Saturday, January 31, 2009

End of January Updates

The first month of 2009 is almost over and we've definitely been kept occupied. Work has been busy, as have most other things. Natasha's Mom was here for the first part, a visit that we enjoyed a lot. Other notable events include the closure of the Pattullo Bridge for a week which created some very busy traffic in the area.

Natasha and Charlotte left this morning on an impromptu trip to see my parents, sisters, and their families out in Ontario. As I have very little vacation time considering travel plans later this year, I stayed home and will be keeping myself busy with a long list of projects and things I haven't had time to do.

It's a beautiful and sunny day here in the Lower Mainland, so I'm going to spend a couple of hours outside working in the garage and around the yard, and save my work indoors until tonight when it's dark out.

Stay tuned in February for trip reports, photos, and more!

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Charlotte Crawls

Today Charlotte crawled for the first time. She has been trying for about a month but usually only manages to move backwards or get up on all fours and rock back and forth. Up until today she has been able to move her hands forward but couldn't figure out her knee motion. Today, at a friend's house, she crawled forward about four "steps" to get to a toy. Mommy is very proud of her newest accomplishment *smile*. Watch out world, baby on the move!

Update: Video (Feb 2, 2009)

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recession? Nobody Told The Stores

So, we're supposedly in an economic crisis. By the sounds of it, Canada is better off than the USA, but it's a downturn nonetheless. What I am surprised about though, is that nobody is acting like it, especially not the stores.

On the weekend, Natasha and I went out for an afternoon of shopping in our old neighbourhood. Looking around at the price of clothes is absolutely astounding. The high costs are nothing new, but if people have less money than before, surely this must be an even worse problem. Department stores are selling long sleeve shirts for $90, and t-shirts for $30! So are many other clothing stores.

I don't know about you, but I can do a lot better with $30 or $90 than a single article of clothing. After searching a number of stores, I found my plain navy blue t-shirt for $6 a piece and bought two. Apparently, adding some print to the front of a shirt adds $20 to the price.

It just makes me wonder how the stores survive, and as they seem to be, where people are getting the money from. Either they are racking up a lot of debt, or most people have ample money to spend on pricey clothes.

Until someone lets the stores in on the secret though, they won't be getting my business.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

"Cars Yes, Transit No"

That seemed to be the overwhelming message sent by commuters last week during the shutdown of the Pattullo Bridge due to a fire that burned part of its underside last Sunday.

During the 5 work days the bridge was closed, only a small number of people switched to transit. This surprised officials, but to people who commute daily, it should come as no surprise at all. On my drive to and from work, I may have spent an additional 15 minutes each way waiting in traffic, a price I'm willing to pay for the comfort and convenience of driving in my own car.

The fact is, I would actually take transit if it weren't so inconvenient and inaccessible. From my current location, this is huge problem. When we lived across the bridge, a short drive to the train station and parking for 50 cents a day made taking transit a very enjoyable experience. We both liked hopping on the train and reading for 30 minutes instead of fighting traffic.

I drove across the re-opened bridge today, which appeared to be in good shape. The paving crews filled in all the potholes, so it was a smooth ride as well. Overall, I am very pleased with the quick work done on the bridge, having it closed for only one week instead of the four to six initially estimated.

So, now that the bridge is fixed, life will go back to normal and everything will be good, right? Nice try. The next disaster is already on its way; A snowfall warning tomorrow for between five and ten centimeters.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Charlotte: Eight Months Old


Eight months old!

Another milestone today, and Charlotte is starting to show more signs of becoming a big girl. She's getting close to crawling, and takes her baths sitting up which makes playing with bath toys a lot more fun.

We've been using a food processor to grind up some of our softer table foods which she has been eating, along with some tasty mixes of avocado and apple. And as posted previously, she is beginning to clap her hands, on her own and when someone claps for her. She seems to enjoy the copying game, either her doing something we're doing, or if one of us repeats a noise she makes.

Next milestone, 9 months!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pigtails!


Charlotte with her first hairstyle, tiny pigtails.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farewell, President Bush

After eight years of being in office, the day has come for someone new to take over the Presidency of the United States. It is no secret to my readers, and those who know me, that I have been a solid supporter of President Bush since day one. Unlike the many wafflers who's opinions change from day to day based on the latest mainstream media hype or propaganda "documentary" video, my world view and set of values remains constant.

What I admire about President Bush is that he did what he thought was right, and stuck with it even when most of his own country turned against him. Were there mistakes? No doubt. Bad decisions? Of course. Ridiculous statements? Certainly. But eight years of making decisions in a very complicated and dangerous situation is not an easy job, and I think a lot more understanding is in order, not criticism. The question is whether or not the world is a safer and better place. I don't have an answer for that, and based on the threats from all corners of the Earth, I don't think one man or even one country can deal with the problems, but what has been done was done with the best intentions, and has hopefully done some good. It's been an interesting few years, and I hope the future will be as well.

So with that I say, Farewell, President Bush!

References

CNN: Bush Legacy Timeline

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Big City, Small Town Mentality

Having lived in the Lower Mainland of BC for almost 10 years, I have consistently seen an overall feeling of living in a big city but with small town mentality. For a place with 2.5 million people and growing fast, this is a serious concern but one that shows almost no signs of changing.

Oh, we're a big city alright. We're hosting the 2010 Olympics! But look a little closer and things look a lot different. Malls in the surrounding cities close at 6pm before Wednesdays. 24 hour stores are nearly unheard of. Buses come every 30 minutes or even 60 minutes. The list goes on.

Worst of all, the road and transit system are far behind where they should be, and even upgrades being done now are barely meeting the current need. Busy two-lane roads are being upgraded - to four lanes. Why not prepare for future growth and go to six? Build a new bridge to accommodate increasing traffic from outlying areas to the city? There is so much opposition that it hinders even the slow moving government process to get such a project underway.

And it is bridges that have become a serious problem as of this morning. Part of the Pattullo Bridge caught fire and has done enough damage to have it shut down for up to a month, as read in this CBC article.

The Pattullo Bridge, which crosses the Fraser River to connect New Westminster and Surrey, B.C., could be closed for as long as a month after a fire damaged the bridge's support structure Sunday.

A spokesman for TransLink, the organization responsible for public transportation, roads and bridges in the Lower Mainland, said the fire damaged a 20-metre section of wooden trestles at the south end of the bridge early Sunday morning.

Wood? Don't be surprised. This bridge was completed in 1937, over 70 years ago! It's narrow, dangerous, and everyone knows it needs to be replaced. The last paragraph in the article is very telling:

TransLink has plans to eventually tear down the 71-year-old bridge and replace it with a six-lane, $800-million structure, but B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said Sunday a new bridge is still many years away.

Too little, too late!


The Pattullo Bridge

This is the bridge I drive across every morning on the way to work. Waiting in backed up traffic to cross its two lanes going north, dodging potholes, and staying clear of the big trucks who are forced to use up both lanes are some of the adventures that await me each day.

Now I can look forward to finding a new route to work, whether that be via another bridge, or by taking transit. Surely both options are bad, as the Pattullo Bridge is crossed by 80,000 commuters every day and that volume will have to be directed elsewhere.

It's going to be a mess out there.

Update: Monday Morning

I woke up extra early, 5am, left the house at 5:30am and got to work by 6:30am. Considering how early I left and it taking an hour, traffic was a lot heavier than usual. I plan to work earlier hours for the next few weeks and see how it goes. Based on today's trip, it's still much better than taking transit.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Ticket To Ride Tournament

After becoming fans of the board game Ticket To Ride, then discovering it online, we decided to have a tournament in which three couple's would play each other couple a set number of times. The players in the tournament were Nathanael and Shelley, Martin and Dianna, and Natasha and I.

Each couple played the other couples 5 times, using a mix of the Europe and USA maps, and each player scored either 1, 2, 3, or 4 points based on their result in each game. The person with the lowest score after all 15 games were complete is the winner. Here are the results:


TTR Tournament Results

I think we all had fun and had some really interesting games. I'm hoping we can do this again sometime, perhaps with the addition of a few more people.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Charges Laid In Silas O'Brien Road Rage Case

Just over ten months since the fatal hit and run which killed Silas O'Brien, charges have finally been laid with an initial court date set later in January. This is big news as people have been waiting anxiously to see what will happen.


Silas O'Brien

A short article is up on the CBC website, along with a small photo gallery.

The charges are as follows:

One count of criminal negligence.
One count of dangerous driving causing death.
One count of dangerous driving.
One count of hit and run.
One count of failure to remain at the scene.

It might come as a surprise to some that murder is not in the list, but based on some of the reader comments on the CBC article, it sounds as if the direct intent cannot be proved, where the driver could say he was just trying to scare them and it was an accident. Had he come back with a gun, it would be totally different.

It is good to see this case progressing, and I hope that justice will be served.

References

CBC: Charges laid in Abbotsford road rage death
Vancouver Sun: Charges laid in deadly Langley road rage incident

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Monday, January 12, 2009

New Album And Feature

Just a couple of notes regarding the blog. First, we have added our December 2008 Slideshow link on the left side under Photo Albums. There you will find 65 great photos for your viewing enjoyment, and there are some really good ones.

Second, if you look at the Charlotte's Corner section, you will now see a little icon to the left. Clicking this will drop down a couple of options that will allow you to customize your view. The first one is More which will display three photos at a time instead of just one. The second option is Faster, which will load new photos three times faster. You can mix and match these options depending on what you want to see. We now have over 60 photos in Charlotte's Corner, so even at maximum speed (More & Faster), it will take you about two minutes before you start seeing a lot of duplicates.

Sorry, there isn't the ability to place comments on the photo slideshow, but you can add your comments to the post instead.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Starting The New Year Off Right


Last night Andrew brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers home for me. He picked the Bird of Paradise flower and I have never had such an unusual and exotic bouquet. I love it! Starting off the New Year on the right foot!

Thank you Honey, you're the best!

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Scrabble Deluxe

After the holidays and New Years, things have been really quiet and my every-other-day blogging has taken a bit of a break. Our calendar is pretty well empty these days, but we're taking advantage of the lull in activity to spend some time at home and enjoy each other's company. Natasha's Mom is still visiting through the end of this week, and as we are all Scrabble fans, we've been making good use of Natasha's birthday gift, Scrabble Deluxe.

We've been playing in the evenings after Charlotte goes to bed, and have had some really good games, and some very interesting boards including a couple of bingos (using all seven tiles in a single play, scoring an additional 50 points). In the last game we played, I got the Q, X, J, and Z, and scored a bingo... definitely my best game to date with a score of about 280.

Is the Deluxe version worth it? At $50, it's a bit pricey, but it makes playing the game a lot more enjoyable. The board rotates which gives everyone a head on view. Doing this with the standard board is impossible, or seriously endangers the tile layout. Another great feature of the Deluxe board is small ridges on the board grid which keep the tiles in line with each other. Add the dark brown tiles, cloth tile bag, and sand timer, and it's a much improved playing experience.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

Greetings to all our family, friends, co-workers, and random readers! We have had an exciting 2008, and those of you who have been keeping up with the blog will have seen many of our adventures. The Most notable event was the arrival of Charlotte who has taken a prominent place in our lives and accounts for at least a quarter of our blog posts.

2009 has much in store, including a possible vacation (or two), my 30th birthday, and as many fun and exciting things as are possible with a growing family!

Here are a few of my favorite posts from 2008 which are special, highly entertaining or controversial, or received a ton of comments:

Don't Whine Online
Four Family Trip To Seattle
How My Career Revisited Its Roots
Life Is Hard...
Welcome, Charlotte Anne!
2 For 1 Airline Pricing!

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