A Patch of Blue

Jericho Beach Webcam

As you can see from the Web­cam at Jeri­cho Beach, the rain has stopped. In fact, it end­ed yes­ter­day. So, we missed the record. In fact, we fell a few days short of it. So, noth­ing to brag about, unless you con­sid­er ‘near­ly as long as the record for num­ber of days of rain’ excit­ing.

I’m glad that I can go out with­out the near­ly con­stant drip of water on my head or feet, but I sup­pose I’d secret­ly want­ed to see what tru­ly unique rain­fall lev­els would be like. It does give us one less thing to talk about, I sup­pose. I’m told that Cana­di­ans always do talk about the weath­er, but it’s near­ly always in the form of a ques­tion (and I have wit­nessed this): It’s not ‘Gee, it’s been rain­ing a long time.’, it’s ‘Wet enough for you, eh?’

More baby steps, and a busy week ahead

We fêt­ed the arrival of Pam’s Work Per­mit. She already has some con­tract edit­ing work, and is glad to be reen­ter­ing the work force, even if it’s a part-time gig here or there until she finds some­thing per­ma­nent. We also received two inter­est­ing gov­ern­men­tal items in the mail this past week: First, there was a shiny white card with my new Social Insur­ance Num­ber (or SIN). I guess this means that they can start deduct­ing that from my pay­check, so I am also a par­tic­i­pant in the Cana­di­an Safe­ty Net. As for you who don’t have one of these and dis­par­age social­ized gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits, Let he who is with­out a SIN num­ber cast the first stone… Sor­ry, could­n’t resist one last pun on SIN (as if I was the only one to make one of those, yeah, right).

We also received a bill for the pre­mi­ums that we’ll have to pay to get social­ized health insur­ance. So, per per­son, per quar­ter, as many peo­ple know, the bill is $94 CAD (that’s about $81 US accord­ing to the lat­est exchange rate). For the two of us, it means that we’ll be pay­ing $288 * 4, or $1,152 per year for our Health Insur­ance. I’ll be get­ting den­tal and opti­cal from work. This takes some of the sting out of those sales (and now income) tax­es we’re been pay­ing. As some Sep­tic Tank Main­te­nance guy said in some com­mer­cial I saw years ago: “You can pay me now, or pay me more lat­er.”

This week has a full cal­en­dar: On Mon­day there’s a meet­up for the Graph­ic Design­ers of Van­cou­ver, Tues­day is Game­lan prac­tice, Thurs­day is the BC Apple User Group, and Fri­day is the Grand Old Man of Min­i­mal­ism, Ter­ry Riley (along with the poet Michael McClure) at the UBC Chan Cen­tre.

writ­ten while lis­ten­ing to: Schrek­er: Cham­ber Sym­pho­ny — i. Langsam, schwebend “, per­formed by The Musikkol­legium Win­terthur con­duct­ed by Han­na Wein­meis­ter

More Charts and Graphs

Sog­gi­er Still
The rains have now reached the point where every­one is now almost urg­ing them on. The record for the most rainy days in a row for Van­cou­ver is 28. We are at 24 today, and no end to it is seen on any of the fore­casts (although every once in a while I’d see a sun appear next to Sat­ur­day or Sun­day, but I sus­pect this was just wishful/wimpy think­ing by some mete­o­rol­o­gist). After just 5 more days, we have brag­ging (or per­haps whin­ing) rights. Worst Win­ter Ever. Most Rain in Record­ed His­to­ry. Even George Stroum­boulopou­los, the twen­ty-some­thing hip­ster host of CBC’s The Hour took pity on Van­cou­ver and had them put an inset of footage of a sun­ny beach on the screen dur­ing half of the news last night. (Pam and I are both becom­ing fans of The Hour. Sure it’s a lit­tle goofy at times, but it sure is nice to see a news­cast that is tar­get­ed at younger view­ers — prob­a­bly about 25–35 — and it does­n’t talk down to them. You’d nev­er find any­thing like it in the US, where the evening news is sup­port­ed almost entire­ly by phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies and is clear­ly aimed at the over-60 crowd).

It’s not just the Ris­ing Water Lev­el

Accu­mu­lat­ed days of non-stop rain are not the only records I’m keep­ing my eye on.There’s also the case of the Cana­di­an ver­sus the US dol­lar. I know, I’ve men­tioned it before, how the US$ keeps drop­ping and drop­ping and the CAD$ keeps ris­ing and ris­ing. I remem­ber a dis­cus­sion with our invest­ment advi­sor about what to do if it hit $.85, as we still had (and have) some funds here and back in the US in US dol­lars. Well, have a look at this:

Canadian Dollar Vs Us

The Cana­di­an dol­lar has­n’t just hit .85. It’s roar­ing on past it. At the rate the Cana­di­an Dol­lar is climb­ing, by the end of the year (by my esti­mates), the US and Cana­di­an dol­lar will be equal. While this is bad news for our sav­ings, it is good news that I’m work­ing and being paid in Cana­di­an dol­lars. Still, one won­ders what hap­pens after par­i­ty. Do we keep going? Does the US start to become a bar­gain for all us Cana­di­an shop­pers? More seri­ous­ly, does this mean that trade with the US takes a hit? That could hurt the econ­o­my here pret­ty bad­ly.

I keep won­der­ing if the lack of con­fi­dence with the US cur­ren­cy is some­how linked to the US’s fall in the world’s esteem. As they roll around like some dying ani­mal in unend­ing war, mul­ti-tril­lion dol­lar debt and one cor­rup­tion rev­e­la­tion after anoth­er, per­haps the financiers and invest­ment bankers of Europe, Asia (and Toron­to) are start­ing to take a cue from all of those crowds of pro­test­ers. Accord­ing to my par­ents, the port of Can­ton in Chi­na was not mere­ly catch­ing up to the US. “It’s there.” stat­ed my father, mean­ing that it was clear­ly show­ing the signs of an eco­nom­ic super­pow­er that had sur­passed the US in infra­struc­ture.

Nev­er­the­less, fear of fol­low­ing the US polit­i­cal­ly seems to be on the wane. The Con­ser­v­a­tives, led by Steven Harp­er, seem poised to win the elec­tion (sor­ry, no poll graph here of the opin­ion polls of Harp­er). While Harp­er is def­i­nite­ly not my choice, I have to keep telling myself that he’s no George Bush, and to be sure, he isn’t. Still, when­ev­er I hear the words ‘Con­ser­v­a­tive vic­to­ry’, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and my blood pres­sure prob­a­bly fol­lows that graph.

Our Friend the Beaver

My friend Matt got me a copy of the book “How to Be a Cana­di­an”, and I’ve got­ten through about a third of it already: It’s a scream. One of my favorite parts so far is:

Offi­cial Role Mod­el
The Rus­sians have a bear, the Brits a lion, and the Amer­i­cans a mighty eagle. In Cana­da. the nation­al ani­mal is a beaver. Renowned for its hard work, even tem­per, indus­tri­ous nature and … oh, who are we kid­ding? The beaver is a forty-pound water rat whose most hero­ic trait is that he thinks to slap his tail and warn his bud­dies before he runs away. And cripes, it’s not like Cana­di­ans were short on choic­es. The coun­try is filled with nobler, more awe-inspring ani­mals. The tim­ber wolf. The griz­zly bear. The moun­tain lion. The wood­land bison. Hell, even a cari­bou or a muskox would have been bet­ter than a buck-toothed, webbed-toed, wad­dle-hap­py rodent. But nooooo, when Canada’s nation­al ani­mal was final­ly made offi­cial in 1975, it was the beaver that was cho­sen.

I remem­ber that when we were look­ing for some land to buy in Ver­mont, the Real Estate agent showed us one dra­mat­ic home site with a pond below it, and what looked like a swamp fur­ther down from that. The swamp was the result of a beaver dam, the agent told us. If we want­ed to get rid of it, we could end up in a bat­tle with the beavers, until we had them relo­cat­ed (or, I assume, we relo­cat­ed and left the next bat­tle to some oth­er poor humans). Need­less to say, we did­n’t buy that plot of land. Even if we had, Plan B (mov­ing to Cana­da) made sure that Mr. Beaver and his fel­low fur­ry civ­il engi­neers would­n’t have us to dam up any­way. So it’s a moat point. Ouch. Sor­ry.

It's Still Raining and Everybody has a Cold

When I got back to work after the hol­i­days, I found out that sev­er­al peo­ple had got­ten sick over the vaca­tion (in fact, one had his entire fam­i­ly sick and even made one trip to the doc­tor’s office). So, I guess it was lucky that I did­n’t get a cold last week or the week before. Of course, in keep­ing with my out-of-synch health these days, I have a cold this week instead. I’m clear­ly not alone. Not only does blog after blog that I read tell of cold suf­fer­ing, but every third com­mer­cial on tonight’s TV has been for cold med­i­cines. The most intrigu­ing one I’ve seen is a euca­lyp­tus tablet that you put in the show­er. Sort of a cross between a bub­ble bath and a vapor­iz­er, I guess.

I’ll bet a lot of peo­ple get a cold this time of year. It’s been rain­ing on and off for about 3 weeks, and it’s due to keep doing it for anoth­er 1 or 2, at least. I know, I know, I was warned. It’s actu­al­ly not both­er­ing me that much. The only real drag is if I hap­pen to be out with­out an umbrel­la when there’s a break. My quo­ta for get­ting caught in a down­pour (and it’s not usu­al­ly that strong) is 2 times in a week. As for the rain quo­ta, we are now just about at the point where the accu­mu­lat­ed pre­cip­i­ta­tion is aver­age for the year, as shown by the chart at the top. The one on the bot­tom shows what it’s been like, and as you can see, it has indeed been rain­ing for 3 weeks (apart from a brief lull of driz­zle right on New Year’s when we were out of town. Doh!)
Van Rainfall
For­tu­nate­ly Pam has­n’t got­ten a cold…yet.

Happy 2006!

Our vis­it with my broth­er’s fam­i­ly in Seat­tle went by in a whirl. After some Hol­i­day par­ty­ing, shop­ping, and what felt like tons of eat­ing, we returned via Trail­ways bus. The bus trip back was­n’t quite as com­fort­able as the train we took down, but it was fine, and cer­tain­ly beat the expense of a rental car or the tir­ing dri­ve and poten­tial­ly long wait at the bor­der. I’m hop­ing that we can do a repeat trip some time soon, or per­haps they can vis­it us here again.

If felt good to be back, and both Pam and I noticed that it was great to see famil­iar land­marks as the bus start­ed to get near to town.

One More Sur­prise Stat
Since New Year’s Day fell on a week­end day (Sun­day), many peo­ple in the US and Cana­da appar­ent­ly felt cheat­ed out of a hol­i­day. So in some back room, some­one placed a check (or an x) in a box, and lo and behold: Mon­day is anoth­er statu­to­ry hol­i­day (a ‘stat’ for short). I did­n’t know this. In fact, I got up at the usu­al time, took the bus in to work and found the door to the office locked (and no answer to knocks or phone calls; I could even hear all the phones ring­ing!)

So, I had lunch with Matt (who is back from his vis­it to Lub­bock with Oana) and got caught up. Lat­er, Pam and I did some gro­cery shop­ping, so we’re much bet­ter pre­pared for the week. An extra final vaca­tion day, even if some­what unex­pect­ed, was appre­ci­at­ed.