Monday, April 30, 2007

E.I. Comes Through

E.I. dropped me a special gift in the form of two weeks pay for the time I was off work (and outside of the waiting period). All of their communication to me has been delayed, so while I was surprised to see the money deposited on my account without warning, it fit their style well.

The lesson learned here is that when you make an E.I. claim, don't give up on it even if you get full time work. Keep filling out the reports up until they say they don't need them anymore, and you'll get paid out for any time you qualify for anyway. I had a few people give me this advice, which I wasn't aware of, and it turned out to be a nice little bonus, a month and a half later.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chess Rating: April 2007

I play a lot of correspondence Chess online, and it keeps track of just about everything, including each player's rating. Mine goes up and down based on how many games I have going and what level of players I'm up against.

My Chess rating over the last 100 games

The chart runs from right to left, the red arrow showing my current rating.

I've found that I play the best when my opponents are within 50 points of my own rating. That way it's a slow and steady climb, not a roller coaster. The times my rating has gone down is when I get too many games going on (I've had almost 50 going at the same time), and too many players that are well above my own skill level.

I haven't been able to stay above the 1700 mark for very long (I was above 1700 for a ten game stretch back about 200 games ago), and my goal is to get back to that level.


One Square At A Time

I read an article in the National Post yesterday that really puts the spotlight on the insanity of some people's thinking these days. Sheryl Crow, a well known singer, is running a campaign to stop global warming, particularly in the way of saving trees.

Her solution? Everyone should use only one square of toilet paper each time they use the bathroom. Maybe two or three at most for those "pesky" situations where more might be needed.

First of all, is it only news to me that TP is made from trees? I always thought it was made from those little pillow guys you see in the commercials.

Second... one square? I'd have a little respect for this idea if there was the least reason to believe that Sheryl Crow only uses one square every time like she's trying to tell the rest of the world. I know I sure can't, but I'm limited to a budget that can only afford 3-ply TP. Maybe she's buying high end 10-ply stock (with double-wide sheets) and is out of touch with the reality of day to day life.

The bottom line is... environmental change is not going to start on a personal level. Most people don't think about the big picture when they fire up the furnace, or leave their car idling for five minutes. Or when they use more than one square of TP.

It has to be taken care of at a higher level. Reduce emissions from big industrial plants, start creating quality and affordable cars that are efficient. If you supply people with the same convenience and it's less costly to the environment, it'll just work itself out. Let people choose on their own, and the environment will come second every time.

For the real solution to wiping out global warming, look somewhere other than toilet paper.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Canucks Over Dallas 4-3

Having grown up in Edmonton, I got a liking for hockey as most people do. I guess I'm not a huge fan like some people we know (you know who you are), but I do enjoy watching, especially during the playoffs.

We don't have a TV, but I recently discovered that CBC live streams the hockey games, and as tonight was game seven in the first round, I couldn't resist watching it. And a great game it was, with the Canucks pulling out a victory with skill and a lot of luck, and moving on to the quarter finals. The Edmonton Oilers are nowhere to be seen...

Go 'Nucks!

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E.I. Conclusion

February was the first time I've put in an Employment Insurance (EI) claim since I started working ten years ago. Until now it hasn't really been necessary, and usually I was able to get a job quickly for the few times I've lost a job.

But this time I went for it since I have more bills and more responsibility, and I didn't have a job lined up right away. As it turns out, I was out of work for six weeks. The EI office seemed a little slow sending me some of my information, and I forgot to submit one of my Record of Employment papers, so things got delayed.

My claim just got activated, I've filled out my information for those weeks, and now I will wait to see what happens. I haven't received anything yet, but I was out of work for perhaps two weeks where I was eligible for payment, so I think I should actually get something, however late it may be.

Well, it's nice to know that Canada has some good services that can be used when they're needed.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

German Puzzle

Here's a 300 piece puzzle we put together over the last few days. Compared to the horses, this one was easy, but was fun to put together anyway. This puzzle has been in the family for many years, and my sisters and I put it together a number of times as kids.

300 piece German puzzle

Each section is a depiction of a month of the year. I don't know where we got this from, but all the writing on the box is German, so I'm guessing it came from Germany, either sent to us or brought back by someone.

We went to a bunch of garage sales this morning and picked up another five puzzles... should keep us busy for a while. There's some really interesting ones, including one that is not rectangular, and all for 25 cents to a dollar each.

By the way, if anyone reading this wants the horse puzzle, let us know, we'll be happy to pass it on.


Friday, April 20, 2007

April Updates

My readership is probably dropping off because I'm only posting once or twice a week at most, but there's nothing I can do right now. Work is keeping me busy during the days, and there's been a lot going on outside of work as well.

However, I have a few minutes and am sitting down to type out a few paragraphs about what's been happening lately.

Work is going really well, and I've been there for a month now. I'm learning a lot of really neat things as it's in an area I've never worked in... more along the lines of creating internet applications as opposed to database and back-end programming. When I get a chance, I'm going to use some of what I've been learning to spruce up the blog, make it a little more interactive perhaps.

Natasha is also doing well, and enjoying her job although it's been slow lately. I know she wants to do quality and intelligent work, and when nothing happens, it can be boring. It'll likely change in the future, and in the meantime, she's getting paid a good wage for doing a reception / admin type of job.

Tonight we went to a charity auction by a church in Abbotsford that is supporting an orphanage in the Philippines. Had a good time, and came away with a couple of items including a framed print, tickets to a symphony, a star shaped hanging candle holder, and a dozen yellow rozes.

Yesterday I went to the local Chess club and played a couple of games. I also bought a used Chess book, one that was recommended by a really good player as one that would be good for sporadic reading as I usually do. I don't have the time for long periods of reading, so it's five or ten minutes here and there.

And on Wednesday we had my parents and a few friends over for dinner... pineapple meatballs and rice! So you can see, things have been busy, and the TO DO list simply grows.

The weather is shaping up nicely for the weekend and I'm really happy about that. I can't wait to get back to wearing all my summer shirts. In the morning, we're going to go out to some garage sales as it's a city wide event and there are a few hundred at least. Might find a few good bargains on books, games, whatever.

Have a good weekend!

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Friends With Games

One of my old chat friends, Trevor, has a post on his blog in response to my Games Galore post. Click here to see his collection and top five games.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Puzzle: Complete

The puzzle is complete!

The completed puzzle


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Puzzle: Update Two

This weeks progress speaks for itself. We spent some time during a few evenings and really got a lot of pieces put together.

Puzzle progress after about three weeks

As I thought, once we had some of it going, things would start to fall into place. Where at first it was hard to find ten pieces, we're now putting in twenty five or fifty a day. As you can see, we're about 500 pieces complete out of 1000.

This pretty much gives away the secret of what the puzzle is, so there you have it! Another two updates and it should be complete. If we get really close, I'll just wait until it's done and post the final picture.


Queen Elizabeth Park

On Friday, we took a day trip around town to enjoy the beautiful weather. Our first stop was to Queen Elizabeth Park,in Vancouver. We took a walk around the grounds and took some pictures of flowers. The park is probably a lot nicer during the summer months, but it was quite nice already.

Trees in bloom

The trees were exceptional, but almost impossible to get a good picture of because of all the people swarming around.

We never pass up the opportunity to take some close-up shots of flowers, and here are a couple of the photos we took.

This was a tree flower. Not sure what type though.

One of the many types of daffodils.

And this really pretty flower:

Natasha at the fountains, with cherry blossoms in her hair.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

2010 Olympic Countdown Clock

During our travels today, we went by the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is where the countdown clock is for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

2010 Olympics in 1043 days, 2 hours, 58 minutes, 47 seconds

This clock has been the source of much protest, and there is round the clock security to prevent vandalism. I believe it's already been spray painted at least once.

And the Olympic flag that flies nearby has been stolen. I don't know how, as there's a security guard. Seems like an easy thing to put it up in the morning, and take it down at night as proper flag care dictates.

In any case, the Olympics are coming, and Vancouver will have its two weeks of fame. I'm kind of thinking I might like to watch some live curling, speed skating, or something. Be more a part of it than watching a few bits and pieces of things on TV.

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Artistic Portrait

My sister, Susanna, is quite the artist, and recently decided to make a drawing based on our skiing picture.

Our first portrait, look how skinny we look!

Susanna sketches the picture, then scans it in and uses GIMP, a photo editing program, to color and shade it. She's been doing drawings like this since we were kids, even with the very basic programs we had back then.

Thanks, Sue!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Puzzle: Update One

Okay, if you were expecting it to be half done right now, don't laugh:

Our slow but steady progress

It's been really busy since we started, and we only put a few pieces in here and there as we walk by, or are waiting for a few minutes. Tonight we got about 20 pieces or so, and this is where we are now.

As some of the parts come together, it'll be easier to see where each piece goes, and it will speed up. I'll have to wait until we have something really impressive before posting another shot.

Still... can you make out anything?


April Flurries

We had some April showers flurries last night, and I had to brush off my car in the morning. As nice as the weather can be here, I never take the snow brush out of my car... you just never know.

Yikes, not what you call a nice spring morning!

The daffodils weren't pleased.

The plants were even less happy, and many flowers and blooming trees looked like they were limp. While I was at work, we got some big snow flakes coming down, and some of the tulip trees didn't fare well.

Now spring will come... for sure.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Week One At Work

For those of you who check my blog every day, I appologize for the lack of posts during the last week. It was a very busy week and didn't have any time to sit down to type something up. Even our evenings were booked up, and were away from home at least four nights this week.

My new job is going really well. The company specializes in taking online data and creating newpaper ads with it. This means a lot of work with images, data transfer, and I'm learning a lot about the printing process which I am interested in anyway. So far it seems to be a perfect fit, and I look forward to going to work. Of course, it's just the first week so things are more exciting, but I have a feeling that there is some great potential here to advance and do other things as well, and I'm doing some very interesting work my first week, so it's off to a good start.

I've used up the short time I have to write! During the next week I'll have some more things to post, including an update on our jigsaw puzzle. Thanks for being patient!

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