Friday, January 29, 2010

December 2009 Slideshow

December was a busy month with lots of things to do, including a trip to Edmonton for Christmas. Time with friends and family, holiday parties, and more are all contained in our most recent album.

And so we bring you 99 photos of festive fun! Click here to see our photos!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

He Got A New iPad!

I cut this out of a newspaper back in November. What are the odds that a few months later a product with just that name would be released?


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Chess Tournament: Game 3

Last night I played game 3 against an older gentleman who I'd never played before. It was a relatively short game compared to the last two, with fewer moves as well, and a lot of mistakes on both sides. It actually made for a more fun game than overly serious.

I had the black pieces and played into and opening with which I am unfamiliar. I was forced into a very defensive position, but somehow kept finding great responses to keep me going. Deep into the middle game I came into a fairly even situation, but blundered a bishop. Only a few moves later, my opponent blundered a whole rook, but it wasn't enough to win me the game.

In the end, I likely miscalculated and ended up letting one of the opposing pawns get too far advanced and my game was over.

I'm a little disappointed about the loss after having played so well the last two games, but that's how it goes sometimes. My score now sits at 1.0 / 3.0, with two games to go.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

January Chess Tournament: Game 2

On Monday, I played what I consider my best tournament game ever. My opponent was the club champion, and who has been very successful these days.

I lost the game in the end, but not after a great battle in which I exerted immense pressure and possibly had the upper hand in the middle game. The experience I gained from this game will be valuable, and I learned a few things to help me in later games.

Three rounds to go, and I look forward to them confidently. I am a win away from my best performance yet, and I hope to acheive at least that this time around.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January Chess Tournament: Game 1

The Langley Chess Club is holding a five round swiss tournament which started yesterday and runs for the following four Mondays. In my first game, I was paired with a player rated around 1700, my own rating being just under 1300. Typically this kind of gap is a guaranteed win for the higher ranked player, but the truth is that my rating is far lower than it should be due to the very few rated games I actually get to play, and frequent blunders even in games where I am doing well due to lack of competitive practice.

Yesterday's game was different though. An 85 move marathon lasting over three and a half hours, the tide turned a number of times during the game. I re-captured a piece with my Queen, bringing her out a bit early, and had to defend carefully for the first part of the game. Once safe, I came back strongly but not without a few errors along the way. Luckily, I was able to recover, capitalize on my advantages, and grind out a win.

This leaves me with a full point going into round two, and no doubt a nice boost to my rating. However, it pushes me to the group of players who won their first game as well, and I've been paired with the 2009 club champion for round two. Should be interesting.

I'm feeling pretty strong in my chess play these days despite not having played much, and this is a big confidence booster. Who knows, I may be able to come out of the tournament with another win or draw at least, for my best tournament result yet.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

iPhone App: Hive

While browsing the Board Game category of the iPhone App Store, I came across a game called Hive. It's actually one I have seen a number of times in game stores but haven't purchased yet. The rules to the game are simple. Each player has a set of pieces which are able to move in various ways. The goal is to completely surround your opponents bee. As with other tile laying games, the board is created as you play, and no games are formed alike.

The main playing screen

The game interface is pretty good and lets you customize your view a lot. The good graphics probably contribute to the fact that this app is almost 30 MB in size.

White wins by surrounding the enemy bee

In this screen shot, I had just beat the computer by surrounding its bee. I found the computer to be somewhat lacking in skill, even at the higher levels (which are unlocked as you beat each subsequent level). Luckily, you can play two players on the same machine, as well as between iPhones, so there are a lot of options.

Generally, the game itself is fun, and after playing it a few times, I think it would be worth owning the board game at some point. The game is not for everyone though, as there is no aspect of luck at all. The biggest draw to getting this game and trying it right now is that it's reduced to $0.99 in the App Store for a limited time. If you're at all interested in this game, or want to try it out before buying the board game, I highly recommend getting the app.

For more information on the game, here are a few links:

Hive in the App Store
Hive on

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Christmas Holidays, 2009

Our Christmas vacation this year took us to Edmonton where all of my immediate family and their children were gathering. Eight adults and six kids in one house turned out to be quite the thing, but we all survived and had a good time.

The Christmas haul, or part of it.

Breaking from our 29-year (or more) tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve, we moved it to Christmas Day due to some logistical issues. The pile of gifts you see was truly impressive, and is at least in part credited for the economic recovery of late 2009.

As usual, we did a gift exchange amongst the adults, as well as gifts between couples, and for Dad and Mom.

My exchange gift, from Dad. A Dilbert book, and Pylos.

If I look a bit tired and not ready for the day, it is because we got pulled out of bed bright and early. The kids couldn't wait any longer; Another good reason to open gifts the night before.

Gifts I got from Natasha

Natasha got me a new case for my Bible as my old one has had a broken handle since before we got married. She also got me a copy of Star Trek, which is a special edition that comes with a digital file.

Natasha with her new iPod Touch!

The surprise gift of the entire day! I totally blew the agreed upon budget for this one, but I got it on "sale" from the Apple Store online, complete with free engraving. It was a gift I couldn't resist giving, and I hope it will be as useful to her as the iPhone has been to me.

Natasha with her exchange gifts.

Natasha got a wide variety of items including the Love Comes Softly series, a Christmas CD, knee socks, and a number of bath and body products.

Speaking of knee socks, including ones she bought, Natasha came away from the holidays with 19 new pairs!

Dad and Mom with their gifts from us.

For Dad, we bought the DVD series Band of Brothers. For Mom, a nice salt and pepper grinder set, and a photo frame. From Charlotte, Mom got a couple of really nice oven mittens from IKEA.

We took the opportunity to visit the Apple Store in West Edmonton Mall. It's a very large store and despite the mall being only relatively busy, it was packed.

The Apple store at West Edmonton Mall.

While there, I picked up a special something, my first MacBook accessory:

Me with a brand new Magic Mouse!

Back at the house, things are busy as ever. Kids all over the place, and four families trying to keep up their schedules despite everything going on.

Andrew holding Brianna and Charlotte.

This trip had a big impact on Charlotte. She learned (or rather, became aware) that she isn't the only kid in the world and that there is competition for Daddy and Mommy's time. Never before seen behaviour, such as pushing other kids away when they touched me, cropped up a couple of times. With the new baby only 3 months away, it will be interesting to see how they interact.

Charlotte playing it up!

Of course there was much fun to be had by all, and here is one of Charlotte wearing a pair of too-large glasses belonging to one of the other kids.

Charlotte with Oma.

On our last day in Edmonton, we went to Boston Pizza with Oma. This is actually Charlotte's great-grandma. We tried to get together with the relatives as much as we could, but due to our group size, and a few people getting sick, we had to limit it.

Kids watching the portable DVD player.

A gift from work, this portable DVD player came in handy a few times. With so much going on, the kids needed some downtime, and here they are enjoying some quiet time.

Also on this trip, we celebrated the birthdays of Natasha and my sisters, all of which happened in December.

Happy Birthday, girls!
Susanna, Natasha, and Stephanie.

The three girls with their birthday gifts.

And lastly, we have Charlotte demonstrating how we all felt after a week of vacation.

Saturday and Sunday are rest days, devoted to catching up on things around the house, sleeping in, and getting ready for work on Monday morning.

Welcome to 2010!

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