Sunday stills. autumn and auburn challenge.

This is my first autumn in Courtenay BC and there has been an abundance of auburn everywhere. The trees are a stunning contrast with the blue sky, which is normally grey by now.

Much of the wildlife appears auburn if you look really closely.

And looking down at my feet I see this stunning seaweed.


Most coronavirus cases are spread by people without symptoms, CDC now says – CNN

According to the CDC, 24% of people who transmit the virus to others never develop symptoms and another 35% were pre-symptomatic. It also said 41% infected others while experiencing symptoms.
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I am disappointed to see COVID -19 cases rising to record levels. I had hoped it would have been over by now. On Vancouver Island, we have been lucky to avoid the worst of the outbreak, in part due to the closing down of the ferries, being an island, good weather, lots of outdoor space, stores who enforce masking, distancing, hand hygiene and people who have been deligent about social distancing.

I have posted a link to coping strategies as we see more quarantine months ahead of us. I had a chat with my fellow blogger/zoomers about strategies to cope and from that discussions I made 3 lists: things I want to keep on doing, things I don’t want to do anymore and new things I want to do. This was helpful because I was beating myself up because I have abandoned painting and the clarinet for the time being. Since I have been on my own most of my adult life I am used to amusing myself. I started working from home in 2013 and started teaching online is 2017 when I retired. By now now most of us are experts at amusing ourselves and our families. Most of my friends are retired and they already has adjusted to life “at home”.

So the new thing I wanted to do was buy a new camera with a zoom lens. I bought a Canon Powershot SX 70. However, I forgot that there is a vertical learning curve with all new products and a 150 page manual to download. What was I thinking? I have an aversion to instruction manuals.. too much information, overwhelming, fine print etc. I have tried to keep this in the quarantine project mindset and take a couple of pages a day. What else do I have to do right? At the same time I just went out and started shooting.

I did not realize when I moved to Courtenay that there is abundant bird life and I have found myself fascinated to discover so many varieties of birds within walking distance. It is intriguing to see the details of colour and patterns on the birds. Now I have joined the ranks of the people with their zoom lenses who often stop to chat with me. So here is my first round of photos without doing much reading of the instruction manual. The camera is wifi enabled so the photos can be easily uploaded to my computer and iphone. I also found a Facebook group called BirdFanatics Vancouver Island and a couple of bird identification apps.. another good activity to eat up more hours of my day. Ebird, Merlin Bird ID and Smart Bird IQ. I feel I have fully joined the ranks of the retired now.

I am new to bird identification so any corrections welcome.

My Frequently Used Apps

Health and Fitness

Feelfit. Bluetooth link to Yolanda brand scales.  It is no longer available on Amazon but there are others that use the same methods. The fitbit scale died after 2 years.  I have been using this one for about 2 years.  Renpho is another model that does the same thing. 

What I like: Measures 13 body compostion things: % body fat, body water, skeletal muscle, BMR, Fat-free body weight, subcutaneous fat, viceral fat, muscle mass, bone mass, protein, metablolic age.  Integrates with other apps e.g Fitbit. App free with scale.
What I don’t like: You have to open the app to you weigh yourself.  Not sure how accurate it is or how things are measured.

Sleep Cycle
What I like- Easy to use, free, lots of metrics
What I don’t like- can’t change location 


Vancouver Public Libary
What I like:  Holds function, and they now send and email to adjust time for delivery.  Download books to read
What I don’t like: confusing to use, takes a few trys to set it up. 

What I like: brain exercise, competition
What I don’t like:  ads unless you pay, not as good as old scrabble app.

Pacer What I like: keeps me motivated to stay active; GPS mapping function, links to weight app and other apps; Free What I don’t like: nothing

Cannon Camera Connect Imports pictures to phone or PC. 
What I like: easy to use 
What I don’t like: nothing so far


What I like;  they create playlists based on your likes.  I got tired of my own music.  They have a huge selection of music.  
What I don’t like: it’s not free

Other handy apps

Pay parking if you are in a city: Honk, Paybyphone, Hangtag, Easypark.  You need them all
Mint – banking app you can use for budgeting
Smart bird – identify birds from photos.
Tides – for beach walking 
Accuweather -includes wind and humidity on an hour by hour basis.
CBC Listen
Google Maps
Roboform password manager.

Social exclusion of older persons: a scoping review and conceptual framework | SpringerLink

As a concept, social exclusion has considerable potential to explain and respond to disadvantage in later life. However, in the context of ageing populatio
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The retirement downsizing myth: No, seniors aren’t moving in droves — and that will affect the housing market | Financial Post

The retirement downsizing myth: No, seniors aren’t moving in droves — and that will affect the housing market | Financial Post
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The 25 best and worst work trends of the past 25 years

From #MeToo and Lean In to open offices and remote work, the workplace has transformed many times over in the past two and half decades. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

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Pandemic winter dread is real. Here’s how to conquer it. – Vox

Pandemic winter dread is real. Here’s how to conquer it. – Vox
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Changing Homes in The Time of COVID19.. What Not To Do.

I recently sold my condo in Vancouver and moved to Courtenay on Vancouver Island during COVID19. It was a long and tedious process, partly due to COVID19 and partly due to my own fault (imagine that!). I am sharing my experiences in case others are trying to move in this difficult time. There is a lot of online chat about people moving out of urban areas to less COVID-dense areas. Even the Maritimes are having a moment in the sun.

Selling my condo in Vancouver

Picking a real estate agent

Selling and buying real estate is a complicated and tedious process and you may want to delegate as much of the scut work as possible. It is a lot more complicated that it used to be due to more documentation required. Lots of paper work to be signed electronically. Do not pick your real estate agent randomly or based on good personal chemistry. All real estate agents are charming to a large degree. There are websites that rank agents by their sales in the last year. Try to find out how many units they have sold, the average price of their sale and their ranking for sales in your area. Don’t pick the top agents.. you are just a regular joe and don’t need a high powered agent who will be too busy and will not give you respect or the time of day.

Selling price

My agent generated a list of comparable listings and sales. I spent a lot of time tracking condo sales in Vancouver. I learned that the sale price and assessed value were often different. Units were selling for on average less than 10% of the assessed value in early 2019 and were down 10% between 2018 and 2019. My source for the price data was Open Housing but they stopped reporting in Dec 2019. There are big differences in prices among comparable units. Some of the reasons for higher vs lower prices were not obvious but I speculate age and condition play a role. Although there were many views of my unit, offers were scarce. My real estate agent made suggestions about lowering the price twice. It wasn’t until the unit next to mine sold that I got an offer on my unit for less than the assessed value but close to the price of the neighbouring unit. Clearly my unit was overpriced for what people considered the value. Although the media suggests there is shortage of affordable housing in Vancouver, the price of my property was manageable for a double income couple or as a rental. So despite being in good condition, in a good location, at a good price, it did not generate a lot of offers. My property was listed in July 2019 while rented. Bad idea. Wait until tenants move out so it is clean and tidy. I should have accepted an earlier offer that was higher than the offer I accepted.

Figure 1 Average condo prices and units sold, Vancouver 2019-2020


If you have a lawyer you have used before, use them if possible even if they are in another city, if they have gone virtual. The lawyers I used had gone virtual and this made everything so easy. Line them up at the beginning of the process so you are not doing it in a rush at the end of the process. I used the same lawyer for all my real estate transactions.

Condo restrictions

I discovered that the condo I owned did not permit real estate signs because they had put down some landscaping material which they believed would be damaged by a sign. I appealed but to no avail. My research found that there is a small monetary value of about 9% in having a sign. I also discovered the strata council banned specific types of pets e.g. pit bulls, based on regulations passed by the City of Vancouver that were subsequently overturned by the City. One prospective buyer could not put in an offer due to this restriction.

Buying another place

My favourite places to go house shopping are ZOLO and REW. You can sort for different criteria and they also have information about previous sales. BC Assessment authority also publishes sales prices of neighbouring properties. This is highly informative. You can calculate price per square foot from the data available, but it is a tedious job to copy all the data. Would be handy if you could download a file.

Viewing properties.

You must view the unit even if it is to be a rental. You can wear a mask and social distance as long as you are ok with travelling on a boat or plane if needed. If you can’t see it, get reports from a real estate agent who is not the listing agent and get an inspection before you make an offer. Inspections will uncover things you don’t typically know about like wiring, plumbing, roofs etc. However neither of these people typically report on some important factors which I will discuss further.

Temperature Take an indoor thermometer with you when you visit the unit at the peak of the heat of the day in the middle of the summer. Are there screens? Can you open the windows? Is there a breeze? What is the orientation of the suite? It will make a difference with sun exposure with the time of day. A west facing 4th floor unit will be hot in the evening. Can the heat be mitigated? Portable AC?

Noise  Noise is a subjective thing. If you are used to urban living you noise tolerance might be high. If you are used to living in a quiet building in a quiet neighbourhood, even in an urban area, you might not be used to a lot of noise. If you are a light sleeper this could be a deal breaker. There are apps you can download to record the decibels. Rain on the windows. Who would have guessed this would keep you awake at night. It is a bit like rain on a tin roof. There is no way to know until you live there or unless you view the unit when it is raining. Can noise be mitigated? Sound proofing foam? A cheap option. Better windows? An expensive option not usually allowed in condos.

Parking spots I discovered after buying my 2nd unit that that the parking spot is the smallest one in the parkade and it was too narrow for my vehicle without turning in the side view mirrors when parking.

Light Will it be dark enough for sleeping? Can this be mitigated with blinds or drapes?

Rentals Most real estate listings are very lax about reporting rental restrictions. This is a large gap in disclosure of information. You have to ask the agent and get some documentation from the strata council about the rental restrictions.

There is a disclosure statement that is supposed to be completed before an offer is accepted and this is supposed to give you details about issues like maintenance fees and work that needs to be done. In one case this was not completed on an offer I made.

Banking and financing

Selling was pretty straight forward as the money just gets transferred from the lawyer to your account. I did have to go to the lawyer’s office in person to sign documents behind plexiglass. A little overzealous in COVID 19 protection.

I next decided to turn the first condo I bought into a rental and buy another condo. I initially tried to get a line of credit on the new property. Bank # 1 would not give me the line of credit approval until I had an accepted offer. Bank # 2 gave me a verbal approval for a line of credit on the property I had just bought within 24 hrs. However, they then wanted a list of documents about my finances delivered to the local branch. Three weeks later I discovered the local branch of Bank # 2 did not have staff qualified to do lines of credit. After multiple phone calls I was transferred to a loans officer at a branch an hour away. In the meantime, I approached bank # 3 who offered me a line of credit within 24 hours but only for 50% of what I was looking for. Finally, after about 6 weeks of phone calls and emails I got approval for the line of credit with bank #2. Branch# 2 was able to make all the transactions electronically including the down payment and final payment to the lawyer who also did the final document signing on Zoom.

Lessons learned:


  1. Use a real estate agent. It will reduce the amount of stress.
  2. If you are not ready to move next month, hold off listing until you are ready.
  3. Be willing to accept a lower offer than the listed price.
  4. Do not pay much attention to the assessed value right now. Sales of other units in the building are probably the most practical comparison.


  1. Use a real estate agent
  2. Do a through inspection in person of the properties you intend to purchase, in the peak heat and noise of the day. Open the windows.
  3. Check the size of the parking spot.
  4. Review the documents about rental restrictions.
  5. If the seller is going to make any modifications between the time you view the property and the time you take possession, ensure you have veto power or have the right to approve/change renos. Include this in the list of conditions.
  6. If you want financing, there are lots of banks out there. They all want your business. Just because they are a big bank does not mean they are operating at full capacity. It is not like last year. Shop around. Don’t take the first offer you get if it is not what you want. If you have a “maybe”, keep them alive until you have a “yes” for sure. Don’t disclose they are a plan B. Keep your options open.
  7. Go to the bank in person to make your first application and try to meet with the manager.
  8. Have a list of deal breakers: noise, heat, rental restrictions, pets, location, walkability, parking etc. Write it out so you are clear about what is important to you and give it to your agent.


  1. COVID19 is the least of your concerns in this process.
  2. There is a lot of unpredictability in the way things work these days. Some is good (e-transfers, virtual meetings) and some is bad (staffing).
  3. When you identify a weak link in the chain, be persistent in looking for other options, either a different staff person, a different location or a different agency. Do not let more than a week pass with no progress on your file. This is a different time, with varying levels of staffing everywhere.
  4. Non-urban areas have fewer options for service delivery
  5. Book appointments with banks if possible, either virtual or in person.
  6. There are a lot of unexpected and unpredictable twists and turns. It’s different from buying and selling 5 years ago.


Real Estate Agent Faith Wilson Realty Group | Christie’s International Real Estate1838 West 1st Avenue Vancouver, BC V6J 1G5 C: 604-813-3656 T: 604-224-5277  ext. 301

Legal Grace Kung Natalie Khan | Conveyancer Bell Alliance LLP 201 – 1367 W. Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 4A7 T 604.873.8723 ext 132  F 604.873.8785 |

Inspector. Pam BeynonBrown – Mindful Inspections – Office:Text 250.218.3201

Bank Olatunde Olaleye, MSc, MBA  Financial Service Manager Dickinson Crossing Branch BMO Bank of Montreal 1-6908 North Island Highway | Nanaimo, BC, V9V 1P6

My Social Media Experiences

Social media friends & followers

I was curious to put my experiences on social media down on paper as another blogger asked me about posting blogs to different platforms.  I have also reflected on the pros and cons of the social media platforms I use.

Most of my friends are on Facebook so it is my core friend platform. I have followers on other platforms that are strangers to me. Not many of my friends use the other social media platforms apart from Facebook. I have the impression my WordPress blog is mainly viewed by my followers on WordPress or WordPress Reader.

Word press

In the diagram below I show the distribution of friends and followers among social media sites. The arrows show where I post my WordPress blog.  WordPress does not automatically post to a Facebook Page so I selectively post to my facebook page depending on the topic. I stopped the automatic posting to Linkedin as I did not see many Linkedin readers were picking up the WordPress link. I have posted to Facebook Hornby Island occasionally and this generates a lot of viewers when the topic is pertinent. This group is like a Twitter feed and I have blogged about this. My WordPress blog post is automatically posted to my Twitter feed but I have the impression no one on Twitter reads the link.

My perception of friends and followers use of social media

Pros and Cons of Different Social Media Platforms in my experience.

I went on to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the social media I use and have to confess I am a twitterholic.

Platform pros cons
  • Interesting topical posts by experts all over the world.
  • Good way to track social movements.
  • Con pick who to follow
  • Cool get to more followers
  • Easy to post links
  • Too much information (TMI)
  • A lot of repetition
  • Most of my friends are on it
  • Limited personal communication
  • Can choose who to follow
  • Ads
Facebook Group Hornby Island
  • Community, new friends.
  • Peek into lives of people you would not normally meet.
  • Interesting posts by people in the community
  • What’s happening on Hornby.
  • Themes are repetitive.
Word Press
  • Community, new friends
  • Peek into lives of people you would not normally meet.
  • Time consuming to post. Not free if you use some extra functions beyond basic.
  • Photos and art viewing
  • Very little communication.
  • Hard to use
  • Duplication of Facebook
Linked in Business contacts in theory Very little communication

Seniors using the internet

This study explores internet use by seniors in Canada and mirrors my experience. Seniors uptake of social media increased with the onset of COVID-19. This might be considered a positive spinoff. Tech Use by Older Canadians for Health, Wellness and Independence in the Time of COVID-19. oatechsurvey-sep2020-final-1.pdf

The dark side of social media

In lieu of watching the presidential debates I watched a documentary on Netflix about the effects of use of the internet on society called The Social Dilemma. Ex-employees of major social media companies are interviewed and they raise alarms about intense use of social media. A revealing look behind the scenes.

Turning down the heat.

I recently sold my condo in Vancouver and moved to  Courtenay BC.  I although I had stayed in Courtenay for a few weeks last year, I did not realize how noisey and busy it had become compared to paradise. (Hornby Island)  Ironically, Vancouver became considerably quieter with Covid-19.  Traffic was down by about 80%.  Everything was closed except grocery stores.

My new 4th floor condo in Courtenay overlooks a busy street and faces west, letting the hot evening sun stream into my floor-to-ceiling windows.  Not something the home inspector picked up on when she viewed the unit. I investigated some home cooling options and started with ceiling fans which have helped.  Then  Safe and Sound came to install window film.  Visually it looks good, a bit like looking through sun glasses. They used 3 different kinds of film, depending on the sun exposure.

Even with the film it is still too hot without the AC on at the peak of the heat of the day.  The temperature on the balcony sometimes hit 40C. The portable AC was a very good investment.  I also bought a tilting patio umbrella.  It took a while to ship the order as I guess they were sold out.    I tracked the temperature on an excel speadsheet (see below) and the inside temperature has been able to be kept around 25C or less while the outside temperature goes up to 40C late in the afternoon. So here are stategies in the order of how much I think it helps:

  1. portable air conditioner $500
  2. window film $2500
  3. tilting patio umbrella $200
  4. opening windows on the north side of the building during the day,
  5. ceiling fans x 2 $500

Some of the heat is a result of the heat rising from the other floors in the building.  Really the whole building should have air conditioning.  Ok  I think this project is done!

Summer reading book lists for all tastes..

I’ve tried Goodreads and the Vancouver Public Library and gone by the rating scores of the reviewers.  Still I end up with books I don’t like.  I download books from the VPL but I keep getting books I have read before because I haven’t rated them.  So here are some fresher book lists.

New York Times

Fast Company

Buzz Feed



Vancouver Sun


Murder Mayhem

Wall Street Journal

Save on Music, Books and DVDs at

What We Need to Know About Retirement: Pressing Issues for the Coming Decade | The Gerontologist | Oxford Academic

Abstract. The current landscape of retirement is changing dramatically as population aging becomes increasingly visible. This review of pressing retirement iss
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