Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

In the spirit of NBC that time they showed Conan the Barbarian as the Sunday night movie after football on Christmas Sunday back around 1985. Here's my favorite scene from Bad Santa, the reindeer fight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

club z

Haven't posted much lately. Been busy, hanging out. You know how it is.

I was at the Bay last Saturday getting some Christmas stuff. There were some sales and I got some stuff. At the cash I put in my HBC rewards card - the successor to zellers club z. I was surprised the clerk said I had enough for a $10 gift card. I immediately cashed in 80,000 points ($800 of spending) for the gift card. So that works out to 1.25% cashback as a gift card. Not a bad deal. It's good at zellers, the bay and home outfitters. The gift card didn't last long. I crossed micmac mall to zellers and bought some stuff there and got my $10 off right away. That was my first cash in for club z. I can't remember when I joined, somewhere around 1993.

Speaking of Home Outfitters here's a tip if you're going to get a big ticket item there. Each month you get something at the home-o they give you a 10% off coupon with your receipt good for the next calendar month. So near the end of the month make a small token purchase, say $5 popcorn, and get your 10% off. Then the next month go in with your coupon and get the $400 food processor or whatever big thing you want. So for the $5 purchase you get a discount coupon worth $40 in this case, an excellent deal.

Marco Di Quinzio real estate agent

I'll use this space to put in a good word for Marco Di Quinzio the friendly agent. My parents just completed the sale of their house with Marco. It was a good experience. Marco knows Fairview and has a keen pulse on the market. He was able to have a full price offer on the day it went for sale. That's outstanding in today's market. The process went very smoothly and we were all pleased with the price we got.

I knew of Marco from back in school. He was from the younger group, my younger sister knows him from being in class with him. It was an easy choice to list with Marco and it turned out really well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kill Bill

I caught the Kill Bill movies this week. I got them at the library on the weekend and watched them.

It was a pretty good movie. Tarantino has a unique style and Kill Bill is as good as anything else he has done. I've seen some of his other films and I liked them too. For a double movie the story was good it held my attention all through. The soundtrack added a lot to the film.

I think that's just about it for catching up on movies from the past I'd meant to watch. It was a pretty good project the last few weeks working through them. If I see any more I should try to watch them sooner.

Monday, November 01, 2010

KFC double down

The KFC double down is now finally in Canada. I had one over the weekend. It was pretty tasty. The chicken was a bit spicier than I expected. It was pretty filling.

[x] would get it again


I caught a tv show over the weekend. I watched an episode of desperate housewives.

[ ] would watch again

I watched it somewhat regularly for about a season maybe back around 2004. I recognized the 4 original principals. There were some new characters. I was a bit surprised the show is still pretty consistent to its original form after all these years.

The weekend episode though, I didn't see it through to the end. I turned it off after around 40 minutes. It was painful to watch. It just seemed like "a very special housewives", jump the shark style. They explored one character's elderly mom is realized to have dementia, that was of course emotional.

They did explore the issue of the sexless contemporary marriage quite well in the other JTS subplot. It was presumably an allegory on contemporary married life. A woman had married a man while he was in jail. On his apparent unexpected release the husband was after his wife to act like, well, his wife. Alas wifey had a different view of it and felt it was her entitlement to refuse, while continuing to live off his paycheques of course.

After wasting time and money on expensive modern Dr Phil/Oprah style counselling "wife" continues to refuse action. Husband quickly cuts his losses and throws her out in an uplifting scene. Good riddance to her! I hope that doesn't give anyone any ideas.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

planet of the apes

I caught another movie lately from my old list. I got Planet of the Apes from the library. This was the 2001 Tim Burton release with Mark Wahlberg.

It was a good movie. Very entertaining and thought provoking. Those apes are pretty smart. Chrichton explored this too in the excellent book Congo.

I almost didn't get to watch it. It was a 1 week rental and I had to stay up a bit watching it while working through some laundry at home. But I'm glad I did see it. I think the only movies left on my list now are Kill Bill I-II and Apocalypse Now 2000.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I caught the movie Constantine this week. I picked it up at the local library.

It was a good movie. The special effects were really good. This would have been a great theatre movie the visuals were very compelling in this film. The scenes in Hell were very believable and scary.

I'd wanted to see it ever since it came out. I used to joke that the cover art was like at work. One guy keeping it going while battling the demons.

heh heh. I enjoyed the movie I'm glad I saw it. I found the movie a bit hard to follow at times.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

kick Canada day

Canada can't land in UAE.

No seat on UN security council.

The UAE thing was pretty bad. This wasn't minor officials being inconvenienced. It was the minister of defence and the Chief of Defence Staff. Let's consider casualties in Afghanistan. UAE: not one loss. And now they want to use their base as a bargaining chip in commercial negotiations. Disgraceful!

Prime Minister Harper needs to respond decisively to this. Some high heat, chin music next inning is in order.

The UN security council is meh. We gutted our armed forces under Trudeau in the 70s to free up money for socialism. Like western Europe we offloaded our defense responsibilities to America. So Canada doesn't really deserve to be on the security council anyway.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bad Santa

Last weekend I was at the library with my kids. While passing the DVD section I happened to notice the Bad Santa movie. I picked it up and watched it this week - when the kids weren't around it was rated R.

I didn't know much about it except that I'd wanted to see it in the theatre those years ago. It's a dark comedy. The story of a con man mall Santa and his midget assistant who case out the stores they work in each Christmas season while planning to rob the store and crack the safe. The Santa character is a messy drunk and rude to the kids.

The movie was funny in parts with some crude and slapstick humour. Especially the scene when Santa comes to work drunk, falls over the display, then punches out the paper mache  reindeer in a fit of paranoia.

The ending was pretty well done and I'm glad I saw it. I don't think I'd got a movie for myself at the library before. There are a few more movies like this one I wanted to see in the theatre but didn't for whatever reason so maybe I'll take out 1-2 a month or so and go through them.

The to-see list includes Constantine, Planet of the Apes, The Abyss, Kill Bill, Iron Man. Probably a few more I'll think of or remember if I start looking.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

what happened to

I've found the answer to that question. nomarriage was a great site. I discovered it back on the good old days on HP. The segue is the infamous doughboy Century21 commercial.

As they say on the forums, straight out of nomarriage. So what happened? It appears the main link is now down. Some good news though. With a bit of Googling I found the companion sites FireYourWife and SingleAbroad. The SingleAbroad page captures the spirit of the nomarriage site which was like SingleAbroad in so much more entertaining and compelling detail.

The old nomarriage content is now a book which you have to pay to see. Here's the nomarriage toc of what I was lucky to be able to read for free. So I guess that's what happened, he put the content into a paid content book, oh well. It's well worth the read though if you haven't yet. A truly eye opening perspective on what I might call "the problem with no name".


I'll add my little nomarriage story. Back at a previous employer it was a Friday lunch which we did around twice a month or so. There were 5 of us guys in the lunch room sitting around a round table having some free pizza or w/e it was that day.

So one guy starts in about his recent vasectomy. He said the doctor told him he still had some swimmers so keep doing what you were for protection. He then bemoaned that what they were "doing" was abstinence. He added that he didn't know where his second child came from since sex in his marriage basically ended after the first child was born. At the time he was in the process of building a large new house for his wife and family.

Another guy at the table who had also built a large and expensive new house within the previous year added that yeah he had sex about 4-5 times a year. Another married with 2 children kind of shrugged and said his situation was the same. There was another guy at the table married house but no kids yet he was shocked about this revelation about sex and the married man. I didn't really say much my marriage had failed by that point so I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to extrapolate. Sure small sample size but I don't think it's an anomaly. The unusual thing was that people actually talked about it.


Given all this it's no wonder that the number of marriages in Canada declines every single year. Virtually all of the bride/wedding shops in Dartmouth have closed in the last few years, as you would expect. This recent ruling re prostitution will provide another alternative. Just saying, for less than the monthly payment on an SUV you can get a quality encounter twice a month with a young attractive partner who acts at least as enthusiastic about it as the wives discussed here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

white point

I had a nice visit over the weekend to White Point Beach Lodge. It was a day trip on the Saturday. It was a dinner for my aunt and uncle's 55th wedding anniversary. I was there before 5 years ago for their 50th anniversary.

It was a great day for a drive and Nova Scotia just looks great in the summer whatever direction you are going from Halifax. The 103 is an especially nice highway and drive. I took a walk on the beach there. I hadn't been to a beach yet this year. It was good.

I can understand why so many people go to White Point 1 or more times a year. It's a delightful place. I should really go more often. At least before 5 years from now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Peter Stoffer must go

I so hope Peter Stoffer is g-o-n-e outta here as of the next election. Check out the article.

If Stoffer had told the truth up front about guns then I probably wouldn't care. Just another yellow NDP who I would never vote for. If there was an NDP I'd ever vote for I would think it would be Stoffer as up until now he has represented the region pretty well.

But not after this. To go on Live at 5 and act like a tough man with his chest puffed out over guns; then to turncoat, bait and switch the people who voted for him when it came to a real vote in parliament. Screw you Stoffer for letting feminists and weak soft urban NDP socialists push you around and dominate you like that.

Well I guess now you're good to go after this vote to be mayor of Halifax. I hope you don't become mayor because now I know I can't trust you.

Friday, September 03, 2010

new look

The small group of regulars here will notice some changes to the layout on this site. I noticed the old layout wasn't showing properly on Google Chrome which was annoying because I use Chrome myself - now up to 7% of browser market share.

I just didn't have the energy to edit the old XML template by hand and try to figure it out. So I upgraded to the Blogger new style template. And its much better. Nice drag and drop editing a great improvement over the old way.

Has it really been 5 years for this site? Still I have stuff to talk about. Have to get sitemeter plugged back in but I saw it recently passed the 10K hits mark - Google search is your friend. So time for an update on the old pumpkin orange and onto the newer and better.

Still as busy as always so I may not dwell on smallish details of layout for this new site. It's all about the content anyway for both the regular readers and the search engines.

When I started this site I promised I'd keep the blog on blog posts to a minimum and I've done a good job of that over the years. I'll continue with that pledge going forward and try to keep meta posts to a very few.

To the readers whoever and wherever you are thanks for dropping by. Hope you stick around and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I've joined plentyoffish recently. I'd been lurking around for a little bit so I decided to join.

It's a pretty good site. Much better than that icky tagged site from the past. And its free which is nice.

So I created a profile. It's probably not very good. Oh well.

There's lots of interesting women on that site. I'd say around 50 or so close to my age within about a 20 minute drive of where I live who look respectable and seem to have their act together. They definitely have the critical mass on pof.

Some people I know said they met women there. I haven't really made any attempt to. That site like society favors the more aggressive. But I haven't made any real attempt to meet women outside the Internet either so I'm consistent I guess.

There's always lots to do; work, home projects, and stuff to keep up with. I don't mind being single so no need to press or anything. So see what happens.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I bought a dehumidifier a couple of weeks ago. Due to unexpected events in the community I didn't get around to unboxing and plugging it in until last weekend.

I got it at Sears. The salesman was pretty helpful and useful. A fit, confident, well tanned man over 6 feet tall. It was around 11 AM on a Saturday morning and it was still pretty quiet in that area. He's a big ticket salesman so I wasn't expecting much of his or anyone's attention. But with no one else around he was pretty helpful. It was a Danby marked down to $240 to $200 then with a $20 scratch and win at the register. He'd told a coworker while I was checking out he'd sold a 12 foot pool the day before. He probably made more commission off that pool than the entire purchase price of my item. But I hope he did get at least a little bit off the dehumidifier.

The unit is running pretty well so far. I was surprised at the features on a low end $200 machine. It has a few controls I'm getting used to how to operate it. My new place on the 1st floor is noticeably damp and it has been running pretty much since I plugged it in. Last night I ran it during the night for the first time but it was a bit glitchy as it stopped and restarted around the target humidity a couple of times which I didn't care for. I might set it to run more aggressively during the day and leave it off at night. I'll see what happens.

It's been a pretty good purchase so far. As usual Sears is great for this type of thing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

TD visa limit increase

I got a periodic call from TD at work this week. They follow up a lot whenever you do anything in a branch or on the web site. My most recent activity was an address change to my new place off their website. It went fine.

So as usual the rep was going over products; suggesting I could switch my GM card to a travel plan or some cashback card or whatever. She also mentioned I could move my savings into some other products. I politely declined.

But while she was on the phone I remembered I had been meaning to ask for a limit increase on my GM card. The rules in Canada are different now. In the past the bank would just increase the card limit on their own once in a while. Which was convenient. Anyway now the rules are the customer has to seek and consent to a credit limit increase.

So I took the opportunity to ask for a limit increase. I thought it might go through they were calling to seek new business from me. I asked for $1000 more. After a few moments I guess the big mainframe computer said OK and now my limit on the card is up to $2500 from the previous $1500. Even after being approved the rep still had to ask and I had to consent to the limit increase.

So that's about right. It's kind of moot at the moment since I have no balance on that card or any credit card. But for whatever reason I like having it there. That should be good enough for now. Maybe around this time next year I'll seek another increase, see what happens between now and then.

Friday, August 06, 2010


For a vacation week it's been pretty busy. I was up every day before 7, and before 6 a couple of times.

I moved this week. Moving day was Thursday. It took Monday-Wednesday to pack. I took some breaks but it was a lot of work.

The move itself was pretty fast. I went with Munden's Moving based on the recommendation of a co-worker who had them a few years ago. It was a good pick. They arrived right at 8 AM. It was three movers and a 5 ton truck. The guys were a good size, not Andre the giant huge but big. They were 1-3 inches taller than me, and broad shouldered. They had presence with their size.

They were strong. I was packing some of the boxes and I felt a bit bad they would be heavy. But the movers were taking 3-4 2 cube boxes at a time they were very strong men. The move went well and they were done in two hours. It ended up costing less than I was expecting to spent. So I'm glad I went with Munden's.

I finished up at the old place today. I got back most of the damage deposit after doing some cleanup. I lost $100 off the damage deposit because I didn't bother to steam clean or pull out the fridge or stove. It was too much cost and work to do those tasks. For the time I did spend going back there cleaning I made around $50 an hour for my time spent so I'm glad to be getting some of the damage deposit back. The damage deposit is a nice bonus, a refund on spent money from three years ago.

Still lots to do at the new place. It's nice to be in a bigger place and it's pretty good so far. I was at the last place three years. Lots of changes from three years ago so who knows what will happen here. I hope it turns out to be a good place.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

strange incentives in the rental business

I got my new apartment today. Met up with the super, signed the lease, wrote August rent cheque, got the keys. I've been busy this week with packing and numerous other details around the move.

The new place looks pretty good. The super put in a new floor in the bedroom. That's nice getting a new floor. It does remind me though of how upside down the incentives are in the rental business.

In renting, the worst, least profitable customers are treated the best; while the best and most profitable customers get the least consideration. New renters who have never done business with the landlord are far more likely to get new appliances, new flooring, repairs done, new carpet or a lease incentive such as 1 month free rent.

It's so strange because brand new tenants tend to be the least profitable. So the worst, least profitable customers are treated the best by the landlord typically.

Consider something like this. On January 1 in a building with 110 units. 100 are people who've all been there several years trouble free. 10 are brand new, just moving in. So existing people outnumber the new by a rate of 10:1.

Now in the next year, which group of people is more likely to generate one or more of these conditions.

- miss a rent payment
- an incident where the police are called to the building
- not be living there 1 year from now

Despite being outnumbered 10:1 the new people are in my opinion and observation more likely than the established tenants to be involved in these types of negative issues. Strangely they are generally treated better than the existing tenants.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sears card

I now have a Sears card.

I didn't set out yesterday to get a new credit card. I was at Sears looking for a belt. I've needed a black belt for some time. I saw one I liked, two sided black and reddish brown. It was $30 with a 25% sale discount.

When I got to the cashier the clerk told me the discount is if you pay with your Sears card. I wasn't upset, I hadn't read the sale sign carefully. I just shrugged and paid cash. As I was leaving I mentioned I should get a card for these types of specials.

The clerk told me I could get a card right there at the customer service desk in just a few minutes. I figured if I could save $7.50 for a few minutes of my time that was a good investment. So I did the application which was very fast and virtually nothing to fill out. A few moments later it came back and I had a new card.

The clerk refunded the original cash purchase. When I re-bought the belt I got the $7.50 discount. Plus apparently there's a $10 discount on your initial Sears card purchase. So instead of paying around $34 for the belt I ended up spending $15. That was pretty good for just a few minutes of my time.

I was a bit surprised at the credit limit. I was expecting to get around $500 or $1000 perhaps. It instead came in at $4000. Either Sears thinks well of me or they are reckless and a bunch of fools. The $4K limit is more than my Visa and MasterCard limits combined. I don't anticipate I'll use it but I guess it's nice that it's there.

Although I've been meaning to ask Visa at least for a limit increase. I think the rules are different now they cannot auto increase credit limits; customers have to ask for an increase. Which is annoying and a hassle. I have to call them to register my upcoming address change so maybe I'll ask then.

Now I have to go through some steps to set up this new card with my President's Choice financial and epost. And of course pay the $15. It's a bit strange I never really thought I'd ever have a Sears card.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Michael Crichton State of Fear

I just finished reading another book. It was State of Fear by Michael Crichton.

It was a good book. It was a more challenging read as it wasn't really clear throughout who where the good guys and the bad guys. In the plot a mild mannered California lawyer Peter Evans who does a lot of work for a multimillionaire philanthropist and environmental activist becomes tangled up in a scheme involving the radical militant environmental movement.

Although it was a bit of a leap with Evans' character development. If I was Evans I personally would have said after the Antarctica incident and got back to sunny southern Cal. whoa, whoa, whoa, this is crazy. I'm just a dumb lawyer, a paper pusher, I didn't go to law school to risk my life, I'm outta here. I want to chase ambulances, not end up in one. Still besides the occasional leap of faith and believability its an entertaining read, a page turner.

The author presents some very interesting views on the contemporary environment movement, global warming and the debates around the validity of global warming claimants, the incestuous relationship between government bureaucracies and government funded climate research scientists. The corrosive effect of the politicization of science. It was a rare book where the footnotes at the end were as nearly compelling as the story in the book.

The author uses characters such as a nutty retired sociology professor and an out of style drummed out MIT professor Kenner as the voices of reason. The reader notes that it was only after leaving academia that they were able to speak honestly their opinions about the true state of the environment.

The good news about the environment is that lifespan in the industrial west is still increasing. That would seem to suggest that wealth and industrial development is hardly killing us, actually it's making us healthier and safer and lengthening our lives.

Like every Crichton book it's a fast read, a good read. I'm not surprised it isn't a well known book and hasn't and won't be made into a motion picture. It challenges too many sensitive areas dear to the hollywood/celebrity elite clique.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

RRSP contribution

Some good news at work recently. The matching RRSP has been increased from 3% to 4% of salary.

I signed up immediately and went from 3% to now 4%. As noted before this is a great deal. For every $1 I put into the RRSP my employer throws in $1. Then I get a tax refund on the contribution. Plus whatever the RRSP investments are able to get.

So for every dollar I spend my personal wealth increases by about $2.50. That's a great deal for me. So with 4% out of paycheque going to RRSP and 4% matching I'm now saving around 8% of my pay. That's not bad. Still I'm interested in other investments outside of RRSP some higher risk or non traditional ventures perhaps.

With the matching I revisited my investments allocation on Manulife. I decided again to adjust it to a bit more conservative. Since I'm getting 100% anyway on investment because of employer matching there's a case for preserving that gain. Plus I might be more willing to take risks in non registered schemes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

got the apartment

Heard from the super this morning. He said the application went through and I'll be getting the place.

He's got some work to do on it that was in progress when I was there to look at it. A new floor for a bedroom. New paint on the walls.

He said he'll call next week with the plans for the lease and when the place will be ready. Possibly before August. No big rush since I still have to put in notice where I'm at.

So now lots of stuff to plan for the move. Insurance, utilities, time off work, the move itself.

I was thinking it over a bit more and I kind of realized it might be easiest to just use the movers to move everything. I was definitely getting them to move the furniture and heavy items anyway so the marginal cost of getting them to haul the boxes as well would probably be very little.

I suspect it only makes sense to move the lighter boxes yourself if you have access to a truck or panel van. If you have to rent a vehicle which I would have to then that would wipe out any savings over the marginal extra cost of getting the pro movers to just take them. Plus it would be so much easier and fast. It's not worth going through some big hassle to try to save $100.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

apartment searching

I've been looking for a new place to live recently. With the car loan now paid off this is a good time to move forward on this. This is looking to be a busy summer there's a few things going on that I'm trying to advance. Moving is one of them.

I'm looking for a bigger, nicer place. In or around the neighbourhood I'm presently in. I'm looking for a 2 BR and a dishwasher is a must. I put together a big checklist of things to look at.

Vacancy seems pretty tight. Most buildings seem pretty full. Customer service seems to be generally awful. Not one message I've left has been returned so far! So it's just try and catch people at home I guess.

I've looked at two places so far. The first place advertised 3 appliances but still had no dishwasher. The second place had more promise. A more modern building it seemed promising. I put in an application but haven't heard back yet. I'll have to call the super tomorrow if I don't hear anything and find out what's up. It's different on the first floor which would be a change for me.

If it doesn't work out with this place I'm not too hung up about it. I haven't put in notice where I'm at so I don't have to be rushed.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

car is paid off

Some news in my recent bank statement. The last payment has been made on my 2005 Honda Civic. So I now properly own it. Another debt gone. The car has around 130,000 km on it and is running well; hardly any problems at all.

It's great to have it paid off. I've been thinking for a while about what to do after it was done. The payment was $175 every two weeks. Counting the occasional 3 payment months it averaged to $379 a month.

I'm pretty sure it would be a mistake to just pocket this $379 a month as new clear money. That would create a distortion in my finances where I have unnatural prosperity when payment free then followed by the shock of going back to making payments.

I see car ownership as an ongoing expense. I do expect and hope to be well enough physically and financially to own more cars after this Honda. So my plan is to enjoy some relief right now for paying off the vehicle while continuing to make payments for car ownership.

So I went to the Presidents Choice pavilion at the local Superstore and opened a savings account. My plan is to put what would have been car payments into this account. I think I'll put in around $340 a month or so. That way I see some new money now in the monthly budget while smoothing out the vehicle payments. Depending on how long the 2005 lasts I might be able to buy my next car outright with no financing. Or at least I should have some down payment that I can get a better car with financing for about the same amount per month.

I already use PC financial for my chequing account so it will be easy to deposit to the PC savings account. Basically one click from their well designed website.It was interesting at Superstore the PC financial rep told me after opening the savings account that I qualified for a low interest line of credit. Ah the life of the self cured. I politely declined his offer to go back into debt.

One other vehicle cost I want to look at is insurance. The car is basically old with high mileage. A quick kijiji search reveals 2005 Civics are selling for around $5k - $9k today. I suspect mine would be worth closer to 5 than 9. So I'm considering dropping my insurance back to PLPD. At some point the marginal cost of collision on the insurance vs. the amount they would pay out in a claim just isn't worth it. Especially since I could always get a new vehicle and just go back to paying $380 a month.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Toronto G20 demonstration riots

Well the G20 is over and I think most of us are glad it is.

Over the weekend there was wall to wall coverage of the demonstrations and the police response.

It's incredible really by Monday everyone who had access to the mainstream media was criticizing the police and the police have been on the defensive ever since. So 48 hours later and we already have historical revisionism about the events of the weekend! It took about two decades for the revisionism and reeducation around the October crisis to be accepted. I guess we're moving at Internet speed now.

On Saturday the riots were in full swing. Police cars burning, windows being smashed, looting, all in broad daylight. I think there were more police cars torched than arrests. By Sunday the cops had had enough of being embarrassed and humiliated on international TV and had reestablished the rule of law. Good, about time. After all their motto is "to serve and protect". That means protect the property of law abiding citizens and businesses from criminal elements within the demonstrations.

So on Sunday a bunch of people got arrested and now some demonstrators are complaining it may have been a bit rough. Oh boo hoo. Here's the thing. The situation with the police response is the fault of the "peaceful" demonstrators. Because they in fact weren't peaceful! It was obviously a riot, not a peaceful demonstration.

Some of the activists have attempted to distinguish themselves from the hoodlums. This is hogwash. If the "vast majority" of the demonstrators were peaceful then why did they stand by and let this supposed "tiny minoriy" run wild. If the peaceniks outnumbered the black block 100:1 or more then why didn't they do something to obstruct the criminals in their own midst? Instead they stood aside, tacitly cheering on the black block or even joining and assisting them. It was disgraceful; criminals openly walking up and smashing windows and nobody thought to block them from doing it. Then they sheltered them and let them blend back into the crowd. If they wanted "peace" then why didn't they do something to create peace by disrupting the criminal opportunist element within their own ranks?

As "peaceful" demonstrators it was their responsibility to keep the demonstration peaceful. Instead the peaceful protesters chose to stand by during the riots and left it to the police to do the dirty work. And that's what the police did, they dealt with the criminals. They were successful. Hundreds of arrests and no police cars were burned Sunday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Bug - Ellen Ullman

I finished off another book recently. It was The Bug by Ellen Ullman.

It was a good book. A compelling story, I finished it quickly. It's the story of a computer programmer named Ethan who is working on a software team delivering a large database system. Set in 1984, they are developing the now familiar windowing system for the first time.

In the story the system GUI suffers from a defect, a software flaw. This is a very vexing problem as it occurs quite sporadically and typically at inopportune times such as when a sales person is demoing to a potential major client.

The book is the story of Ethan's quest to find and fix the bug, which is apparently in Ethan's code. In the story Ethan's struggles to fix the problem UI-1017, aka Jester, coincide with major problems in his personal life. Also the startup company Teligentsia is struggling and going through chaotic periods as startups often do. As the weeks and months pass and the issue is unfixed and pressure steadily increases Ethan acts increasingly erratically.

As a software developer myself I could relate to this book. The author's portrayals of programmers are surprisingly accurate. It is a rare book that features programmers prominently so it was an enjoyable read. That said anyone who works with others in an office would enjoy this book. I recommend it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My arms were sore all day Sunday. I helped a friend move on Saturday. His former girlfriend is moving from their townhouse to a nearby apartment.

I'd helped them move in around 18 months ago. I guess they didn't last long living together. From the move last time I kind of knew what to expect. And it was about the same. Disorganized, not really prepared. There was a good sized crew there to help. For the number of people there and the amount of stuff to move and the distance the whole thing should have been done in about 2 hours easy. When I left after 4 hours it was finally at least all at the new place.

But alas there was no cube van only his brother's regular pickup truck. So it was many trips back and forth. In the new place they haven't painted yet so it was cramped to stay inside the walls. At the townhouse we were slowed down by many loose unboxed items and other lack of preparation such as beds not taken apart yet etc. Plus there were shall we say issues between my friend and his now former live in and that caused distraction and delay.

But anyway it's done now. I was thinking of moving myself to a better apartment this year. There have been some distractions and delays there too but I may still get it done this year. I think I can safely predict it will go a lot smoother than this move, at least for the volunteer helpers.

America Alone - Mark Steyn

I finished off another book recently. It was America Alone by Mark Steyn.

It was a good book. Interesting and thought provoking. Steyn makes his case persuasively for the challenges facing America and what the USA should do. He's a good writer in the style of the National Review. Mixing humour with strong analysis.

He puts 9/11 in context as a skirmish in a long cultural war. A war we're slowly losing. He paints multiculturalism as corrosive to our western society.

I gained a new respect for the USA after reading this book. Steyn, a Canadian immigrant, is a great fan of the United States and its way of life. The ideals such as freedom and personal responsibility, and national responsibility.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Ken Fells Graham Creighton incident

Most here in Nova Scotia have been the Ken Fells video

Incredibly after this happened the school board staff, led by superintendent Carole Olsen tried to have principal Fells fired. What a disgrace! Failing to confirm the principal's authority inside the school walls. Instead siding with the miscreant and undermining the principal. It's Olsen who needs to be fired, not Fells. Good thing the elected school board had at least some sense to back Fells, at least a bit.

It's pretty bad the direction society is going. Led by the education system. In New Brunswick a principal agrees to pull Oh Canada from the school and he doesn't lose his job. He took no sanction at all over that. In Nova Scotia a principal confronts a bully and stands his ground when the bully decides that he wants to blow right past him; and he loses his job over it.

It came up on the Steve Murphy CTV interview with Irvine Carvery about race in the Fells case. They've got it wrong. Carvery is right, this isn't at all about race. It's actually about gender. Ken Fells ran afoul of the modern feminized society. Look at those who want him fired. Carole Olsen, her female dominated school board staff, her NDP activist university professor husband.

The punk openly challenged the principal's authority on the school grounds, challenged Fells manhood. Ken Fells taught those students and anyone who saw the video a valuable life lesson. He showed them how a real man acts.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

racing at Kartbahn

I went racing with the kids a couple of times recently. It was at Kartbahn in Bayers Lake. The kids had been asking to go for a while. I wasn't sure if they were old enough yet but they did fine.

I was last at Kartbahn over 10 years ago when it was in the north end Halifax. It is a much improved facility since then. The track is better. The gas engines have been replaced with electric charged battery which makes the air much cleaner at the indoor track. A simple but effective safety improvement is to put the plastic side coverings so that the wheels are now no longer exposed. There's now computer tracking your lap times with a printout at the end. That's pretty cool use of technology.

It was a lot of fun. Now the kids always want to go there. We'll be back for sure as a regular place to visit.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the wrong track

Well bad news on the doorstep all this week.

In Europe they come up with yet another trillion bailout. This time for Greece and it's equally irresponsible neighbours. So now Greece won't have to raise the retirement age over 53 after all. Rioting with a cute dog pays.

So where did the trillion come from? Was there some vault with a trillion Euros in it? I doubt it, the socialist government spending machine would have consumed the tril if it actually existed. Nope since Germany was involved the money bomb would have to be the from the printing press. You would think the Germans of all people would see the danger in printing. Oh well America and everyone else prints so whatever, let's kick the can one more time.

I was shocked to hear the RCMP is not interested in investigating a $30 million mortgage fraud scheme. So let me get this straight. If a Canadian wishes to grow some weed in his basement for his private personal use that's a crime and off to jail. There's police resources and jail space for that, but not for multi million dollar crime schemes. Disgraceful! Check out the Pakistani straw buyer and his wife, not to mention the India born Conservative MP are untouchable.

We're failing. In New Brunswick a school principal bans O Canada at the request of anti-Canadians and didn't even lose his job or be disciplined for it. The only one who got in any trouble over that matter was the brave patriot who burst into the principals office and threatened him and ran him out of town. At least someone stood up for the country, its flag and its anthem.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

House of Meetings - Martin Amis

I finished reading another book. It was House of Meetings by Martin Amis.

It was a good book. But it was a bit hard to get through. The author has a great command of the English language and just about every page had at least one word I had to look up using Google mobile on my BlackBerry. That's a great reading companion.

The book is a bit hard to follow. It is set in Russia and mostly spans the period 1944-1953. However there is stuff both before and after that which is significant. The major part of the book is set in a Siberian gulag where the author and his half brother end up.

I thought the gulag writing was well done. I've read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago in the past and Amis' compelling gulag account seemed very well researched and presented.

There is seemingly a lot of symbolism in the book I didn't really grasp. The story is told in the first person account of the Hero but his name is never mentioned in the book. I found it hard to figure out the Hero's philosophy through the tale. I don't think he was a communist or a fascist. The author spells it out late so that was helpful. There were some characters Uglik and Ananias who made brief but significant appearances but they seemed to be symbolic, representative of something - but I'm not exactly sure what.

Still it was a compelling read and a good story. I would read some more Martin Amis. Although I will read something a bit lighter next. I think even most non fiction is lighter than House of Meetings.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Nova Scotia civil service pension lawsuit

Now the retired nova scotia civil service pensioners want to sue over changes to save their pensions from insolvency.

lol at their spokesman Bernie LaRusic who retired at age 56 in 1991. Nice work if you can get it. Greece II here in Nova Scotia!

Basically then they want to pocket the $500 million the government borrowed to stabilize their pensions, and welsh on their side of the deal. Although this "deal" was imposed on them by the government they have been dealt with fairly and generously and they should appreciate that it could have been a lot worse.

If this lawsuit proceeds then the government should renege on its side of the deal and withdraw the $500 million taxpayer rescue of the civil service pension fund. Let the chips fall where they may if the plan is underfunded, hopefully their pension cheques won't bounce on them in around 15-20 years but we offered them a fair compromise today to rescue the plan with shared sacrifice.

Unless the NDPs plan all along was that the civil service side was a straw man they knew the courts would strike down; leaving the taxpayers holding the bag for the entire pension bail out with no concessions from the union.

Is Stephen Harper the next Kim Campbell?

On the federal side there's a bunch of noise lately about the Conservative government displeasing certain vocal activitsts.

Harper declines to use the people's tax money to pay for third world abortions. Defies "Fat Hillary" thuggishly coming onto our turf to try to shake us down on it.

There was some flap about the federal government declining to sponsor a gay fest in Montreal. That is of course the domain of the province and the city to sponsor if they choose. This is not a federal matter.

Some noise about gay language removed from some immigration pamphlet or something.

Some discussion about an enemy fighter who apparently died on the battlefield in Afghanistan while trying to kill Canadian soldiers; it's some problem with it or some such. whatever

So far Harper has been on the correct side of these issues. Wisely defying the media and the Liberal/NDP elites. Still Harper doesn't have much room for error here. He's in real danger of becoming the next Kim Campbell.

Like Campbell, Harper has already betrayed his fiscal conservative base with disgraceful defecits and bailouts for the undeserving financial sector. So having failed on that side he needs to distinguish himself and his party somehow from the Liberal/NDP or his voters will stay home or take their votes elsewhere. After all it was Paul Martin and the Liberals who showed Kim Campbell the door and got the federal finances back in order.

That said Harper is old school National Citizens Coalition/Reform Party so he's miles away from Campbell philosophically. Still he needs to keep his eye on the ball; stand your ground on key social issues, show some real progress to getting the nation's finances back in order.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Geurgis Jaffer coke prostitutes

Sounds like it was a good party! People acting scandalized about it are just jealous they weren't invited.

I hope Helena sticks around. She's pretty easy on the eyes unlike most of the women in parliament.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ball hockey season is over

The winter ball hockey season came to an end last night. We lost in the semi finals. It was a close game, tied early in the third period. But the other team was very strong and they pulled away and cruised to the win.

It was a difficult winter season. The team went winless, 0-10, in the regular season. Then remarkably we beat the first place team in the quarter finals last week.

That's pretty disappointing, winless regular season. The way the league works is there's a draft each fall [September - December] and winter [January - April] season. The team captain just had a bad draft and the team didn't really gel. Oh well the nice thing is that in the fall the rosters will be reshuffled and it's a fresh start for everyone.

About the fall. In fall 2009 there was around 25% turnover in the players in the league. A result of this was that the league became younger, faster, and more skilled. Unfortunately my trajectory is in the opposite direction. So for this September I need to decide if I'm going to return for another season or retire. If I had to decide today I would retire. But I'll reevaluate in August and decide then. It's enjoyable at times but there are other activities I'm interested in too.

Speaking of other activities. I bought a can of tennis balls last week. I picked up some Wilson which were among the few not made in China. I mentioned to a couple of facebook friends who I played with in the past we should get out and hit this year. They both responded positively so hopefully when it warms up a bit we can follow through and make it happen. I haven't played tennis since around the late 90s so I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

NDP budget in Nova Scotia

I saw the NDP in Nova Scotia released their first budget.

All in all it's not too bad really. The NDP seem to grasp that these three things cannot coexist.

  • insane government spending
  • insane government borrowing
  • low and declining taxes
So predictably the NDP chose to raise taxes. No surprise there, what did anyone who voted for them expect? And lol at the bogus shock and anger about the defecit and tax increases. With the government finances the NDP realized it's better to ask forgiveness than permission. If they can make good the promise to eliminate the defecit in four years they may stand a chance when they have to answer to the voters again.

One important thing about the defecit. It's not $212 million, it's $712 million. There was an extra $500 million borrowed and poured directly into the civil service pension fund - nice work if you can get it. That's $50,000 per existing civil servant today. I'd like to see my RRSP topped up with a $50K catch up contribution.

Overall though on the civil service pensions they did take some important steps to reign in an excessively generous pension scheme. Indexing seems to be out, retirement ages have been increased a tiny bit, the survivors benefit is cut from 66% to 60% (a 9% pay cut, brave of the NDP to pick on that group). Plus a 10% reduction in active head count over the next four years the government has made a good faith attempt to share the sacrifice around the civil service pension fund.

The teachers pension remains insolvent but in the past around 10 years ago the province bailed them out with over $1 billion. So it would be entirely inappropriate for any new taxpayer money to go into the teachers pension fund. The cuts there will have to be on the educators as the taxpayers have done their fair share and more. We'll see what the NDP does in the coming years about that, I'm not confident they'll do the right thing.

This NDP budget reminds me of the first John Savage liberal budget. During the 1993 campaign Savage ran against the defecit. Claiming that it was more important to create jobs, we can't worry about it at this time, we have to deal with the recession, blah blah blah. Although once elected the good man Dr. Savage suddenly made the defecit a top priority, infuriating many of the big spenders who expected him to ignore the defecit and go on a spending and borrowing binge. He did the right thing for the people and eliminated the defecit. So maybe there's hope for this NDP government. Nothing focuses the mind quite like being broke eh Graham Steele.

One thing I couldn't help but notice. I recall back in high school in the mid 80s people were rightfully alarmed that health, education, and the welfare system had grown to the point where they consumed 57% of the provincial budget. Today a generation later and now health and education alone consume 60% of the budget. Wow. This spending growth in these two programs can't be sustained much longer before it collapses the entire government.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Breach by Patrick Lee

I just finished another book. It was The Breach by Patrick Lee. It was a very entertaining book and a fast read. Some great plot twists to keep the reader interested. It's the story of a high energy physics experiment in 1979 gone awry which opens up a mystic portal to an unseen other world. From this portal comes various objects, tools and gadgets that can do mostly evil on humanity. The story is about a particular powerful and generally malevolent entity called the Whisper and the battle between "Tangent" and "hostiles" around possession and control of Whisper.

The main character is a tough ex-cop turned murderer Travis Chase just out of jail on a hiking trip to find himself in remote Northern Alaska. He makes an incredible discovery and gets tangled up in the drama around Whisper. The bodies pile up fast in this book and Travis gets his share of the action. It was a good book it reminded me of the nearly believable scientific style of Michael Crichton and intrigue storytelling a bit like Frederick Forsyth.

There are apparently a series of Travis Chase titles of which The Breach is one. I hope the library has the others since I'd like to read them too.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


My taxes are now done and mailed. Hopefully will hear back positively in 3-4 weeks. I calculated a refund so hopefully that will materialize. I did my own taxes this year for a change, first time since like 2003 or so. After last year with HR block I noticed my tax situation is considerably less complicated than in previous years. Indeed it was pretty straightforward if not time consuming to do them myself. It was satisfying though to be able to do my own again.

Last weekend I caught Asia&NuGruv at the Red Fox. They were really good and entertaining. Well worth the $5 cover. And happy birthday Neala. I've never seen that many people at the Fox. It was Tony who called me to say he was heading down. It's good to still have a few friends who I hear from occasionally. Although I'm pretty neglectful and seldom contact them to do anything. And the tall lead singer on that band is just smoking hot. Asia herself isn't too bad either.

At the Fox Tony mentioned he's interested in getting out to play tennis. All right, I've wanted to play for a while. I've got a couple of rackets, including my Prince racket from a yard sale a while back. So when it warms up a bit more I should make an effort to hit again for the first time in like forever. I last played tennis with Tony we were semi-regulars in high school through to around 1990 or so. This might be all I need to get moving on tennis again, plus a new can of Penn or Wilson tennis balls.

Friday, April 02, 2010

people of Nova Scotia - just say no to taxpayer funded marijuana

I don't subscribe to the Comical Herald but I did happen to see the story of Sally Campbell. sigh.

Ms. Cambell just won a lawsuit ordering the Nova Scotia department of social services to pay for her medical marijuana. I look at this and I just can't countenance it. Here's Sally's story.

  • long term welfare recipient
  • multiple significant health problems treated by the people of Nova Scotia at no expense to Ms. Campbell including hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, liver disease and disc degeneration
  • existing drug costs already picked up by the people of Nova Scotia
  • her lawsuit against the province was from legal aid, a government funded entity
I mean where does it end? How much can the people of Nova Scotia be asked to do for Sally Campbell? Now we have to pay for her marijuana too? When can we draw the line and say sorry, we just can't afford it.

Given we have a $1.5 million per day defecit in Nova Scotia in my opinion it is incredibly selfish of Ms. Campbell and her legal aid lawyer to be trying to impose new expenses at this time. We can't even afford what we're doing today. sigh, the whole thing is failing.

The government on behalf of the people should not be paying for marijuana for welfare recipients. There has to be a limit. We have to set a boundary somewhere. Let Sally buy her own dope or go without. It should also be made legal to grow her own.

The statute should be amended to specifically exclude marijuana or the government should set the decision aside with POGG in the public interest.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I bought some razor blades over the weekend. I wanted to upgrade from the low end blue ones I've been using for a couple of years that are 10 pack for $2 on special at Sobeys.

I looked at sensor Excel, a favorite from like 1996, at price club. But at $1.70 each it was just too expensive. I went to wal mart and trac II at $1.40 each, ouch. I ended up getting good news disposable. It should be an upgrade and at around $0.50 each I've allowed the cost to double but it is an upgrade. I can't believe there are at least two models more expensive than sensor excel. Who buys these? wow. Maybe in the future I'll indulge to the superior sensor excel but it will have to be a more gradual path from here to there.

I went back to inkjet exchange for some more ink for my printer on Saturday. On the way on the radio I heard a bunch of portland street honda ads. Under new management after Gil and Maureen retired, they seem to be repositioning themselves as credit rebuilders, that's icky. With Gil it was classy and they wouldn't touch that segment. Which made it a better, cleaner shopping experience there. I wonder if Honda is pleased to see their brand now associated with credit rebuilders at a flagship dealer, somehow I doubt it.

Big score apparently for the Mossad in Dubai. I've always been something of an admirer and I'm somehow pleased to see they are still an international force. Years ago I read By Way of Deception and it was a good book.

Finally a bit scary but entertaining YouTube clip. I can only admire this guy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

so glad I'm not in Ottawa any more

I wasn't real surprised to hear about the Ann Coulter fiasco at the university of Ottawa. Why would they even invite or allow her to speak there in the first place if they were just going to act like that. What a bunch of idiots.

I'm embarrassed by it and I hope most people in Canada are embarrassed by it. But I doubt if Ottawa gets it. They are instead basking in their big win over the American infidel. UOttawa is an Ottawa kind of university in an Ottawa kind of town. Jean Chretien got an honorary PhD there and Alan Rock is the president.

It's not like we have freedom of thought in Canada, as UOttawa none too subtly reminds everyone. Code words like "diversity" and "tolerance" are reserved for those who toe the popular, official, Ottawa approved, politically correct line. If you have the wrong view your kids can be taken away; or Francois Houle will threaten you with being arrested and jailed. I guess it's easier and less risky to just threaten, intimidate, and silence your opponents than to engage in a civilized, honourable debate.

Good career move by the most visible and prominent organizers who silenced Ann and ran her out of town. They are now on the inside track for jobs at the Ottawa Citizen, human rights commission, department of justice, UOttawa itself, parliamentary staff, and hundreds of taxpayer funded Ottawa institutes that are a comfortable haven for their ideological fellow travelers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

US health care bill unconstitutional?

Is the recently passed US health care reform bill unconstitutional? Some states think so and are suing.

I don't know, possibly. It wouldn't surprise me at all. But then again by that standard these US federal government schemes are also unconstitutional

  • social security
  • medicare
  • fannie mae
  • freddie mac
  • FHA
  • HAMP
  • help for homeowners
  • cash for clunkers
  • medicaid
  • food stamps
  • HUD
  • federal department of education
  • bailout/nationalization of GM, Chrysler, AIG, Bear Stearns
Why would the states wait until now to say something? It's about 80 years too late for the states to say something about the federal government encroachment on their turf. Maybe it's been too late since 1865.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Like a Road - Colin Fullerton

I read another book recently. It was Like a Road by Colin Fullerton.

As it happens Colin is a technical writer at the office where we work. He mentioned he had published a book and I was interested to read it so I bought a copy off him. He even signed it.

It was a good book. It's the story of a young man named Jerry Carson. Jerry leaves his trailer park home at age 16. Jerry's mother had died and his relationship with his mean, hard drinking father was strained.

The book tells the story of Jerry's travels. Along the way Jerry goes to the typical American places that the free spirits go, including New York and Alaska among others. Jerry meets some pretty interesting people along the way. From the poor, tough trailer park initially Jerry is able to interact with some of the folks out on the fringes of society.

This is Colin's first published book. It's a very good effort for a first novel. It's an easy and enjoyable read, a page turner. Colin is a good storyteller. Even to write a book and get it published at all is a major life accomplishment, so congratulations to the author for that. I hope he will follow up with another book. I can say that I would buy it after reading Like a Road.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I made a donation to the red cross this week for Haiti. I meant to get around to it before now. I was offline for a couple of weeks there waiting for my new PC to arrive, etc. Anyway I now did it.

It was super fast and easy with the red cross site. Just a couple of clicks through secure web sites and that was that. They take paypal so it was easy and secure. The tax receipt is instant and delivered to my inbox as a pdf for printing.

Haiti has always been messed up and now its even worse than ever. And they are our neighbours to the south. There's a few Haitians in Canada. Haiti is a largely catholic country so we should help our Christian brothers. There's the voodoo too there in Haiti but that's neither here nor there to me.

I hope that Haiti can be on the road to recovery from this terrible earthquake.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


It was a fine day yesterday and nice again today. Maybe an early spring? We'll see, March can be pretty variable. I was in a good mood yesterday.

Yesterday I got some new yellow ink for my printer. I went to inkjet exchange but the West End mall location was closed. Luckily they still have a Burnside location and so I made a trip to Dartmouth. While at west end I was in The Bay and picked up some Stanfield's underwear. It was 30% off, and made in Nova Scotia I always get that.

In the early evening I was in the south end. I never get tired of the south end. I sometimes wish I'd lived there back in the past when I had the chance to. Went up Kent St. of course and stopped in at Queen St. Sobeys for something. Also picked up a little treat at the Needs. Apropos of nothing one of my favorite songs is little red corvette.

I just discovered a great contemporary commentator. It's Mark Steyn. He has a way of saying what I think in a way that is reasoned and to the point. Here's an example. I'm glad to see the Review is still around. It's a great magazine from the Bill Buckley days. I used to read it all the time at SMU. For balance I used to also read Canadian Dimension and the Nation. The Review still gets it right. I've added the Steyn RSS feed to my Yahoo home page.

Monday, March 01, 2010

our game

Exciting hockey game yesterday! A classic. Great to be on the winning side.

Crosby scored a historic generational goal. Right up with Paul Henderson's goal in 1972, and the Mario Lemieux goal in 1987.

Congratulations team Canada - hockey and all of the Olympic competitors.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

new computer

I now have a new PC at my home. My old computer died so I got a new one.

I got a Dell. I ordered it on the web from work. I got an Inspiron. I hope it turns out to be an inspired choice. It's been running well so far, pretty fast and windows 7 seems pretty good.

I've always wanted a Dell since I went to work in IT over 10 years ago. The Dell I had at the various offices over the years were always fast and reliable it seemed. I hope this one can last a few years.

One thing I missed from my old PC is the software. This computer doesn't have microsoft office and office is expensive so I'll have to come up with some plan for that. I'm also missing the nero photo editor so something else I've used that I need to look for.

It took nearly two weeks from placing the order to now that I have the computer. During that time I missed the Internet at home. Although I did read a bit more and was able to get to bed earlier.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going to church?

I'm not a big religious person but I will appear in church a handful of times a year. It's good to live in a peaceful tolerant country where folks can go to a church of their choice or choose to not be religious.

It's not like that everywhere. In Nigeria Muslim youths burned down a Catholic church while the people were inside - nice. The Catholics stood up for themselves afterwards and it was bloody. It's good for now to be in this country where you can go to your own church and not be hassled when you're there.

Although I sometimes think of Lebanon where the Christians were generally driven out. Many Lebanese Catholics who were the merchant class of that once wealthy and beautiful country landed in Canada. The "Lebs" in my opinion have done well here. Many are self employed and some are wealthy. In a sense they were lucky perhaps because they were more "desirable" as immigrants/refugees; and they were just "first" historically they were able to just leave the land to Islam while the African Christians have to stand and fight. I wonder where the "next Lebanon" might be in the next 20-100 years. France, Canada, Britain? Let's hope not, but we must be vigilant and do more than just "hope" for the best for our way of life. France seems to understand this and has been taking some steps to recognize the situation and deal with it.

Nova Scotia public employee pensions are insolvent

Finally someone told the truth about Nova Scotia public sector pensions. It was Bill Black and good for the Chronicle Herald to publish it. The truth is that the Nova Scotia public employees pensions are bankrupt! They will not be able to make good the promises they made of future payments to both present and future retirees.

The situation is grim. There is over a $3 billion shortfall between what has been promised to the public sector employees and the amount of money they will actually have to write cheques with. This is even worse when you consider the teachers have already been greased with over $1 billion extra from the taxpayer within the last 10 years to cover an earlier shortfall in their pension scheme.

So what does this mean? First of all there is absolutely no way no how the Nova Scotia taxpayers will come up with this $3 billion. The province is already running an insurmountable defecit of over $1 million a day. It will take drastic measures just to close that gap. The money does not exist and will not exist for the taxpayers to cover the public sector pension shortfall.

The reality is is quite obvious for anyone who cares to spend even a moment looking at it or thinking about it. Although until now it was taboo to talk about it. The truth is that the government is going to renege on the pensions promised to the public sector employees. There's no way around it. There are/will be too many people collecting pension benefits; they are retiring too early; living too long after retirement; the payments are too high. The plans are insolvent and will run out of money. The taxpayers and future working public employees paying in will not be willing or able to come up with staggering increases in deductions to make these payments.

So there will be shared pain. Some of it will be on the taxpayers, taxes will have to increase at least somewhat to fund these pension payments. Some of it will be on the retirees. They will not get everything they were promised. They will have to accept I'd guess somewhere between 50-80% of what they may have been told they would get [better that than getting 100% for a few years then 0% after the cheques start bouncing!]

I don't really feel bad for the public employees who will get "stiffed". They were living in a fool's paradise agreeing to promises from known irresponsible governments such as John Buchanan of generous pension schemes in exchange for labour peace during election campaigns. The union leadership was party to this fraud of agreeing to promises of future payments which a competent actuary would have told them the future governments would never be able to make good. The amounts taken off their paycheques at the time did not reflect what would be needed to fund their promised level of future benefits and everyone who wanted to knew it. Yet the union leaders chose to not insist on a solvent and properly funded pension plan.

The alternative would have been a properly funded and much more modest pension scheme back in the 70s and 80s along with a significantly smaller civil service. I assert that at some level everyone knew all along that there would be at least a partial reneging on these public sector pension promises.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bought some football cards

I've switched over to getting my football cards sorted out. Baseball was about as far as it can go for now.

The football cards are pretty straightforward. I wanted to finally finish the 1981 Topps NFL set. Plus there were a few loose cards around and some later sets and subsets I just wanted to list and unload.

For the 1981 Topps NFL there was a good selection on sportlots. There were listings for all of the cards in the set. Prices were buyer friendly and I was able to get the remaining 20 cards or so from three different sellers. So now I've finished that set after all these years. I'd bought the cards at Wilkie's when they first came out. It's great to have this finally done.

Football card pricing is fractal. The top 10 cards in the 1981 Topps NFL set are worth about as much as the rest of the set combined. And the Joe Montana rookie card is worth as much as the rest of the top 10 combined. Luckily I had the Montana rookie card from way back and I wasn't faced with being short a card that sells for a minimum of around $100.

With baseball there were various loose cards I listed on sportlots. There are a couple of o pee chee sales a month coming in so there is some buyer interest. I'd like to get a line on a bulk purchase of unskimmed o pee chee baseball cards from 1965-1983 in the range of 5-10 cents each.

That's about it for now for sports cards. Football and baseball are now done. It was a bigger project than I realized but I'm glad to get it this far.

The next project is hockey cards. That's a big project, with more cards across more sets than football and baseball. But I'm going to take a break from it for a few months before I begin hockey. I'm going to do some other projects first.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rink fries and gravy

Last night I was at my older son's hockey game. The game was at 6 PM. I was a bit hungry when I got there. So I treated myself to some fries and gravy at the rink. It's always tasty and it was good last night. If you're at the arena then fries and gravy at the canteen is always a good pick.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

end of gas discounts in Nova Scotia

It appears the NDP government has a new scheme to screw over the driving public. They are planning to prohibit gas station discounts. see article

Well that sucks. For anyone who drives at all these discounts of 2% to around 5% make a material difference in your budget. Easily up to several hundred dollars a year [think taxi drivers, two vehicle families, etc]. Right now I get 2 cents a litre with Ultramar valumax card plas an extra 2% cash back by using the ultramar national bank mastercard to purchase.

We're already getting killed on the price of gas, and now the government wants to take away the little relief we can get. And lol at the Orwellian doublespeak in the article of "Well, I can give comfort to Nova Scotians that ... we make a very good decision ... for consumers". Riiight, now it's for our own good to outlaw the discounts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Great Train Robbery

I just read another book. It was The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton.

It was a good book. A fast and easy read. It took about a week to read. Set in the 1850s in Victorian London. Based on the actual train robbery and the subsequent trial. Crichton tells a vivid story of crime within a very class conscious society.

It turns out this was later made into a movie. I didn't know that until after I'd read it. No surprise there; it would make a good movie script. I may watch the movie some time if I think about it. It was good to switch to an easier read after the previous book which was a bit heavy. Not quite sure what I'll read next. Maybe another light book or some nonfiction. I do enjoy a well written Chricton style techno thriller.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Is Canada the new Argentina?

Some troubling news on the web today. Canada is now issuing debt denominated in euros. Also earlier this year Canada borrowed money that must be paid back in US dollars.

This is terrible news. When a country starts issuing its debt in the currency of other nations it is basically screwed. This is what led Argentina and Weimar Germany to ruin.

It doesn't really surprise me though. I remarked on this earlier around Harper's visit to China. I am very concerned about Canada's ability for the federal government and the provinces to find lenders willing to lend us the money to finance the staggering federal and provincial defecits. Now the picture becomes a bit clearer. Foreign creditors are insisting on being paid back in their own currency.

There are so many problems with foreign denominated debt. The biggest of course is that we can't control future exchange rates. Today the CDN dollar is presently high. When it drops in the future the costs of making payments in US $ and euros will skyrocket; even though the principal is the same. This is the same disaster as the Halifax Mackay bridge fiasco which was financed in German marks. Now that disaster may play out on the entire nation.

Another big problem with foreign denominated debt is that the government in a pinch cannot just monetize it. For example if I am holding a Canada savings bond that matures in say 5 years. On that day the government could if it had to make good the amount by just printing the money and giving it to me hot off the printing press. That would be bad for the nation as a whole but at least we would be able to control our own fate. We can't print foreign currency.

Speaking of defecits today it came out that the Nova Scotia provincial government is presently running a defecit of around $1.5 million a day. Against this backdrop we are facing two major civil service strikes [health and education] next week. Great timing there government unions; way to help out your NDP friends now in power.

The insanity of a sovereign borrowing in other nations currency must end. It would be better just to bite the bullet and limit government borrowing to what we can raise in Canadian dollars. Cap the defecit at that amount; or print the difference and deal with the consequences. Foreign denominated national debt may be the greatest threat to the Canadian way of life as we know it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

read Poincaré's Prize

I read a book recently. It was Poincaré's Prize by George G. Szpiro.

The book is the history of the famous Poincaré Conjecture. The conjecture is from a branch of math called topology; a notoriously difficult subject. [Like most people I just can't really think in 4 dimensions; and forget about anything higher] The proof from Hamilton and Perelman ended up using differential equations which was an interesting way to finally get there after nearly a century that the problem had been outstanding. The people who cracked it are first class minds of our generation.

It was a good book. Szpiro took on the daunting task of presenting the history of the conjecture and the eventual proof in an accessible way to the interested layman reader. Szpiro worked hard and was mostly successful but this is a difficult subject to present to a nonexpert audience. It was a good read, challenging but not impossible to get through.

I've often regretted not focusing more on math back in university. I could have, but didn't get a proper math education and I missed standard undergrad courses I should have taken including real analysis, complex analysis, group theory, set theory, probability, game theory, statistics, linear algebra II, applied math, abstract algebra. If I became suddenly wealthy I think one of my top priorities would be to go back to class and take most or all of those courses.