Saturday, April 26, 2008

New sneakers

I went out and bought some new sneakers today. Like the last time, it was a generally unenjoyable experience. I'm starting a new job on Monday and my old sneaks were looking worn. So I got some fresh new ones for work.

It went a bit better this time. I skipped Wal-Mart and Payless this time so saved a bit of time. I ended up at the Shoe Company, as usual a pleasant store. It took some looking but I did find some sneakers I liked for an OK price. I didn't really want to go over $70 for work sneakers. There were some nice ones I liked that were $80 but I made myself keep looking at $70 max.

In general shoes today look terrible. I really just wanted some plain white or black shoes that are comfortable and look OK with jeans. Instead it is almost all these garish colour schemes on the shoes that ruin the look. The flashy looks are yucky, which eliminated most of the shoes I looked at. I like the minimal, clean, predominantly white or black look.

I ended up getting some Adidas Superstar II shoes. They are a plain white with the green three sripes on the side. They were very comfortable when I tried them on. They came in regular price at $70 so no more than I wanted to spend. The staff at the Shoe Company is good. They tend to stay out of your way and appear when they might be useful. The woman I spoke to spoke well of the Adidas (of course) and she suggested I get some leather protector cream for them. I've never in my life bought such protectant for sneakers so I was a bit skeptical. Up at the cash it was $5 and I nearly bought some but decided against it. I might splurge on that in the future when I pay off some more debts.

I was a bit surprised at Cleve's to see they still have Adidas Stan Smith sneakers. Those are great shoes I've had for over 20 years. I hadn't seen them in a while. I would have bought them but they were $90. The Stan Smiths look the same, but the price sure isn't from 20 years ago. I used to be able to get them for around $40.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The women went in Nova Scotia

So the tv show The week the women went is coming to Nova Scotia. oh joy.

What a joke. This is so typical today's pervasive militant feminist agenda that dominates the media. At least the gloves are off now. In the earlier series it was presented as character and community building, a coming together. In the Comical Herald article there is no such pretense. This is straight up women eagerly wishing to skip out on their usual responsibilities for a few days of pampering and R & R.

I used to think there couldn't possibly be a worse newspaper than the Ottawa Citizen. I think with the demise of the Daily News the Herald might just about be there.

This type of constant media brainwashing has been part of our society for a long time. I'm not really surprised how cowed and passive today's society is that nobody questions or challenges a militant show like this. If you look a bit though you can come across some truth at sites like nomarriage.

As to the show. Of course if someone is being counted on to do certain tasks, it will be disruptive if they are no longer around to do that job. There's nothing interesting or unusual there. That happens on any job site where an individual of any usefulness goes on vacation. It can be disruptive for those left behind to do that person's work. The quality and quantity of work done, both in their regular tasks and the tasks they take over for the person who is away will be less. So what?

Here's some similar follow on series I suggest. Let's see how eager the CBC will be to put these on the air.

The week the men went
In this show the guys skip out to a lodge, taking with them their paycheques and prescription drug plans.

After a great week of hunting, fishing, golf, playing cards, video games, watching hockey, and drinking beer the men decide to stay on for good and not return to their previous lives.

In the last scene, the series ends with a keg being wheeled in on a Saturday night for a raucous party and to enjoy some hockey. Following right behind the keg is three strippers who will also be providing some evening entertainment.

The week the women came back
After skipping out on their duties the wives return. In an opening scene the returning wife opens the door and is surprised to learn she has been replaced by a young thin foreign bride. The house is clean and supper is ready right at 5:00 when the husband returns from work. Original wife is informed her services are no longer required and she is now free to pursue her own pleasures all the time.

Comedy ensues as the returnees adjust to their new lives. One woman who liked to frequently ride her SUV up to McDonald's for take out now finds herself working that takeout window. She ends up serving the new bride driving up in her old SUV for the once a month treat eat out night.

Another lady who liked to sit on her expensive couch and chatter on the phone during the daytime while watching Oprah and Dr Phil now finds herself talking on the phone during the daytime at a call center at her new $10 an hour job.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

A coworker surprised me a bit this morning by wishing me happy Earth Day. I said "happy Earth Day to you too" as we were walking in opposite directions. I then muttered to myself under my breath "enjoy the dieoff".

For better or worse I've become a bit more enlightened the last few months reading sites like Sudden Debt, Housing Panic, and The Economist for that matter. There is some provocative and a bit scary stuff out there about Peak Oil, Black Swans, the dieoff and such. The environment is surely in trouble. How much trouble and what if anything can be done to address it are important questions.

I'm not into conspiracy theory or stuff like that but the events of the last year or so should be at least a bit of a concern to everyone. Thanks to the Internet and net neutrality there are more outlets for more wide ranging views to get aired, free of the advertising beholden newspapers and mainstream media. The responsible reader should be both skeptical and open minded to different points of view and willing to question or challenge what the mainstream media [and the alternate sites] tell us.

If anything it's nice to get a break from the 24/7 Britney/Nicole/Paris/Brad&Angie/Idol/Survivor/Flag burning/Gay marriage carpet bombing of the regular media to have some real discussions with some smart people about real issues.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Going running

I picked up some running shoes recently. I decided I was going to go out running again this year. The weather is slowly getting warm enough now that I can go out in the evening after work. It’s been a while since I’ve gone running. The last time was in 1997.

I bought some Adidas Response running shoes. I got them at Cleve’s Sporting Goods. The sneakers were $90 marked down from $130. Cleve’s is pretty good if you don’t go in on a Saturday. I was there on a Wednesday evening. It was me and a young fellow in the section looking at the same types of shoes. There was one employee working that section and he helped us both at the same time no problem.

The last pair I bought in 1997 were also Adidas which I bought at the same Cleve’s in Bayers Lake. They were $80 marked down from $120. So not too much inflation in a way if the shoes are of comparable quality. The ones I had before were really comfortable and light so I hope these shoes are nice.

I’ve been kind of looking forward to running again since the winter. I’m not competitive but if it goes well I might even try an organized 10k event with the goal of just finishing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rickard's white beer

I tried some Rickard's white beer the other day. It was pretty good. At work we brought in lunch to mark some old friends rejoining the Halifax office. The lunch was Thai food which is really good. There was a selection of beer as well which is a bit unusual for a company lunch.

There was Guinness and Rickard's white and Rickard's honey. For no special reason I picked the Rickard's white. What's interesting is the beer actually is white. If you look into the bottle from the side in the light (the bottle is pretty dark brown) it does appear to be a cloudy white. I didn't notice it until I was over half done the beer.

In my experience cloudy beer is usually bad home brew. But the Rickard's was pretty good. It has a nice clean taste. I'd consider buying it but at 5.5% it's a bit stiff for my current tastes. My tolerance isn't what it used to be so I generally prefer the watery 4% Keith's light.

Speaking of buying beer, I'm sad to see the near demise of the good old 6 pack, aka the poverty pack. It seems casual partygoers now have to get 8 or 12 minimum which sucks if you're just going to a friends place to meet up for a couple of hours before going downtown or wherever. The 6 packs at the big Bayers Lake Liquor store just seem to be expensive imported beer, and good old Schooner. I used to like Schooner in the past but I don't care for it today, a bit too hard for me now.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Real estate in Canada

I read with interest the recent Canadian Press article on housing in Canada. It shows that housing prices have increased by too much in recent years. The inevitable result of this is that prices are now set to either stagnate or tumble.

I was surprised to find the Greater Fool site. I can't believe someone prominent is finally publicly telling the truth about real estate in Canada. Thank you Garth Turner, always a straight shooter from the old Mulroney days.

Typically the media like the Halifax Comical Herald just publish breathless articles bragging that house prices have doubled in the last 7 years. Of course the realtor they quote tells you that it's not yet too late to get in on housing if you haven't been suckered in yet.

Tell me, have wages doubled in the last 7 years? Has the economy doubled? Have rents doubled? No, No and No!

Who can possibly buy these houses? Housing prices have risen in a way detached from the underlying economy. As evidenced by the appearance of 40 year mortgages, no money down mortgages, and cashback mortgages we have predictably reached a point where increases in house prices have made the average house unaffordable for the average buyer.

After years of growing at an unsustainable rate, housing prices are set to stagnate or tumble until wages and the economy can catch up. The no down, cashback, 40 year mortgage is Canada's version of subprime. The people taking out these mortgages cannot afford the houses and will be unable (or just unwilling) to service the massive debt they have foolishly saddled themselves with.

It's too bad about housing really. Historically the ability to get a respectable house in a respectable neighborhood for an affordable price that left enough money over to actually live was the foundation of the middle class.

That's no longer the case today. People are overstretched financially. In the past the way to make money from buying a house was by getting an affordable house and having enough left over to get other investments and when the house was paid off you would have that too.

The dirty secret of Canada's middle class is that most people can't afford their lives. Look at the record debt levels reported in the CP article. What happens is that people overpay for houses too far from where they work. Then they get killed on gas money driving two vehicles all over everywhere. Because they spend more than they make they end up with high consumer debt in credit cards and line of credit.

What then happens is they refinance their consumer debt onto their mortgage. While they get short term relief from creditors by doing this they also wipe out their home equity and whatever paper wealth they accumulated. Some people refinance their debts onto their mortgage multiple times and even reset their mortgage term back to 25 years after paying it down for several years.

I don't have the exact numbers, but just talking to people it seems a lot of people quietly admit they have refinanced their personal debt onto their mortgage at least once. The question really is who hasn't refinanced their mortgage into a higher amount than it was originally. Buying a house is only financially sensible if you can pay it off in 25 years or less. Refinancing a mortgage to a higher amount or longer term destroys any financial reason to purchase a house.

Up until now the banks have been willing to let people refinance their debts onto their mortgage because as long as the houses increased in value the bank felt the loan was secured in case of default. However if the economy falters at all, or when housing prices start to stagnate and tumble it will be like in the US. The banks will not be willing to refinance because the loan amount is larger than the value of the house backing it. Then there will be real trouble and a spike in foreclosures, which will accelerate the price declines to proper levels.

A realtor, banker, broker, inspector, CMHC employee, city tax collector, builder, lawyer or anyone else who makes a living suckering people into buying houses will say the renter is throwing money out the window. Many people who overpaid for the house they occupy while they pay off the bank who owns it will insist on the same thing. Bet let's look at that.

If you take out a 40 year mortgage you are throwing money out the window.

If you purchase a house in a neighborhood where you could rent an equivalent house in the same neighbourhood for less than half the mortgage cost you are throwing money out the window.

If you spend hundreds of dollars a month servicing consumer debt you are throwing money out the window.

If you refinance your debts onto your mortgage you are throwing money out the window.

If you spend $300-$400 or more per month on gas money you are throwing money out the window.

If you buy a house and then have to move and sell it at a large loss shortly after you are throwing money out the window.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bought some jeans

I bought some new jeans over the weekend. Some of my old jeans were getting too old so I had to toss them. I went to Mark's Work Wearhouse. They're pretty good, I've been going there for a long time. Their stores are spacious and well laid out.

I was looking for some Denver Hayes jeans. There was a $10 off special in their flyer. I've had Denver Hayes before for quite a while and they are always good and they cost a bit less than Levi's. I was a bit surprised this time to see the Denver Hayes I looked at were made in China. Yuck. That's a change as traditionally I always got them made in Canada, which is the main reason I bought them.

After some searching I did see some Denver Hayes that were made in Canada. But they didn't look too good or fit all that well. Levi's seems to have stopped manufacturing in Canada a long time ago so I was kind of resigned to getting China which is icky.

But on the back wall I saw this brand called Dakota. I just noticed they were on sale. I've never bought them before. I was surprised to see they were all made in Canada. They're 100% cotton and they fit okay and look alright. Plus they were on special so I bought two pairs. I hope they last for a while. If they do I'll keep buying them.