Life Goes On–Blue Skies Ahead

Great news, if you are living on the North Coast, we are at the leading edge of a possible week’s worth of awesome, but cool, weather! The snow seems to be behind us now, as a nice high pressure area parked above us, and will hold for a while. But enough about the weather, let us talk about life, mainly my life. It is going good. On all accounts, I would say, things are moving along quite nicely. The job is awesome, I am meeting new people all the time and the money is good. The leaps and bounds I have made here are impressive comparing it to my time spent down in the Lower Mainland–life is good.

In typical North Coast fashion, the days are getting longer quite noticeably. Already, at 7:00am, I noticed the sky getting lighter, and by 8:00am, it is practically daylight. I remember the spring seasons from my younger days, and spring hit with a bang. Though at least three weeks behind South, the spring season erupts with explosions of green as the trees ignite their buds all at once. I am waiting for that moment—with camera in hand.

With my holidays booked for the year, it seems that this will be the very first job in which I get mandatory vacation time within six months blocks. When I asked to submit my holiday time, I had only a a couple weeks to figure what times I wanted. The only caveat was that it meshes with the person who flies up North to cover my time away. Other than that, I had free rein of choosing when, not by some complicated formula on a calendar.

Before I forget, the computer is better than what I expected. The faster RAM and CPU are awesome. My rendering times for 3D Graphics are a lot faster. In a way, I should of done this earlier when I was doing simple animations. The image in this post took less than fifteen seconds at 500 samples in Cycles on Blender at 1080 pixels.

So, to wrap it up, today is looking great as I start the weekend. Once the stores open, I am going to do some shopping and perhaps buy some lamps for the apartment. It needs more light.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This was an extra special day because I got to spend it with that extra special someone. We went out for dinner after we exchanged our Valentine’s Cards at the end of our work day. It was the almost perfect day too, sunny, above freezing, and not snowing. Dinner was just the two of us, though her folks had the same idea as us, as they went to the same spot too–it was funny. We ended the evening off by driving around as went through the snowy streets of Terrace and Thornhill, then departed for an early evening because of work tomorrow. In all, it was a great day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Back Up and Running!

It works! I am typing this post out on my main PC, and it feels so good. I just got this machine (PC) running a few minutes ago, as I was waiting for my RAM, 8G, DDR4 chips set, that arrived in the mail today. Luckily all my hardware and software works with it too! I am so freaking happy about this. OH, yeah, the weather–need to talk about that too. Oh my,  the weather is just as freaky as my happiness right now. But Ya, I have my good computer working again. Feels so nice.

Back to my personal computer news. So it is confirmed, I killed the main board. So I had to buy another one. Sadly, my old main board is no longer made any more. Along with it, I went for newer CPU too, and then the RAM. The price of RAM is through the roof–all due to Bitcoin Miners–I should point out. I went with upgrading instead of trying to replace everything with totally new gear. I kept the specs as close as I could being that I was trying to recover my hard drive in process. It all paid off! Not only do I have a faster main board with a faster CPU, but the RAM is fast too, and it works flawlessly with the way my hard drive is–OS and all. I did a benchmark render with my 3D software to test out the hardware, and I noticed the render time is about twenty to thirty per cent faster then before with my old hardware. This is awesome–$300.00 of awesomeness.

OK, the weather around here has been unreal, at least for me. People who were born here, this was–meh–whatever. Since January 28, 2018, we have had well over 110cm of total snow fall. The worst was on Friday, when we had over 48cm of snow in twenty-four hours. However, today was just as weird as well. The snow started late last night, and we were only forecasted to have a sprinkle of 10cm of snow. Instead, we had a dump of over 20cm, but it came down hard, and I feared that we were looking at another February 9th dump. The big difference was, we got up to 4C. But this was when it got weird. South Terrace, BC was getting snow, while East Terrace was getting hard compact snow, though only 8 to 10cm. It was Thornhill, BC, just across the river, where it was raining–hard. Right now, there are patches of blue sky, and my home thermometer says 4C, and the rain/snow has stopped.

So, back to my playing on PC! Yay!

Cold/flu, Broken PC and Snow Storms, What is Next?

Actually, I am doing not too bad, when I compare my life from just last year when I was living in Southern British Columbia, catching a cold today is nothing. But yes, I have the local flu that is going around, and my RAM has still not arrived, and these last two days of sunshine are awesome, but come with night time temperatures of -17c. So, I am dealing with the flu a lot better then I was this last year, but not having a my PC working has been hard to deal with.

The flu hit me back on Thursday, and hit its peak on Friday. I whole heartedly attribute me catching the flu from being stressed, and from lack of sleep. Most of the last two weeks Terrace was getting hit with a bunch of storms that brought with them, anywhere from 10cm to 48cm per dump, and so where I work, the demand to deal with keeping the workers supplied and stocked with parts, meant that I have to be there at all hours. So you can only imaging with a little car, driving through 30cm of snow, what is was like. I did get stuck, but thankfully I carry a snow shovel with me, so I never had to call a tow truck. The road clearing crews here, I must say, are awesome. Without them, the town would grind to a halt.

My RAM will be here on Tuesday, though actually it is in town. Sadly, Monday is a BC holiday, and I have to work it. Apparently, this is a BC Stat Holiday, and as such, Employers can chose to contract its workers out of it, and make it a regular working day, such as for Federal workers. So, oddly, Canada Post will not be delivering the mail on that day, so my RAM sits in Terrace, for an extra day. I do not care about the holiday, but I do care about getting that RAM.

Funny, after dealing with 48cm snow in one day, the next storm will bring with it another 10cm, and that does not seem anywhere outrageous. In fact, outside, it is minus nine, and that seems nice when comparing it to last week. Also, the Sun is noticeably staying in the sky longer. The morning rays just started to reach my driveway now this morning, so this is a great sign, before today, the sunlight would completely miss my building until noon. Spring is just over five weeks away!

Time to go. Need to drain out my nose. Personal Blog Out. 

 

The Day After the Five Dumps

As the title of the post says, since my last post, we have had about five storm systems move over us since January 29, and finally today, we are getting some rest. Yesterday, the storm left us with 48cm of snow up at the Terrace Airport, so that is 48cm in 24 hours. Before that we were averaging about 20cm per storm. My little car has managed to get through it all, with only getting stuck this morning, twice. Overall, I am glad to finally have a nice day, and we hit plus  1C too.

The snow storms from last week were brutal also. Each system bringing with it anywhere from 5 to 20cm of snow. But the worse part of it, we hovered around minus 11 to minus 8C throughout it all.  Being that I start work very early in the morning, there were some trips where snow removal was not started yet, so driving through snow banks was my nail biting experience getting to work. However, I still say Terrace, British Columbia has some of the best snow removal on the coast. Highway 16, was always awesome to drive on.

I wanted to get a video of today’s drive home from town, but my camera mount for my dashcam broke. I guess I will do it again tomorrow, if I can get this thing fixed.

My DDR3 RAM is coming from Ontario. I was hoping that it would arrive from Vancouver, but they seem to be fresh out. So, my PC sits broken until I get it. The wait time is around February 13. The reason why I need it is because of the hard drive. All my photos are on it, but I do have back ups, but the hard drive has them nice and organized. Also, my PC will be many times faster than this lap top that I am working now.

Yet Another Dump of Snow

Yup, it was on the news that another dump of now was upon us, up here in the North Coast. And sure enough, it came to past. The white fluffy flakes came from the skies, like ashes from a bonfire, the land was covered on mere moments. When I awoke, the chaos was well underway. It was digging time!

This storm is going to be the first in a series of weather systems that are going to hit us over the next few days. Sadly, this might be a taste of what is to come.

The cool part about getting back into my driveway, from after work, was that some of my neighbours went out help me shovel the last car length of snow after I got stuck. I was getting worried when I was at work watching the snow fall. They said that there was no mail either at the apartments. I guess we wait until the driveway is cleared. Calling the landlord now. On the news, they said that almost 30cm of snow has fallen.

Getting Out On a Saturday Night – a Drive Down the Highway

It was the spur of the moment, a nice dinner at the Golden Star after we headed out for a drive going towards the ski hill called Shames Mountain. Our timing was almost perfect as the Sun was just setting, and the light was changing to the golden hour of the day (which is photography speak for one of the best times of the day to take photos in). The day had just peaked out at 1C, and 3C if you were parking out in the direct view of the Sun, so driving down the Prince Rupert Highway (HWY16 West) was a bit crisp on the roads, but I no issues driving on it. The scenery was just awesome as we drove through the narrow Skeena Valley.

The above shot was taken just before the town limits looking East into Terrace, BC. The first rolling mountain is Terrace Mountain, and to the right is the Copper Mountain. Of course, in the fore ground lays the mighty Skeena River. 

The evening was getting on with the Sunset around 5:00pm there about, but it is hard to tell when you are down in the narrow valley. It was time back to town. We went driving only because we had some time to pass until the restaurant was wanted to go was open. As we were driving West down the highway, we were seeing a whole bunch of cars heading East. Suzette figures that these were people who were skiing at Shames Mountain.

With the clear sky, came the view of the Moon. Sadly, a Pacific Storm has been forecast for tomorrow, so this would it as far a super clear weather, so I took a couple shots of the Moon with my 300mm telephoto lens, saying “goodbye” until the nice weather returned. We are fortunate, there is very little light pollution, and the pollution in the sky is fairly low too around here. Seeing the stars here is very different than seeing them in Vancouver, BC.

Of course, the night was young, and dinner at the Golden Star was awesome. It was time to wrap up the public portion of our outing, and head back home. This seems to be our new routine now, having movie night at home instead of the theatre. I think it is the winter time that has change our pattern for doing stuff on weekends. The nights are long, and the days very short, so you compensate with those fun to do activities that you put on hold during the summer. It has been a few weeks since we took off to a craft fair or public event.

Oh, and as I slowly discover more about my car, I see that I now have an alarm that I did not know about. For the longest time I was trying to figure out why the horn did not work. I thought it was a fuse, or disconnected wire, but it appears that it just started working. We were just wrapping the evening when Suzette said she heard the sound of a car alarm going off. So she looked outside to see. She said, “It’s your car.” I went over to have a look, and sure enough, it was. Apparently, while I was getting my jacket on, I must of pressed one of the buttons on the car key, because once I pressed it again, the alarm stopped. So when I got home, I pressed down on the bumper, and sure enough, the car alarm went off. The sales person that sold me the car never said I a car alarm installed on it!

A Lazy Saturday Morning – What Life Looks Like From My Front Door

Oh yeah, I am feeling extra lazy this morning. I had very little energy to become motivated enough to get out, like I usually do on a Saturday, so I just made some breakfast, did my usual ablutions, and then sat in front of the computer watching YouTube videos, and checking out websites. When that became boring, I got up from my chair, grabbed my camera, and stood at my front door to take some photos. It is still a little chilly out, a mere 3C, but there was wind, which cuts through you.

The above photo is looking East from my front door. That is the Copper Mountain in the back ground. I am about four kilometres from the base of the mountain.

Away, back to post on my Saturday laziness. As the morning roared on outside in the real world, I was peacefully sitting back in my nice warm comfy chair deciding on whether I should write a post or not. It was the photos I just took that inspired this. But then I got an email. It read, “Hey Tom, wondering if you want to go into Vancouver next week to see a presentation on the latest, greatest, home security seminar at UBC? Allen.” I was like…, Allen, did you not get my memo from last July that I was moving out of Langley? I emailed back right away. Allen responded, “Of course I knew that, but I thought you would want to go… This is the latest security tech against hackers and Governments, and home security. Can you make it?”  I politely threw in the towel on his invite.

The need for more food crept into my mind. It was the lure of those ham and cheese scones I bought the day before. Damn, they were tasty. I will pay for that, as my pants get tighter in the near future.

I just heard on the news that we will be able to see the “Blue Moon” this Wednesday, at 4:30am, lasting until the Sun pops above the horizon. The greatest factor around these parts for anything astronomy is the atmosphere itself, those pesky clouds. The question is, will the clouds part enough for us to see the Moon through them on that morning? The odds are against us.

Well, it is almost eleven o’clock. I guess it is time to get motivated. Maybe a shower to pump up the blood and get the day moving?

Happy Saturday!

The True Cost of Living On the North Coast

Having met many more people who inhabit the North Coast, I am starting to get a better understanding of what the differences are between the North and South in terms of economics and lifestyle. Of course I remember the times from when I lived here as a kid, but having come back over thirty years later, I see and understand more complex issues than I have ever had before. Mainly in terms of economics, there are huge differences between the business world of the Lower Mainland/Fraser valley, and here, in Terrace, BC. Attitudes over taxes and how money is transferred between hands, the differences are subtle, and almost indistinguishable, but they are there.

Cash rules here on the North Coast. For starters, there are many hold-outs as far as businesses using merchant’s accounts and Bank Cards, than there are further south. If you want to see a movie here, you need to bring cash at the local Movie Theatre. Sure, there is an ATM, but it charges a service fee of three dollars to withdraw twenty bucks, on your credit card. Most services have Point-to-Point card machines, but they lean towards good old cash. Smaller businesses have cleaver ways to pass those Credit Cards fees back to you, making a cash transaction more favourable. However, the larger Big Box Chains have no issues with Credit Cards.

Taxes and fees are something many here dread. When there is no way out of paying those parasitic fees, life seems to go on, people here seem to deal with it. However, if the opportunity presents itself, then just cash moves from one hand to another, you can bet that taxes are avoided. These transactions seem more prevalent than from my old neighbourhood in the South. From my personal experience, Banks are very particular about Bank Fees and Service Charges, so I have found, the less bank activity, the better off you are. Then there are Property Taxes, which are some of the lowest rates I have seen in British Columbia, but with no doubt, you can get a good conversation going on that topic alone.

My conclusion on the economics between the North Coast and South Coast are that the further North you go, especially out of the Lower Mainland, the cost of living drops lower. The primary two factors are taxes, and property values that make this difference. Gasoline and Auto Insurance are huge, in the Lower mainland; these fees drop significantly once you move to the North Coast. And yes, there is loud approval of Northern communities to see user-pay by regions, so the North is not paying for the South’s infrastructure needs. And then the biggest difference, real estate. There could never be more contrast between these two regions than the cost of a home. The cost of a home is generally a quarter to three-quarters cheaper on the North Coast than buying in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley area.

A Shot of Terrace, Close Up

It was our day out, getting a coffee to go, then taking our beverages to a place to where we could sit and watch the small town go about its business. We first decided on parking over at the arena, but that was dashed as there was a hockey tournament going on. We decided on heading up the Kalum Bench, the look out park, where you can see town through permanently mounted binoculars. This is a great spot for taking photos. But the point was, getting out and enjoying the day, so this was our starting point.

The day was not to bad weather wise. It was overcast, but the clouds were high, and there was some wind, but not a constant breeze from the North. When it blow, you needed a hoodie over your head, but when it was calm it was nice. In this shot, taken with a 300mm zoom lens, is Terrace, BC. When using a telephoto lens, you get the “compressed” effect, and it turns a three dimensional landscape into a two dimensional one. You would be hard pressed into estimating the distance of the Skeena Mall (Very top of the photo) to the bottom row of houses. I guess two kilometres, or more.

This is our Saturday ritual now, or it seems. We take turns driving, usually starting out at noon, and depending on the weather, we either go window shopping, or do a hike on one of the many walking trails in the valley. Today was a window shopping kind of day, though we could have gone out for a hike. It was great just being together no matter what sort of adventure we embarked upon.

Anyway, the day ended with buying a couple of frozen pizzas at the food market in the old Skeena Mall, then going back to Suzette’s place to watch a movie from off the Internet. In all, an awesome day, all around. I was so late getting home, way past my curfew, I will pay getting all my Sunday stuff done on time. LOL