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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nights at Sea

Jay in Juneau (2001)

Next Monday, we'll be in Juneau. I like the idea of a state capital with no road access. I wondered if I could find a photo of our last and only other visit to the Alaskan city and I did.

This was taken in 2001 on our first cruise adventure ever. This photo would have been after our second night aboard the ship. At the end our upcoming 7-day revisit, I calculated we will have spent exactly 100 nights aboard cruise ships.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Steel Cannot Smile

I'm Happy Being Electric

I do love my Kona Electric. In fact, there must nearly be as many pictures of it as the vehicle I drove for 23 years prior to buying Kimchi in the spring. I have figured that it is mostly due to the fact I love my EV but merely respected my former pickup.

Oh and there's the probably another important reason. During the first six years of owning the Ford Ranger, I did not have a digital means to capture images. I have only a few photos of my truck between 1996 and the first part of 2002. Then, a few more crop up after I owned a digital camera. Here is a picture of the old beast somewhere on a road in British Columbia in 2002. It was taken with my first Olympus digital.

My Old Ranger Somewhere in BC

Sunday, July 14, 2019

I Got da Power!

This morning, after stopping at the Walmart in Queensborough, we parked at the New West City Hall and walked down the hill. I hadn't plugged in Kimchi, our EV, for a couple of weeks. We have mostly done little, local errands and hadn't travelled far. My battery was still at 84%, but I thought I'd top it back up to 100%. On the modest 240V changer there, I knew it'd probably require the whole limit of two hours. It did. In fact, when I hiked back up there, it was still a few percentage points shy. Yet, the charger's timer showed I'd been plugged in a few minutes over the two hours of permitted parking. Because a Nissan Leaf rolled into the parking lot, I didn't wait for the last two percent.

As the weather is now warm, I expected to see my Kona Electric's range sit at 500 km; however, at 98% it stood at only 488 km (303 miles). That's still quite a bit better than the EPA rating of 258 miles on a charge!

The other electrical event of today wasn't as easy. I took out the wall light switch in the front closet, so I could install one of the TP-Link wifi switches I recently blogged about. Well, I shouldn't have assumed that this, mid-1980s, building had the necessary wiring. Home automation wall switches require the cable have a neutral wire. This is because even when the switch is off, it must maintain enough electricity to keep a wifi link active. Damn. I cannot use the new switch here! I can buy an alternate type of switch or simply buy a wifi bulb for that walk-in closet. Or, I might do nothing.

Damn.  No Neutral Wire!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Another Plastic Gadget?

Screenshot_2019-07-13 Esky Solar Weather Radios Hand Crank Self Powered Emergency FM AM NOAA Radio with LED Flashlight and [...]I can appreciate irony.

Yesterday's geek-ish entry was all about my foray into smart-home technology. I explained how I set up 'Google Home' to control lights and switches in this apartment. This morning I rolled out of bed and said, "Hey Google, Good Morning." Rather than having the fake fan switch off, hearing my calendar entries, and learning about the day's weather, I heard an announcement saying the speaker could not connect to the Internet.

I'm not sure if the fault was connected with a reported power outage in some neighbourhoods of New Westminster, or not. I do know that I called our Internet provider on my cell phone. Our regular phone is VoIP so that didn't work and neither did our TV as our local channels come to us over IP too. I did manage to use my phone as a hotspot to catch a bit of the TV news and listen to news radio.

I realized I was not able to actually tune into over-the-air broadcast radio. Of course, we live in an earthquake zone here and when, not if, the big one comes, we may not be able to count on Internet service. So while still connected to my mobile data plan, I ordered this cheap emergency radio with a hand crank. It has been a long time since I was a boy scout, but I have not forgotten about the importance of ... being prepared!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Automation is a Lot of Work

I've been shouting to turn on and off the lights since last summer. And no, I wasn't expecting Jay to do it. I became intrigued by the idea of home automation after buying my first Google Mini smart speaker. The little puck-sized speaker must have proved addictive as, by the end of last summer, I had three. One sits on our refrigerator in the kitchen, another is on my nightstand in the bedroom, and the one that started it all is located in the living room. These act as ordinary assistants answering life's little questions, but now control quite a bit of the apartment's lighting too.

I added smart light bulbs and a 4-pack of outlets. These must be connected to wifi and added to the Google Home app. A regular lamp can be simply turned on or off by saying, "Okay Google, turn on the table lamp," or in conjunction with other lights by requesting that Google, "Turn on the living room lights." I can add to a 'routine' so that when I tell Google "Goodnight," it turns off all the smart lights.

I sort of thought that smart bulbs were a better buy than wall switches as they can be easily moved about. A bulb is better than a simple switch as they can be dimmed by voice. All of my smart bulbs can also change colour. So I can say things like, "Hey Google, make the brightness of the balcony light 90% and make it green."

The only problem with a smart bulb is they must be activated by voice (or app) and the switch must always remain in the 'on' position. There are times when it'd be quicker to actually flick a switch when entering a room. So, I decided to try several wifi wall switches. These work in the traditional manner or by voice. Amazon delivered these today. I will use for the bedroom ceiling light and in the main utility closet.

Long Live Geek-dom!

If I'm pleased with the performance of TP-Link wall switches, I may buy several more especially made for two-way circuits. This would allow me to control the overhead fluorescent lights in the kitchen as well as the hallway lights.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Grey Views from Balconies

I suppose if given the choice between a bit of cool, damp weather or breathing in the hell from BC wildfires, we'd chose the former. I can't say I'm a big fan of the summer weather we've been experiencing so far though. The last several days prove my point. Yesterday, I had the apartment lights on at 10 AM and this morning was rainy. British Columbia is still beautiful even when the weather's not.

Really?  10AM in Mid-July?

At least we know we will not be spending the gloom of winter at home. We're off to Sri Lanka in November for three months. After that, we return to our other balcony view during the months of February and March. Today, we re-booked the same Airbnb studio we had last year. We might see an afternoon thunderstorm in Kuala Lumpur, but we can count on the temperature being over 30°C every day!

Built an Ark for Nothin'

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How Big's a Trillion?

Amazon FedExed Them from Ontario!I ordered a set of folding chairs from Amazon Canada. The four-pack arrived today via FedEx.

Oddly, these seats were shipped from Brampton, Ontario. It seemed strange to me that the 23 kg box wasn't sent from a closer distribution center. I understand Amazon Canada must have inked special deals for its free shipping. Yet, I was surprised such a heavy item was shipped 4,200 km for a two-day delivery.

It seems as though brick and mortar stores would have a leg-up in proving an efficient distribution model. However, I am not factoring in the dramatically increased costs in maintaining the facilities, utilities, and staffing. Perhaps shipping my chairs across a great part of Canada to my door was cheaper than providing these chairs in a standard retail environment.

The company must be doing something right to have amassed a market cap of $US 978.9B as of yesterday.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


I take the time to stop and smell them.

Many Dozens

Today we visited Queen's Park in our city. This is the best time of year to walk through its rose garden.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Thousands of EV Owners in BC

BC Hydro is our province's electrical utility. It's called that as about 95% of our electricity is produced from renewable resources, the majority being hydroelectricity.

A Card Carrying Member

The card above will eventually make it easy to keep track of my consumption at AC and DC charging stations in the province. Of course, it will also usher in a day when I might have to actually pay for the power I turn into motion. I look forward to that though as the rates at chargers should cost about a quarter, or less, of what I'd pay for petroleum to travel an equivalent distance.

The last time I stopped at a gas pump was October 28, 2018. Mind you, we weren't in British Columbia during the winter. Then, as soon as we returned in April, I got a grant for having my old truck crushed, and picked up my KONA Electric. Since then, I've been charging up at mostly free Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations in town and around our province.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

A Sound No Longer Common

The year before we arrived in Canada, in 1995, Bill Gates with two others first published a book entitled, The Road Ahead. The term, 'a friction-free economy', was most likely coined in it.


I considered that phrase as, a few minutes ago, we bought two airlines tickets we will use during our upcoming winter. It was so easy to find the flights we wanted, visit the website of Sri Lankan Airlines, and instantaneously pay in rupees on a foreign-transaction-free credit card. We got not only confirmation but printed out our e-tickets for flights a full six and a half months away.

This would've seemed quite amazing in the days we used to connect to the Internet with a telephone modem. (Click: Can you remember that sound?)

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Form Follows Function

Tonight we're going downtown to visit friends for dinner. I'm not sure if we'll go a bit earlier and head to the waterfront to get a look at the MS Nieuw Amsterdam. We will be leaving in two weeks and although we've seen (or been on) quite a few of Holland America's cruise ships, I'm not sure we ever really paid attention to this one.

We started the morning as we do most Saturdays with a trip to the grocery store. I parked beside a gasoline Hyundai Kona. So, I was able to snap a photo for comparison.

Konas: Petrol and Electric

It is strange how quickly one gets used to the grill-less design. At first, I thought the KONA EV looked a bit 'faceless' but I have now grown quite attached to how my vehicle looks from the front. As people get used to EVs, designers will eventually do away with any pretense of a grill. There is no radiator, so it is stupid to keep a design point which serves absolutely no purpose. A ridiculous example is the Jaguar I-PACE.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Where's My Calendar and Calculator?

Yay, I have an Amazon Canada Prime membership with free 2-day shipping! So today's order will arrive on Wednesday, July 10th. OK, thanks.

Prime 2-Day Delivery?

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Don't Let Your Neighbours Slow You Down

If you have a house far from neighbours, you probably don't need to worry about wifi interference. However, in a condo or crowded neighbourhood, airwaves may get a bit tight.

Pick a Good Channel
Showing the 2.4GHz wifi signals available from our apartment.

Wifi routers are supposed to find an open channel; however, in many cases, they are not set to do so automatically. Neighbours can also come and go or update equipment. Therefore, you may wish to occasionally check.

It is easy to find an app for your phone which will scan or analyze these frequencies. Just search for "wifi analyzer" in your app store for a multitude of free options. You may have both 2.4 and 5GHz bands to check. If you find other wifi signals on the exact same channel as yours, and if they're physically close, you may find it worth your time to have someone modify your setup. I switched channels on my WINDTALKER-5GHz last night.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

What About September?

I noticed Jay was doing web searches on the Sunwing website.

We do have our summer getaways planned with my birthday Alaskan cruise coming up this month. In August, we have our weeklong getaway with an Airbnb during Fierté Montréal. So far, September is unscheduled. Though, during the second week of September Jay has a 'big' birthday too. This year, his is an odd number but it may be more iconic than mine.

Cuba - Day 3
Some good gifts can't always be wrapped. This was Havana 2018. Again?

We really enjoyed our stay in Cuba last September. If we leave a week earlier than last year, a trip could be a celebration for Jay's birthday. Cuba is a very cheap place to fly and stay in an all-inclusive. The people are nice and the beaches pristine. We loved the slightly run-down comfort of the Hotel Atlantico. We might prefer the close proximity to the city of Havana over the larger resort hotels in Varadero.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Google Nest Hub

It's not my birthday yet, but it IS my birth MONTH. I'm entitled to a bit of frivolousness under the guise of personal education. I do need to keep up with technology and changes, right? I certainly have never wasted my money on wine, women, and song. It's personal preferences for the first two, and I'm too cheap to pay for a premium Spotify account, for sure.

Oh Google, You Own Me!

I saw these were on sale in Canada right now. So, our current sale-price equals what Americans normally pay. (There's a high cost to living in paradise.) Anyway, I get to rip open a new box right now. That, somehow, makes it all seem worthwhile.

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