Friday, March 23, 2007

2006 Taxes Complete

I've moved quickly this year and completed our tax returns just days after receiving the last of my receipts. I used to really hate doing taxes, but after using QuickTax for a couple of years, it's an absolute breeze. I don't use the online version though, just the software package, and I mail in my return as opposed to filing online. So call me old fashioned! I guess I like the idea of sending in the receipts so nobody comes around later asking for them.

I should be getting my return back right around the time most people are scrambling to get it done! No more last minute run to the border for me!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Puzzle: The Start

We got a 1000 piece puzzle from my aunt a while ago, and we just pulled it out a few days ago thinking it would be a fun project to do for a few minutes in the evenings. We got the border done the first night, and started adding more tonight. Progress is slow, but we plan to work here and there 'till it's done.


The beginnings of our puzzle

As more gets completed, I'll post pictures. Once it's done, I'm not sure what we'll do with it. I hate the thought of pulling it apart. Maybe we can glue it and give it to someone who wants to frame it or something...

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Job Hunt: Complete

The job hunt is finally over. Today I agreed to an offer and my first day will be on Monday. I'm really looking forward to the new position and I think it'll be a great place to work.

This job search was unique in that I made use of more alternate sites and not much of the big ones. Monster.ca was good for getting my resume out there, but produced nothing in the way of job opportunities, at least not for my particular skill set. The one I used the most: CraigsList.org !

Recruiters played a small part of my job search, but in the end produced very little results. Only one actually got me a real interview with a company, and it was a good lead too. It never went anywhere after that, but I appreciated the opportunity to interview with that company. Had it worked out, it would have also been a great job.

So now I have one week before going back to work. I'll try to use it to relax, but will try to get a few important jobs done, like taxes, and getting my RRSP's all in order.

Thanks to everyone who put their effort into passing my name around to those they know. I really appreciate your help during the last five weeks. And thanks to Natasha for being my fashion consultant for my interviews.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Whistler Ski Trip Report

Natasha and I went on a bus trip with friends of ours from church up to Whistler for a day of skiing. It was cloudy with a bit of rain, but once we got on the slopes, it wasn't that bad. Actually, later in the day it cleared up a bit and was somewhat warm.

This was the first time I'd been skiing in at least ten or more years. Natasha is a pro and has been wanting to take me since we've been married. Neither of us have been skiing on a mountain, so this was an all new experience.

Natasha also got to show off her ski skirt, which I thought was pretty cool. Never seen anything quite like it (see photos below). She actually got a number of other skiers compliment her on it, and a few simply gawked.


We explored both mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, and because it was only for a day, we barely touched the expanse of the area. The ski hills are so large that without knowing where you're going, you could get lost, but as long as you keep going, you'll eventually end up down at the bottom.


Us on the slopes!

Overall, we had a lot of fun, and got a workout at the same time. We're a little sore now, and it'll likely be worse tomorrow. The ski season is coming to and end soon, but maybe we'll try out Whistler and some other mountains next year.

Note: This post was edited on April 14, 2011 to replace missing images and remove references to other images that were previously lost.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Job Hunt, Week Five

This week has been the busiest one of my job search. Some of my resume sending came through, and I had a few leads that popped up quickly. In summary:
  • 2 interviews
  • 2 meetings with recruiters
  • 1 phone interview
  • 1 second interview
One interview I went to, they asked me a bunch of (useless) HR questions like What are your weaknesses? and Are you married? Do you have kids? I'm not even sure that's legal. Oh well, I don't really care. If they don't want me for those reasons, I probably don't want to work there either. Then they went on to technical questions, and finished up by sitting me down at a laptop and getting me to write database queries and Perl code. I really had to work for it, but by what they told me, I'd done better than most people who they'd had in up until that point.

The other company I went to see was really good. Nice people, clean looking office, very professional. No lame questions... in fact they did almost all the talking! And the office is closer to home in an area that's not as busy as downtown Vancouver but isn't isolated either. I've been back for a second interview and am now waiting on a job offer. If all goes well, I could be working as soon as the middle of the week.

After a week of job searching, Natasha and I are going to Whistler on a ski trip with a bunch of people from the church. Should be a good time, and it's sure to produce a boatload of pictures and video.

Have a good weekend!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

While You Wait: Squares 2

Need something to do while you wait? I just discovered this online game and it's a blast.


Squares 2

Click here to play!

You are able to post your high scores which are saved on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis too!

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Crocus' Are Out

If it doesn't always feel like Spring, it's really beginning to look like it. These small flowers are growing just outside our door.


Little purple Crocus'

Looking forward to sunny days and warm temperatures again!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Farm House


I was looking through some of our older pictures and found this in a collection of some of the better ones. Natasha took this great winter scene in New Brunswick a few years ago, and I ran it through a filter to get this special effect.

Some day when we get a house, I will consider getting the regular photo printed on a larger size and frame it. It would be a nice reminder of the East coast.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Supper At Red Robin With Friends

After a hard day's work (and job hunting!), we went to Red Robin to meet one of Natasha's friends, Jennifer, and Jennifer's friend Colleen. Natasha and Jennifer met online seven years ago, then in person when Natasha went to a Gaither concert in London, Ontario.


Natasha and Jennifer

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Flooded Roads

The Lower Mainland has had solid and steady rain for two days now, and things are really getting soggy. Down in the Langley area, we ran across an area of road that was covered with water as the fields had filled up and were spilling over.

Video brought to you by the capable Natasha!


Click to start video

The waves were easily hitting the body of the car, and I was worried about stalling in a foot of water. We made it through, and reached another area that looked even deeper. There was a stalled car, some kind of sporty car, and everyone else trying to get around it. I took a detour and got to the highway by another exit.

The rain continues to fall. I wouldn't be surprised if 176th street is closed already, and for a while. The thing I wonder about is that it's supposed to be one of the major routes for Olympics 2010 traffic coming from the states. I worry about the fact that two days of rain can flood the road.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Soured Landlord Relationship

Last night we got together with our downstairs neighbours to talk about our meetings with the new owners. Turns out, they also got the heavy pressure, but they said they wouldn't sign a new tenant agreement with changes. That was the smart thing to do.

This morning, I drafted up a well written letter that explained the reasons why the tenant agreement we wrote up on Wednesday was invalid and why the old one is the one that must still be used.

Well, talk about an immediate reaction. We'd made a deal on Wednesday that the laundry would be free, meaning the lock boxes on the coin operated machines would be removed. Probably within an hour of me dropping off the letter, the locks were back on.

So, they've gone from a potentially friendly relationship, to trying to bully their tenants, and now they're just being petty. So the whole thing has just been soured, and I don't know what it's going to take to get back on friendly terms. We're no strangers to avoiding and spying on neighbours, but when it's the landlord, it's a whole different problem. We'll be nice of course, but I have a feeling they are very unhappy with all of us for refusing their demands.

More later, I'm sure of it. =)

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Job Hunt, Week Four

This is the end of week four of the job hunt. It turned out to be the busiest week as far as contacts go. I arranged for two interviews, a meeting with one recruiter, and a telephone interview all for next week. Some are for jobs I applied for a while ago, some are recent. Maybe my updated resume helped.

I'll do some more searching today, perhaps work on some learning projects I have going on right now. I followed up with the interview I had a week ago, and there's still no news one way or the other. Still have my hopes up for that one, but I have to continue on because there's no guarantee.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Landlord, New Issues

The new owners of the house have taken possession and came by yesterday to talk to us about our tenant agreement. We aren't all that experienced ourselves, and the new owners are obviously new to being landlords, and it led to some new issues being brought up.

The goal of our meeting was to get a tenant agreement done up. What we didn't realize was the the original one simply carries over and does not change. The problem is, the new owners want to start charging the tenants for part of the utilities. We weren't happy about it (and showed it, a bit), but we didn't think we had a choice and simply went along with it.

However, we've been doing some research, and discovered that the tenant agreement is to remain the same and the changes are not allowed to be made.

From the BC Residential Tenancy Act, Part 2, Division 1:

Changes to tenancy agreement

(1) A tenancy agreement may not be amended to change or remove a standard term.

(2) A tenancy agreement may be amended to add, remove or change a term, other than a standard term, only if both the landlord and tenant agree to the amendment.

It's possible we might run into trouble since we signed the new agreement, but there's a number of avenues we can go down that basically make the new one invalid. And if it goes as far as getting the government involved, we can say we were pressured into filling out the new one without the necessary information.

What we think is that the new owners have over-extended themselves with their $630,000 purchase, and are trying to figure out ways to cover the costs. However, it's not our responsibility to do so, and they should have taken the extra costs into consideration before buying. They told us they didn't even know how much the utilities were for the house.

Reminds me of a few Bible verses which apply in this situation:

Luke 14
28. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29. Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him

Ouch.

Anyway, we're going to try to deal nicely with the new landlords and get them to revert back to the original deal. If it becomes a big problem, we may simply consider moving to a new location. That in itself might help convince them, because if we move and they aren't able to rent right away, they'll be out even more money.

More problems which I don't need in addition to my job search, but we'll get through it, as always.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Dozen Rozes

There's two ways of handling flowers. The first is to give flowers regularly on special occasions. The second is to do it once in a while, just because. The important part is to make sure it happens, one way or the other.


Natasha and her roses, just because!

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Shabusen Visit

On Friday we went to Shabusen for supper. I've posted pictures from there before. Basically it's an all you can eat Japanase, sushi, and BBQ. Each table has a circular BBQ grill and you order the meats and cook them yourself. Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, muscles, squid, etc. And of course all the other sushi, sashimi, tempura, gyoza, and more.

We're slipping... not even a single picture of the food. Oh well. At least we got the people pictures. We went there with one of Natasha's past co-workers and her boyfriend.


Sarah and Natasha. Caption suggestions welcome.


Greg and Andrew. Sure why not, caption suggestions welcome.

Basically we ate them out of house, but not out of home. It's about $20 a person, but totally worth it for the amount and variety you get.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Job Hunt, Week Three

It's been three weeks since I got laid off, and the job search continues to progress. I went for an interview on Friday which I thought went really well. Solid company, nice people, and a relaxed yet professional environment... I'm hopeful. I got a call today from a company looking to hire developers in BC for the possibility of opening an office out here eventually. So, things are still happening and I'm confident one of the opportunities will come through for me.

That's it for the update. Not an overly busy day today, just followed up with my contacts, seeing which ones are still active. Tomorrow, back into the thick of things.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dad Wins By A Mile

About a week ago, my parents were over for an evening and we pulled out our favorite game, Carcassonne. Now, Natasha and I play this often, just two players, and we think we're pretty good. Certainly the game changes with multiple players... but would it make us lose? I don't know, but the game before that, Natasha didn't score a point until the very end. In this game, Dad won quite handily (having only played twice), Mom took second (even though she was tired and took periodic naps on the couch between moves), and Natasha and I came in somewhere behind.


Dad playing a tile to speed him to victory

We want a re-match, Dad and Mom! Maybe we'll come visit you soon and we can play with our latest expansion!

Update: March 2, 2007

There's been some discussion as to whether or not Mom actually won by a few points. None of us can tell for sure. Anyway, the point is, the ones who play often did the worst. =) And the picture was fun to make.

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Changes Around The House

The beginning of March brings changes to the house we live in. The current landlord has sold the house, and the new owners take possession in a couple of days. In the meantime, the people above us are moving out today. We've had some issues with them over the past few months, so we're sort of glad to have them move along. But you never know what you're going to get in their place.

In this instance, the new owners are moving in upstairs. They are an older Iranian couple I believe, and as the owners, I expect they'll have more respect for the building and it's occupants than other renters.

The only disadvantage for us now is that we will lose our free laundry perk. The current landlord gave us the keys to the laundry lock boxes so not only is our own laundry free, but we've been collecting the money from the upstairs tenants (a small repayment for our trouble). So, I'm doing as much laundry as I can while it's free... five loads this morning! We're totally taking advantage of it last minute and washing some of the smaller blankets, and anything else that could use it.

Living in this place has been one change after the next, but I guess that's how it is when you're in a rental situation with multiple people. We look forward to seeing how things work out, and if anything interesting happens... you will hear about it, of course.

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Spring Weather

Anyone who lives in BC should be thankful for the almost year round good weather we have here. Even during the coldest time of the year, it might only reach -10C and the snow might stay for a few days, or a week or two at most.

And yet, once it starts to warm up a bit, we expect Spring to be on its way, even in February, and when the cold bites back, we are annoyed. Last night we were out in Surrey at the church, and got a huge dump of snow. Natasha was going to a practice, so I spent a while helping out all the people who don't have a snow brush in their car. I'll tell you what, I got caught a time or two without one, and carry one at all times now. Support your local Canadian Tire, buy a $3 snow brush!

Here's a picture of the highway conditions last night from one of my news correspondants, my parents:


Highway conditions, Route 1, Abbotsford area

Today started out cold, but looks to be improving rapidly. Partly blue sky and a nice breeze. Might be time for a short walk down by the lake.

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