theducks: (Default)
Please forgive me in advance for the nerding..

Went to the Abbotsford International Airshow yesterday while [ profile] lizbyrd was at Anime Evolution (I bought a ticket to that too, but haven't been making as good use as her :)

The drive there was incredibly slow in parts, despite being on the Trans-Canada highway, and I think that (and the associated return trip) make the longest drive I've ever done by myself. But my trusty steed, the Prius and my iPod kept me company.

I slip'ed and slop'ed, but not slapped. I don't think I got any permanent damage, and the sunscreen seems to have done the trick. Just for reference, spending 4 hours in 40 degree heat on a black runway is.. something to only do in situations like this, where there is planespotting joy to be had..

So, first, the big list of what I went inside and oooed and aaahed at:

  • Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) (15004)

  • Canadian Forces CC17 (702)

  • USAF C-17 Globemaster (06-6162)

  • USAF C-5 Galaxy (68-0216)

  • USAF KC10 Extender (DC-10) (86-0031)

  • USAF KC135R (Boeing 707) (62-3521)

Also on display was one of ELINT KC135Rs, some C130s, some A10 Thunderbolts, a SH-3 Skyking and a Eurocopter. In support of the airshow, there were another 2 CC17s, and a USAF C-17 parked in the area.

There were also displays setup from Canadian Forces, the Abbotsford Police and the RCMP Lower Mainland Hostage Rescue Team. Showing typical restraint, they had their guns on display for people to hold, with trigger and mag locks. So I got to hold a M-16, MP5, Remington Shotgun, Taser and a 9mm S&W 5946. I'm a boy. Also had a chat with a Mountie from their traffic safety division who had a daughter going to Curtin. Hah.

Another impressive part of the airshow was actually the stuff in the air. Who would have thought! Like these guys:

Abbotsford International Airshow

More photos on my flickr. I'm glad I bought the 100-400mm lens. It's good for stuff like this for sure :)


May. 23rd, 2010 08:10 pm
theducks: (Default)
Some of you may not have seen this on Facebook/twitter, but after much discussion and thinking about moving, etc, we bought a car - a 2005 Toyota Prius - in white.

We've done 400kms since thursday on it. The novelty of having a car is still new. It's got 4.9L/100KM (48mpg) so far, so my daily commute of 33.2km will use ~1.6L of fuel, which at current rates is $1.82 per day.. so 21 days work per month makes it $38.26 .. plus $70 for a parking pass... and.. wait for it.. $370/*month* for insurance and registration (to be reduced to ~$230 when I get some paperwork from SGIO).

Before I go on about the car.. let me rant about the insurance/rego some more. BC has this company called ICBC. It's government owned, but run as a corporation with an independent board of directors, so no ministerial oversight. Nice work if you can get it huh? They do all driver licensing, car registration and compulsory third-party insurance, and make ~$400 million profit per year. Yeah, thanks. Cost of doing business right?

Anyway, back to the car. It used to belong to Telus, which means I have a safe in the back of it (I guess they used it for laptops?) and a Telus branded first aid kit. It also had a lot of stone chips on the paintwork, a broken cargo net, and 143k KMs (89k miles) on the clock. All of this combined to make it the cheapest Prius I've seen for sale in Vancouver in the last 3 months - $9900.

So far we've added the obligatory Apple logo sticker, repaired the cargo net (with some nifty black plastic S-hooks), touched up the paint chips with some Toyota matching paint, and bought a new tail light assembly for it off eBay.

Why a new taillight assembly you may ask? Well, I misjudged the location of a pillar while reversing into our parking stall here at the apartment block. Ewps. Mister Sheen Magic Eraser got the blue paint off the bumper, though some scratches remain, and there's a small amount of panel damage that I'll probably need to get professionally fixed, but once we get the new taillight installed, it'll look good enough ;)

Anyway, back to how we've racked up 400KMs so far. I picked Elizabeth up from a write-in, saving her well over an hour of public transport, we went to North Vancouver and had delicious curry veggie pizza, we went to Finn Slough, went to Steveston, did some exploring of Richmond (found a street with almost every major religion/belief system of the area representing - Sikhism, Buddism, Christianity, Islam, Vedic..), and did our shopping.

Still alive

Jun. 8th, 2009 03:38 pm
theducks: (Default)

We’ve been on silent running for the last little while. Moving plans have gone well, we’ve got most of our storage issues sorted, only a few things left to sort out (what we’re doing with the car, what we’re doing with my computer, sorting out what we’re doing with our health insurance while we’re overseas)

16 days to go!

theducks: (Default)

I used to be quite a Singapore Airlines fanboy. But they’re not keeping up the cool. Firstly, a few months ago, they cut ALL of their flights to Vancouver, and now only fly codeshare via San Francisco. This is not what I want. Therefore, we’re flying with Air Canada.

Now I get an email saying this:

As a valued KrisFlyer member, I am writing to inform you that as a result of a commercial impasse with Flight Centre, Singapore Airlines airfares might not be available for purchase through Flight Centre retail outlets.

Singapore Airlines is still committed to giving our customers great value fares. Singapore Airlines has agreements in place with other major travel agents, and our flights can be booked as per normal through all other travel agency groups, or online at

Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t mean I’ll change travel agents, it means I’m more likely to change airlines. The fact is that aside from Travel Centre (and their offshoots) and STA Travel, there aren’t any other major travel agency groups that cater to my market segment in Australia. And as for the fares on, they are laughably expensive compared to prices on the same flight through travel agents.

So well done Dale, Singapore Airlines Passenger Marketing guy, I hope this standoff is going to be worth it.

theducks: (Default)

We have some immediate accommodation booked to see us through from June 25th - July 3rd. I’ll keep my fan club off my trail and not say where, but it will do quite nicely.

The weeding of belongings continues, but I still need to arrange storage for a few cubic metres of stuff. Hmm!

theducks: (Default)

Well, marathon effort, but everything got moved out on time, carpets, windows, bathrooms cleaned. New tenant happy. Also sat on 11 interviews at UWA and did a budget submission for a university unit. Talk about a week of burning the candle at both ends and then starting in the middle..

Now things are quieter. Staying at mum’s place in North Perth, and going to have a much more relaxing weekend than last week. Still have to sort out issues of storage for some items, and disposal of others, but at least we still have a month to do that.

theducks: (Default)
1815h: I feel shell shocked and disappointed after all the packing we've done today and how much we have left to do.
- unable to write anything else -
2104h: Ok, had a shower, nap, dinner at - feeling much more human now.

I think I'm disappointed in us because we have so much stuff. But the other side of that is that I know how much stuff I've given away and gotten rid of, so it's not that bad.
Talking to Elizabeth, I think we've both got a subconscious disappointment over how messy the house is. This is to be expected I'm sure. Once we get everything out of there and start cleaning, I'm sure it will be a lot more settling.

UWA likes talking about how it helps employees maintain a good work/life balance. It is quite true, they're very good of it. Take next week, for example, both my work and my private life is as busy as anything...

The week after should be better.

I hope.
theducks: (Default)

.. to the north side ..

Our packing continues unabated. Unfortunately the nice NZ couple didn’t end up renting this place, and they haven’t contacted me about furniture, so we’re now going through and arranging with everyone that they still want what they have claimed.

Let me or Elizabeth know if anything grabs your fancy.. we need it all out of here, pretty much this weekend. If you’re interested, but not at the price posted, feel free to make cheeky offers

theducks: (Default)
So, let's assume Apple releases a 32Gb iPhone just in time for us to arrive in Canada. It seems my options are pretty much to get a three-year contract with Rogers, or don't get an iPhone.

I had a chat with the Rogers online support bot (or person in a third world country, who knows) talking about options. The cognitive dissonance was astounding. The mere idea that someone would even consider using a mobile telephone not purchased from the service provider is unspeakable to them, yet assuming it was some lady in india, no doubt personally quite familiar.

So a 16Gb iPhone will cost C$299 (+15% tax.. yay :P), and then C$60 (again, doubtless plus tax) per month, on a 3 year contract. If we come back after the 12 month period, I'd be up for an early termination fee of C$400 (+tax), so I'd have paid C$699 for the iPhone. Which isn't actually that bad.

But still, the whole "handset = service = carrier" mentality is retarded. I'm not saying that glibly, I mean that by not acknowledging that with GSM, SIM card = carrier and the carrier defines services for the SIM, despite knowing full well that it does, they are actually displaying signs of mental retardation.


And another thing.. Canada has a population with similar density to Australia given relative country size, and a slightly larger one, why then does it have such a crappy telecommunications industry? Is it that Australia's government regulates things to allow competition? I'm surprised companies like 3 haven't tried there.
theducks: (Alex Mountie)
Maybe not seeking gold and fortune, and I hope our journey ends up better than brave Franklin's, but anyway.

Status update so far:

  • Resigned from my job as of 12 June 2009

  • Elizabeth has a leave of absence for 12 months starting 19 June 2009

  • Booked plane tickets to Canada, leaving Perth in the evening of 24 June 2009

  • Requested to break tenancy as of 12 May 2009 (Will be staying at mum's place)

  • Heard positive sounding noises regarding possible employment at a Canadian University (!)

  • Cancel cable (done 2009-04-23 for 2009-05-24)

  • Cancel internet(done 2009-04-22 for 2009-05-22)


  • Pack house up and move to Mum's place

  • Organise sale of furniture to [ profile] jetblackvalias and anyone else who is interested - see

  • Cancel telephone

  • Cancel power

  • Cancel gas

  • Change address at Australia Post (to where? mum's PO Box or Elizabeth's parents? Hmm)

  • Move subscription address for Australian Personal Computer

  • Book accommodation in Vancouver for initial 2 week period

  • Weed possessions significantly while at mum's place

  • Cancel contents insurance

  • Suspend health insurance

  • Work out what we're going to do with our car

  • .. more to follow I suspect

theducks: (Alex Mountie)
As part of Formerly-Secret Plan Number 5, we're pondering a road trip. Not just any road trip. A massive, 52 day undertaking from Vancouver to Boston for [ profile] ursamajor's wedding, and back. It would probably end up with a journal being entitled "There and Back Again" or something very much like it.

I'm pondering the purchase of a Ford Crown Victoria (CAD$5000 for an ex-Police one, 2003 vintage or so). Fuel efficiency isn't that great (8-9km/L highway), but since most Police departments in North America operate them, service and spares would be a piece of cake. Which when you're broken down in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, is what you want.

One of the routings I've looked at is:

Vancouver BC to Kamloops BC		355 km	
Kamloops BC to Canmore AB		519 km	
Canmore AB to Airdrie AB		133 km	
Airdrie AB to Moose Jaw SK		709 km	
Moose Jaw SK to Winnipeg MB		641 km	
Winnipeg MB to Thunder Bay ON		706 km	
Thunder Bay ON to Kapuskasing ON	610 km		
Kapuskasing ON to North Bay ON		488 km
North Bay ON to Ottawa ON		362 km
Ottawa ON to Montreal ON		194 km
Montreal ON to Quebec City QC		253 km
Quebec City QC to Sherbrooke QC		235 km
Sherbrooke QC to Boston MA		410 km
Boston MA to Schenectady NY		294 km
Schenectady NY to Toronto ON		593 km
Toronto ON to London ON			195 km
London ON to Sarnia ON			107 km
Sarnia ON to Flint MI			114 km
Flint MI to Toledo OH			175 km
Toledo OH to Layfayette IN		343 km
Lafayette IN to St Louis MO		447 km
St Louis MO to Branson MO		409 km
Branson MO to Wichita KS		495 km
Wichita KS to Denver CO			834 km
Denver to Casper WY			445 km
Casper to Bozeman MT			675 km
Bozeman MT to Spokane, WA		640 km
Spokane WA to Portland OR		567 km
Portland OR to Everett WA		326 km
Everett WA to Vancouver BC	  	181 km
Total:					  12455 kms

Over 52 days, this works out to about 450km/day, taking into account multi-day stops in Canmore, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Boston, Sarnia, Portland, Lafayette, etc.. And no, we're not stopping over night in Flint Michigan, or Gary Indiana, but we may go through them.

Anyway, this is just a plan. There are factors working against it, like the need to find employment in Vancouver, the cost of it all (about CAN$6000 on top of the car, factoring in insurance, tolls, fuel, accommodation on the way, etc), but hey, it'd be fun, right?
theducks: (Default)
Today on IRC, [ profile] hipikat asked the above question.

The short answer, for people like he and I, it is pretty easy, but it'll cost you about $2500 per person, and require you to clear-fell a small section of amazonian rainforest over the 4 and a half years it takes for various paperwork (80+ pages).

Anyway, the long answer is )
theducks: (Default)
Last night I went over to bug [ profile] grahame, currently on his way to Vancouver, and we were discussing getting from Vancouver to Seattle. There's definitely any number of easy ways (for $20-$50), but it seems that there's also a hard way, but it only costs $4 - - UBC to Seattle, by community public transport.

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