was worth lending money to. My Royal Bank VISA's which don't give me any benefits will likely be used a lot less now that I'm collecting points.

I had some free time this afternoon and decided to call to activate the card. At the automated voice request, I punched in the number, and waited to be connected to someone who was going to ask for further information and most likely try to sell me some kind of extra insurance. But to my shock all I got back was... 'your credit card has been activated'. Could this be the easiest credit card activation ever? It might also be because I called from the same phone number as was on my account.

Anyway, CIBC has not impressed me in the past but they've done a good job so far. 5000 bonus Aeroplan points, and many more to be collected from now on! Looking forward to all the free flights I'll be getting. =o)

Getting a Mortgage

Had a meeting with a guy at the bank today. We talked about all the options, values, and came up with a figure for how much I'd be able to spend on a place to live. It's less than I expected but I can't really be disappointed. After all, I don't want to get myself into a bad situation where I'm paying more than I can afford.

At least now I have a more clear direction, and the house search goes on!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Shopping For A Place To Live

Tonight was a first ever for me... going out looking for a place to buy. I'm looking a condominium, as houses themselves are far too expensive for me at this stage. There's a ton of places out there, and likely they're being bought up just as fast as they are put up for sale. One thing I noticed was that there's a wide variety of styles, sizes, and quality of places... and they all hover around the same general price range.

Anyway, just a short trip out tonight to look, get some idea of where I'm going. Next step is to look at mortgage pre-approval so I can really be serious about buying.

Wish me luck...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Unexpected Event

Today is one of those days where you wake up and head to work, thinking everything will be just like the day before, when *boom* you get hit by some kind of news that changes everything.

When I arrived at the office this morning, I was informed that the owner of the company, Corey Rudl, was killed in a car racing accident yesterday. Below are a few links to news articles:

Two San Diego County men killed in Fontana speedway crash

NBC has some of the pictures of the crash which you can view below:

NBC Photos

I am unsure exactly what will happen now, but for the time being we are assuming the business will continue as usual. There were plans put in place in case such an event were to happen, and hopefully they will keep things on track.

Most of the staff have left for the day although a few people remain. I'm going to stay at the office (I really can't leave because the train back home doesn't leave until 3:50pm at the earliest), clear up a few things, maybe go out to a few places downtown.

UPDATE - Monday, June 6, 2005

Had a company meeting today. We weren't told many specifics as to what is going on except that the business is to be carried on as usual. There is a funeral for the family this week, and there will be a memorial in Vancouver at some date in the future. For the time being, at least today, we're not doing any aggressive sales, or doing any email promotions. There is a memorial page put up on the main site:

Thursday, June 02, 2005

New Monitor

At long last, I have been given a new monitor at work. Five years with a regular monitor! Unfortunately the desks are a bit shallow so I've had my face stuck up against a CRT monitor for a long time.

Now I have an LCD screen which is bright, crisp, and extremely small. It's basically given me 50% more space on my desk. The downside is that the IT area now seems a lot more open. I can simply look above my monitor and see the programmer across from me. We have very short walls between our 'cubicles' so sound carries, and any motion can be distracting.

But the positive angle is that I have a better monitor... maybe it'll be easier on my eyes now.

Here's a picture of my desk with the new monitor: