Thursday, February 23, 2012

ah the civil service

consider RCMP officer Susan Gastaldo. 14 years of pay in exchange for 6 years of work. followed by disability. nice work if you can get it. according to the article she stands to make "$4 million in salary, benefits and pension over her lifetime"

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I got a credit limit increase on my TD Visa this week. It's a bit different now under the new regs the banks can't just unilaterally grant increases. Instead they put this note on my statement saying "you may be eligible" with a special 800 number.

So I call and it's a pre approved offer of an increase. So technically I agreed to the limit increase and they were careful to get my consent to it. I was a bit surprised they said increase $5000. I thought that's ok since I was at $2500. But she meant it was an increase of $5000 to $7500. Sounds fine to me. My balance is $0 and I intend to keep it that way. Still it's nice to have it as a just in case or if there is some sudden and short term business or travel or purchase opportunity this gives me some more options.


Ball hockey starts tomorrow. Yeah the ball hockey that I retired from nearly 2 years ago. I got a message from the organizer who I know they were looking for players for the second half of the season. I originally said I'm content to stay retired. Then I got another message from another friend about it so I took it as a sign. That and I got a jock bag which I needed from the donation laundry room in my building. Luckily I had a pair of former running shoes in usable shape so I don't need to get any gear.

So I'll plan to go back as a 1-off for the winter season. 10 regular season games plus 1-2 playoff games. It's $50 now blech. I'm slower and rustier now than before. My plan is to just try to have fun and don't worry about personal results.


I made something different tonight for me. It was shake n bake pork chops. It actually turned out pretty well. I hadn't made pork chops in like forever so slowly expanding a little bit I guess. Shake n bake is a wonderful invention.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

congrats Marco Di Quinzio

I stopped by Jim's Pizza house last week. Next door at the GMAC realty office a sign was up that Marco Di Quinzio was the top agent for 2011 for units and sales in that office. Congratulations Marco.

My parents worked with Marco back in 2010 when they sold their house. It was a very positive experience and Marco worked with their requirements as being old and poor health and was able to sell the house quickly with a minimum of stress at a satisfactory price. Marco is enthusiastic, communicates well, and easy to work with.

OAS and age 67

Some discussion from our government lately about increasing the age for OAS to 67. It's a change which is long overdue. Should have been put in place a generation ago. At $38 billion a year we are certainly already spending a lot just on seniors - 3 times the entire military budget.

The thing about OAS. That's for seniors who find themselves broke with no savings and no income. These same seniors as a group would have been more heavy users during their pre-65 lives of UI and welfare. So now as seniors they are asking for still more. Let them sit till 67 I say all things considered. The CPP should also be increased to 67.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

I recently read Sunset Park by Paul Auster. It was an interesting book. It is set basically in the present time, 2008. The hero is Miles Heller, the son of a New York publisher and his mom is a name actress.

Miles abruptly leaves the family 7 years ago with a year of college left. He bounces around America doing different low end jobs. He does not contact his family during the time away. The story begins in Florida where Miles is working as a "trash out" worker in the 2008 foreclosure epidemic. The trash out people go into repossessed houses after the foreclosure to clean them up and make them ready to go back on the market. There is apparently a healthy side business in trash out which is that the former occupiers of the houses in their hasty departure ahead of the bank and other stiffed creditors often leave behind valuables like TVs or nice appliances. Technically these are supposed to be returned to the bank but in reality the trash out people get first pick as a perq of an otherwise tough, miserable, depressing job.

Miles originally refuses to partake in this corruption. However after he meets Pilar, a 17 year old Cuban girl, Miles changes. He falls in love with Pilar and despite being underage they move in together. In order to get Pilar's older sister Angela to agree to this (Angela is the leader of the family after their parents died), Miles joins the others and steals various expensive items from the houses and gives them to Angela in exchange for Pilar being able to move in with him.

After a while Angela issues demands for fresh trash out bounty. Miles refuses. Angela reminds Miles that Pilar is underage and threatens to call the police. Between the police threat and a visit from some bouncer thugs from the bar Angela works at Miles wisely beats it out of Florida. He returns to New York after the 7 years away. Back in New York Miles settles into an abandoned house as a squatter with his old friend Bing and two interesting women Alice and Ellen.

I mostly liked reading this book. At some level I admired Miles, his principles and self discipline. Leaving the comfortable life in the first place and making his way. Refusing the trash out bounty. Although Miles isn't consistent as he indulges the inappropriate romance with Pilar and did engage in the trash out theft when it was to his interest.

I couldn't really grasp Miles attraction to Pilar. First there's the issue of her being 17 and he 28. The author points out that Miles is 6 ft, 185 lbs and solidly built. Miles has gone out with good looking women throughout his life so I couldn't really grasp his fascination with Pilar. Even in the NY house there are attractive and intelligent women right there which demonstrates Miles would have plenty of opportunity to meet more suitable women.

It was a book that makes you think. It reminded me of the books I might have read in high school or undergrad. The kind of books that are "meant to be analysed". I probably wouldn't mind reading an essay on this book if there was one. There's probably enough in there to at least make a decent year end thesis.

I like that it was mostly in New York. I generally like New York stories with the Jews, the diners, the neighbourhoods, etc. If nothing else this book is a good New York story.

The author takes on the challenging task of including writers and writing prominently in the book. Miles father Morris is the owner of a publishing house. Alice is a grad student in English and works at PEN. Auster handles this pretty well. Often when the subject is writers you end up with trash like The World According to Garp, or the Miseryable Stephen King "writers and writing" series that destroyed his career.

Overall it was a good read and I would recommend it. I would read some other Auster if I come across it.