Category: personal reflection

School lockdown at Rockridge

This Wednesday there was an incident at our son’s high school. Someone called the West Van police to say they’d seen two youths approaching the school with what looked like a rifle.

The cops responded immediately and in force. They surrounded the school and searched the premises for the youths.

In the meantime the school implemented it’s silent lockdown procedure. They had tested this in September. No one thought we’d be using it for real. West Vancouver is hardly the place for such scary antics.

We first heard about the lockdown when Greg texted us from under his desk in his English Lit class. I then tried calling the West Van police station but got no response. I assume they were all at the school.

Then I tried the web. No news seemed to be available until I went to twitter. I had dabbled with twitter before this and was not sure what use it could be. It seemed to be something which allowed anyone to text or post the most boring of everyday events up for the world to see.

But when you are anxiously trying to get news of what is going on, it becomes an amazing tool. My tweets, as your posts are called, even resulted in journalists from The Province newspaper and News 1130 radio calling me up for more information.

As it became clear that the danger was over, and most likely had never existed, the allure of being a cub reporter overtook the anxiety. I was amused to see my tweets being reported (anonymously) on various news sites.

Both Sue and I are on twitter [links at end]. Sue will be using it to keep her real estate clients informed about the market, tweeting about open houses and the like. I am not sure what I will do with it. It will seem very boring, and thankfully so, after the excitement of breaking news.

Greg is ok. The worst of the event was it spanned lunch hour and he was starving by the time the 3 hour lockdown was over. And teenage boys need to eat regularly and in large quantity.

[Our twitter id’s:

Frank: ]

More snow

Vancouver woke up to snow again. Like pretty much everyone else I was not thrilled by this. OK, the forecast was for a small amount of snow, and for it to disappear pretty quickly, but our recent snowbound experience means snow means inconvenience and shovelling.

Even with 5-10cm predicted, I took the precaution of parking my car at the top of our driveway. The drive is steep enough that ice and snow make getting up it very difficult. I noticed that my neighbours had done the same with their vehicles.

The snow did come but only for the morning. In the afternoon we saw the more familiar sight of rain. The lawn reappeared. Now we just need the sun to reappear too.

Banking in Vancouver

Over the last couple of weeks we have opened a new bank account and been dealing with a number of banks and I was struck by the customer service we received.

Firstly, we opened an account with the North Shore Credit Union. They could not have been friendlier.

You could tell we were in Vancouver because we were offered coffee, and not from some stale urn, but from the next door coffee bar. Then as we chatted the conversation covered Vancouver’s two favourite topics – the weather and real estate.

Anyone not used to the glacial pace of things here might have been frustrated by the chat and the air of unlimited time, but we are used to that now. We expect that pretty much everyone we do business with take the time to exchange a few pleasantries. And it does make for a pleasant day.


Tip: don't let the snow build up!
Tip: don't let the snow build up!

We have learned just how ill prepared we are when it comes to real snow. Vancouver had 89cm of snow in December. To put this in perspective this is more than five times the December average (16cm) and is double the annual average for Vancouver.

Vancouver has blown its snow clearing budget, having spent $2.8 million (twice the budget). And even at the beginning of this week you could only expect to find the major roads cleared. All the side roads we passed were impassable.

We learned a few things over this period.

Keep clearing the drive way. Heavy snowfall might mean shoveling twice a day or more. If you let it pile up then it will be much harder to clear later on.

When you are clearing it, consider carefully where you are going to create your new snowbank. Our neighbour cleared her drive and left a barrier halfway across ours. That would have been ok if we had not created another barrier on the other side. We eventually had to dig my car out of a 3ft snowbank of our own making.

Snowplows are great at keeping the main roads clear, but in so doing they tend to make a pile of snow on each side of the road. If you are parked off the side of the road, you might need to dig your way out. When you return the snowplow may have been back again and made a new snow barrier stopping you returning to your parking spot.

Bad weather often brings power cuts. We had a spectacular display from the nearby hydro pole when a falling branch took out the power lines. Our neighbour came by to see if we were ok as she had seen so many sparks she thought we must be on fire. Luckily we only lost power for half a day.

I am sure there are lots of other tips I could add, but like most Vancouverites I don’t expect snow to be an inconvenience – more a recreational choice. Unless the weather pattern changes substantially Vancouverites will remain amateurs in living through harsh winters.

Talking Canadians

This week we were in London, England. We had been out for drinks at the Canadian High Commission, as part of the run up to the Opportunities Expo at Olympia. We did a bit of mixing with other Canadian exhibitors. The speeches were mercifully short.

We went out afterwards for a drink with some of the other exhibitors (Anglo Pacific and HiFX). They kindly took us for one of the first of a series of curries. We went to a Masala Zone restaurant near Carnaby Street.  It was a bit like being in Vancouver in being very multi-cultural. The clientele, the servers and those around our table were from all over the world.

Finally, and coming to the point of the posting, we headed off for the tube. I was reminded of one of the reasons I was glad to be in Vancouver. The tube was packed and there were delays on all lines. We did eventually squeeze on a Piccadilly line train. Sian, being a real Canadian, started to talk to someone next to her. No response. Of course the chances were quite high that he did not speak English. But even if he did, he probably thought Sian was nuts.

We are used to the ease with which you can start a conversation in Vancouver. If you meet someone at the checkout in Safeway or in the line up for coffee, it is natural to chat. It might be trivia, the weather or observations about what is going on around you, but you will likely say something and exchanging pleasantries, and smiles, just seems to come naturally to Canadians. Better than the automatic assumption that the talker is a nutter.


It was all very pleas

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