Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UFC pay per view

I ended up catching the UFC pay per view last Saturday night. A couple of friends had dropped by my place in the evening. It was around 11 PM. I suggested we head out for a beer. They agreed and after a short discussion we decided to head to Kokomo's.

When we got there we saw there was a UFC pay per view showing. We didn't even know about it. We paid the $5 to get in and the waitress pointed out a table that was available. It was a good crowd there. It was a bit different for a crowded bar on a Saturday night. When we walked in it was like, silence there. Everyone there was staring intently at the action on the screens. Kokomo's has an excellent TV set up with two giant screens set so that everyone has at least one good view.

The whole bar was set up for the UFC, there was no band or DJ or anything. That was fine, we were able to talk there without having to yell. It was a good crowd there. Very polite and well behaved. No rowdiness or bad drunkenness. They kept the kitchen open to midnight. The UFC was somewhat entertaining. I didn't know anything about it and neither did the other two I was with. I like WWE myself. But the UFC matches were pretty good I will say.

One of the guys I was there with said there's live MMA at the Halifax Forum a couple of times a year. He's been to it once and said it was pretty good. He said we should go. So we agreed it sounds like fun. So we'll try it out if the schedules work the next time they do a forum event.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2009 resolutions

Resolutions are becoming kind of a tradition after not doing them for many years. This year is a bit different than going into the 2008 resolutions. Unlike the last two years, I don't really have a big thing at this point that I need to do in 2009.

Going into 2008 it was an objective to make a career change. And I was able to accomplish that. Good thing too considering how it turned out back where I used to work. Although it was more luck than skill that my departure turned out to be pretty well timed.

So 2009 may be more a stay the course year. The truth is if my living and working situation is the same this time next year as it is today then the year should probably be considered a success. But these are interesting times. So who knows what historic events I and everyone else could be swept up in over the next 12 months. I shouldn't worry about things I can't control. I just need to try to be aware of and prepared for what could happen and be adaptable to unplanned change.

Financially 2008 was a good year. For the first time in many years I'm better off financially today than I was a year ago. My income increased thanks to the job switch. Spending was kept in line with take home pay. I made some progress on reducing the credit card debts. I even made a token RRSP investment.

For 2009 I want to eliminate the remaining credit card debts [MBNA Mastercard and TD Visa]. Plus I'd like to take some extra chunk off the TD loan. It would probably be good to increase my RRSP contributions.

If gas prices can stay low then I might treat myself to some travel in 2009. PEI, Moncton or Ottawa would all be great places to visit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. There's a few regulars on this site so whoever and wherever you are, happy holidays.

Yesterday I saw Scrooge at the Neptune Theatre. It was a great show. The actor was very good. The theatre was a treat as always. I should go to the theatre at least once a year. The theatre is great in a kind of self referential way, as in it's great because it is the theatre.

Monday was pretty much a write off. Breakfast didn't stay down and I didn't eat the rest of the day. I felt miserable all day. I slept most of Monday afternoon and from about 10 PM to 9 AM Tuesday. Luckily I felt much better Tuesday. Still it was just doing too much, running around too much, lack of rest. I see a lot of people having colds, fever, etc. at this time of year. A lot of it is caused by just being too busy. Try to slow down, take a real break, enjoy some blocks of unstructured down time.

Every Christmas I think about NBC around 1984 or 85. It was Christmas Sunday evening. Game 2 of the NBC football doubleheader was winding down around 8:30 PM. Bob Costas comes on at the wrap up talking about the shows after football. It was blah this, blah Christmas special that; then Bob in his deadpan Bob voice says and then the NBC Sunday night movie, that traditional family Christmas favorite Conan the Barbarian.

What a hoot. Those were the best years 1984-85. With the NFL on NBC, Bob, Bryant Gumbel, Pete Axthelm. NBC showing Conan the Barbarian on Christmas Sunday. I should pick up that movie and watch it this holiday. It is a classic.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Difference between GIC and debenture

I was talking to my uncle a little while ago at my parents place. He's taken good care of his money all of his life and he has different types of investments. He said he was thinking about getting some debentures. But he wasn't sure quite what a debenture is or how it is different from a GIC.

I was curious too so I looked it up and made a printout I'll give him the next time I see him [which should be this Friday]. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) is when you lend the bank money. The bank pays you back over time generally with fixed compound interest rates that are set at the time you purchase the GIC.

GICs are protected if the issuing bank or financial institution fails. In the event of failure the GIC is covered by government deposit insurance. It is treated the same as an ordinary bank account and investor losses are covered by the government up to a certain amount. Thus they are a very safe investment.

In a Debenture you are also lending the bank money. A debenture is similar to a GIC in that the bank will repay the loan with compound interest rates specified up front.

A debenture differs from a GIC in that your loan to the bank or financial institution is unsecured. So if the bank fails then a debenture holder is lumped in with other common creditors. Thus you would recover little or nothing on your debenture in the event the financial institution fails.

Because a debenture is an uninsured loan, it is a higher risk than a GIC. So the interest rates on debentures should be higher than on GICs to account for the increased risk for the purchaser.

Monday, December 15, 2008

brake work on my car

I was back at the garage today. When I did my safety inspection two weeks ago when I was leaving the advisor said the mechanic said I should get my front brakes looked at soon.

So I was back in today at Gray's again. I set the appointment for 8 AM, so much for sleeping in on my vacation. I wanted to get it out of the way. As expected brakes aren't cheap to get worked on. It came to over $400 for the front brake work. But it's done now so hopefully the car will continue to run well for a while.

The last thing I had fixed was an o2 sensor around a year ago. That also came out to around $400 so about once a year recently I've had to get something fixed on the car. That's not too bad really so hopefully it will run well for a while and there won't be too many repairs in this coming year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

on vacation

As of 4 PM today I'm on vacation. Off for three weeks, returning to the office on January 5. yay!

It works out pretty well with the stat holidays and the Christmas "plant shutdown". I get 3 calendar weeks off but I only have to use 9 vacation days. I haven't taken a meaningful vacation since last December. It's become kind of a year end tradition to shut it down for the year some time before Christmas. It's a nice time to be away. I was definitely looking forward to it, especially this last week.

I was going to also take a summer vacation too. But that was from my old job where I had carried some unused time into this year. When I left SupportSoft [pretty much just in time it turns out] I ended up cashing out the unused vacation.

One thing that's a bit different is I'm using a 2009 day on Friday January 2nd. That way I can finish up that week off without having to go back. I remember years ago, like 1999 I think I went in on the second instead of using a vacation day on the first day of the year. I guess my views have changed a bit since then. Plus I get a bit more vacation now than I did then so I can use it a bit more.

The year end vacation is a nice tradition which I may plan to do next year. Still I get a full vacation schedule going into 2009 so I might take a little summer break next year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New pine shelf

I was running out of space on my bookshelf. So I was looking for some new shelf space. I happened by Zellers last weekend and I checked out that section.

They had what I wanted. There was a pine wood shelf. Plus for a bonus it was marked down 25%. I didn't see the price there so it wasn't until I got to the cash that I saw it was only $15. I was glad to get it at that price. It was even made in Canada.

I've always liked this kind of wood shelf that you screw together. I've got them at Kent in the past too. It was really easy to put together. In fact it didn't even have instructions. Just line up the holes and screw in the screws. The drill I got during the summer at the yard sale didn't have any charge on it so I just screwed in the wood screws by hand. It wasn't too hard and didn't take too long. I'm not a very good builder, kind of a disaster in that area really for all of my life. So when a small and simple project goes well it's a satisfying thing. It's always nice to see it done.

So some new space now for some new books, or sports card albums or other stuff I might want to just put there. I do need to get some book ends for the shelf. I heard they are not too expensive at Staples.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Canada shenanigans

I should say something about what's happening in Ottawa. I'm shocked by all of it.

Harper was out of line by trying to eliminate the subsidy for his political opponents. That was a foolish and unnecessary provocation. And the opposition swiftly reminded him that he only governs with their consent so he wisely backed down. I don't think anyone wants an election at this time.

Then things just went crazy. The Liberal under outgoing defeated leader Stephane Dion now want to take over as the government. With the Bloc separatists along for the ride and holding the balance of power? This is unbelievable and intolerable.

Like it or not, Harper won the election with an increased number of seats. He has a mandate from the people of Canada to govern. If the Liberal and NDP don't want the Conservative government any more, fine, vote them down and we'll have to go back to the polls to try again. But a change in government has to come from the people of Canada, not Ed Broadbent.

It certainly was not the will of the people of Canada for Stephane Dion to be prime minister. His party won sharply fewer seats. It is totally wrong today for the Liberal to attempt to thwart the will of the people of Canada to try to form a government using a Survivor style alliance. I've seen enough and none of this coalition members will see my vote any time soon - and I voted for Dion in the last election.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

accident on main street in dartmouth

I was on my way out to Porter's Lake to get my son for hockey this afternoon. The ride out from my office in Bedford was going well. Too well it turns out. I get up on main street about to the trade school and there's this huge accident up ahead. The line seemed to be moving but it was the cops had closed main street and were diverting people off.

I was able to turn into the trade school side exit and get turned around and take the left by Prince Andrew high and get down into Cole Harbour, then turn back up at Forest Hills and onto the 107 and the Eastern Shore. Luckily I left a bit earlier, like 3 PM, than I "possibly" would have needed to so despite losing about half an hour in the detour - and more time on the way in to Bowles arena [a rink I've always liked] detouring around more traffic accidents we got to the rink just before the Zamboni started and we scrambled to get the gear on and he was on the ice in time.

I don't know how there can be so many and such large accidents on that stretch of main street between the old petro canada and the akerley campus. Visibility and road conditions were perfect at the time of the huge pile up. How can this happen?? It's a straight, clear, wide 4 lane road! How hard can it be to drive straight? It was a huge wreck too. They still hadn't opened the street at 8:30 when we were going back from hockey. It looked like cars were wrapped around utility poles. What a mess.

Sheesh, it's like a curse. Every time I go to the Eastern shore and have to be somewhere on any type of schedule. There's always some @#$%@# huge wreck on the bridge or main street or somewhere to ruin my plans.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Safety inspection

My safety inspection is now done for another year. It was pretty uneventful. No major problems found.

I went to a different garage this time. I went to Gray's auto in Fairview. I hadn't been there before. I called the old number for Creaser's but they have now merged with Gray's. I wasn't sure what to expect. It was pretty good there. The service advisors were friendly and knowledgeable. It took about as long to do the work and cost about as much as I expected.

While I was waiting for the work I walked over to the site of the old Halifax West for the first time since my old high school was torn down. That was an interesting experience. Lots of memories. There was one lady on the grounds walking a dog. And another guy doing tai chi.

Inspection is always an anxious time since you never know what the hit is going to be. So I'm always glad to have it done. I'll probably go back to Gray's for some more work based on my experience there so far. My 2005 Civic is still running pretty well which is good. A little under two more years and it will be paid off.