These small images link to photographs found in my currently-active Flickr album.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Morning Drive to Golden Ears Provincial Park

Two days into the first long weekend of the summer and the weather is still pleasant. Imagine that!

Great Weather for a Long Weekend

Our Morning Drive

It was a great day for the short, 50 KM drive to Golden Ears Provincial Park. We started out on Highway 1 and then crossed the Golden Ears bridge which was completed nine years ago. I don't think we had ever traversed the structure since its opening. I recall taking the old ferry across the river though. The bridge no longer requires a toll.

Urban Action in the Woods

Very BC


This 560 square kilometer park is one of the closest to the urban metro-Vancouver area. We knew its campgrounds would be full and read signs stating so as we approached the entrance. We drove through the Alouette Lake Campground at an impressively slow speed because of the dozens of tots running around on bicycles and on foot. It looked to us as though city people like to bring the city with them on their trips into the 'wilderness'.

Kimchi, our EV, is a pleasure to drive. The adaptive cruise control works as well on backroads as on an expressway. In stop-and-go traffic coming back on Route 7, the Kona came to a complete stop as traffic slowed and halted at lights. My gentle touch on the accelerator pedal brought everything back into action and we resumed our journey. If there is one disappointing thing about the Hyundai, it's a poorly implemented GPS map system. The voice commands could not identify the park, one of the main features of the area! I much prefer plugging in my phone and using Android Auto for road mapping.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Summer is Unoffically Here

Have a Happy Long Weekend, Canada!

What'da know? It was the beginning of the Victoria-Day Long Weekend in British Columbia, Canada and the weather remained half decent. Early campers are usually sitting in a pool of water by now. Wonder if it'll stay pleasant through Monday?

Friday, May 17, 2019

We're at the Bottom of Sixth Street

The Indian Shop on 6th

We have Indian grocery shops if we go south, across the river, into Surrey. We also have several on Sixth Street up from our place and into Burnaby. Jay buys telephone cards when calling Sri Lanka. He thinks it's cheaper than using Skype to connect to mobile and landlines on the island nation.

Of course, it's hard not to pick up some groceries too. Jay was excited to see amla fruit for all its health benefits. The small plum looking berries are not my favourite thing.

Yesterday when coming back from one shop, we drove to Queen's Park. It's nice to see the goats for the summer petting zoo are in place and looking forward to visitors over the Canadian long weekend.

Eager for the Victoria Day Weekend Opening

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hey, Google. How Can I Get My Old Assistant Back?

I recently had a different assistant working for me. I have three Google Minis, along with some wifi lighting and outlets, spread around our tiny 715 sq ft apartment. Last week, perhaps after a Home app update, my familiar assistant's voice changed.

This 30-second clip may also be played from its Flickr source page.

I felt sad and didn't like my new 'temp'. It took forever and some Internet searching to see where the voice settings are hiding. Google has to work on simplifying the app and making the hodgepodge of an interface a little more intuitive.

Luckily, I found my guy and got him working for me again. Jay seems to have taken up with some sort of Australian trollop.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Savings Which Aren't

Property taxes are not due until the first of July. In fact, the city doesn't send out envelopes or online notifications until next month. However, I was looking through my saved Internet links and opened New Westminster's city billing. The data is already online.

Our Home on the 10th Floor

As Jay officially hits senior status this year, we are now eligible for the additional property tax grant. We'll be able to save an additional $275 per year over a standard homeowner's grant. That certainly sounds great, doesn't it?

Go figure! Our tax bill increased by more than that amount this year alone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Perk (I Probably Won't Use)

We have ensured that we seldom get anything in our postbox. However, today, I didn't mind an envelope from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. I'd requested it.

Permanent HOV Lane Access

I applied for a sticker to use the province's HOV lanes even if driving alone. There are three reasons why this really won't matter to me. First, I don't commute and haven't driven in rush hours since I retired in 2014. Another reason why it is not too important is that our humongous province has two sections of road with HOV lanes. Lastly, I seldom get on the TransCan through the crowded Lower Mainland without Jay in the car. If two passengers are in the car, it is always permissible to use the special lanes.

I do like perks though and appreciate the effort BC is taking to reduce greenhouse gases. People might not notice that our vehicle is electric as there's only one little badge saying, electric on the rear. Of course, the fact it doesn't have a front grill might be a rather obvious clue too. This decal is my little, eco-warrior badge.

Monday, May 13, 2019

We Continue to Use Paper Travel Documents

Since getting back from Malaysia last month, our printer has been nagging for new toner. The output looked fine though. I tried the vigorous-shake method used during my years of printing teaching materials. Still, the Windows 10 system tray warning persisted.

Oh, Brother!

I already had a spare toner cartridge for my Brother device. Soon after buying the printer, I noticed that it had shipped with toner marked as 'sample-sized' only. I may have purchased the replacement via Amazon last summer when I noticed how reasonably priced they were.

Let's see, how long have I had this combo scanner/printer? If I didn't regularly blog, I'd forget half the stuff of my life. Okay, a quick search showed I've been using the same trial cartridge for almost two years! Now my printing needs should be set for the indeterminate, foreseeable future.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Local Money

This photo of an uptown building was taken over 11 years ago. We've lived in New Westminster long enough to remember when an old cinema was removed and a part of this building was repurposed. I think I can spot the VanCity Credit Union in this 2008 image.

Uptown 1

Last night, I was thinking about my banking. We are happy with our present international bank as it offers services in many parts of the world we visit. When in Puerto Vallarta during our first winter after early-retirement we were close to a branch. The same goes for our five months in Luxor, Egypt. The last couple of winters, we regularly used our bank's ATMs in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia too. So it meets our needs well.

However, I was thinking that perhaps I should move to a credit union for a checking-type account although it is free at our present institution. There is something comforting about the goals of a local credit union. I think it'd be nice to again participate in one, even if only for a few basic banking needs.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Getting Juice While Getting Some Juice

Charging to 80% was Quick.

This morning, the DC charger was not occupied when we went grocery shopping at the closest Canadian Superstore in Coquitlam. This was supposed to be the plan. It is great to be able to fill up to 80% while picking up our food supply for the week. I had to set my phone timer and come out before we were done as I already had quite a bit of juice in the Kona's battery pack.

It is gratifying knowing that falling water generates my energy for zipping around on the roads of the Lower Mainland. At this point all the BC Hydro DC chargers are free. This will encourage the sales of EVs and our provincial electricity company is ensuring market share of future transportation options. Of course, unlike petrol which encourages global conflict and environmental degradation, electricity can be created from various sources. If I had a typical house with a large enough roof, I'd invest in solar panels and make my own means of motion from sunshine.

The DC Charger was Available!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fighting Fire with Google Play Services

Fire HD 10.1

The other day when we were sitting in the plane waiting to push off from the gate, I ordered an Amazon HD 10.1 tablet. I was prompted by the fact I'd turned my sister on to a photo editing app called Snapseed. I do love how easy it makes doing quick edits. However, I was unable to do much on my Asus 7-inch tablet because of the poor screen resolution.

I knew I needed something with at least 1080P and so many Android tablets come with pretty crappy screens. I noticed the Amazon Fire sported a standard HD screen and a bit more space for viewing the image. The new device arrived yesterday. I'm pretty familiar with Android devices but Amazon has really tied down this Fire. Of course, they sell cheaply in order to promote their series of services.

Getting to plain old stock Android is hard. In fact, after an update last night I lost the functionality of my replacement launcher. I guess I can get used to the Amazon setup. I did manage to add enough Google to the little devil to be able to stream music to my Minis and Chromecast. The Netflix app, however, refuses to cooperate by providing the Chromecast icon. There's been something in the news about the standoff between Amazon and Google soon ending. They are burying the hatchet and allowing each other's devices to cooperate. It'll be a while before that software makes it onto my tablet. Still, the Fire provides a lot of bang for a few bucks.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

We're in the Air So Much, You Can Call Us Major Toms!

Screen Capture for Blog PostIt's Thursday and I slept nicely in our bed last night. We were tired from our five-night, whirlwind trip.

I've got to add the missed posts from our recent New Hampshire experiences. Lots of pictures were snapped and some text was written; it's just that none of it got posted online yet. Meeting up with my sister was a great experience and I'm happy we got a chance to fulfill one of our father's final wishes by scattering his remains in a favourite spot of his.

It seems like Jay and I are just getting used to Pacific time again. Yet, we've already got the first stage of our winter plans solidified. This happened because Jay is great at checking travel sites and getting deals on flights. We've picked up some return flights on a reputable airline to SE Asia for less than $US 570 each. Honestly, that's a hell of a long way to go for the price. We enjoyed flying EVA Airlines last winter, so using KL as a base and going back through Taiwan seems a no-brainer.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Three Flights to MHT

We're Old School.  We like holding on to boarding passes.

We are old school. We like holding onto paper boarding passes at the airport. I have to admit that WestJet made it marginally more fun. When printed out, one gets to fold the normal sheet into four sections to make a little book. The pages contain airport and flight boarding instructions too. The procedure nearly made me sad that early retirement has prevented me from enjoying the preparation part of getting ready for a new class.

Jay and I have six little books because it takes three flights to get to our destination. We have to get up earlier than normal tomorrow morning because we take off from Vancouver International Airport at 9:00 AM local time. By the time we reach our destination, our time zone will be three hours ahead and it'll be time to sleep.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Now Kimchi is Getting to Know Me!

OMG. I must be that old fart in the slow lane who's left his directional signal on! Look at my car's opinion of my driving style.

OMG.  I must be that old fart in the slow lane who left his directional signal on!

Electric cars generate a lot of data, some of which is used for operating. For example, the 'best-guess' mileage remaining on the battery uses past use to determine its numbers. Now, how do I get ICBC to reduce my car insurance because I never drive aggressively?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Custer Rest Area

Depending on how much coffee or tea we drink in the morning and the length of the US border wait, we often find need to stop at the first southbound I-5 rest area. Years ago, I read about the West Coast Green Highway. Then, during the summer of 2012, one of the first EV chargers I ever inspected appeared at the Custer Rest Area. Seven years have passed.

I-5 Custer Rest Area

Rest Stop Dognapping Not Encouraged

Must Memorize: HP9 48X

Today, I used it on a little trip to Bellingham, WA. We only visited the 'facilities' and chatted with another traveller for around 15 minutes. So, plugging into the Level 2 Charger probably gave me only around six miles of charge. However, it was free. Why not?

The sky was completely blue this morning, a type of blue that leaves one somewhat awestruck. We wanted to cross the border so that our new license plates would be logged and 'known' at the border. It was a good chance to get more familiar with Kimchi, the nickname for our KONA. Driving this vehicle is going to make me a very, very lazy driver. The adaptive cruise control is absolutely brilliant and the Lane Keep Assist gently nudged me towards the center of the lane several times.

I have spent the majority of my life using the metric system. Of course, the default set up for Canadian vehicles shows KPH. Kimchi reads speed signs when travelling on all highways. It displays a little sign indicator in my heads-up display and on the center screen. I was happy to see that as soon as we got over the border, 70 MPH displayed as 112 KPH automatically. Cool. I think I'm in love.

Jay at Fred's

We parked at our Fred Meyer on Bakerview Road. Years ago, when our dollars were more at par, we shopped there frequently. We have not been for a long time. The views of snowcapped Mt. Baker were fantastic. After, we drove around downtown before getting back on the northbound Interstate.

Monday, April 29, 2019

My First Adjustable Steering Wheel

We were zipping around doing some errands this morning. Our bank doesn't open until 10:00, so we were not out and about too early.

I suggested we also zip up to the Edmonds Community Center in Burnaby. Driving our new Hyundai KONA Electric is a dream. I've been a bit stressed driving for years. I always put it down to the hassle of getting around an urban area. Now, I'm beginning to think it was difficult to relax in my old Ranger because it was completely analog and very rough around the edges.

Burnaby's Edmonds Community Centre

Jay hasn't unblocked his gym membership for Burnaby's rec centers yet. He always Skytrains to one in the Metrotown neighbhourhood called the Bonsor Recreation Complex. I was trying to encourage him to use the one we visited today instead. It is so pleasant and was extremely busy for a Monday morning. I could hang out there on a regular basis. I even noticed a 55+ lounge area with an appearance that reminded me of a Holland America cruise ship library. It had dark wood with a flat-screen TV and many shelves of books and other diversions.

Of course, the weather outside was fantastic today. The outside grounds are enormous with areas for relaxation and play. Canada does do community amenities right. Our taxes are high but we get so much for our money.

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