Saturday, August 30, 2008

We're Back Home!

Our two week vacation has come to an end, and we really enjoyed it. Traveling during the day, we arrived at the airport in the evening, and drove home from there. Yesterday I went to work, a comfortable one day week (with half of the day spent at a company social event). Today begins a long weekend too! I am playing in the Langley Chess Open tournament, as I did last year. I hope to improve on last year's performance, as I have been working on my game since then.

Last Wednesday, our final day in New Brunswick, we went to King's Landing, a large area that has been preserved to show what life was like during various periods in the 1800's in New Brunswick. We spent a number of hours there, seeing almost every building, taking some interesting photographs, and learning a lot while we were at it. Sometime in the next few days, we will find the time to do a post about it.

So, we're back to life as usual! We had a good vacation, and we thank all those that we stayed with, and were able to spend time with, for making our trip most enjoyable.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Charlotte Rolls Over!

Big news on the day after Charlotte turned 3 months! We've been watching her for a couple of days, as she's been able to get on her side but not quite over to her front. We just now saw her get to her side, then after a little bit of work, get onto her tummy. These things are a bit spontaneous, so we didn't catch it on video, but perhaps next time.

This means no more leaving her alone on any kind of place she can fall off of.

Next milesone: Sitting up!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Charlotte Is Three Months Old!

Our little sweetie is 3 months old today! As we've been traveling and haven't posted any photos of her on our trip, this post is rather fitting. Here are a couple of photos and a video to show you her progress.

She's getting good at holding her head up!

A video we took a few days ago. She's getting talkative!

Sleeping on our little picnic in a cute outfit from Auntie Erin.

Next milestone: 6 months!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vacation: Boston, Part 2

Friday was our last day in Boston, and we met up with our friends, David and Erin, and their little guy, Luke. We met in the Boston Commons, a large park in the center of town. From there we toured around town, visiting shops, book stores, and Quincy Market, packed with many places to buy food. Outside, street performers entertain the crowds, or try to. As we ate our lunch, we witnessed a most dreadful acrobatic act which consisted of more fooling around and silly chatter than amazing feats, and to which I boo'd at the end.

Quincy Market

After lunch we took a walk down by the harbor. It was a warm and sunny day, and we headed back towards the park after a short while, picking up a Starbucks iced tea on the way.

Andrew and Natasha (Charlotte in stroller) down by the waterfront.

Erin, Dave, and Luke

We decided to visit the JFK Library and Museum which is about 10 miles away from Boston. This was the first presidential library we had visited, and it turned out to be quite interesting.

At the JKF Library and Museum

The exhibits are full of memorabilia and personal items from the Kennedy family and his time as President. There are two short documentaries to watch (we saw only one) and short video clips in each area showing speeches, or news reports relating to whatever part you were looking at.

JFK Museum Exhibit

At the end of the museum, you enter a large hall with a completely glass exterior. There is a really nice view of the ocean, and of JFK's sailing boat which you can also see if you walk around the outside. It is really a large and open space with not much there, but my guess is that it is used as a venue to be rented out.

Flag hanging in the large hall at the JFK Museum

We've said our good byes to Boston and are heading out for a few days to visit friends. We'll be driving back up to New Brunswick after that for the last part of our trip, and then back to BC.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vacation: Boston

The trip continues, and we've driven to Boston. It was about a 6.5 hour drive, which we began late in the evening. We got in pretty early and had a nap in the car before being able to check in early to our hotel.

The last two days have been fun, but slow and relaxing. We made an effort to get out and see a few things, but not to do too much running around, and spend plenty of time at the hotel, reading, and so on. So far so good. We've been around to a couple of the hot spots, got a good feel for the city, and still had a restful time.

On the first day, we tried to take one of the famous Duck Tours, which take you through the Boston area on land and water, using the same vehicle. They are so popular, however, that we were unable to get tickets, even after a wild goose chase through the subway. Instead, we visited the Prudential Tower and took a look at the view from the observatory near the top.

A view of Boston from the top of the Prudential tower

On the way into Boston from the north, one gets a clear view of an obelisk, a very impressive landmark. It is located on Bunker Hill, the location of a historical event... a battle or something, which I have not researched at all. We drove by at night for a closer look as well.

We also drove by the Boston office for the company I work for. It was a surprise visit, and it was really nice to see those I'd already met before, as well as the new employees. Dan, who handles all of the support for the product I work on, met up with us at a Starbucks tonight as he was on a business trip on Wednesday. I think we have a great team, and I am very pleased to be working with everyone in both of the branches.

The Obelisk on Bunker Hill (is that a window at the top?)

On our second day, we made the short drive to Cambridge to meet a Chess friend who works on the MIT campus. We've been playing online for a couple of years now, and since we were in the area, I thought it would be nice to meet.

One of the main MIT buildings.

The MIT campus is slightly more industrial than its neighbouring campus, Harvard (Harvard's buildings are beautiful, and much older). Still, it has some very nice architecture, and the grounds are spacious. I really like that care was taken to provide large courtyards, and wide sidewalks in most of the areas.

A short walk around the block from the main entrance to MIT, one finds a most interesting building called the Stata Center, pictured below.

The Stata Center

And here I am with Andreas. He has a chess site and blog located here: Squirrel Chess

Andrew & Andreas on the MIT campus

Two games, one win each. The tie-breaker will have to wait for next time.

Tomorrow, we meet with Dave and Erin at the Boston Commons for some more sight seeing. Then we're off on the next leg of our trip, to Pittsfield.


Vacation: New Brunswick

The first four days of our vacation were spent in New Brunswick. Our trip there was a bit of a wild goose chase, as we missed our connection in Toronto. They put us and four other passengers into cabs and sent us to a nearby airport in Hamilton. The detour delayed us by six hours, but we made it in one piece and with all our luggage (it went missing after we missed the flight, but was found mere minutes before we drove off).

Saturday was the big day, Shawn and Shelley's wedding. Natasha and I turned out to be the impromptu photographers, and here is a small sample.

The wedding party

The happy couple

After the wedding, the Griffiths family held a benefit concert for a local church. Natasha sang on her own, as well as with the family as a quartet.

Sunday was a busy day with church, going to The Diplomat (the local restaurant that supplies great Chinese food and cheesecake), and visiting with family and friends. Monday and Tuesday were spent visiting with relatives in the area. We also went out to a local restaurant that we'd been to before we were married. We were going to go by ourselves but asked Mark and Joanie to come with us as we didn't have any other time to see them. And on Tuesday we visited with Randy and Tammy, and had a couple of rousing games of Rook.

Mark and Joanie

Coming soon: A report on the Boston part of our trip.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation Mini Update

We are on vacation and arrived in New Brunswick on Friday afternoon after a few travel difficulties. It's been a busy couple of days and we haven't been able to take the time to write up any details or get photos online.

As soon as we get a chance, we will write up a full report and post a few photos. We've planned a number of things over the next few weeks so there should be a lot coming!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Charlotte At Starbucks

Not quite getting the hang of the straw yet

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Hiking At Lynn Valley

On Monday, we went to Lynn Valley for a picnic lunch and a hike over the suspension bridge. Being a holiday, we had the day off, and we also had a visitor from England staying with us.

Leah, visiting us from England, and Natasha

It turned out to be a really nice day; sunny but not too warm, and after a bite to eat in a shady spot, we headed out on the hike.

Andrew carrying Charlotte

This was our first time to make real use of the Snugli we got as a gift. We were surprised to discover it was pretty comfortable, fit well, and Charlotte slept most of the time she was in there. I carried her on the way there, and Natasha carried her on the way back.

Shelley and Nathanael

Zack and Josiah became great friends with Leah right away

Rice Lake

After crossing the suspension bridge, hiking a ways, climbing about 200 steps, and hiking a good deal more, you finally arrive at Rice Lake. Nice little place where people are relaxing, fishing, jogging, and more. Unfortunately, I was worn out from the long trek and was mostly interested in the Starbucks iced tea I was going to drink when we got back.

We ended the day back at our place with the hiking group and a few other friends for some cake, pie, coffee, and a couple of board games. A good way to spend a holiday.

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Friday, August 08, 2008


In Chinese culture, the number 8 is regarded as signifying wealth. With a date such as today, I have been told that many people are scheduling weddings today, even c-sections (maybe it's possible to order these in some places).

By either a complete stroke of luck or clever planning (or both!), the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Winter Olympics, held in China, is today.

I really enjoy the Olympics, both summer and winter, and would really like to attend an event or two in 2010 when they are here in BC. I know traffic and other problems are going to make this area somewhat unpleasant, but it is a once in a lifetime type of thing. Two years isn't far off, and yet far enough away that plenty of things can change, and we'll just have to see how things are down the road.

Visit The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games!

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Not-So-Elusive Millionaire

We've all heard and said it. "He's a Millionaire!" A goal to be strived for by many, and a status to be in awe of by even more. But these days, with increasing wages, a booming economy (in some areas), and rising real estate values, becoming a millionaire is a reality for more and more people.

In my circle of friends and family, I can list at least a couple who are millionaires, and three to five who are close to it. I can even see myself getting into that millionaire category someday, with some hard work and a little luck. So, where that special status seemed such a far-off thing just a few years ago, it's becoming attainable by many more.

What will the next level be, I wonder? Billionaire is far too high yet. There's just no nice round number in between, and it would seem really odd to refer to a Ten-Millionaire or Hundred-Millionaire or anything of the sort.

Your thoughts?


Sunday, August 03, 2008

When Science Amazes

I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, and at times quite clever, but I've found that something I heard a long time ago is really true; the more you learn, the more you find out you don't know. There are things going on out there which are so advanced and complex that they make our day to day technology pretty insignificant.

For instance, the Large Hadron Collider, built on the border of Switzerland and France. It is to be used for particle beam experiments of immense proportions, and the equipment necessary is equally as large. The photos are amazing themselves, regardless of the purpose of the subject.

See that large circle? That's the size of the accelerator!

I highly recommend taking a look at all the photos here, and the Wikipedia article if you want any further information.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Exposing The Obamassiah

I don't plan on posting too much about the upcoming US Presidential election... those who are interested should know where to find the information already. However, this video qualifies to be posted on my blog because of a short clip of Charlton Heston from The Ten Commandments, one of my favorite movies.

Turn up the volume and listen closely to some of the outrageous statements being made.

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NASA Confirms Water On Mars

After years of looking at Mars with cameras and only speculating on what appears to be ice, it's finally been proven by the latest Mars lander which has been able to get samples from the ground and do specific tests on it. There is water on Mars.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Laboratory tests aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample. The lander's robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples.

"We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

Apparently, machines now have taste buds!

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