Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 plans

I'm not going to do resolutions for 2010. Back to the older tradition.

I don't really agree with resolutions in a way because you can make positive changes at any time. Why wait for the new year?

Also resolutions are more like things you need to start on right away like quit smoking, lose weight, join a gym, etc. For 2010 I'm thinking more of things I should do during the year but generally not right away in January.

It's nice to be at a point where I can look ahead and think in time scales of months and even years. The month to month and cheque to cheque scrambling of the past made it difficult to impossible to focus on more than the immediate issues.

Of course the economy remains precarious so we don't know what upheavals may still happen which would turn everything upside down. So of course there may still be radical unplanned changes in direction. I don't really have much control over that so I can hope that things remain stable as they have been but need to be prepared for the unexpected.

I did ok on my 2009 resolutions It was a stay the course year and things were pretty stable; which is good. No major life or career changes in 2009. Sometimes you need to just pause a bit after years of upheaval. And the steady state is great if you're in a positive situation.

I did manage to eliminate all of the consumer debt in 2009. So that was a good accomplishment. For 2010 the remaining debt on the Honda will be paid off on its own around September. So then I'll be more truly debt free. So I'm looking forward that.

After a fairly quiet 2009 I expect some more changes in 2010. There is an Important Matter that needs to be dealt with; really in the first half of the year. With the consumer debt now gone it would be nice to move. I'd like to get a bigger, nicer apartment in the neighbourhood close to where I am right now.

I should take a proper summer vacation in 2010. Travel would be nice as well to PEI or Ottawa.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I saw the movie 2012 yesterday. I'd wanted to see it in the theatre since I saw the trailer for it. It was definitely a theatre movie. Spectacular sound, visuals and special effects. Very well done. I especially liked the "crackpot" doomsday underground radio character in Yosemite park who was entertaining.

The story was pretty interesting about how world leaders deal with the world ending on December 21 2012. There seemed to be some influences from other recent movies in 2012. There was of course the who will survive the disaster Titanic theme. Also there was a subplot which made me think of the movie Click as it played out.

There weren't too many people there. Around 10 in the theatre for a Wed afternoon show. So I'm glad I caught it while it was on the big screen. I didn't notice any other December movies that I especially want to see. The last movie I went to on my own was Star Trek earlier this year. I don't know of any coming up that I would like to see. Maybe there'll be 1-2 again next year that will be worth going to.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Last week at work a guy sent an e-mail out. He was at a local walk in clinic to get his H1N1 vaccine shot. He said there was walk in available with no wait.

I decided to drive down the hill to the clinic at the local strip mall from work. It was around a 5 minute drive down the hill. It was raining heavily that day. On the drive down I thought; I'm more likely to die in a car accident driving to the clinic and back than I am to die of swine flu.

I got to the clinic but I guess word got around and they said you needed an appointment and it was booked solid for the next two days. I just turned around and left. Luckily the drive back to the office was uneventful in the heavy rain.

In Nova Scotia there are around 1 million generally healthy people. Of this population 1 has died of swine flu this year. That's right, the chance of an otherwise healthy person in Nova Scotia dying of swine flu is literally about 1 in a million.

That's about as remote a chance of mortality as it gets. You're statistically much more likely to be murdered than to die of swine flu.

The most likely outcome for me is I won't get swine flu. If I did get it the far most likely outcome is I would enjoy a paid week off work without having to use any of my vacation time.

Some might look at that and suggest that there was no significant H1N1 threat. That it was and is an artificial crisis, just a lot of hysteria and sensational yellow journalism trying to sell newspapers. I believe the threat was at least somewhat overstated. Still I'll give the government some credit for acting on what it knew and acting in good faith.

I respect Dr. Strang and when he went on live at five more than once to state the threat was real and to get vaccinated then I believe he is competent and sincere and his statements are based on real science.

Still if H1N1 is such a threat then why so few mortalities? I think of it like the Y2K computer bug, and the cold war. There was perceived to be a serious threat to our very society. Vast resources were spent countering this threat. In the end the threat didn't really materialize and we were able to resume our lives.

Was there ever a real threat to begin with? Who knows, it doesn't really matter since the thing we were worried about didn't materialize [well not yet at least with swine flu]. So we should grudgingly consider it money well spent. The thing about H1N1 different from the cold war/Y2K is that with H1N1 we don't really have big powerful financial interests profiteering from the situation. So it is more likely to be sincere when we're told this is something we need to deal with decisively.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Interesting times Canada and China

It's been an interesting sequence of events with Canada and China the last few days.

- PM Stephen Harper makes his first visit to China in several years. Shortly after US president Obama breezed through that country

- Harper makes a statement on the Canadian economy while he's in China

- China leader publicly criticizes Harper for taking so long between visits

- for the first time, finance minister Flaherty expresses concern about Canada's defecit. Vows to eliminate the $1 billion a week federal budget gap and get back to a balanced budget in a definite time frame

hmmm, so what to make of this. I don't really follow it but how long was Harper's planned visit known. Because it seems kind of sudden. Although for appearances we were a bit stuck as Obama was right to go first - bigger and more important country. So Harper had to wait for Obama. Still was Harper "summoned" to China by top Chinese officials?

Interesting that Harper commented on the Canadian economy from Chinese turf and Flaherty suddenly notices and expresses concern about the horrible defecit. The defecit situation is actually far worse when you consider that pretty much every province is also running a record defecit. Also the federal government took on $75 billion of subprime mortgages off the banks books as a back door bailout. The current and eventual losses on that portfolio will likely be substantial.

The thing about the defecit is this. It's borrowed money. So in order to borrow money you need someone else to lend you money. I was very concerned about the record federal and provincial defecits for that reason. I felt there was a real risk that the bond auctions would fail; that we wouldn't be able to find anyone willing to lend us that much to fund these enormous defecits.

That's where China comes in. I suspect that a lot of the record federal and provincial defecits this year and in the projected next five years was loaned to us by China. Thus if we want China to continue to lend Canada money to fund the federal and provincial defecits then like Obama we have to make nice with our Chinese creditors.

So Harper makes a sudden trip to China. The Chinese publicly chastise Harper to his face when he's there. Harper reassures that Canada's economy is getting better. At the same time Flaherty reassures the Chinese that the money they lent us is safe; he'll be switching to Paul Martin mode real soon now and the defecit will be eliminated within 5 years max at any social cost.

In a way I'm glad. As long as China is on board for a 5 year plan then we can get our nation's finances back on track in an orderly [although still probably painful and unpopular] way. That's a lot better than being cut off by China and having to immediately cut the federal and provincial budgets by about $30-$60 billion.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Visitors from the future?

This is among the most interesting articles I've seen this year.

Large Hadron Collider's being sabotaged from the future?

NYT article

I just thought it was so interesting the quote in the NYT article.

While it is a paradox to go back in time and kill your grandfather, physicists agree there is no paradox if you go back in time and save him from being hit by a bus.

Those physicists are very very smart. That's just so interesting and the possibilities it opens up. They are more than half professional philosophers it seems. At the very high levels of certain areas of physics and math I suspect there may be a lot of philosophy coming into play.

LTD scam

At work the premiums for long term disability have doubled in the last two years. This is after years and years of 10%-30% increases every single year. This is a big part of why.

Indiscreet partier cut off from disability claim

Our LTD carrier is also ManuLife so make no mistake, it's my premiums that were paying for Nathalie's dream to retire at age 28 at my personal expense. Tough luck she was cut off after "only" 18 months. I wonder how many Nathalies there are from coast to coast. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Sitting on the beach enjoying margaritas laughing at the suckers back home.

The thing about LTD is this. This is entirely employee paid. So the employer has little reason to care about premiums. Also the scheme is mandatory so ManuLife and other carriers have a captive group of policyholders. They have little incentive to deal with fraud and abuse since the costs are just transferred directly to the captive policyholders who aren't going anywhere. It is mathematically impossible for LTD rates to increase as much as they have without being accompanied by systemic fraud and abuse.

In the past when I started out in high tech LTD was a good thing. For a negligible cost you could protect your income in case something serious and unexpected happened. Something like a major car accident or a serious stroke where someone was clearly messed up and indisputably unable to be at work.

That's no longer the case and now we need to make changes. The reality is that the way disability is defined today is that basically anyone with moral blinders and a bit of moxie can get himself classified as disabled. Even someone who otherwise looks and acts healthy, partying it up with friends at the strip club.

What I'd like to see is to give employees choice in LTD. I don't disagree with forcing employees to purchase at least some level of LTD coverage. We should be allowed to take our business elsewhere if the carrier is not doing enough to control increases in claims. Specifically I'd like to see a competitor emerge which provided more traditional LTD as it was originally designed and intended at a much lower cost to the policyholder. The following conditions and more would specifically not be covered.

- clinical depression
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- chronic muscle soreness
- environmental illness/ multiple chemical sensitivity
- stress

Monday, November 16, 2009

orange julius

I got a little treat for myself recently. I got an orange julius at Halifax shopping centre. Actually it was a strawberry julius. It was as good as I remember them. I used to get them often back at Bayers Road shopping centre a long time ago. Although in the last 20 years or so it's not too often.

I was out shopping. I picked up some levi's dockers 30% off at the bay. I got a Lorus watch at the halifax watch co 20% off. I also went to wal-mart and price club for kleenex, soap and similar mundane supplies.

I'm just about done my mini shopping spree. About the only item left is a black leather belt. Probably Sears would be good for that. I should also get a long sleeve collar shirt. When I got out my fall clothes I had to toss around 4-5 shirts that are too short in the sleeves. I could use a new polo shirt or two; I haven't had a new one in several years.

Friday, November 06, 2009


I deleted my tagged account.

It was getting too strange there. I kept getting these friend requests that was something like "22 year old from New York City who looks like a model has added you as a friend"

It's like, yeah right. In reality

you're not 22
you're not from NYC
you don't look like a model
you don't want to be my friend
you do want to take money off me

It was just too skanky so it was easy delete and now I don't miss the daily tagged e-mails.


On a somewhat related note, I noticed this really impressive site Plenty of Fish. Some of my friends mentioned POF was pretty good. But I was surprised at how good. I did a search for white women around my age within around a 10 minute drive of where I live.

It's like wow, pages and pages of results. And there's a lot of quality in the results. Women with education, good jobs, attractive. See for yourself [page 1] [page 2] [page 3].

If there was a way to short the bar scene I'd go for it. This is a game changer. Bars are great for catching a live band, hanging out with your friends. But trying to meet someone, forget it for the bar scene. POF and the Internet makes you realize how dismal, miserable, near useless the bar scene is for that.

Scanning the profiles you can form a bit of a composite of what these ladies are looking for. Good communicator, wine drinker, cuddling, good with tools, no head games, don't care about whatever shocking, horrible things your ex said or did. I tend to disqualify myself reading these want lists, oh well. But I suppose if I posted a profile it might come across sounding like I hope to meet a financially responsible Dr. who looks like a model and cooks. So maybe I shouldn't read too much into it.

I haven't joined and I'm not sure if I'm going to. I'm not sure if it's for me. My style may not be aggressive enough for that type of site. It might be my best plan to meet someone in person eventually however unlikely and see what unfolds.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sold some baseball cards

As part of getting the old baseball cards organized I decided to work to complete some sets. There were also other sets which had too few cards to make the effort to complete them.

I decided to list one of the sets on sportlots. It was 120 cards from 1980 o pee chee baseball. I didn't really expect anything to come of it.

But I was surprised. Last week there were two orders from the same person in Washington State USA. He ordered 12 cards in total. The sale amount was around $10. After sportlots listing fees I got around $5. I took the proceeds as credit on the site since there's some football and other cards I still want to order. I ended up losing a small amount on the postage to USA so I'll have to revise my postage fees slightly to ensure it's enough to cover my own costs.

It was a mix of cards from well known players like Robin Yount and Paul Molitor; and some obscure players.

As a seller I noticed some of the other sellers make a lot of pricing mistakes. Some people foolishly list their cards for the minimum $0.18. That's crazy. Anyone who bothers to go to sportlots is a motivated buyer who will always be willing to pay more. I didn't list any of mine for the minimum and I never would. Even if others had listed a card at $0.18 I set a min price of at least 25 cents.

Sometimes with older sets like the 1980 there will only be one card listed for a player. That means the seller has a local monopoly on that card. So you can basically charge any reasonable amount and you'll get it. Incredibly I saw people with the monopoly on a card listing it for 18 cents! For my cards even the most obscure and irrelevant player; if it is the only card listed then it becomes at least a 50 cents card due to the monopoly. For better players with any kind of name recognition then it is at least a dollar card with a local monopoly. That's how I was able to get a $10 sale on 12 cards.

I was pleasantly surprised at how my trial listing went. I'm now going to list the remaining baseball cards from the 1981, 1983, 1984 o pee chee baseball. I also have some loose Topps, Fleer and Donruss baseball from various years 1978-1983 which I'll also list.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Bought some baseball cards

I picked up some more baseball cards recently.

I was working on the 1982 o pee chee set. I had around 200 cards and needed around 190. I went to the local dealer Strictly Singles. When I got there the place was boarded up as the building is being remodeled. I didn't know if they were even still around.

I just typed it in on my cell phone and luckily thanks to Google it picked up that they have moved down Almon Street. He has a nice spacious new shop now so it was nice there. He did have a good supply of 1982. I found all but 3 that I needed. He just charged by count and it was only $30 for nearly 200 cards, around $0.15 each, a good price.

Then I went online at Sportlots and there was a good selection there too for the 1982. There were 4 people who had all three I wanted. I went with a guy who had the fewest sold, just 50. I thought I'd help a smaller dealer get his totals up. It worked out well they were listed at $0.18 each. They arrived quickly.

And so I was able to finish off the complete set! It's nice being able to turn all the pages in the album with no gaps.

That's about it for acquiring baseball for now. There's a small number of 1978 and 1979 to get. Those sets are about as far as they can get for now. If I visit a bigger city some time I'll have to look for a local dealer to see if I can finish those two sets off. With baseball done I'm going to move onto football next.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I took my car in for an oil change recently. I got a bit more work done too. The mechanic recommended a transmission flush earlier so I got that done.

All together it came in a bit under $200. Oh well sometimes oil changes end up being expensive. I still have a power steering flush to do next time I have the car in. Which will be in a little while for the winter tires.

All in all the 2005 civic is running well. So I'm glad of that. Although this time as part of their courtesy check they said there might be an alternator problem. They'll recheck next time and if the reading is the same then I'll have to get that replaced too.

The car has 108,000 km so I guess stuff will break more frequently now. Still it's expensive taking care of these things. It will be good to get this vehicle paid off. A little under a year now and that will be done.

In the future I'll aim to avoid 5 year financing, even if the interest is quite favorable. My recent and ongoing experiences demonstrate it's better to get the vehicle paid off before it gets too many years/kms and maintenance costs start to jump. Still it sucks to think there's people out there with 6 and even 7 year vehicle loans.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I switched laundry detergent recently. I had been using Gain for around 2 years. I switched to liquid tide.

I'd used the tide in the past, over 10 years ago. I always thought it was better. But it does cost a bit more. I was pretty happy with Gain as it did a good job. When I was at Costco I decided to get the tide again.

The tide does a good job. It does come out cleaner and brighter than gain. However gain has a nice scent and the original tide is pretty much unscented.

At costco everything is large size. The tide is about a 100 load jug. I found it hard to cart it to the laundry room. Plus the measuring cap was a separate cup which didn't drain back into the jug. So that was messy and wasteful and not very good.

So I went and bought the smallest size liquid tide I could find. I picked it up at zellers. The smaller size is of course lighter and the measuring cap pours back into the container. That's a nice invention the measuring cap draining back in. So I'll use the small size tide and just refill it from the large container.

I do around 2 loads of laundry a week. So I should be set with detergent for around a year or so.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Donated blood again

I donated blood last week. I hadn't donated in a long time. By the records the last time was 2006. I didn't realize it was that long.

I kind of fell out of the routine and hadn't got around to setting up a new schedule.

I went to the Gottingen Street clinic after work when it was open on Thursday evening. I hadn't been to Gottingen St. in quite a while, around 10 years. The donation went pretty well. I went right through with no waiting. That was good luck. It only took 6 minutes to get the amount of blood they wanted so that was pretty quick. The treats at the end were good as always.

The nurse took my blood pressure before and said it was pretty good. I don't know what the numbers mean but they look pretty consistent with the numbers on the card from years back. I should look up what the blood pressure numbers mean. Still it's good to get a good report.

I'll probably continue to go to the Gottingen St. evening clinic. That works pretty well for where I live now. In the past I went to a mobile clinic at the local community centre. The best time for donating was when I was at BIO as a software contractor for Y2K. They had the clinic right in the facility in the auditorium during daytime business hours. That was so convenient.

Now that I went again I can get into a new routine. I can do a bit better than every 3 years for donating. Maybe not every 2 months but more than once a year is definitely possible.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Greatest Dilbert ever

I've been reading Dilbert for a long time. Always enjoyed it and it's still great.

This one has always been my favorite. It took a while but I looked it up from the Dilbert archives today. I had thought it was from 2007 or 2006. But it was July 10 2005. Enjoy.

Classic Dilbert with Wally, best Dilbert ever

And a little extra link (to the same strip) to help the search engines.

Dilbert Wally Idiot

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I've always found the picture on the side of the easyhome trucks kind of funny.

It's like, yeah, this woman is just so overjoyed about getting some furniture or electronics from Easyhome. With low monthly payments masking about 25% interest on the purchase amount. Maybe I should buy some new furniture at easyhome and I could be happy like that too.


Not too much going on lately. Was a bit under the weather for a few days last week. Got to bed a bit earlier and the extra rest seemed to help a bit. Feeling better again now and off the cough medicine and neo citran. A number of people at work have been sick the last couple of months.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Got a haircut

I got a haircut the past weekend.

This time I did something a bit different with it. For years I've been in a holding pattern of getting the hair cut really short and then letting it grow out for as long as I can until it becomes too long and I have to get a big chop again.

This optimizes on cost and as part of that I would always go to low cost hair cutters like first choice and wal-mart.

But this time I did something a bit different. I went to the Head Shoppe. I went to Rockingham Ridge where I'd never been before. It was a far better experience than the discount haircutters. I walk in and there's a comfortable blue padded bench to sit on. Cool. And there was a newspaper there and they offered me a coffee.

The hairdresser seemed pretty good. She seemed to take a bit more time to do a good job and I thought it turned out ok. A challenge is that I'm not sure what I want to do with it so I couldn't give her much instruction to go on.

I was a bit surprised at the cost when it was done. It was only $25. I was expecting it to be a more, like upwards of $30+. Considering it was a much better experience than the discount places. The thing about first choice/wal mart is that their prices have edged up in the last year. It's now like $18 to go to wal mart anyway for a very fast and low quality haircut. So in a way for only $7 I can get a quality haircut since I would have had to spend the $18 anyway for a mediocre haircut. So from that standpoint it's good value for the approx. $7 marginal cost.

So that's the change I've decided to make with haircuts. I'm going to go to a classier place and get a regular stylist and go on more of a regular schedule. The stylist said most guys come in around every 5 or 6 weeks. I set another appointment for 6 weeks which seems about right to start. It's a small change of allowing expenses to increase a little bit after paying off the debts.

I haven't had a regular hairdresser since the late 90s back at fantastic sams in the clayton park mall. The stylist was someone I'd gone to high school with. She actually had to tell me we had been classmates since I didn't remember her from Halifax West. I didn't have much awareness back in high school of most of the people in my classes. I think the girls paid more attention to who was who. I looked her up on facebook but she isn't in that business now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

American express credit card offer

I got an interesting letter in the mail this week. It was a credit card from American Express. It had a $3000 credit limit on it.

It seems to be linked to Costco. It's strange because I didn't apply for any credit card when I joined. They must have some agreement with Amex I guess. I noticed when I joined as part of the sign up they ask your approximate annual income. I guess Amex takes that stated income as close enough to truth when determining how much credit to offer.

I didn't have to accept the card since I didn't ask for it. So I had to make a decision. I thought about it for a bit and I threw out the card instead of activating it.

I already have a Visa and Mastercard. Although the credit limits are low relative to income and financial situation I imagine they'll increase on their own over time. If I wanted more I could just ask and they might increase it. But I don't want more right now. I have no balance and all the available credit card capacity I need at this time.

American Express is not what it used to be. I remember in the 70s when it was a charge card; a concept I still cannot fully grasp. Anyway back then it was prestigious to have the green American Express card. It was hard to get.

But then things changed with Amex. The charge card gave way to the common vulgar credit card. High income, sterling credit, rare default, classy clientele were largely displaced with pedestrian credit card people, the subprime sheeple.

Amex today with its credit cards is just another loser American wall street firm like MBNA. In fact they are today a "bank" who received TARP handouts from the US taxpayer to cover their losses on bad loans. I don't respect them any more. Speaking of being asked to cover for irresponsible loans they made in the past, the interest rate on the Amex card was a hefty 20%. Interesting since they borrow from the government at 0%.

So thanks but no thanks American express.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ball hockey started again

Another season of ball hockey is now started. This is the 2009 B season September to December. They had another draft and it's new teams.

As usual I was a late round draft pick. I played with the team captain last season though. He's a very good player. Like last year we lost our first game this year. Hopefully we'll get untracked and pick up some wins.

I picked up some new shoes for this season. My old sneakers were pretty beat up. Cross trainers are pretty expensive. They seem comfortably into the 3 figures. After some looking in Bayers Lake I found some Reebok at the Shoe Company for $64. They should be fine for this season and 2010A in the new year. I keep them with my gear and only use them for hockey.

One thing different about this season is I've now agreed to do the game stats and timekeeping for the games I don't play in. Usually the team captain does this but he can't make it to enough games. The league organizer who I know asked if I would do it for my team. I agreed to. So now I'll be attending both games on Mondays instead of the one. The timekeeping and score sheet is a challenge to keep up with and I hope to get better at it.

I hadn't played any sports since the 2009A ball hockey season wrapped up in the spring. I should try out some summer sport next year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Investing again

One of the things I wanted to do after paying off the TD loan was to invest some more. At work I've now increased the RRSP deduction to 2% of pay. It used to be 1%. I started out at 1% around a year ago.

The company matches up to 3%. This is a great investment. For every dollar of my own I spend the company adds a dollar. Plus on the income tax you end up getting around half of it back due to the tax deduction. So matching RRSP is a good deal with 150% profit plus whatever returns the investments make.

The RRSP scheme is set up with manulife. They have a well designed web site with a login section specific to my company. It was easy to navigate around and see what I have there. Due to good luck my investments have done OK so far. As it happens I joined around the time of the TARP crisis last year when SPX was around 700, NASDAQ around 1400, DOW 6000 etc. Since then they have recovered a fair bit so that was timely for me.

I did change my investments though. Before it was a 'balanced' scheme based on allocation funds. I decided to change the percentages going forward to a more conservative approach. There's still some allocation, i.e. stock market, funds. But I've added more bond and fixed income.

Since I'm getting 150% profit anyway on money spent it's valuable to preserve those wins. Plus it would be nice to actually retire some day. So it would be unfortunate to have the account wiped out. Not that I'm anywhere near retirement. The other thing is I see the RRSP part of investing as safer and more conservative.

I'm also interested in making more speculative, unconventional, self directed 'investments' outside of RRSP. So I might be more willing to take risks outside of the RRSP and play it safer inside the RRSP. That kind of makes sense to me.

Hopefully this 2% deduction will go well. I'll plan to reevaluate in around 6 months or so and aim to set it to the max 3% deduction.

Monday, September 21, 2009

WWE in Halifax

I caught the WWE RAW show in Halifax over the weekend. It was a very good show. Lots of well known wrestlers competed. The action was very good.

I went with my older son. We had pretty good lower bowl seats. It was a good view. There was a good crowd there. Nearly full I would say. Around 8000+ if I had to estimate. It was strange though the concessions weren't all open. We wanted to get the nachos but they weren't even open. They lost money by not being there for the event.

I got a DX shirt for my son. He picked it out. We were a bit lucky to get one of the final ones in his size.

I don't often watch RAW. I prefer Friday Night SmackDown. Still I knew who most of the competitors were. I didn't realize how many John Cena fans there are. The place went crazy when he came out for the main event. It was an exciting match and he beat Randy Orton to keep the WWE title. Cena is entertaining.

WWE hadn't been in Halifax in around 6 years. I hope they come back again sooner. It was a good time seeing it live.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time to rethink Canada in Afghanistan

More bad news this week. Yet more tragic losses of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

The truth is that it's time for a frank discussion on the future of Canada's involvement in that country.

This has gone on long enough, much longer than world war two! What have we really accomplished for all of the human and financial losses in that country? The taliban remain a force [and growing rapidly!] and there remains no effective civilian government there.

It's time to cut our losses and move on. We did what we could. We fought honourably and courageously. This nation made sacrifices trying to help the Afghan people. But Canada and the rest of NATO have failed. For reasons unfathomable to us in the west the taliban and their mentality is still largely supported throughout Afghanistan. Burn down a school where girls were taught? Cut off a barber's head for shaving someone's beard? Local cleric orders firing squad execution on two young people for violating "morality laws" and regular townspeople carry out the execution? yes, yes and yes, sounds like a good plan. wtf?? but what can we do.

What's the worst that can happen if NATO just leaves Afghanistan? I suppose Omar and Bin Laden return triumphant to Kabul each riding a white horse in an Austria/1937 scene. Good for them.

We don't have to fight them with troops on the ground on their turf. We can and must fight in our own land both the war on the ground against would be terrorists; as well as the war of ideas against their militant ideology.

We've fought and won this type of war before against a formidable opponent. It was the cold war against the powerful communist propaganda machine and armies. We didn't invade and occupy those countries. They eventually collapsed on their own from within when the great majority of ordinary people wouldn't take it any more. Eventually the same thing may happen in Afghanistan and similar nations. But like eastern Europe, it has to come from the people of Afghanistan. We cannot impose it from the outside if they don't want it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

borrow today, sorrow tomorrow

I'd never heard that saying before but it is so true and relevant. Sadly the advice is too little too late for many; not that they would have heeded it anyway.

Here's some other mementos of the discarded past on the occasion of the elimination of the debt.

So long doughboy

Goodbye Edmund Andrews.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Joined Costco

I recently joined the Price Club. It's actually Costco now but I still think of it as price club and a lot of people still call it that. I'd been a member in the past in the late 90s and early 2000s but I hadn't been there in over 5 years when I rejoined.

I'd been thinking of joining for a while so I just went ahead and did it. I got the regular membership which is $55 a year. I could have got the executive membership for $100 a year. The executive membership has 2% cashback. So if you buy enough stuff there - around $3000 a year or more then the difference in membership price is worth it. I don't really expect to spend that much a year there so I'll start out with the regular membership.

There was some stuff I was getting low on that I was looking for. Laundry detergent, bounce dryer sheets, sensodyne tootpaste, ziploc freezer bags and sandwich bags. I was a bit disappointed with my shopping experience though. I got some laundry detergent, but the bounce was some blue country fresh and they didn't have plain original, the sensodyne was a four pack of different types and 2 of them I wasn't interested in, the ziploc sizes were like a 3-5 year supply if I'd bought them.

They have an automotive there and I might give that a try for oil changes or tires. I had other stuff to do when I was there so I didn't really get to look around. I'll see how it goes with it for this year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TD loan is paid off

Some good news on the bank statement this month. This was the final payment on the TD loan. It's good to have it now paid off. It took a while but now it's done. And with that I've now paid off all of the consumer debts.

It was about two years ago that I resolved to fix the debt situation and now I have. The job switch about a year ago helped a lot. I intend to be debt free for the long haul. It's a great way to be. As long as my employment remains stable it should be possible.

There's still some debt left around. There's about a year to go on the Honda loan. That's not a bad debt because I'm getting something for the payments, the car. Plus it's only 1.9% so I could find more profitable uses of any extra money than accelerating the payments on that. It will go away on its own in a few months anyway.

The TD bank watches what's going on. About a week after the final payment a rep called me. He asked if I had any plans for the $200 a month freed up by paying off the loan. He suggested I could put it into an auto deposit into my TD savings account. I think I can do better than a 1% savings account. Thanks for mentioning it anyway.

One thing I did was I canceled the overdraft on my chequing account. It was just a $200 overdraft and I keep a "floor" balance in the account anyway to cover occasional unexpected unbudgeted monthly expenses. So now I'm debt free the overdraft is a remnant of the financial past which can be discarded.

I don't have too much planned for the new $200 a month from paying this off. Like most people in Canada the $200 is nice but it isn't life changing money. I've allocated some of it already. I'll also make some modest lifestyle improvements. A bit of shopping and such. Maybe a little treat or two for myself to mark the milestone. Mostly it will just be absorbed into the existing budget. Now that I'm not putting extra money to accelerate the elimination of the debts, I have some other things I want to work on. Like getting a better place would be nice. That and some other bigger things.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Road trip

I went on a road trip this weekend. I drove to Moncton to see a friend. I hadn't seen him in person in about 4 years, since the Rolling Stones show. I'd been meaning to go since around last summer but now I finally got around to it.

It was a good trip up. It was around 2 1/2 hours. I made good time and the traffic was pretty good. It's always nice when I get to Truro and reach the trans Canada highway. This time I took the left to New Brunswick instead of the right to Cape Breton. Both are great choices. The trans canada around Truro is pretty neat where it has the orange pavement in parts. I wonder what the story is on that.

I always enjoy going on the trans Canada. I always feel like driving clear across Canada to BC and the Pacific ocean when I go on it. That would be a fun thing to do some day. Drive across Canada to BC. Head south and come back east through the USA. Who knows maybe someday.

I arrived in Moncton around 1 PM and made it to my friend's house. We didn't really have a set plan. I mentioned I wouldn't mind seeing if I could find some baseball cards from the 1978 and 1979 sets I've been working on. He'd looked up some local dealers and we spent some time driving around to them. As it happened I didn't find any cards I wanted. That's fine, I didn't really go to Moncton to look for baseball cards. It was something to fill in time and it was pleasant driving around and chatting.

We went out for a late lunch. I suggested Smitty's so we went there. I've always been a fan and I hadn't been there in around a year. I had the western skillet and vanilla milkshake and it was good. And filling.

By then it was getting later in the afternoon. It had been overcast most of the day but then the sun came through bright and hot. We considered heading to Parlee beach to get some sun and sand and check out some eye candy but alas it was getting time to head back home. We'd just planned for a day trip and that was fine. I was there for around 4 hours so it was a good visit. I've visited him in the past in Moncton back in 2005 and 1997. Back then I stayed overnight and left the next day. In the past though we liked to drink heavily when we hung around. Today he doesn't drink anymore. So Moncton on a Saturday night with no alcohol just wasn't doing it for me. And he had tentative plans for the evening so it was all good.

The trip back home was good. Along the way I took a side trip off the main highway and that was a worthwhile and interesting visit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

new tv

I picked up a new tv last weekend.

My old tv is giving out. And it is an old tv. Very small, mid 80s vintage I would guess. Still it has run pretty well the last couple of years so that's fine. But two weeks ago the color gave out on it and it was coming in black and white. That's not good on a small screen.

So off I went seeking a new tv. I wasn't really looking for anything special. I don't have digital cable and the only show I regularly watch is Friday night SmackDown. Plus I don't have a lot of space where I'm at so I didn't want anything too expensive or space hungry.

At the store I quickly settled on the 26 inch size. That's small by today's standards, but it's about twice the size of my old tv. They look ok and the price was about as much as I wanted to spend.

I started at Sears Halifax Shopping Centre. Then I remembered there was a Sears Home in Bayers Lake along with the Brick, Future Shop and Ashley. After going to a few places the best deal was at Sears Home in Bayers Lake. I ended up getting a Samsung 26 inch. It was $565 original but there was a weekend special 15% off there. Once you add tax and the hefty environment fee back on it brought it back to a bit under $600.

This tv should be fine for me. The screen looks ok, especially with a game console. The remote is pretty good too it is well designed the major functions are right there. I'm glad I got it at Sears. All things considered, I would rather go with Sears for a major purchase. I hope the Samsung is a good purchase. My monitor is also Samsung and that has been working well since I got it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bridge walk

I went to the Halifax bridge walk this year earlier this month. I went with the kids and it was a good time.

It was cool walking across the span. We parked on the Dartmouth side and ended up remarkably close as it turned out. It was a great day for it, very warm. It's a great view from up there. It is pretty high up. It was a little bit scary the first time across looking down for the first time from that height.

I had never walked across the bridge before. Although it was always something I had wanted to do. I'm glad I did it. I will hope to do it again some time. We ended up going a bit by accident. I just checked the web site to see if anything was happening for natal day that was convenient and that's when I saw the bridge walk.

It was well organized. When we got back across to the Dartmouth side there were some good bouncy castles for the kids. There was also cake. We were a bit lucky the kids ended up getting the last of the cake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Petro Canada Olympic Glasses

I picked up some Vancouver 2010 Olympic Glasses at Petro Canada recently. I had been meaning to get them. I got the two that are out, I hadn't got around to getting the first one yet.

I got it at the Main Street Petro Canada. I wonder if they are selling a lot of them. I noticed there's now a deal where they throw in a bottle of coke if you buy two glasses. At the Main Street store there seemed to be a fully stocked display. Maybe it was the store but there was a layer of dust on the boxes.

It seems like a good buy anyway. They are only $4 anyway and the glasses are fairly nice. I actually needed some new glasses anyway so this was timely. Plus some of it does go to the athletes so we get to help out in that way.

I remember the original glasses promotion for Calgary 1988. A lot of those glasses are still around, just like in the commercials. My parents still have at least some of the glasses they got back then.

It's nice in a way to now be in the generation who buys the Petro Can Olympic glasses.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baseball cards update

Another baseball cards update. I was back on sportlots looking for 1978 o pee chee. They did have a few there.

I ordered five cards that I needed. As usual with sportlots it seems there were complications. One order was marked filled and then a few days later the seller changed it to credit/refund. I guess he realized he didn't have the card.

For another seller I marked the order as non delivery in early August as it had been marked shipped on July 6. However the seller said it had been sent. It did arrive last week postmarked July 30. So much for being shipped on July 6. I gave that seller a "neutral" rating.

Sometimes I wonder about these seller ratings on sportlots. They all seem to be 90+ percent positive. Yet in the three orders I've made I've had to deal with non-deliveries and late deliveries.

In any case I was able to advance the 1978 set a bit. I now have 17 cards to go on that set. There may be some new things to look into to see if I can find the remaining cards from those sets. I have a couple of ideas still to try.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bought some music online

After seeing KISS I wanted to put together a CD of my favorite songs. Like many artists with a mid to large catalog there are a number of KISS albums and greatest hits albums. But none that quite had just what I wanted.

I checked out itunes first but I couldn't really understand the user interface. And it seemed pretty Apple specific as far as I could tell.

I wasn't interested in using a piracy/virus site like kazaa or limewire. I tried out puretracks for no special reason. I remember hearing of them in the past with tv commercials a couple of years ago. I didn't know much about them. I searched on them and there was a wikipedia note. I didn't see anything questionable so they seemed legit. I hope they are legit.

puretracks was actually very good. The site is really well organized and super easy to navigate and search. They had anything from KISS you could want. Plus it was interesting they sold in mp3 format. Which is great because I just bought a CD from the dollar store for $1 and burned the songs I bought onto there using windows media player. Now I can listen to the disc in my car just like I wanted.

I ended up ordering 9 KISS songs. Plus I tacked on bohemian rhapsody from Queen which is not on Queen greatest hits for some unknown reason. The price was right, most of the songs were $0.99 each, all in Canadian money. A couple of the bigger hits were $1.29. So it worked out well. I was able to put together the 10 songs I wanted for only about $15 total.

My experience with puretracks was all positive. I would go there again.

Plus I should shout out a plus to Eastlink high speed internet. The download speeds on the music were consistently around 10Mbps+ just like they advertise; and this was during prime time load. Nice work Eastlink.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Order to Canada

I had a bit of a problem the last few weeks. A couple of months ago one of the players got bent on my table hockey set. There's not much space where I live and someone tripped over it accidentally.

It turns out to be easy to fix. It's a Franklin hockey set and I needed a Hockey Gear part.
So far so good. The part was right there on the Franklin site and they had an order form. Unfortunately there was a snag when I went to order. They only deliver to USA. That sucks since they obviously sell the sets in Canada, they don't sell replacement parts in Canada.

I thought I was stuck for a while but then I had an idea. At work we have a California office. My manager has worked with the people in California. I asked my manager to make contact for me with his counterpart in Redwood City. I ended up ordering the part from Franklin (via Yahoo Store which is very good) and getting it delivered to his house in California.

Then the trick was to get it to Canada. Occasionally there's meetings either in California, Ontario, or Nova Scotia so it was fine for someone to just bring it into Canada that way and it would get to me in a little while. However the guy in California just sent it to me USPS and that was all fine.

So that was that. Just this week though I got an e-mail ad from Paypal and it turns out there's a business around these USA only deliveries to Canada. It's So if you're willing to pay then there are services for this. Actually the rates at MyUS look kinda steep so maybe you should shop around and see if anyone else does it. I was interested in getting some nice Kem playing cards which seem to be impossible to order from a Canadian supplier so maybe I'll get them yet.

The part I needed was 14010Z7 from Franklin Sports Parts. FRANKLINSPORTSPARTS.COM. I'm listing it here for search engines in case anyone in Canada happens to be looking for this part. I have some extras now and will mail them in Canada.

Monday, July 20, 2009

KISS in Halifax

I caught KISS over the weekend. The show was right here in Halifax on the commons. That was pretty convenient. There was a well organized bus service too so it was fast, easy and inexpensive to get there and back. Thanks metro transit.

The weather was bad all day on the Saturday. Rain on and off. Luckily though at around 8 the rain and heavy mist stopped for good and it was just cloudy for the show. I was glad about that. I didn't arrive until about an hour before the big show so I was able to avoid a lot of the rain.

It wasn't cheap. $114 for general admission. I had a pretty good view though and the sound was great. The show was really good. Lots of great songs and all the major hits. Everyone there seemed to be really into it, especially for the most well known songs. It was worth it.

The last big show I was at was the Rolling Stones in Moncton. Was that really 4 years ago? Wow, lots of changes since then. So now I've seen KISS. Like the Stones, something I've always wanted to do.

There's so much entertainment around this summer. There's only so much time and money for events so I have to pick which ones to see. I passed on Paul McCartney and I won't be going to Moncton for AC/DC. I saw KISS and I'll be planning to go to WWE in Halifax in September.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book of Psalms

Psalms is an interesting book.

One thing I find interesting about it is how Psalms is often misread in modern times.

People think Psalms is about peace and love and such but the surprising thing about Psalms is that it isn't. There's definitely a dual character to that book. Most modern readers and preachers seem to have really missed this essential part of Psalms.

Once in a while I go to church. Recently the preacher spoke about Psalm 145, specifically verse 20 (NIV).

20 The LORD watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

Now this is an interesting verse because it captures the dual spirit of Psalms. As it happened, and not surprisingly, the preacher spoke for a while about the first part of the verse. The part about love and the Lord.

However the preacher completely missed the key second line. About how the Lord will destroy the wicked.

That runs all through Psalms. The wicked, the enemy of Israel, etc. are constantly being destroyed, and made into footstools. Psalms is not at all a book of peace and love. In virtually every chapter the enemy gets his in Psalms.

Even the famous Psalms 23. They had to "walk through the valley of the shadow of death". Not a fun neighbourhood to be passing through. Good thing the Lord was with the Isrealites through their journeys, handing out rough justice to Israels opponents.

In a way it's too bad about Psalms that everyone just talks about the peace and love part and misses so much of the real richness and character of the book.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Office Space the Movie

I saw the move Office Space over the weekend on DVD. A co-worker lent it to me. He apparently has a copy at his desk it seems.

I hadn't seen it before. It was a great movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very funny. It's basically the story of modern office work and some of the frustrations that come with having a seemingly good job.

They had a good screenplay. The casting was great. The characters were very believable in their roles. Although the characters were stereotypes of yourself and your co-workers, it was close enough and well enough done to be really funny.

The soundtrack was very good and really helped make the movie. The soundtrack consisted mostly of gansta rap. Which was funny for a movie about office work. But it fit in well.

On the gangster theme. Along with the soundtrack, there was an undertone to the movie. It was the respect and admiration the main character office workers had for gangsters and criminals.

Myself I also admire gangsters. They are the real freemen in our society. Regular folks sit there in synthetic cubicles; tethered to prescription drug plans, mortgage and SUV payments.

The gangster, the pimp, the outlaw biker; that's the admirable life in many ways. Could you imagine a pimp producing a Microsoft Word document listing his personal goals and objectives for the coming fiscal quarter? Do you think someone would hassle a mafioso to come in on a Sunday? When do they get up in the morning? When they're done sleeping!

I think that theme resonates with a number of people perhaps more than they realize. Consider this YouTube video has 49 million views.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Steve McNair RIP

A great man. Among the toughest players in the NFL. Courage.

I remember a Titans playoff game years ago a fan had a sign which said something like




Something like that. The fan was sitting just behind the Titans bench among the first few rows. The cameraman zoomed in on the sign and the fan. Then the announcer noticed that the person holding the sign was McNair's wife! That was a great game. In that game McNair was playing through some brutal injury that would have sidelined almost anyone else.

We fans will remember you fondly. RIP Steve McNair.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


I got my DISC assessment results today. I filled out an online questionnaire a couple of weeks ago. The individual results were presented today.

I ended up getting a solid C. No surprise there of course. The effort was somewhat self describing in that if you had to guess what it was going to be beforehand for yourself and others you would have been pretty close most of the time. So it kind of tells you what you already know. Just puts more of a label on it. Although we're not supposed to call it a "label".

It was interesting in a way because the assessment includes a lot of profiling text about you individually. Even though it is composite and computer generated it was fairly accurate. One thing that came up with me is about details of personal life away from work. In general I don't say much about that or ask others about it. However others do volunteer more naturally.

In general it is well known that getting married, buying and/or selling a house, and breeding tend to be disruptive things which can generate a lot of time away from work during the day. And that's OK with me and with most people. It is generally well known when someone is going through such a process. Given that, it's really quite alright if someone sends an e-mail saying they will be "away", "out of the office" for some "appointments", "for a while" "this afternoon".

I don't dislike the people individually, but I really don't want to hear your afternoon itinerary of appointments with your mortgage broker, inspector, lawyer, realtor, etc. I really don't want to know the details. There was a good culture where I used to work. People were generally more vague and guarded about such things. It was a bit like the code of the NFL locker room. You didn't talk about, or especially, ask about people's personal business away from the field.

So that's that I guess. It makes me think about how DISC "scales" though. In the sense of aggregating the DISC profiles of team members to attempt a composite DISC of the team as a whole. Or even of an entire organization. I wonder if it could become part of recruiting and attempts would be made to "manage" it in the sense of having target percentages for the 4 types within different teams and job functions/management etc. An interesting subject in a way.

Friday, July 03, 2009


A couple of weeks ago I drove a friend downtown for a job interview at a bar. He has a car but the registration is messed up in the cutover from his old van which died, and some other complications. He's a good guy but he kind of has to get his life together. He ended up landing the job so good for him.

On the drive back he got talking about a site he likes. It's tagged. He said it's a good site and recommended it. I was a bit skeptical about it but I was curious enough to try it out.

It was about what I expected. You don't give your full name. Just first name, last initial, age, and location. It reminded me of the late night bar scene. Women around my age in Halifax on that site is a lot of tattoos, trash, and trouble. Some but not much class. I guess it's cheaper than the bar scene to look around at a low signal to noise ratio. It's a bit amusing. It is what it is. Maybe I need to get my act together for going on there.

It would be questionable to meet someone on tagged. It did get me thinking though about the Internet dating scene. I think if I wanted to meet someone on the Internet I would sign up at the dating site that had a high fee. $100, better yet $200-$300+.

Why would I want to overpay? For value. I figure with a high sign up fee the site would be self organizing. The fee would self filter out a lot of the fakes, poseurs, wannabees. If a girl doesn't have $100 for a one time expense then I don't want to meet her. It would be more likely to be a classy site. I figure the ladies with class, education, good jobs and savings would go to a more expensive and exclusive dating site. So if you want to meet those types of women then that may be a good place.

It makes sense as an investment. If you meet someone good with a good job who is good about money then a one time $300 investment up front would easily pay off more than 100 times over. And I suspect there's at least a 1% chance of meeting such a person on that type of site.

Do I have any business dating pharmacists, accountants, and dentists? Possibly not. The free market and pure luck will ultimately decide.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wisdom teeth are done

I did something this week that I've put off for a long time. I had my wisdom teeth out.

Dentists have been suggesting I do it for well over 20 years. For different reasons I've put off doing it. But this time when my dentist suggested it at my last visit I just decided to go ahead and do it.

The process was went rather smoothly and quickly. I had the initial referral within a couple of weeks. They take this cool wrap around the head x-ray with a 3-d image of your mouth. I could see the bottom wisdom teeth one of them was sideways. Then I set the appointment for a just a couple of weeks later. That was fast. I'm not used to such quick delivery of health services.

I did the procedure on Tuesday morning at 7:30 - earlier than I'm usually out of the house or anywhere. I elected to go with just local freezing instead of mild sedation or being fully knocked out. The assistant was curious why I didn't get sedation as local freezing is apparently unusual. I had a couple of reasons.

- I didn't want to skip breakfast. You can't eat before if you get sedation.

- With sedation you need someone to drive you home afterward and stay with you the rest of the day. I didn't really have anyone to drive me around. So going with local freezing I can just drive myself there and back afterwards.

Those were the reasons I told her. The really BIG reason of course I didn't want sedation is because of what happened when I was in high school. A friendly girl named Sherrie died while getting her wisdom teeth out. Ever since then of course wisdom teeth and Sherrie have been unbreakably linked.

I was quite happy to have an alternative to sedation so I didn't have to risk my life for an optional dental procedure. I didn't even realize you could get your wisdom teeth done without sedation. I might have done it before now if I'd realized that.

The procedure itself went well. He got all four teeth out in around half an hour. Two of them were really fast, out in probably less than 2 minutes each. The others took a bit of work with lots of yanking, drilling and cracking. But Dr. Powell was very good and it all went quite well.

Afterwards I just sat around my place not doing much. I felt a bit grungy around 1 PM when the freezing was wearing off. The dentist (who is also an MD) gave me a prescription on the way out for Ibuprofen and Tylenol 3. I went back to the Medicine Shoppe to get it filled. The pharmacist was helpful as usual and she took the time to explain to me what they were for that the Ibuprofen was for swelling and to make sure to keep taking it for 3 days even if I felt well. The Typlenol 3 was for pain and I could take them together.

I must say after I took the two Tylenol 3 the effect was immediate and positive. The pain went away and I was in a much better mood all afternoon. Since then I've taken 2-3 a day when my mouth feels sore. The bottom right side has been a bit painful a couple of times a day over the last couple of days. There hasn't been any bleeding in the last 2 days so it seems to be recovering pretty well. I went back to work the next day and it was OK. I didn't want to burn up a lot of my vacation on this.

I was a bit surprised at the cost. It ended up coming in at a bit under $1000. I was expecting that since I'd got an insurance estimate done. I was surprised though that my insurance from work covered it at 90%. That was nice. I had it fixed in my mind it was 50% at best. I think it was maybe 50% at a previous employer. So that was a nice bonus. I was prepared to be out around 5 bills for this. Instead all together including the $5 prescription co pay on the 3 prescriptions, gas money driving to the clininc and back twice, incidentals like McDonald's milk shake and Farmers ice cream I was only out a bit over $100.

So now it's finally done and I'm glad it's done. This is a good time to get it done when my teeth feel alright, I don't have other complicating health problems to deal with, I have insurance coverage on it, and I have some cash to pay the rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Your kids may be next

Check out this child welfare case in Winnipeg. The government is attempting to create case law legally establishing "racism" as cause to remove a child from a home.

Of course the sheeple and the media have missed what's really going on here. The government is attempting to establish thoughtcrime as a legal basis to take people's kids away. The implications are far reaching. Once this becomes established law then anyone who expresses any view contrary to the official government line may be faced with having their children taken away. That's a very powerful weapon for the government to have to silence dissent.

Once this becomes law, who decides what "level" of racism is sufficient to remove a child from a home. I would expect that within 5-10 years some or most of the following will be a basis to take a child from the parents.

  • laughing at a racist joke
  • occasionally muttering slurs or epithets
  • failing to publicly support affirmative action
  • inadvertently clicking through to a racist web site

With thoughtcrime legally established as a cause for child removal, then many views which are unpopular today may be intimidated into silence, including

It gets messier. Once this becomes law it will be OK to remove the children of known LTTE Tamil supporters as they are politically unfashionable today. However I'd say there's at least a 5% chance that Bob Rae will become Prime Minister sometime within the 15 years. Bob is believed to be an LTTE sympathizer. What happens then? Will the LTTE kids be returned to their parents and the kids of Sri Lankan government supporters taken away?

I suspect some of the few who have heard of this case are thinking. What do I care about these people? I'm not a racist so I have nothing to worry about. Hey if June Callwood can be labelled a racist then probably so can you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Medicine Shoppe

I did something usual for me the other day. I picked up a prescription for myself. On the way back from work I stopped in at the Medicine Shoppe in Wedgewood.

That's an interesting place there. It is all health related items. No perfume, no cigarettes, no lottery tickets, no People magazine. When I went in the pharmacist was right there and it was filled quickly. It is a simple instructions but she went over it.

The pharmacist even gave me a new customer welcome gift bag which was a cloth environment shopping bag with a pen, mug, bottled water, fridge magnet, lip balm and merchandise coupons. That was pretty good and unexpected.

I don't know when I'll go back there. I don't get prescriptions too often; and I hope it stays that way for a while longer. But I would go back to the medicine shop for a quality health experience.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Congo, the country

Well it's Friday.

Wuss of the month award goes to AMD. They let politically correct militants bully them into changing the code name "Congo" on one of their projects. The thing is, it was named after the Congo river! All AMD had to say was this.

The code name is based on the Congo river. Not the country Congo. We are not changing it.
Loser AMD. When you finish up changing the project code name proceed straight to the kitchen. Both sinks are full of dirty dishes for you to wash.

And for this one cue up a big Nelson HA HA laugh

SS guard gets to stay in Canada

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CTV the listener

Sometimes I'll see a commercial for the CTV show The Listener. I could never watch that show. Even with the commercials within 5 seconds I think "this show doesn't make any sense".

The reason it doesn't make any sense is because the show is about a fellow who can read people's minds. The thing about that I can't get past is this. If I could read minds I would just be a professional card player. If you can read minds then you would know what your opponents have, you can effectively "see their cards". So any show about a mind reader could only then be a show about a pro poker and blackjack player. I look at the commercials for the episodes and I just think "why isn't he playing cards?"


Speaking of ATV. If Steve Murphy wants to take another week of vacation that's fine. I don't mind Joanne Clancy filling in at all. See looks fine and has a very pleasant on air presence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baseball cards

I was back at the local dealer Strictly Singles recently. I was looking at the second half of the 1978 o pee chee baseball set. He had a pretty good selection and I picked up a good number of cards.

The 1978 is in pretty good shape right now. There's about 20 cards left on it. That's pretty good. I'll work Sportlots where I still have some credit and the OPC group on Yahoo and maybe I'll be lucky and able to get close to finishing that set.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

lunch at Hooters

Over the weekend I expanded my cultural horizons. I went to a restaurant I hadn't been to before. I had lunch at Hooters on Main Street.

I met up with a former co worker and a guy I work with now. It was pretty good there. I had Keith's light and wings with hot sauce and they were all right. The Hooters girl who served us definitely delivered.

I've wanted to go there ever since it opened, just to see what it was about. It wasn't disappointing. I'm glad I went. The others there said it was pretty good too. We may go back there again, maybe this fall. There's some other Hooters fans too so maybe we'll get a couple more people next time.

It was a bit of a personal treat to myself to go. I wanted to do something, a small indulgence, to mark the special occasion of paying off the credit card debts.

On the consumer debt front things are going fairly well. It appears to be tracking to pay off the remaining TD loan some time this year. That would be great to get that done in 2009. I may yet become a freeman. Perhaps I'll yet emerge from beta with Me 1.0 after a 20+ year delay.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Invited back to MBNA

I got an unexpected letter from MBNA this week. They have offered me a Premier Rewards MasterCard. This card offers 1% cash back and 7.96% interest.

Funny because when I canceled my old card it was 19% interest and no rewards. So they are rewarding people who cancel by offering them a better deal to return. Maybe there's a strategy there for the existing customers.

It might sound like a good deal but it isn't really. I get 1% cashback already on my National Bank card so there's nothing there. Plus the National Bank card will upgrade to 2% for large monthly purchasers if I really was interested in getting purchase cashback.

And is 7.96% interest really a good deal? MBNA borrows from the central banks at 0.25%. So they are making about 750 bps profit. That seems excessive to me. I feel they are trying to get the good customers to cover their losses on defaults from irresponsible loans they made to irresponsible customers. No thanks.

Plus since I have no balance I don't care if the interest is 8% or 28%. It's still $0 to me. Paying interest on credit cards is for fools and suckers.

I wouldn't be surprised if in the not too distant future the credit card schemes become more quantized. There will be 4-6% interest, no fees, longer grace period, cashback and other incentives for the best customers. Shaky customers will see the legal max interest 20-30%, annual fees, legal minimum grace period, no incentives. They may even have to post capital and partially secure their credit limit balances. Say put up $500 cash in order to receive a $2000 card balance. Maybe a level in between at around 12-15% interest with annual fees.

Plus if MBNA really wanted my business they should try to demonstrate good customer service. After I canceled my MBNA card there was a credit made to the account by a vendor. On April 28 I phoned MBNA and asked them to mail me a cheque. They said it would be sent within 10 business days. The cheque still hasn't arrived and now I have to phone them again to try to extract my money. Why would I want to go back with these people? So thanks but no thanks MBNA.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Star Trek movie

I saw Star Trek last night at Bayers Lake. It was awesome, totally enjoyed it!

I've been a Trekkie for like forever. This was really well done focusing on the early original crew when they first joined the Enterprise. Spock was prominent and really well done. The young Spock actor did a great job and really "got" Spock's character without ruining it with emotion.

It was a bit hard for Spock to not steal the whole movie but the young Kirk actor was pretty good too. And that's what Star Trek really is. The story of Kirk. The story of Spock. The story of Kirk and Spock.

I remember years ago me and some friends were big TNG fans. We used to have end of season parties for the final episode cliffhangers. My attendance at the various original and TNG movies has been kinda spotty. I really should have seen Generations in the theatre as I heard that was good. This Star Trek movie was really well done. I hope they can pull off more good ones like this one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baseball cards

Another update on baseball cards.

I went down to the local cards dealer to look for some 1978 o pee chee baseball. He had a good number in the first half of the set. I'm going to go back to look at the second half of that set. It looks like I'll be around 20 cards to go. That's a good start if I can knock off most of that set. I enjoyed putting them into the album with my son.

While I was there I had a list of older cards 1967-1976 that a guy had posted on the Yahoo o pee chee group. The dealer had at least some cards from every year on his list. Although I was only able to make one match. It was a good match though. It was the Buddy Bell card from the 1976 o pee chee. That was the last card on his list for the 1976 set. The collector was in Washington State USA. So that worked out well. It is a diverse group of vintage opc baseball collectors on the Internet.

Then I guess I got some good karma. A couple of weeks later the Washington State guy e-mailed me and said he'd located the Lou Brock card I need from the 1979 set. That was great news. It arrived in the mail and now I just need two more cards to finish that set. 322 Dave McKay and 325 Jerry Remy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ATV open house

Over the weekend I went to the ATV open house. It was pretty good. There was a good crowd there. The major stars were outside and they had long lineups for pictures and autographs.

Me and my kids wanted to see the inside of the studio. So we lined up for the guided tour. It was about a 20 minute lineup to get in but it was worth the wait. One thing that was interesting was that the mayor was at the head of the line greeting people as they were about to get to the staging area for the groups for the tours. I hadn't met him in person before.

Inside the studio was really cool. Our guides were Rick Grant and a friendly woman who was in advertising production. We saw the set for BT and live at 5. The control room was cool too and we were allowed to be in there while they directed a 1 minute segment outside where Steve Murphy spoke with some MPs.

The news room where they shoot live at 5 and the 6 o clock news was pretty good. We got to stand in front of the weather screen and point to Cape Breton on screen. That was fun. At the weather station Tina Simpkin spoke about how they get the forecast ready. She is a good looking woman.

It was a good time. I'm glad I went to it. As for the reason for the open house. They are struggling in this economic and advertising downturn. I can see how they would want to levy a fee on the cable and satellite companies who carry their signal. Although the medium is the message and we've been given a very one sided view of things from CTV.

But make no mistake. There's no way the cable/sat operators will just absorb such a fee for CTV. Any levy will just be tacked onto everyone's bill. Still is BT, live at 5, news at 6, 11, weekend news, etalk, CTV Canadian content worth an extra $2-$5 per month added to your cable bill?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New old drill

I picked up a used cordless drill this week. I had a couple of small projects around my place that needed one. I had a drill that I got last year at a yard sale but it was no go this year and the battery wouldn't charge. Now I'll have to figure out what to do with that old battery but it was just a cheap old beat up drill I'd got at a yard sale.

Since my drill use is very light I just wanted something very basic. I went on kijiji and luckily found a well used Job Mate drill. It was $20. The seller lived downtown and said he didn't have any use for it. He even threw in a companion set of drill bits and a bunch of other accessories. So that was an unexpected surprise.

We tested it when I got it to see it was working. When I got it home it works well and I finished up the small projects. Hopefully the drill will still work when I need it again, maybe in a few months.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

new monitor

I did a little bit of spending with my tax return.

I picked up a new monitor for my computer. I was going to order a 22 inch from Dell but I decided to check out some local dealers first.

I checked a few places and I noticed the 24 inch seem more popular now. So I was leaning toward that. I noticed a Samsung 24 inch I liked in Bayers Lake that I was leaning toward. I decided to go to Dartmouth Crossing and check out BestBuy and Future Shop there.

In Dartmouth Crossing both BestBuy and Future Shop had the same deal on a Samsung 25 1/2 inch monitor. It was $550 marked down to $399. For no real good reason I took a little chance and got it at Future Shop. The sales guy there was friendly and he carried it right out to my car.

I don't know much about Samsung monitors but I hope it turns out to be a good buy. So far it is working well. It's worth spending a bit more for a big monitor for how much you use it. One thing I like about the Samsung is they have 1920x1200 resolution. That works for me because I often have multiple windows open, browser, spreadsheet, etc. So I can have a number of windows open on the screen easily. And apropos of nothing the 1200 vertical res is great because you can have two 800x600 size windows stacked with no overlap; and 4 800x600 windows on the screen with no overlap and still a bit of open space left over.

I also picked up some clothes. I bought some pants at Sears. I was looking for some Levi's Dockers. They were kind of hard to find. After some looking I did find them at Sears in the Land's End section. Unfortunately they didn't have my size so that was a bit disappointing.

Still I got some Haggar wrinkle free in the same colour so that should be good. I also picked up some Columbia pants and some socks. It was a good shopping day because it happened there was a sale. The Haggar were 35% off. The Columbia were 30% off. The socks were $12 marked down to $7. Plus at the cash register they threw in an extra $10 off because I spent more than $50. So I got 2 pairs of pants and socks for less than $90 taxes in. At full prices without the specials it would have been around $150 taxes in. So that was a good bargain.

And that's about it for the tax refund shopping. The priority remains to get the remaining debt paid off and then I can really move forward. There's still some stuff I would like to get including a digital camera and a respectable tv and a bunch of other stuff.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The laws of our fathers - Scott Turow

I finished up reading another book. It was The laws of our fathers by Scott Turow.

As usual it was set in the fictional Kindle County in the midwest in 1995. It's the story of a female judge who has a case involving a number of people she knew well in 1970 in San Francisco. By a series of events all of the principals from 1970 end up back in the courtroom in the 1995 murder case.

One part which was OK is that the enigmatic Tommy Molto gets some more screen time as the prosecutor. Of course with all of the shenanigans among the principals it's an uphill battle for him. Like all of the Kindle County books there's a very active romantic scene for all of the main lawyers and judges. I wonder if it's like that in real life for the legal professionals.

Other than that it was not a great book. It was hard to follow as it kept flashing back to 1970 and the radical scene in San Francisco, trying to tie it to the 1995 court case. I found the 1970 sections more interesting as the 1995 parts just kind of dragged out. The main characters, the judge Sonny and the successful syndicated columnist Seth, just aren't very likable. They are too hung up on themselves, with constant annoying self analysis. In the other books the characters just live with their circumstances and their shortcomings and they move forward.

Most of the Turow stuff I've read so far has been pretty good. This one was a disappointment. The Turow fans wouldn't miss much by skipping this effort. That will be it for the fiction reading for a little bit. I've got some nonfiction to read next.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

taxes are done

My taxes are done for another year. It went pretty smoothly this year for once. After last year's taxes I resolved that it would be better this year, and it was. It's great to have it done and out of the way.

I went to H&R block again this year like in years past. They have a new office in Wedgewood so that was pretty convenient. I stopped by on the way home from work and they could take me right away. I didn't have my papers so we set an appointment for an hour later. My papers were already ready and it didn't take long to do. It turns out my taxes are simpler this year than in previous years so I may try doing my own tax next year. Still H&R block is very good and good value for the money.

It was a good tax year. Partly because I switched jobs during the year that meant I was over on CPP and UI so that was a bonus. Making some RRSP contributions for the first time since the 1990s was also a positive.

One good thing about using a service for the taxes is they have efile. So I got my refund very quickly, it only took a little over a week. The priority remains to eliminate the debt but I did allow a bit of spending for some stuff that I want.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

TD credit card is paid off

Some updates on the credit cards. In my latest TD visa statement the card is now paid off. That's good news to finally have that done. It took a while and it was hard but now it's done.

So that's the end of the "plastic" part of the credit cards. Unfortunately there's still some consumer debt still to be eliminated. There's about $5500 left on a TD loan which was transferred over from credit card. So that's credit card under a different label. I don't have a timetable for it to go away. The payment is $210 a month so it will be good for that to be done with. I can use the payments I was making on the plastic cards to help pay it off faster. Debt is slavery.

Still the elimination of the plastic card balances is an important milestone. I have a little treat in mind to mark the occasion. More on that when it happens.

With the TD emerald card paid off I have made a change. I've canceled the TD emerald card. I've replaced it with the GM Visa card. They gave me $1500 to start out. With the TD emerald card canceled they may increase the limit in the coming months, or whatever. By switching to the no fee GM card I skip the $25 annual fee on the other card. So it's a good move. I don't care about the 20% interest rate since I have no balance and no plans to carry a balance. I had a GM card long ago in the past so this is again a way to break from the old ways financially and move forward in a new positive direction. I'm still with TD though as they've always been good to work with over the years.

So I should be set for now with credit cards. Depending what happens to GM I guess. With the National Bank Mastercard and the TD GM card I don't expect to be adding or deleting any credit card accounts in the next while.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Live wrestling

I did something over the weekend I hadn't done in a long time. I went to a live wrestling event. It was Main Stream Wrestling at the rink in Musquodoboit Harbour.

I went to the event with my son, who noticed the posters and wanted to go. We ended up getting ringside seats which were only $12 each. There was a good crowd there. I'm glad there was a pretty good turnout. Hopefully they will return some time. The canteen was busy, a lot of people there ordered fries and poutine. We ate beforehand at Gazoo's in Porters Lake which is open again for the summer. It's always a treat there.

They had some tables off to the side with merchandise. They had a lot of WWE action figures. We got some hard to find ones Matt Hardy and Mankind. That was an unexpected find.

The show itself was very good. The doors opened at 6:30 for a 7:30 start. There were some entertaining matches. The quality of the wrestling was good. The fighters interacted with the fans a lot more than they do on TV. So that was cool. One of the guys Grimez, was huge, over 7 feet tall. He had green face paint and was in the main event.

If you go to their site they are doing a spring tour. So if you're in the Atlantic provinces they may be coming to a venue near you soon. They will be in Dartmouth on April 30.

I hadn't been to live wrestling in a long time. Well over 20 years. I used to go to Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling at the Halifax Forum on Thursday nights in the mid 80s. It was a good time at the Main Stream wrestling event. Well organized with quality fighters and action. It was good entertainment for the cost.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I recently heard back from the Doctor's office. The test results came back negative. That means my vasectomy is finally complete and I'm now sterile.

It's good to have it completed now. The procedure was back in September at the Dartmouth General Hospital. I've always been fond of that hospital for some reason, it's always been my favorite. After I did the follow up test it was unfortunately still showing some genetic material. So I had to wait a couple of months and go back for another test in February. Going to the VG lab in the Mackenzie building to drop off this sample is not an enjoyable experience. I'm glad it's over.

In a way it's kind of moot at this point to be sterilized, if you know what I mean. Still this is one of those things that you have to take care of before you need it. It's a bit like insurance. There's a non trivial probability it may come into play in the time I have left so it's sensible to get it done [especially considering the cost of a failure]. Plus things can happen fast and with the lengthy lead times [it was well over a year from my initial family Dr. visit to when I got the final negative test results from the urologist office] you want to get this done before you really need it.

Plus it has some immediate value. It makes a very clear statement to what my intentions are about breeding. There can be no possibility of ambiguity or confusion or misunderstanding on this point. And I now control my own reproductive fate. I don't have to rely on the virtue of individuals, synthetic technology, pills, other people, to take care of this for me. My strategy is unexploitable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Michael Crichton - Prey

I finished up another book recently. It was Prey by Michael Crichton. It was a good book. An easy and compelling read. It only took a few days to get through it.

It's the story of an experiment with nanotechnology and computer programming gone awry. Crichton uses some of the elements that are in some of his other books. Psychologists are prominent characters in this book (Sphere); new advanced technology gone awry (Jurassic Park); set in Silicon Valley (Disclosure, Airframe); infidelity (Disclosure); computer programmers (Jurassic Park). Crichton isn't afraid to reuse what works and what the fans are comfortable with and enjoy. The book isn't cliché though and there's plenty of fresh material and well thought out plot twists to keep it interesting.

There's still a few Crichton I haven't read yet and I'm sure I'll catch up and read them. Plus he seems to still be writing new books which is great for me and the many other fans. My local library branch doesn't usually have Crichton for some reason. I ended up getting Prey from a branch me and my son went in after a hockey game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Printer ink

I picked up some ink for my printer over the weekend. I really like my printer. It's a Canon Pixma ip 3000. It has always worked well. When it prints it will tell you if your ink cartridges are getting low. When I looked at the diagnostic screen I didn't even realize the printer has double sided printing.

Both the red and the cyan were low. I went to inkjet x-change in west end mall. They had aftermarket cartridges for the Canon and I was set. It only came to about $22 total for the two of them and they took the old cartridges for recycling. I'd been to that inkjet exchange before for a black cartridge a few months ago. Although the printer is dated Canon uses the same cartridge models on some newer models so it's still compatible. Typical of good design and engineering by Canon.

I'm glad these aftermarket printer kiosk stores have cropped up in the last few years. In the past around 5+ years ago printer ink cost a fortune and was hard to find.

The ink jet place is across from the registry of motor vehicles office. The former main part of West End mall is kind of a strange place now. It's so eerie and quiet now. No food court. No real stores along the main drag. No Sears any more. The Bay is still there though and I couldn't help but wander aimlessly through for a few minutes for old times sake. I guess with west end mall most of the action has shifted to the other end of the site with wal-mart, Sobey's, NSLC and other retail using outside entrances.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Clock radio

I picked up a new clock radio recently. I got it at Superstore. It is a Sony. It was on special $20 marked down to $12. I was looking for a new clock radio. My old one had malfunctioned a couple of times and the buttons were getting sticky. I probably should have replaced it a long time ago.

One thing that is different was there is now a $3.50 surcharge on the clock radio. Which is annoying because it is only a $12 item. The clerk at the electronics warned me about the extra charge. I think he felt bad about it. At least I shouldn't have to throw out my old clock radio as it should now be returnable to a recycling depot.

It was different when I got it out. There's no 9V battery to put in. It has a built in lithium battery. After I plugged it in I didn't even need to set the time. The built in battery kept the time. That was pretty cool. It even has daylight saving time so that's a nice feature.

I checked out the radio. The reception was good, better than with the old clock radio. It was easy to set the alarm time. It seems well designed. Which is what you would expect from the Sony brand name. All things being equal, I'd rather have the Sony. Hopefully it will run well for a few years.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Going running again

I'll be off running again this season. I haven't gone out yet but I've decided I'm going to do it again this summer. Now that the snow is melted and it's getting a bit warmer in the evening and the light is lasting a bit longer it's about time to go out running again. It went pretty well last year. I'll plan to stick to the route I was using at the end of last season. I finished up around October last year.

I was looking for new running shoes. The Adidas response I used last year I ended up wearing to work during the winter. I was in Cleve's Bayers Lake last Saturday getting some skates sharpened. After that was done I wandered over to the shoes section. There were some running shoes on sale. I was going to get the same Adidas response I used last year as they were marked $130 down to $70. There were some other similar Adidas marked $120 down to $80 that looked nice too. Unfortunately they didn't have any Adidas in my size.

I was going to just leave but I decided to look at what else was there. I noticed there were some Saucony on sale. I've had Saucony before and they were really nice. There were two Saucony marked $120 down to $80. The red striped ones looked nicer but they were all out. They did have some Saucony Omni 7 in my size. They have grey stripes. They look OK, good enough to be seen in.

I tried them on and they are really light. They felt comfortable too. It was a good price $120 marked down to $80 so I decided to get them. So this will be my first non-Adidas running season; although I did try to buy the Adidas first but they were all out. Hopefully they will turn out to be a good buy.

I should try to get out running some time in April if it ever warms up a bit more. I've seen some people out in the morning running but I'm not that dedicated. Plus ball hockey season is still ongoing so I'm not fully engaged yet in post winter sports I guess. But at least I have everything I need now for when I'm ready to go.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Baseball cards update

Another update on baseball cards. I was down to just 7 left to finish the 1979 o pee chee set. I went on Sportlots and I was glad to see all of the cards I needed were listed there.

So I placed the order. It was spread across 4 sellers. The cost came to around $7 on paypal. That's fine to get the set finished. It got off to a good start. All four sellers marked their orders as filled within a couple of days. And in the first week two of the orders arrived with 3 of the cards.

Then ... well nothing. The remaining 2 orders did not arrive. That's pretty bad for there to be a 50% fail to deliver. It made me wonder if it was really bad luck or the site was a scam. They did have a follow up on sportlots so I registered a fail to deliver on the two sellers. One guy, barriere, basically admitted he hadn't sent the cards and wasn't going to. The other guy claimed he had sent the cards. That's strange for the second guy since it was a month later when I put in the fail to deliver notice.

After the required week the cards still hadn't arrived so I requested refund. The way sportlots worked I did get a credit. I left negative feedback on the two sellers. Pretty disappointing and that was that it seemed.

Then something unexpected happened. One of the orders arrived. It was surprising since it was postmarked February 5 air mail in Pennsylvania but it didn't arrive until March 20 here in Nova Scotia. So somehow the useless post office managed to take over six weeks to deliver an ordinary letter from Pennsylvania to Nova Scotia. That was very annoying. This is not the first major screw up with the post office. Just this year it took the post office nearly a month to deliver a letter from my place to another address in Halifax!

So then I had to try to right things with the seller on Sportlots. I contacted the sportlots support form and explained the situation. The order was marked as not filled as it had been over a month since I had made the order with no delivery. I asked sportlots to reverse the refund and re-make the payment to the seller. Also I asked for the negative feedback to be cleared as it was the stupid post office fault it wasn't delivered in a timely way. Fortunately sportlots customer support is not too bad and they did resolve the situation that the post office created.

So I guess that's as far as it will go with the 1979 set. It's disappointing to be the 3 cards short but maybe someday I'll find some other chance somewhere to find those last three cards. It was kind of a distraction as things dragged out with the 1979 set. I should get focused on it again and start on the 1978 o pee chee baseball set.

If anyone has any line on it, these are the cards I need to finish the set. 1979 o pee chee baseball.

322 Dave McKay
325 Jerry Remy
350 Lou Brock