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BC Nursing Crisis - Five Years Later

March 15th, 2011  · stk

Five years ago, we wrote about the nursing crisis that British Columbia anticipated. How did British Columbia respond? How is socialized Health Care working out for residents of British Columbia now? Find out in our "BC Nursing Crisis" update ...

BC Government Cuts Health Care Despite Shortages & Overcrowding

Back in 2005, when Rachel had just over a year to complete her BSN degree, we wrote about the BC nursing crisis facing the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This bode well for job placement and when Rachel graduated from the UofA in 2006, many of the BC Health Authorities were hiring nursing graduates. (She accepted an offer from VIHA and has been gainfully employed there since).

Fast-forward to 2011 and the latest issue of "BCNU Update" (a BC Nurses' Union publication) describes a very different experience for those now graduating with a BSN degree. Despite an acknowledged and continued shortage of nurses, BC Health Authorities are facing government cut-backs and many recent nursing graduates are finding it difficult to find full-time nursing jobs. In an effort to make ends meet, many newly educated nurses are having to accept work outside of health care - namely in the service-sector - serving coffee Tim Horton's doughnut shops or selling paperback books at Chapters. Sadly, it's their only employment option.

BC Nursing Crisis

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Updated: 28-Apr-2011
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Ollie the Octopus

December 31st, 2010  · stk

In July, we caught a juvenile North Pacific Giant Octopus in one of our prawn traps. We took it back to the floating cabin for Alex to see. She named him "Ollie" and kept him as her "pet" for the afternoon. Ollie's story, with video, pictures and interesting facts about octopuses.

ollie the octopus

6-year-old Alex Meets an Octopus

One of the stories worth telling from Alex's summertime fun is the story about an octopus Alex named "Ollie".

The story begins as many of our more interesting stories do - at the floating cabin The Floating Cabin floating cabin barkley sound bc canada Picture of the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound. Located off the west coast of Vancouver Island and not far from the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. It's a wild, pristine wilderness area and wildlife abounds. Black bear, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, mink, cougar are among the inhabitants. There's oodles of sea food here too. Clams, oysters, prawn, crab, salmon, halibut, ling cod and snapper. It's an amazing area and we're lucky to be part-owners of this unique floating cabin. Click to learn more about the floating cabin (map, photos, etc). . The cabin is situated in the Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, very close to the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a wet and wild place, accessible only by boat and we love sharing it with family and friends. It was late July and Scott's folks were at the cabin. It was their second visit and they too, love the solitude, the wild nature and rugged west coast scenery.

We had taken the boat out to pull up our prawn traps, though Alex elected to remain behind at the cabin, on this particular trip. It's about a 10-minute boat-ride from the cabin to the traps and we usually check them several times a day, when we're prawning.

Pulling up prawn traps from the depths of the ocean sometimes yields sea creatures other than prawns. The most common of these creatures is also the least desirable - the dreaded slime eel About Slime Eels (Hagfish) pacific hagfish A slime eel isn't an eel at all, rather a very primitive fish called a Hagfish. They've been around for 550 million years. Because of their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities, the hagfish is often referred to as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Hagfish have a sluggish metabolism and can survive months between feedings. However, hagfish often enter and eat the bodies of dead, dying or injured sea creatures that are much larger than themselves. Lovely, eh? More of nuisance to us, however, is the slime one of these "eels" can generate if agitated inside of a prawn trap. This slime encases the eel, the trap and the prawn and can take an hour or more to remove. An adult slime eel can secrete enough slime to turn a 20 liter (5 gal) bucket of water into slime in a matter of minutes. Yuck! Click the red-underlined link to learn more about Hagfish (Wikipedia) . This time, however, as Scott manually hauled up two traps from a depth of 250 feet, we noticed a reddish octopus in one of the traps!

Since Alex wasn't with us, we thought it would be fun to show her the octopus, so we carefully lifted it out of the prawn trap, put it into a pail of seawater and took it for a boat ride, back to the cabin. We were curious to see how Alex would react to this soft, eight-armed Cepholapod.

What follows is the story about Alex's encounter with an octopus, along with some interesting facts, video and pictures of these amazing and intelligent sea creatures.

Meet Ollie the Octopus

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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

August 23rd, 2010  · stk

The day before yesterday, we returned home from our first cycle tour in which Alex actually pedaled a bicycle (attached to our touring bikes). We cycled from Nanaimo, up-island to Comox, took a ferry to Powell River and then cycled down the coast to Vancouver. This coastline is called "The Sunshine Coast". It's a cycle tour that's been on our list of adventures for some time.

Since we moved to Vancouver Island in 2006, we've been spending our holidays exploring British Columbia. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful Province and - so far - there has been no shortage of wilderness adventuring.

Now that our daughter, Alex, is six and a half years old, she is too big to tow in a bicycle buggy. Some time ago, we bought Alex a 'Trail-a-Bike', which allows her to sit behind our bikes, on a bike seat and contribute to pedaling. The 'Trail-a-Bike' even has a 5-gear shifter, though she hasn't quite gotten the hang of which gear to switch into at any given time.

Because we have been giving some thought to a Cross-Canada bike tour, we thought it would be a good idea to see how Alex does on a long bike trip. The trip we concocted was - "The Sunshine Coast Bike Tour" - which we did as a loop trip from Nanaimo, up to Courtenay/Comox, across Georgia Strait by ferry to Powell River, then down the Sunshine Coast, ending with a ferry ride from Langdale to Vancouver (where we dropped Alex off at her maternal grandparents house).

The trip took us the better part of five days. Along the way we stayed at a First Nations camping area, repaired a flat tire and a broken spoke, visited a salmon channel and sorting facility, swam in the ocean, cycled onto four different BC Ferries, stayed in two Provincial campgrounds ... all the time enjoying sunny weather, beautiful scenery, challenging cycling and a wholesome family vacation.

Join us on our family cycling adventure and see how Alex fared on her Adams 'Trail-a-Bike'. We hope that our journal whets your appetite for adventure and is useful to others who are thinking of a similar cycling trip. (Some time ago, Rachel and I had made a list of adventures we wanted to do and a "Sunshine Coast Bicycle Trip" was on the list. It's always nice to be able to check another adventure off the list, eh?)

Note: I updated this journal entry from our 1991 Subaru Loyale station wagon, whilst hurtling northward to check off yet another adventure off our list - a backpacking trip to Cape Scott, at the northernmost point of Vancouver Island! (Ain't technology grand?) The laptop is connected to the iPhone, the iPhone is connected to the Internet, the Internet is connected to the journal ... anyway ... it's a work in progress (i.e., photos to follow).

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Updated: 25-Oct-2010
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eBay ebay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery

August 6th, 2010  · stk

What's more fun for a developer than to show up a huge online company like eBay? How about getting PAID to do it! Here's the write-up from my one, fun summertime web project - a pure CSS eBay photo gallery. (Oh and just for grins, it's displayed in another "Arti-zine" web design). I miss having time to write more blog articles!!

This summer, I have concentrated on work around the house and property (living the real life, as opposed to a virtual life). It keeps my wife happy(er), but it means a lot fewer web projects and contributions to this website.

One of the web projects that I did take on, however, was a fun one. A British web developer and programmer, had a client that wanted a photo gallery "like the eBay photo gallery" for his online auction site. The rub? They wanted a pure-CSS version.

Because it's fun to show a well-known online powerhouse how the web should work - and because there was development funding - I dived into the project enthusiastically. (Ahem - only after my daily, real life chores were complete).

The result - A pure CSS photo gallery that looks identical to the eBay gallery and which has significant improvements:

  • It's completely accessible,
  • doesn't rely on JavaScript,
  • is cross-browser compatible and
  • contains error-free, web-standard XHTML and CSS code.

In short - it rocks!

eBay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery Demo

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Updated: 9-Aug-2010
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Photoshopped Rachel

June 6th, 2010  · stk

In 2008, I entered a photo contest at Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island outdoor store. We didn't win, but I recently noticed the photo was used as the background for the new Alberni Outpost web site design. Have a look at the new Alberni Outpost design. Amazing!

Rachel's Photo Backdrop for Local (Alberni Outpost) Website

Rachel paddling a canoe on Isaac Lake, Bowron Lakes, B.C. - now Alberni Outpost website backdrop

We are were considering purchasing a used tandem kayak from Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Store, with stores in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Courtney & Nanoose. The fibreglass kayak has been in the Alberni Outpost rental fleet for some number of years and yesterday, we took it on a "test paddle" around Newcastle Island and to Protection Island (where we had dinner at the Dinghy Dock Pub). It was an excellent afternoon and will be the focus of an upcoming article.

In doing research for the article, I made a surprising discovery. A photo we submitted the Alberni Outpost in 2008, for a photo contest, is currently the background image for every page of the Alberni Outpost website!!

The photo I submitted to their photo contest can be seen in our Bowron Lakes Slide Show. It's also on the Alberni Outpost Photo Contest page (2008) on the Alberni Outpost website (their site depends on JavaScript, so there isn't a direct link to the picture. Just click on "2008 Photos" at the Alberni Outpost photo contest and you'll see it.)

Despite the fact that the photo didn't win, Alberni Outpost chose it - over all the other photos submitted over the years and over all past winning submissions - as the backdrop for the new Alberni Outpost web site design.

We suspect the photo didn't win because it was a canoeing picture and not a kayaking picture. No worries! Just a Photoshop nip here and Photoshop tuck there and suddenly, Rachel is paddling a kayak instead of a canoe! Amazing what can be accomplished with digital photos, eh?

So, do you think the owner of Alberni Outpost, Richard Antonchuk, will give us a discount on the used kayak as consideration for using our photo in the new Alberni Outpost web design? :D (NOPE and neither a "thanks", nor a mention on the Alberni Outpost web site ... nor any consideration. VERY disappointing). :'(

See & Compare Photos

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Updated: 25-Jan-2011
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