Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chess Rating Update

After the last tournament I played in, my rating increased slightly, 29 points, to a new high of 1318. It's still far from where I think it should be, but if I can slowly increase it while having fun playing, I'm pretty happy with that.

Tournament Results

Of particular interest is that my Performance is listed at 1608, my highest ever. This is mainly because of my win against a player with a much higher rating than mine, as well as the fact that two of my other games were against players over 1900 and 2000.

This will probably be my last tournament for a while as our new baby is going to be born in the next month and things will be busy for a while. Maybe I'll catch a tournament towards the end of 2010; try to bump up my rating a little more.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big Shoes To Fill

... or should we say "Boots"?


Monday, February 22, 2010

Baby Name Poll

Baby #2 is scheduled to arrive in just over a month. We have set up two polls for you to vote on boy and girl name choices.

Here are a couple of photos to go along with the theme.

Natasha at 34 weeks.

Ultrasound of Baby #2

Baby Name Polls!

Vote for a Boy's name

Vote for a Girl's name

Of course, if you have additional suggestions, you can add them as comments (but still vote, please).

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Town Centre Park

We took today to get out and have some fun family time in our old stomping grounds of Coquitlam. Charlotte got up nice and early and as it was obvious there was no more sleep to be had, we got ready and headed out earlier than expected.

Our first stop was IKEA for a tasty and inexpensive breakfast, then off to Town Centre Park for a walk and some free-roaming time for Charlotte. Charlotte doesn't always have a lot of room to play, so when she gets out into the open, there is no stopping her and she isn't pleased at all when it's time to go.

Charlotte makes a new friend.

As I followed her around the park, she and a boy started following each other around which turned into another long tour around a section of the park.

After we got Charlotte back in her wagon, we took her over to the playground area.

Charlotte loves to slide.

As you can tell, she's very proud of herself. She can climb up the steps and slide down all by herself now.

We let her play for some time here, then headed to the mall for lunch and some shopping. Charlotte was so worn out that she fell asleep in the stroller for an hour and a half, giving us a chance to wander around, sip our bubble teas, and watch some Olympic action on a large projection screen.

Since Charlotte had such a good time at the playground, we took her back for another hour of play, and got this video of her on the swings.

Enjoying the swings!

It's been a long and busy day, so we spent the evening relaxing. Charlotte got to bed a little earlier and we we will be soon as she'll probably be up bright and early again tomorrow morning.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday, Blog!

Today marks five years from the time I made my very first post on this blog. In that time, so much has happened, and there are 787 posts to prove it. If you look near the bottom of the left column, you'll see a small "Archives" label. Click the plus (+) icon beside it which will show a link for every month in the last 5 years. You can click through any of them to see what I was posting about during that time period. Also, attached to each post, or many of them, are labels describing the content of the post. If you click on one of these labels, it will show you all other posts tagged with the same label.

We want to send a huge thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog week after week. Without you, the blog wouldn't be worth the effort. Also, many thanks go to Natasha, who has really helped the blog along over the last four years with photos, proof reading, reminders that I need to post something, and even a few articles of her own from time to time. Oh, and thanks to Charlotte for bringing a real spark to the blog!

Upcoming big events to be exclusively featured here: Arrival of Baby #2, and our 800th blog post! Stay tuned!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Charlotte's Toddler Bed

As the new baby is coming in less than six weeks, we thought it would be a good idea to make a few changes so not everything is happening at the same time. One of these changes is getting Charlotte used to sleeping in a bed, as the new baby will need the crib.

We got up this morning, took the crib apart, and converted it to the toddler bed.

Charlotte, excited about her new bed.

She's having her first nap in it right now. It took an hour and a half of laying her back down before she finally fell asleep, and then when we checked, she'd fallen asleep on the floor with her blankie. We moved her back to her bed and she's sleeping happily there, already starting to get used to it.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Olympics 2010

Ten years. That's how long the people of BC have waited for the Olympics to arrive. I remember when it was announced, and it is hard to believe it's been so many years.

The next two weeks should be interesting to say the least, and possibly some fun. I have no tickets to events, and probably the most direct participation I'll have with the Olympics is seeing the torch relay a few days ago. Hopefully I'll catch a few curling matches online as well.

As far as I've been able to tell, the preparations for this two-week event have been pretty good. Where I am concerned is the public transit and other transportation in the Lower Mainland. I have been shocked at the number of outages on the Skytrain in the past few weeks; everything from sections of the Skytrain out of order to ticket machines not taking credit cards. Worse yet, one day before the opening ceremonies, the Sea Bus is shut down when a suspicious package is found. If these kinds of things occur during the busy traffic times for events, the results could be devastating.

Actually, my real concern is the bridges. My commute relies on safe and easy passage across two of them each day. Okay let's be honest, crossing the Pattullo Bridge «street view» is rarely safe and only sometimes easy, but in all seriousness, it would take only a single protester, disgruntled bum, or a mere prankster to climb up onto the bridge, threaten to jump, and traffic is snarled for hours. Will we have police posted at all bridges? I haven't heard anything about it, but I hope someone's thought of this.

To Canada and our athletes, I wish you the best of luck and success at these games. I hope to see great results, and will try to catch a few events I'm interested in, curling in particular.

Have fun, everyone!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guacamole Perfecto

My sister took our favourite Guacamole recipe and put it into video format. Want to have something different to snack on this weekend with your special someone? Give this recipe a try, it's the best guacamole we've ever had.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch relay came right by the building I work at today, and I went out to catch the event. «street view» The streets were lined with people, but I still managed to get right up close and was about five meters from the torch as it passed by. I am quite pleased to have been able to participate in the Olympics even in this small yet once-in-a-lifetime way.

The Olympic Torch

The history of the torch relay is interesting and is worth a bit of reading on the Wikipedia page.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Babymoon #2 Day #3

Day #3 of our vacation was an uneventful day but very relaxing. We slept in, caught the hotel breakfast shortly before closing, then spent a couple of hours relaxing and reading back in our room. Checkout was at noon, so why rush?

After leaving the hotel, we slowly made our way back home, stopping at the mall for some shopping and lunch, the outlets to make an exchange (and buy a little something more), and for gas and a light supper.

We picked up Charlotte from Shelley and Nathanael's house in the evening. Charlotte was excited to see us and greeted us with some big smiles. We're sure she's changed in the last three days, and apparently has been saying many more words. No doubt this is all true, as we have found that every time Charlotte is around other kids, her development increases a lot more quickly. Big thanks to Nathanael, Shelley, and the boys for taking care of and entertaining Charlotte so well!

Sorry, no photos today! We're back home now and are settling in for a good night's rest before the work week begins in the morning.

The babymoon is over. Just over six weeks until Baby #2's due date, so stay tuned for developments!

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Babymoon #2 Day #2

Day two of our vacation was packed with adventure, and we bring you 14 photos to prove it!

After getting up and having an excellent breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to see the sights around the Space Needle and the Pike Place Market.

Andrew & Natasha under the Space Needle

We didn't actually go up the Space Needle, only walked around the area. We noticed an interesting building and discovered something else we'd be interested in doing!

The Science Fiction Museum

Filled with memorabilia from all types of Science Fiction from books and movies going back to the early days up until the present.

A model of the original Star Trek set

A model T-Rex

This one was really neat. They used this in the filming of Jurassic Park. As the model was moved using the handles on the back, the position readings were captured by a computer and presented back on the video as a "real" dinosaur.

A huge guitar twister

Also in the same building is a music museum, largely having to do with audio and guitars and the artists that use them.

Pike Place Market

One place we like to visit every time we visit Seattle is the Public Market. We discovered a bunch of new shops we'd missed on our other trips.

Had a bite to eat at the Crumpet Shop

Impeach Obama Now!

Got a kick out of this; a guy on a corner holding an "Impeach Now" sign along with a photo of Obama wearing a Hitler mustache.


For supper we went to a Mexican place called Azteca. It's a cozy restaurant with good food, and a place we'd visit again.

Natasha at Azteca

Andrew, loving the food!

Natasha's steak fajita quesadilla

Andrew's Mexican Mash-up

I can't remember the name of what I ordered, mainly because there were too many items on the menu, and I simply picked one that sounded good and pointed it out to the waitress. It was a combination of chicken and stuffed pepper items, with flour tortillas on the side. I have to say, the tortillas were the fluffiest and best tasting I've ever eaten.

Day #2 is over, only one remaining. Had a long day, and will be resting very well tonight. We'll be back home on Sunday evening, with a Day #3 post to follow.

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Babymoon #2 Day #1

Yesterday morning, Natasha and I left for a 3-day vacation; a babymoon! What is a babymoon? It's a vacation a few months before a new baby is born, to relax and get rested up before all the fun begins. This is our second and we highly recommend it to anyone having a new baby.

Charlotte is enjoying herself too! She's staying with Nathanael and Shelley, and it sounds like she's having a great time. Thanks so much for taking this on, guys!

We drove down to the Seattle area with a number of stops along the way (no need to rush), including outlets where we picked up a nice collection of clothes for Charlotte. Very little spending on the two of us so far!

Once we got settled in to our hotel, we decided to visit a restaurant we have heard of many times but haven't been able to try out: Claim Jumper! As expected, we started snapping photos when the food arrived, and we bring you these pictures.

Andrew with the zucchini sticks (in the restaurant!)

Andrew ordered the half chicken rotisserie

I decided to go with something basic for my first time and this was a tasty and hearty meal indeed. The baked potato was an excellent side dish for the chicken and was about twice the size of your average baker potato. I have to say though, Natasha's baked potatos, drizzled in olive oil, showered in sea salt, and baked to perfection, are even better.

The bread side-dish, a corn meal muffin

Natasha's meatloaf

Natasha also went for a hearty sounding meal, and this one hit the mark. Two slabs of meatloaf on a bed of mashed potatos with grilled veggies on the side, and a giant buttermilk biscuit.

Andrew and Natasha, ready to eat!

And to go, we ordered a 6-inch berry pie with a granola crumble on top which we shared back at the hotel.

After supper, we went over to the mall where we wandered around, picked up a case for Natasha's iPod Touch at the Apple Store, and a book for Charlotte at Borders.

We're having a great time so far and look forward to the next two days! Now it's time for Day #2, which we will report on later!

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

January Chess Tournament: Game 4

Monday night's game was a close one. Very close. My opponent had a rating of 1904, over 600 points above me, but I held the game very evenly right through to the late stages of the game. After a few inaccurate moves near the end, I lost a pawn, and then a piece when my opponent promoted one of his own pawns.

This marks the end of the tournament for me, as there are now an uneven number of players (one dropped out early) and I am at the bottom of the standings which qualifies me for a bye in the last round.

Rating updates should happen within a few weeks, and I'll post my rating change once I find out what it is.