Saturday, December 29, 2007

2008 resolutions

Well the James Bond year 007 is ending and 08 is about to begin.

Eight was my favorite number when I was young. Baseball was my favorite sport and Gary Carter of the Montreal Expos was my favorite player on my favorite team and he wore number 8. So eight was my original favorite number.

Later on 14 was my favorite number with Dan Fouts and Richard Todd, followed by 6 with Mark Martin. I guess 14 is again now my favorite number but it's not as important to me as it used to be. Green is my favorite color and always has been.

Anyway, 2008 resolutions. Historically I don't do new year's resolutions but I did 2007 resolutions. I did well with my 2007 resolutions. This has been a very difficult year but the important changes have been made and now things are moving in a better direction.

For 2008 there are a number of areas to work on. One important area is to continue in the right direction financially. This looks to be a hard financial year but I still need to stay the course and spend only as much as I bring in and get the debt down at least some.

There are lots of areas to work on for this year so if I can accomplish some of my goals then I should be much better off this time next year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

pizza scene

We were putting in some evenings and weekends at work recently finishing up a big project.

One Sunday evening it was around 6:30 PM. I was at the office by myself and hungry. I decided to go out for dinner. One nice thing about having to be in late on nights and weekends is that we can expense our meals if we get take out.

I considered getting a donair sub. With donair sub I like Pizza Land in Clayton Park. I decided to go with pizza. Now Pizza Land also has excellent pizza, but I decided to try something new since the boss was paying for it.

I went with Little Caesars $5 medium because I wanted to try it out. It was OK I guess, you shouldn't expect too much for a $5 pizza I suppose. I drove to the store and they had them pre cooked and boxed in the heated glass area.

I took it back to the office which was nearby. Unfortunately when I took the first bite I had to put it in the microwave as it wasn't really hot anymore. I know it's $5 pizza but when I get take out pizza I expect the cheese to still be melted out of the box. So that was a bit disappointing.

Later that evening some others showed up at the office. They also ordered pizza. They went with Pizza Hut. I had a piece too since well I just like pizza. I was surprised at how good the Pizza Hut was. The cheese and toppings were very good and the crust was good. I've had Pizza Hut in the past years ago and it wasn't very good. It tasted salty and the crust was something like cardboard. I would never buy it myself. However Pizza Hut has improved over the years.

There's a couple of other pizza places worth mentioning. Sicilian in Fairview has very good donair, donair sub, and pizza. Ronnie's 2 for 1 on Main St. in Dartmouth is also good. Ronnie has a slice deal which is a big tasty slab of pizza. I recommend both Sicilian and Ronnie's.

In the past I worked at the big BIO building in Dartmouth as an IT contractor. Back in those days a few of us used to go out on Fridays to the King of Donair which was near to BIO. It was a mix of mostly contractors and some government employees. That was a good time and the King is pretty good.

Pizza places aren't generally known for friendly service but the King knew us as Friday regulars and was really very nice to us when we were there. So when they know you they will treat you well. Those were some good times the King Fridays.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hochtaler wine

For Christmas Day I might be visiting some relatives. My parents suggested that it is polite to bring a bottle of wine to such a visit. They suggested the $10-$20 price range.

I don't know anything about wine so I was at a bit of a loss. However I did recall about Hochtaler from the past. Hochtaler had that provocative commercial back in the 80's.

Also in the past we used to party with some women who drank Hochtaler. Those were some good times partying at the Copper Penny and Hubbards Beach campground and Rick's basement. I recall it as a bit like a beer commercial. So I have a positive association with Hochtaler. I perceive it as a classy, quality drink.

When I went to the liquor store they had it and the price was in the range, a bit less than I expected, so it was an easy choice. I'll have to have a glass of it.

Won an xbox 360

I had a pleasant Christmas surprise this year. I won an xbox 360. There was a draw for my son's Atom B hockey team and I won it.

Every parent had a block of tickets to sell. My parents bought some. I put up a sign at work but there wasn't much interest there. So I ended up buying a few tickets on my own. I also bought some extra tickets from the table they set up at some home games. I don't normally gamble in negative expected value situations. In this case it was for the hockey team so I donated some money in.

The kids were pretty excited about winning the system. This is an extra Christmas present. The system includes a Forza 2 game and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. The Marvel game looks cool as it has a Ghost Rider character. The kids want to get some more games soon including SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 and Guitar Hero 3.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Last day lunch

Today was my last day of work for the year. Unfortunately due to an earlier layoff today was the last day on the job for a number of my co-workers.

We went out to the Lone Star in Clayton Park for lunch. It was OK, nothing special. I ordered fish and chips on the lunch menu but the waitress said they didn't have any fish today. I switched to brisket. After having the brisket I wish the fish had been in.

This wasn't a company lunch, we were all on our own. A bit unexpectedly at the end my boss picked up the tab for the table, around 20 of us, yay. It's happened in the past on last day lunches with both this company and some previous employers. The person waits until the very end to mention that he's taking the bill. It makes sense to do it that way. If you say up front it's a free meal then $7 fish and chips becomes $11 pasta. $2 Pepsi becomes $4 milkshake. $3 local draft beer becomes $6 Guinness.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Unused vacation

I was talking to the HR person the other day. She said I a good bit of vacation time unused. If I don't use some it won't carry over into 2008. I told her I'm done for the year on Dec 14 so I'll be taking a block of time in December. That will get me under so I can carry the remainder into 2008.

It's still a big chunk to be carrying over, around 15 days. I get 20 days a year. There's a couple of reasons I have this carry over. This is the first year I'm at 20 days/year of vacation so I'm not used to having and using up that much. Plus there were some issues to deal with this year that kind of made it not really a good time until now in December to be taking vacation. And there's work of course. I wouldn't have minded shutting it down for the year earlier than Dec 14, but we have a project in the final stages and until the project finishes I can't take a chunk of time before then.

For 2008 things are looking more positive. With 20 days base and 15 carried from 2007 I don't plan to use all 35. I do intend to use more than 20 next year and so reduce the unused. I'll plan to be better to myself in 2008 and use around 25-30 days. I can take a nice 2 week summer break and around 2 weeks at the end of the year and still take some loose days here and there for stuff with the kids, extra long weekends, golf or appointments.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Aliant grief update I

In my earlier Aliant grief post I said they were sending a technician out to get things straightened out, even though everything is working fine.

They told me the tech would arrive today in the morning. And he did arrive at 11:50 AM. The Aliant tech walks into my place and said his service call is I don't have Internet at all.

He was misinformed. Why doesn't that surprise me. I told him everything is working fine and has been since I got it running initially. I explained to him that I ordered high speed only and I was being incorrectly billed for an additional land line. The Aliant rep told me that the technician had to come out out to my place to set me up for the high speed only setup.

The tech was a bit surprised to hear that everything was working properly. He said he'd done some fix at the switch and to check if I was still online. I'd been online all morning working from home on remote desktop and I turned it all off when he phoned ahead to say he was arriving.

So I turned on the Siemens DSL modem and after a few seconds it was the solid three green lights. Good. Then I turned on my PC and everything started as usual. Then I clicked to a couple of Web sites and everything looks good.

So the tech didn't actually change anything at my place. I suppose that's good since everything still works. He told me he would talk to billing and get my account straightened out so that I would only be billed for high speed and not for the land line.

I can only hope that this works out as he said. I guess I'll know when my next bill comes in. I'm not really confident that everything will finally be in order.