Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Time to Start Packing!

This week, our nighttime temperatures will dip into the single digits.  In fact, the weekend forecast is showing evening lows below the freezing mark on the centigrade scale.  Oh my!  It's definitely time to start getting ready for our annual escape.  It's our habit, since early retirement, to run somewhere warm and save a little money too.

No More Leather Wallets

I fear most people cannot wrap their heads around the idea that we often go away for winters because it's kinder on our wallets.  

Many fixed costs can be eliminated or deferred when away.  For example, we carry no car insurance when in another country, saving hundreds of bucks.  We enjoy travelling on public transit with the locals.  Also, we turn off our Internet and TV subscriptions saving substantially more.  We receive no electricity bills during the darker, higher-consumption winter months. These costs are always included in our vacation rentals.  In addition, entertainment such as going to the movies, should the cinemas re-open, will be about half the price we have to pay in Canada.  Lastly, food is most always markedly cheaper elsewhere, but we usually pick from a much larger and fresher variety of items, especially of fruit and vegetables.  All these savings and more make it relatively cheaper to spend winters away. 

It's absolutely fantastic saving money but we most enjoy walking around in shorts and sandals in 30°C temperatures.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Easier to Spot When One Starts Looking

I love owning and driving an electric vehicle.  I got our Hyundai Kona Electric last year.  My vehicle helped British Columbia achieve a 9% EV share of light-vehicle sales in 2019.  By 2040 all new vehicles sold in our province will have to be electric by law. 

At last, a friend in WA state picked up a Chevy Spark as an extra vehicle for running errands.  It feels nice to see increasing EV adoption.  I do see a great many types of electric vehicles at charging stations here in BC.  As I cannot charge overnight in my condo, I must visit public options.  However, I could not remember seeing a Spark on the local roads.

Today was typical.  My car was sitting at about a 69% charge.  We visited the main park in my city for a bit of exercise.  Might as well plug in while here, I decided. We walked a loop of about two kilometers while Kimchi was plugged into one of the two fast, DC charging stations.  Interestingly, a Chevy Spark was at the other charger!

Fast DC Charging

After our little hike through the rose garden, by Centennial Hall, and along the walking path, the Spark had gone.   We also unplugged at 83% and came home.  The car had accepted enough free electrons for around eighty kilometers of cooler-weather driving.

During Our Walk in the Park  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tough Times to Travel

We knew from the start that planning for this winter away would be fraught with uncertainties. When checking online, we noticed that next month's WestJet flights have been changed because now no direct flights are leaving from Vancouver.   Apparently, we will have to transit through Toronto making our simple, six-hour night flight into a thirteen-hour marathon.  We've not yet been notified by the airline.

We had the option of buying cheaper tickets but bought on WestJet last month because it would expose us to a single plane of passengers with no waiting time in additional airports. I know things are difficult for airlines, but I cannot help but feel that WestJet handed us a bait-and-switch deal.  
Day 1 - Panama Frankly, we'd rather have transited through Mexico City than Toronto.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saved from the Landfill / Stupid Anti-Maskers

Four Times a Year  
Before heading to buy groceries this morning, we brought our old coffee table down to the condo's junk day. It is great having the chance to get rid of large objects that'd otherwise cost a lot to haul away. It happens four times per year and today's was quite busy. 

By the time we got back from shopping, we noticed someone had picked it up. I'm a little relieved to know it will continue to serve someone else. This seems better than it ending up in the landfill. We noticed a label on the bottom indicating it had been made in Canada. That gives a clue as to its age. Much less is manufactured in Canada than in years past.
  No, Not THAT One.  The Seasonal One.  
At the Canadian Superstore in Coquitlam, we got our free flu shots. It is probably more important because of the COVID-19 situation. 

Then, tonight, on the news I saw a big demonstration in Vancouver of the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and others who don't understand a thing about freedom. They were simply happy to insult intelligence and science in general, and those trying to help in particular. Witnessing that adults can be such irresponsible idiots is very depressing. I could care less about them getting sick, however, their behaviour is just as likely to affect others in society. Their rights are proudly and needlessly condemning aged and weak neighbours to possible sickness and death.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Oh. Dried Pomegranate.

Oh.  Dried Pomegranate.  
We didn't buy this. We saw it in the ethnic aisle in our Walmart and I took the pic in order to look it up.  In Canada, most spices are labelled but these were packaged without translation. To the left, in the photo, sat some dried mango powder in an identical bag.  It had the name and a translation in English and French too.

How did people live when we didn't always have a camera phone in our pockets every time we were out?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Dymaxion Projection of the World

Jay and I were recounting some of this year's experiences in Bangladesh with friends the other day.  I completely understood my friend's comment about it not being amongst the places he wished to visit.  

Since the conversation, I've been thinking about the idea more completely though.  Time and opportunity have provided us with a chance to say we've been to 73 countries and territories.  That is actually a tiny fraction of what the world offers.  With our little time left, we are forced to prioritize.  I know.  However, I think I'm willing to state that there is not a single location on earth that I do not wish I could visit.  (Don't let my double negative trip you up.)

Dymaxion Projection  

I've loved maps too as far back as I can remember.  I have always wondered if there is a connection between a love of maps and travel.  Nowadays, my go-to is understandably Google Earth.  Yet, representing the physical world on a piece of parchment or paper was how it was done for most of the human experience.

I'm not quite sure why it has taken me 61 years to run into Buckminster Fuller's contribution to mapping.  I love this mix of mapping and geometry.  All symbols are heavily influenced by cultural, historical, and personal perspectives.  Maps are, of course, no exception.  Read this short properties section on the Wikipedia entry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A Place for More Than Coffee

Our former coffee table was a real piece of heavy, wooden furniture with a glass top but it was really too big for our space.  It is now in the hallway as this weekend is our scheduled strata's autumn junk day, when we can bring down things to the parkade that we want to discard.  

We ordered a cheap table as a replacement because it seemed like it'd be perfectly-sized.  The box was delivered yesterday.  This morning, we put five MDF boards together and screwed on some metal legs in about 20 minutes.  After recently assembling an IKEA bed, today's job seemed like child's play.  It is not a fine piece of furniture but it is less important to have things that will last a lifetime as one gets closer to the end of it. LOL 

Being able to look back at ourselves on Flickr is nice.  Visual confirming things from our past feels important as well.  I don't often shoot pictures of our empty apartment but I know that having this type of picture can be important. Today, I looked up 'coffee tables' and found two others we've had in this place.

December 19, 2005
Testing ... 1 .. 2 .. 3

August 9, 2010 2010_08_09 
October 14, 2020
Not Old and Not Too Large 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Until You Drop

This morning, I went to clean my teeth with my rechargeable water flosser. I really like the cheap Chinese model I got last year on Amazon. It is small and travels with me. This one charges via USB but runs for a week or ten days before needing to be plugged in. Today, nothing! During the last several days I've had a little trouble turning it on or off as the buttons wouldn't react quickly. It did not work at all today.

Was it fate that today was Amazon Prime Day? Another cheap Chinese device is on its way but it's a different model and brand. The Amazon guys delivered another big package this afternoon. 
  Royal City Mall  
However, we went to the uptown Mall too as we needed bananas from Walmart. There are so many opportunities to buy stuff in an urban area. Apparently, the dollar store is ready for me to stock up on some additional Christmas crap. However, our box with Christmas decorations has seldom been unpacked since we retired in 2014. It most likely won't this year either as we hope to be away again. Because of this, we did not need to look for anything in this aisle.
  Deck the Halls

Monday, October 12, 2020

BC Cranberries

Last night we were given a few local cranberries.  Tonight, we ate some homemade cranberry sauce.

BC Cranberries

We had a quiet day.  I did buy some pants at Walmart.  I was thinking of a new pair of ordinary jeans, but I ended up getting some black Wranglers.  Of course, because of COVID restrictions, the fitting rooms are still closed.  I was feeling a bit bigger so I went with 38" instead of a 36" waist.  Damn, I was right but that is most often the case, I guess.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving on Sunday!

Thanks for Thanksgiving

It was a slightly different Thanksgiving than usual, but we were lucky to maintain a bit of the familiar. We drove to Richmond to see these friends. It is the very first time we've gotten together since we got back in March. 

I can't think of a more beautiful way to meet than at Shinji's traditional feast. During appetizers, we Facetimed with some folks who are usually in attendance. The serving style was a bit different as rather than having everything on the table and passing things around, we filled up our own plates. It tasted as delicious as ever, I might add. 

We did enjoy ourselves and are thankful to have friends with which to share the Canadian Thanksgiving!
  COVID Serving Style

2020 Bird

Food, Glorious Food!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Let Me Pass!

My passwords were a complete mess.  I knew a few had been kicking around since my days with MS Internet Explorer.  There were site-duplicates that had been imported over the years, as I paraded through a long list of browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and my current Chromium-based MS Edge.  I had never used the same password for different sites but came up with a clever mnemonic solution to keep them all unique.  However, the length and allowed complexity of allowed passwords has increased.


This week, I took a plunge by installing a password manager.  Bitwarden was an obvious choice as it is free.  Getting rid of the passwords saved over the years by Google and now MS Edge was painfully slow and irksome.  It took even longer to devise a longer password convention to keep each site memorable enough so that I can still login without a crutch.  Next, I set out to change every single one.  I sometimes enjoy repetitive, mindless, and time-consuming tasks.  It's a gift.

As it stands right now, I have nearly 100 different credentials for Internet use.  This is because I was able to weed out more than 30% of the former sites I no longer visit.  It feels much better being organized even if it involves things that remain mostly unseen.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Canadian Snowbirds

Finally, October is showing. I mean that, at last, wet weather has returned to the Lower Mainland. 

I remember how interesting it was to arrive here after more than a decade of living in the arid Middle East. The first rainy winter seemed like a blessing. I guess they still are as they provide sufficient H₂O for prolific, nearby rainforests. Over the years, we learned to cope with the dark winter deluge, if not get completely acclimatized. 

Yet, as soon as it became obvious we could retire early, we knew that we'd try living the wet half of each year in different locations and climates.  Jay and I will celebrate our retirement dates this month. It seems somewhat unbelievable that six years have already passed. They've been some of our best years ever. 

As rain is now pelting our windows, I'm thinking back to our first retirement winter in Mexico. Although the upcoming one will be vastly different, there may be a number of similarities. 
  Our First Early-Retirement Winter

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Smile for the Birdie

The stars have not aligned for drone piloting lately. One thing or another has prevented me from getting up in the sky. The smoke from the west coast wildfires kept me inside for days. When the weather turns poor, I don't feel like flying either. I just looked at the app which helps me keep the little drone in the air and the last flight occurred on September 3rd. Wow, it's been more than a month!

Taken this Summer 
This photo was taken on July 28th. I was waving from the current, west end of Westminster Pier Park. Behind me, several towers will rise, one to a height of 52 storeys. Now, a great portion of the area has been prepped for construction. I wonder how much will be built when we return after the winter.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Andrey with Brushes and a Roller

Kitchen Painting

It was almost a month ago that Andrey was here to install our beadboard and the trim near our table.  He opened the can of Buttercup Yellow paint for the wall area above the white.  That day, he didn't get to the crown moulding or edge trim with the semi-gloss white. We waited for him to be free again.  Because as long as he was coming back, we figured he may as well do the kitchen walls in the same not-so-mellow yellow as above the wainscoting. 

We used to do simple painting ourselves. Now, however, as long as someone is willing to take a little money to do it right, who are we to turn him down? It's easy to let things slide if one doesn't make an appointment.  For example, I found a picture of the only other time we painted the kitchen. In this photo from 2002, Jay was applying a much 'more-restrained' layer of yellow.
  Painting the Kitchen

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

A Repeat of Yesterday?

Crossing to Queen's Park  
This entry is much like yesterday's as we went back to Queen's Park. We spent around the same amount time as yesterday but walked in different directions.  We got our EV 95% charged up.  That's enough juice to travel over 500km. We aren't planning a trip though.

It is such nice weather, after the morning fog burns off. It is a little smoky again from the California fires but not as much as during previous times. It is still fairly warm during daytime.  I don't expect that it'll stay so nice during upcoming weeks. We've only got around four before our expected departure for, at least, part of the winter.
   October BC Flower Baskets

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