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Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day, our day to reflect and remember Canadians that have been lost in armed conflicts around the world and across history. Please take a moment today to sit and think about the way the world could have been without our brave men and women who fought for our freedom and that of other nations in need.

It was instilled upon me at an early age the importance of this day, even though no one in my immediate family has any military background. I’m told my grandfather was somehow involved with training soldiers for World War II, but other than that I can’t recall any family stories of military service. Still, I was taught to remember and respect, and to never ever forget.

I had the honour of visiting Normandy in 2004, the year of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasions. I was with a group of American tourists, so we visited the American memorial at Omaha beach and not our Canadian site at Juno, but it didn’t matter. I was awestruck at it all. The waste, the idiocy, the lunacy of it all. Row upon row of identical plain white gravemarkers where countless young men laid down their lives to liberate Europe.

Standing on the cliffs at Omaha Beach, you realize the sickening advantage that the enemy had when our boys landed on the beaches: looking down upon miles upon miles of unprotected, sandy beach from towering cliffs, bunkers, and fortifications. Where our men got the bravery, and the sheer audacity of the invasion of Normandy is mind-boggling.

It’s not as easy to think back on more recent conflicts with the same sense of duty and necessity that accompanied World War I and II; the battle lines are less clear, right or wrong less certain. However we must remember that anyone who gives their life for their country – no matter what the cause – demands our respect, and demands our Remembrance.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Driftwood Santas and Other Unique Christmas Crafts

And now, for something completely non-real estate related:

It’s nearly that time of year again!

I am lucky enough to be engaged to a very beautiful and talented woman who loves to draw, paint and craft. She makes these lovely little Santa Claus ornaments out of driftwood and has been selling them at local craft fairs around Christmastime for the last couple of years. They’ve been very popular, so she started early this year to keep up with demand.

Available in 4 sizes and 3 colours!

Available in 4 sizes and 3 colours!

I built her a website so people can purchase them online. It’s at http://DriftwoodSantas.ca – check it out and let me know what you think. She has other crafts there too, including adorable snowmen made from socks, and we’ll be adding Giant Driftwood Santas suitable for your wall or mantel soon too.

If you’d like to buy any, they’re easily and securely purchased online, or, watch the site’s blog for the dates and locations of the craft fairs that she is in starting late November.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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5 Things Meme

Since Raul was so “upset” (wink-wink nudge-nudge) that I didn’t mention him in yesterday’s W-5 post, I thought I’d steal a meme I came across on his blog (see, I DO read you). For the uninitiated, a meme is like the blog equivalent of a chain letter, except it just asks simple questions, and not for money to Nigeria, or e-mail forwards so Bill Gates will pay for some unfortunate kid’s new legs or whatever.

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:

1. Living in Tsawwassen (near Vancouver), with my Mom.
2. Going to school at Kwantlen University College (Criminology).
3. Cooking in at least one (maybe two – don’t remember) different restaurants to pay for said edjamakayshun.
4. Waiting to turn 18 so I could take my PADI Divemaster training on the way to becoming a Scuba instructor.
5. Generally being an awkward first-year college/uni student.

5 things on my to do list today:

1. MLS Tour – It’s quite a short one this week, maybe that’s a good thing.
2. Attend an all-candidates luncheon here in Sooke, to hear what the mayoral and council candidates have to say.
3. Post today’s Horrible MLS Photo Of The Day.
4. Follow up on a buyer call I had yesterday.
5. Watch ER tonight with my fiancee.

5 snacks I love:

1. Bananas.
2. Crackers of almost any sort.
3. Those Japanese rice cracker snacks.
4. OH GAWD MACADAMIA NUTS.
5. Nearly anything sweet (cookies, squares, etc). I have a real weakness for sweets.

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:

1. Buy a larger (but not pretentious) house on or near the waterfront.
2. Invest in rental properties or commercial properties.
3. Donate some money to local charities in the community.
4. Take a few months off work and take my fiancee around the world.
5. Have a huge party for everyone I’ve ever met. Internet people included!

5 places I’ve lived (for various lengths of time):

1. Tsawwassen, BC
2. Richmond, BC
3. Sooke, BC
4. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
5. Various and sundry tiny boxes aboard large floating steel circuses.

5 jobs I’ve had:

1. Cook/Sous Chef
2. REALTOR®!
3. Scuba Instructor and Dive Shop Manager
4. NCL Dive-In Programme Instructor and Shore Excursions Rep.
5. Courier. The worst 2 months of my life. And my poor truck’s.

5 people I tag:

1. Kye Grace
2. Amanda Nicole
3. Darren Barefoot
4. Stephen Jagger
5. Rodney Bartlett

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Blogging W-5 Wednesday Part 4 – Who?

As one of our real estate board’s most prolific bloggers, and certainly one of the most active bloggers in the region, many people ask me questions about it. In this weekly section, I’m going to answer the W-5 (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) of blogging. I hope you’ll enjoy my commentary.

Q: Who do you read?

lol, nostalgia!

As in, which blogs are on my Google Reader list? I have many. Too many, probably, but my mouse cursor is attracted to that little RSS feed icon like a moth to a flame and I can’t stop subscribing to interesting feeds.

Get ready for some link love, bloggers!

Real estate related, I read the Ubertor blog – all about real estate web technology and their most excellent real estate website software. I also enjoy the Geek Estate Blog (fairly self-explanitory), and the Sellsius Blog. One of the first blogs I got into was The Real Estate Zebra, Daniel Rothamel. And Ian Watt’s video blogs are always entertaining and often provacative (Ozzie Jurock, eh Ian?)

I also love to read tech blogs, TechCrunch being my favourite – keeping me up to date on emerging Web technologies and other goodies. I also follow the Official Google Blog, the Official Gmail Blog, and the WordPress Blog. Reachd.com has a great blog with SEO, adwords, and social media training tips.

CBC has a feed or two, as does the Times Colonist. The best source I’ve found for breaking news so far is Vancouver’s News 1130 radio station‘s feed. BC’s government news feed is also informative.

I love to read Rebecca Bowlitt (aka Miss604). She has a great style and is a big inspiration for the type of blogging I am trying to do here. Other Vancouver blogs I follow include Buzz Bishop’s blog.

Just for fun, I read XKCD – possibly the funniest webcomic ever. Hint: level of hilarity is directly related to the reader’s geekiness. I also laugh to the FAIL blog, Engrish Funny, and Stuff White People Like (although it’s largely disappeared after their book came out 🙁 ). Just for fun I also read the PlayStation Blog – Sony has really hit the nail on the head for interacting with their customers via their blog and their forum.

I also really enjoy Darren Barefoot‘s blog, though I’m not sure how I first stumbled upon it. He has a style I like, and is a bit of a power geek like me.

If your blog isn’t listed here, don’t fret – I probably read it. In fact, if you’re on my Twitter friends list, I can virtually guarantee I read your blog.

What blogs do you read that you’d like to share? Post them in the comments please!

Do you have any questions about blogging? Post them in the comments below, or send me an e-mail.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Blogging W-5 Wednesday Part 3 – When?

As one of our real estate board’s most prolific bloggers, and certainly one of the most active bloggers in the region, many people ask me questions about it. In this weekly section, I’m going to answer the W-5 (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) of blogging. I hope you’ll enjoy my commentary.

Q: When do you find time to blog?

lol, nostalgia!

I thought this would be a timely place to discuss WHEN I blog, since there are only 40 minutes left in Wednesday. Technically, this post is on time as promised!

A common complaint among REALTORS® who want to get into blogging is that “I don’t have time.” Baloney. You do have time, and you need to look at your blog as you do any other part of your business. Find the time. Schedule it. Keep a notepad beside you at all times to jot down those ideas for posts.

Blog about something daily to keep you interested. My Horrible MLS Photo Of The Day was born out of the same need. It gives me something to do and I make sure I do it every day. I think I only missed one or two days in the last 215 or so. If daily is too much, then weekly is a minimum.

Regular updates keep you readers interested and coming back for more, and keeps the content on your blog fresh, which Google and the other search engines love.

Your posts don’t need to be long; in fact, they say shorter is better. Consider splitting a long topic into several parts. Not a writer? Get a camera, some online video training, and do a video blog. Ian Watt does his from his car as he drives around downtown Vancouver (see, you have time!)

Me, I blog usually in the early part of the morning. I just find I’m more creative at that time of the day, and I’m able to sit and write for awhile without being distracted by the phone, co-workers, or e-mail (or Digg, Twitter, Facebook, etc… 😉 )

Or, sometimes, after a long and busy day, I write at night, just 34 minutes before W-5 Wednesday becomes Tardy Thursday.

Do you have any questions about blogging? Post them in the comments below, or send me an e-mail.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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The Wind Arrives In Sooke

Last night, as I was lying in bed, the wind came up and buffeted the coast all night. It’s a sure sign that fall is upon us and winter is on the way. Having always lived in coastal areas, I thought I knew what wind storms were all about.

I was wrong.

Photo Credit: Zero-X on Flickr

Photo Credit: Zero-X on Flickr

Since moving to Sooke 3 and a half years ago from the mainland, I’ve come to realize how much the mainland is protected from the Pacific storms that rock the Island, and particularly, its west coast.

That’s not to say that Vancouver and area don’t get their share of wind off the Strait of Georgia; look what happened in late 2006 and early 2007 in Stanley Park – they’re still cleaning it up.

But I remember that night in December 2006 in Sooke. I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, especially after the power went out and the only sound I could hear was the wild wind (which topped 140 km/h in some areas of Sooke) blowing down trees and ripping shingles off my roof. I was lucky, I lost a few shingles. Others weren’t so fortunate; at least 3 families lost their homes after huge fir trees blew on top of them. The Glenidle By The Sea condo complex lost part of its roof. I awoke to what looked like a disaster zone. Trees down everywhere. Power, phone, cable, you name it – if it came to Sooke via wire, it was down.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a windy winter in Sooke or other coastal areas:

– Get a generator. You will probably lose your power at some point this winter. Usually it’s not long, but some areas of Sooke were without power (and for many on wells with an electric pump, water) for over a week in that storm. I have several clients that have an integrated natural gas-fired generator that will power the whole house. Expensive? yes, but a simple gas generator that will enable you to see at night won’t break the bank.

– Along the same lines: Have a non-electric source of cooking. One thing that sticks in my mind about the morning after that storm is the lack of caffeinated glory that comes from my morning coffee. Without power I was unable to feed the addiction. I could have boiled water on the barbeque, I guess, but what good would that be when my coffee is in bean form and my grinder is electric? I’m not proud to admit it, but I was considering grinding beans by hand hammer and/or eating them. Nowhere in Sooke was open for coffee and the road was blocked by many trees. I now keep a small container of ground coffee in the freezer for emergencies.

– Most homes in Sooke have some sort of fireplace – be it gas or wood-burning, but it will come in handy in the storms. I spent much of the day huddled close to the gas fireplace (it works better with electricity to power the blower) with my freezing dog. Stock up on wood or fill the propane tank if you’re not on natural gas.

– Have basic repair supplies and equipment on hand. I mentioned I lost some shingles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any replacements and our otherwise extremely well-stocked Home Hardware didn’t carry the type of shingles I needed. Tarps, rope, plywood, plastic sheeting would all be handy for emergency repairs. A chainsaw would been useful too.

– Pitch in and help your neighbours. This is key; We’re all in this together. The strength of a community truly comes out in times of trouble. Got a chainsaw? Go clear the roads and driveways (bonus: free firewood!). Spare room or two? Help somebody whose home has been damaged. Or give a cup of coffee to a caffeine-starved REALTOR/blogger. You get the idea – can’t watch TV or blog, so you might as well get out there and pitch in.

What about you? What are your tips for fellow readers to survive the winter windstorms?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Logging near Cathedral Grove. Really?

In this morning’s Times Colonist newspaper, there was an article about Island Timberlands‘ plans to log an area

Photo Credit: EverySpoon on Flickr

Photo Credit: EverySpoon on Flickr

which borders world-famous Cathedral Grove, home to some of the oldest, largest trees on the Island. Because it is so accessible (Highway 4 goes right through it), Cathedral Grove, in MacMillan Provincial Park, has become the most famous forest in Canada, drawing thousands of visitors from around the world (there’s even a Swedish website about it).

I’m not anti-logging. Logging supported my family a few generations ago, and I know it supports many BC families to this day. Trees are a renewable resource, thankfully.

But seriously. Come on. Near Cathedral Grove?

Island Timberlands says that the viewscape will be unaffected, and plans to remove the timber (some of it old-growth) from its lands by helicopter. Chainsaws and other logging equipment will be audible in the park, which is somewhat unsettling. What would the tourists think?

There are lots of trees on the Island, and plenty of mature second-growth forests for Island Timberlands to log which won’t anger people and endanger one of the true natural wonders of this province. Old-growth trees risk damage to their root systems from erosion, which can cause them to blow down when logging occurs near them.

Stay away from the Grove, please.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Blogging W-5 Wednesday Part 2 – What?

As one of our real estate board’s most prolific bloggers, and certainly one of the most active bloggers in the region, many people ask me questions about it. In this weekly section, I’m going to answer the W-5 (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) of blogging. I hope you’ll enjoy my commentary.

Q: What do you blog about?

lol, nostalgia!

This is an easy one. I blog about many different things. When I first started, it was pretty random – a post about real estate here, a personal musing there. Obviously, being a REALTOR®, I do like to blog about real estate, to provide a 2-way conversation about real estate for consumers and my clients to participate in and learn from.

But more than that, I’m focusing on local content as much as I can. I want to tell the world about Sooke, and why it’s such a great place to live. I moved here just over three years ago, I don’t think I’d live anywhere else. I was particularly inspired by Rebecca Bollwitt, also known as Miss 604, who is arguably Vancouver’s most recognized internet personality. Her blog is absolutely huge, and she focuses on hyper-local content for the Vancouver area.

I also use my blog as a forum to express my frustration with certain aspects of the real estate profession. There is no excuse for horrible MLS photography! Show your clients’ properties off to the world with stunning images, don’t have people like me poke fun at them!

Do you have any questions about blogging? Post them in the comments below, or send me an e-mail.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged!
Just use the form or link below this post.

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Blogging W-5 Wednesday Part 1 – Why?

As one of our real estate board’s most prolific bloggers, and certainly one of the most active bloggers in the region, many people ask me questions about it. In this weekly section, I’m going to answer the W-5 (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) of blogging. I hope you’ll enjoy my commentary.

Q: Why do you blog?

lol, nostalgia!

lol, nostalgia!

This is an extremely common question. In fact, I’m sure I asked it of a few bloggers (both REALTORS® and other types) before I got into it.

I blog for many reasons. Blogs are a great way to draw traffic to your brand. And for those in small business, this can’t be underscored enough. I would say that there isn’t any other more cost-effective and efficient way to draw attention to your services and your expertise by writing a good blog. Search engines love blogs, especially those that are updated regularly. Why? Search engines like Google love content; and a blog is all content when it’s done properly. Search engines also love recent information and sites that are constantly being updated. Again, a blog by definition is constantly being updated with current information and stories. Seach engines also love links. A good blog will have lots of links to related information on the Internet.

That being said, it’s not at all about gaming the search engines. Google didn’t get to be Google by being easily fooled. Search engines know when they’re being gamed. Try and manipulate the search engines and you’ll get penalized.

A blog is also a great way to have a two-way communication with your audience. In my case, I want my current and future potential clients to read my blog and comment on what I have to say. Most blogs have a comment function which allows a conversation or discussion to occur. I have my opinions, you have yours. Let’s talk about it in the comments section. Beneath each post is a link to comments. Use it. Engage your audience. Ask for feedback. Write something controversial and see what happens.

Lastly, I blog because I like to blog. I love to write and I have opinions – what a deadly combination for a blogger! If you decide to start a blog solely for reasons one and two above, it will suck. Guaranteed. You’ll come off as cheesy and fake. You have to like to write and you must practice. It takes a while to find your voice. My number one tip if you want to start blogging for your business or anything else? Read lots of other blogs for a few months. It will help you define your voice. You’ll learn what to say and what not to do, and get a few ideas for posts.

Do you have any questions about blogging? Post them in the comments below, or send me an e-mail.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Bell’s -er Campaign Might Be Confusing, But At Least It’s Grammatically Correct

Since I wrote about Bell’s confusing -er infused advertising campaign, it’s become one of the most searched-for, read, and commented-on posts I’ve ever done. I guess I wasn’t alone in my confusion or annoyance with that campaign.

I have to wonder, however, if the same outfit that drummed up that campaign is involved with US wireless carrier T-Mobile‘s new Google Android powered phone, the G1 [warning: link has music].

I had to laugh at this one, as the concept has been taken one step further by abusing the already-beleaguered English language by proclaiming that the G1 is “The Only Phone That Makes You Smarterer.”

Yes. Smarterer. See for yourself:

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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