pyesetz: (woof)
Last Saturday, I walked around west Kitchener, knocking on doors and asking people how they felt about their new-ish Liberal Government.  This was part of the kickoff for a national campaign in which Liberal Party operatives walk around neighbourhoods, entering people's responses into an app on their smartphones.

One result of this effort is a collection of tweets showing photographs of the groups of canvassers.  If you knew anything about local politics (which of course you don't), you could determine that one of these tweets came from the only Liberal candidate for Parliament in Waterloo Region last year who *didn't* win.  Clicking on the pic.twitter.com link within that tweet takes you to a photo.  I am the bearded guy with the poorly-parted hair.

It is clear that the Party puts a lot of effort into keeping track of who volunteers for these events and how much time they put in.  Presumably such hours count as "brownie points" within the Party.  What is less clear is the set of prizes for which these brownie points can be traded.  It is perhaps like a Chuck E Cheese restaurant where the prizes are hidden and unadvertised and the only way to trade in your tickets is to ask whether a certain prize might be available.
pyesetz: (woof)
Global warming must be a hoax because there's snow on the ground outside my window!  2014 was the coldest year since 1980 for pretty much everywhere I actually go in meatspace (my "world", if you will).  Maybe Timbuktu or Australia or Pluto had a warm year, but those places are not part of my world.

Hey, have you ever been in a store after dark and purchased suncreen?  Why?  You don't need it!  If television evolved from radio, why are there still radios?



2014 once again broke the record for warmest year ever (except where I live).

source
pyesetz: (woof)

Oct. 29, day 7: Drive from New York to Ontario

Best Western (Liverpool NY, 2:46am).  Yet another bill-under-the-door.  Only $111.76 for a 2-queen room — and the pool is heated!  Looks like we’ll be back here next time, although the side-by-side beds caused Kid #1 to be quite unhappy with Wifey’s breathing noises.  When we were last here in 2007, the neighbouring airport was very noisy, but no problem this time.

US Postal Service (Liverpool NY, 10:43am).  $4.17 for delivery of an item to New Jersey and for a box to mail it in.  The item is my old E-ZPass transponder, which hasn’t worked since 2009 or so yet they keep charging me $1/month for it.  The return address printed on the transponder is no longer valid, so I had to call them to get the new address.
      I just checked my E-ZPass account balance and an “adjustment” was made to my account on Nov. 4th.  I now have a $50 credit balance.  Anyone wanna place a bet as to whether I ever see that money?

Jo-Ann’s Fabrics (Amherst NY, 1:59pm).  Wifey paid $46.91 for sewing stuff, mostly for Kid #1’s birthday present.

Tops (Amherst NY, 3:00pm).  $134.87 to stock up on inexpensive American groceries for our Canadian pantry.  Includes canned gefilte fish and mass quantities of turkey pepperoni, chocolate baking morsels, and AA batteries.

Tops (3:02pm).  As a thank-you gift for our preceding purchase, the machine spat out a coupon for a 75¢ discount on our next purchase.  Kid #2 noticed a pack of gum for 79¢, so we bought it to use up the coupon.  With tax, the net cost of the gum was 11¢.

Key Bank (inside Tops, 3:02pm).  Get $20 to ensure that we can pay for tolls on the way home, but it turned out that we already had (barely) enough cash — so now we have USD $20 to hold onto for our next trip to the States.  No ATM fee for Key Bank, but $3 fee for our bank plus the exchange rate was $23.07.

Tops lottery vending machine.  Once again, Wifey buys an instant ticket for $1 which wins $2.  She also buys a $2 Powerball ticket for the evening’s drawing (it didn’t win anything).

Wegman’s (Amherst NY, 3:35pm).  $52.63 for salad bar lunch.  Still pretty good, but notably lower quality than last time.  Robert Wegman died eight years ago.  Things change after the founder dies: stores become less distinctive and more like every other store, because that’s the “safe” move for an MBA executive.

Wegman’s (4:48pm).  $463.59 for even more groceries, including mass quantities of boneless chicken breast, peanut butter, horseradish cheddar, Hebrew National® hot dogs, and — as usual — 160 cans of “Wegman’s Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water” (which costs half as much as similar products in Canada).  Wegman’s might not be as distinctive as they used to be, but you can’t argue with their prices!  In fact, they have the same Sea Dog blueberry ale from Maine that I bought at Shaw’s in Massachusetts — but Wegman’s price is about 20% lower.  Oh well.

Wegman’s parking lot.  We bought too much stuff on this trip!  Wifey spends considerable time jamming everything into the trunk.  Eventually she gets it all in *and* leaves enough open space down the middle of the van so the rearview mirror will work.  She is amazing.

Delta Sonic (Amherst NY, 5:38pm).  $50 for gasoline.  This station is very close to Tops and Wegman’s, so we generally stop here before beginning the long drive home.  Once again, prepayment is necessary due to rampant American xenophobia.  No zipcode means no right to a receipt showing how much gas you got for your money!

Canadian border (Queenston ON).  Border guard waives us through, perhaps in part because we have Canadian passports.  Once again, no sales tax on our declared $1000ºº of imported goods!

Our house.  After bringing in the food from the car, I looked in the fridge and said, “Hey, know what we forgot to buy?  Fridge light bulbs!”  Both of them had failed just before we went on our trip.

Oct. 30, day 8: The day after

Country Paws (St. Agatha ON, 10:53am).  $165.20 for a week’s stay at a dog kennel.  That’s $20/day plus tax plus $1 per day to feed him a customer-provided chewable beef-flavoured arthritis pill that’s no trouble at all to administer because he likes it.  And the dog came home with a limp, so either they didn’t actually give him all the pills or he overexerted himself (which he often does at the kennel).

Home Hardware (New Hamburg ON, 3:46pm).  $5.53 for a pair of lightbulbs specially designed to provide “true daylight colour” inside a fridge.

Oct. 31, day 9: The day after the day after

Our house.  Halloween party.  We had only two guests over.  After trick-or-treating and then some trading, each of my kids ended up with a gallon-sized bag filled solely with candies that they actually liked.  What a nice neighbourhood!

Nov. 2, day 11: The last day

Carl’s Jr. parking lot (Waterloo ON).  Presented the items to my furiend, but he didn’t want to do the Furry thing I had in mind, so the whole exercise turned out to be pointless.  He gave me USD $12 for the Cheez-Its and Starbucks (even though he also had Canadian money in his wallet), so now I have even more US cash to hold onto for the next trip.  I gave him the blueberry ale as a consolation prize.

pyesetz: (song-doesnt-end)
"Although not as warm as previous months, the temperature for September was still 0.7 degrees above average. This now marks a full year and a half (18 months) where the monthly overall temperature has been above average."

source
pyesetz: (Default)

Day 6: Visit with Cousins

Walmart, North Attleborough⁽¹⁾ MA.  October 2nd, 12:23 PM.  Stop in to get a new CR2 battery for Wifey’s APX camera.  The camera was a gift from Kodak in honour of Kid #2’s birth.  APX cameras are no longer made; the Advantix® film for them either has been or will soon cease production.  Walmart insists on selling these batteries as a two-pack, so it costs $10 to keep the camera going for just a little while longer.  Also buy a new pocket comb for $1 because my old one is missing half its teeth.  The receipt is hard to read because significant quantities of the ink have fallen off—damn those thermal printers!
 
⁽¹⁾ Wifey (who lived in this town during her teen years) prefers the less-pretentious spelling ”North Attleboro”.
⁽²⁾ The City of Attleboro does not use the ‘ugh’ suffix in their official name, perhaps just to be different from the adjacent Town of North Attleborough.

BIL #3’s house, Attleboro⁽²⁾ MA.  Besides BIL #3 and his wife SIL #2, also present are his children (Cousins #1, #2, and #3) as well as BIL #2 and his wife SIL #3.  (The younger brother married first, so his wife gets the lower SIL number.)  The big family news is that SIL #3 is going to be a grandma because Cousin #4 (who married last year) is now pregnant.  The presents from Toys Я Us (which we bought on day 3 with BIL #1’s money) are well-received by the cousins.  My children get gifts of cash from BIL #2, who is still working at Chrysler.  Kids #1 and #2 both say they will deposit the money into their savings accounts to prepare for when their laptop computers next need replacement (which just happened recently, so their accounts are depleted right now).
      Unlike previous visits, which involved take-out food, today’s lunch consists of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and salad.  SIL #2 proudly discusses how much money she saved while buying the ingredients.  Later, when we try to give to BIL #3’s family the McDonald’s game-tokens we picked up on day 2, they inexplicably don’t want them.  Eventually BIL #3 admits that they don’t eat at McDonald’s anymore because it costs too much.  It was then that I realized that ”economic Depression” is not just my trading stance on the stock market, but is also a real-world horror that my extended family is living through.  The sensible pundits are predicting another five years of this—but it could be twenty more years if the ultrarich insist on starting a Class War, which will get them all killed and leave the country without any business leaders until a new generation can grow up.  (Similar to Cambodia after Pol Pot?)
      Wifey takes some family photos with her camera.  Hopefully we’ll get them developed while the technology is still in practice. [October 25th: haven’t done that yet.]
      We pick up a package of clothing that Wifey had ordered from a website that refuses to ship to Canada, so she had them mail it to BIL #3’s house.  (There were also two other items shipped to BIL #3’s house that we picked up, but I have no receipts for those.)

Hawthorn Suites, Franklin MA.  For dinner we eat Chinese take-out, delivered to our hotel room.  Somehow the receipt didn’t get saved, but my credit-card statement shows a $24.56 charge for ”Bamboo House”.  Not the world’s best Chinese; we probably won’t be ordering from them again.

Day 7: Drive to New York

Hawthorn Suites: A bill for $720.45 was slipped under our door.  Yet another reason why we don’t drive to Massachusetts very often.

Stock market: The market is continuing to head downward.  Buy *more* TZA!

Wilbraham MA: All my life, every time I passed through Wilbraham on the Mass Pike, I made sure to take a look at the topiary that greets visitors: Welcome to Wilbraham, home of FRIENDLY’S ice cream!  The topiary is still there this time, even though Friendly’s filed for bankruptcy on October 2nd.  I don’t expect to see it again.

Gulf Express, Blandford MA.  Fill up the tank at a highway rest stop before entering New York, whose gas tax is higher.  12:47 PM, $3.57⁹/gallon, 10¾ gallons.

New Lams Chinese Kitchen, Amsterdam NY.  Found by Googling for “restaurants” while at the Pattersonville rest area on the New York Thruway.  Food less than wonderful; we won’t be back.
      The local Coke saleswoman came in and wanted to complain about cans of Pepsi being stored in the Coke-branded refrigerator.  She insisted on speaking English, but the Mom+Pop owners of the restaurant would have much preferred to discuss the matter in Chinese and their English-speaking son wasn’t in the restaurant at the time.
      Cash only; no receipt.  Had to borrow US cash from Kid #1’s gift from BIL #2 to pay for it.  [October 25th: still haven’t paid her back with loonies.]

Homewood Suites, Liverpool NY: Includes free dinner!
      Homewood is now owned by Hilton.  Our stay is complimentary because we have so many Hilton Rewards points, which were about to expire so we used them to stay here.  Actually, we didn’t have *quite* enough points so we had to pay $12 to buy more ”free” points to top up the account for a ”free” room.
      There was a middle-of-the-night false fire alarm, which the hotel blamed on ”the wind”, even though it was a windless night.  Apparently the hotel staff have been taught standard lies to tell to guests, regardless of weather.

Meanwhile, in Canada: The Township of Wilmot took $180 from my chequing account for property tax.  Union Gas took $88 for methane supply.  Rogers took $150 for cable+Internet; one of these days I’ve gotta call them and cut back on the extraneous cable channels we don’t even watch!

Day 8: Shopping & Return Home

Land’s End Inlet, Rochester NY.  This is an outlet store for clothing.  Total $184.56, net after $150.54 ”savings off original price”.  1:28 PM.

Applebee’s, Henrietta NY.  Within sight of Land’s End, but the receipt says it’s in a different town.  $61.93 at 2:46 PM.  The food seems about the same as always.  Some people think Applebee’s will be going bankrupt soon.

Wegman’s Supermarket, Rochester NY.  Within sight of Applebee’s and Land’s End.  The receipt is about 30 inches long!  We buy lots of stuff that is more expensive and/or not available in Canada.  The receipt shows that we presented 15 coupons (which Wifey had printed out from the Internet) for a total of $13.45 discount (plus $3.70 for ”double coupons” less than $1).  We also get $14.07 off for using our Wegman’s loyalty card.  Final total $485.52, which I think is the most we have ever spent at this store (it used to be more like $300).  The haul includes one box of Sunshine Cheez-Its.  Exit at 4:21 PM.
      At 3:48 PM, I use the Wegman’s food court wi-fi to check the stock market.  The market had been heading downward, but in the last half-hour of trading it decided to zoom up and erase all losses for the past two days.  Just as I log in to check on it, my emergency trailing stop activates and sells all my TZA shares.  Rats!  The shares bought on day 7 got sold for just about what I paid for them, while the shares bought on day 3 were sold for a 13% gain.  Not bad, but I’m still waiting for the Big Drop when I’ll make a 60% gain on TZA.  Some people say that ridiculous behaviour like a 5% average rise in all 6,000 stocks over a 40 minute period is indicative of market manipulation, but everyone knows the market is rigged so either play along or go home.  Automated trailing stops are mandatory!

Wegman’s, 4:36 PM.  After loading our purchases into the car and deciding how much room remains, I return to the store to buy more Cheez-Its.  16 more boxes for $35.00.

New York Thruway rest area, Clarence NY.  Bought a muffin at Tim Horton’s; don’t remember why.  $1.27 at 5:46 PM.  Bought gas: Sunoco, $3.76⁹/gallon, 14⅞ gallons, 5:51 PM.

Canadian border, Queenston ON.  We declare $1600 in purchases being imported.  Because there are four of us and we were gone for a week, this amount is small enough to avoid having to pay sales tax upon re-entry.  To verify our story, the border guard asks to see a receipt from a week ago.  Wifey thumbs through the receipts envelope and selects the one for Penzey’s on day 4, which is less than a week ago but the guard accepts it anyway and waives us through.

Our house, Wilmot ON.  Good night!

pyesetz: (Default)

Day 1: Drive to New York

Drug store: September 27th, 11:12 AM.  Pick up prescription meds before the trip.  This was supposed to have been done last week, but a mix-up with the ℞ scrip required multiple faxes between pharmacist and physician to resolve.  Price was $438 for a 90-day supply.  The American price would have been an obscenity.
      I like this pharmacist because he remembers me from one visit to the next, although the downside is that he harangues me for not taking the pills as often as the doctor ordered.  I’m not entirely sure what his financial situation is, but I think he ran the store independently for 20 years before joining the PharmaSave Corporation.  Wikipedia says PharmaSave is owned by its franchisees.  Socialism!

Post office: Last pick-up of mail before the trip.  Two items of note:
  • PetroCanada/Certigard writes to announce that they are shutting down operations.  You see, now that Suncor has bought PetroCanada, they’ve decided to focus the PetroCanada® brand on gasoline sales, so the Certigard™ line of automotive repair shops no longer fits the corporate vision.  This letter is supposed to serve as an introduction to the owner of my newly-independent repair shop, whose name is Ghaleb Choujaa.  I’ve met Gabe; he seems to be doing a good job on hiring competant mechanics, but I’m not clear on whether he is still picking up a wrench himself.  I don’t know where he’s from, but Google suggests that the name ”Ghaleb” is associated with Lebanon.

  • Citizenship & Immigration Canada has returned our application for citizenship because some checkboxes were not ticked.  On the parents’ forms we ticked No for the question, ”Have you ever been a citizen of Canada?”, but on the kids’ forms we did not answer the question, ”Have your parents ever been citizens of Canada?”  The returned forms have the unanswered questions helpfully highlighted in yellow, along with a warning that if we do not fix this problem within 30 days, our application will be cancelled and the fee returned.  So, back to the post office to mail the forms with the newly-ticked boxes.  Didn’t get a receipt.

Stock market: Sold TNA because its uptrend seems to be over.  7% gain in two days!

US border customs, Lewiston NY.  Easiest border-crossing *ever*!  No snarling dogs, no mobs of blueshirt thugs.  I tell the officer that we’ll be staying for a week; he looks at our US passports and says, ”you can stay as long as you like!”  I guess the Terrorist Threat Level must be rather low right now.

New York Thruway: Paid tolls, no receipts.  Stopped at a rest area; no receipt.  Used their free wi-fi to check the stock market, but made no trades.

Herkimer, NY: Arrive at the Herkimer Motel.  We drop our stuff and go across the street to the Waterfront Grille, which is an Italian restaurant.  We’ve been here before.  Still just as good, I think.  $78.74 for a family dinner.  Exited at 7:17 PM.

Day 2a: Drive to Massachusetts

Herkimer Motel: $124.90 for one night in a one-bedroom suite with wi-fi, mini-kitchen, etc.  Separate queen-sized beds for each kid!

New York Thruway: More receiptless tolls.  At 12:20 PM we stop at the rest area in Guilderland, near Schenectady NY.  $68 for 18⅛ gallons of gasoline (that’s $3.73⁹/gallon).  It’s the ”Mobil” brand, which is now identical to ”Exxon” and ”Esso” and is basically the resurrected Standard Oil Corp. that Teddy Roosevelt was famous for busting up.  But, as we saw again with AT&T, merely splitting a megacorp into parts doesn’t kill it.  The undead pieces spend the rest of eternity ”encouraging and suggesting” (and bribing) the authorities to allow it to “improve efficiency and synergy” by reconstructing its demonic self.  Since people die and corporations don’t, eventually it wins.  Slavery is freedom!  I wonder whether the only way to truly get rid of a megacorp is to reslant the playing field so its business model no longer works.

Mass Pike: I’m old enough to remember when this road was called ”Pilgrim’s Turnpike”; now only the buckled-hat logo survives.  More receiptless tolls.

Blandford MA: 1:34 PM. Stop at a turnpike rest area for lunch.  Wifey and the kidlets go to McDonald’s, while I go to the ”Gulf Express” mini-mart for a pair of egg salad sandwiches.  Lunch total: $30.11.

Hawthorn Suites, Franklin MA.  Our home-away-from-home for the next five nights.  Hawthorn was owned by Hyatt during 1985-2008, but now its owner is Wyndham.  Maintenance is now spotty in places.  There’s always *something* wrong with the pool (this time they’re ”waiting for parts”).  But it’s well-located and much cheaper than most decent accommodations in Eastern Massachusetts.

Shaw’s/Osco, Franklin MA.  I think this used to be a “Star Market” (which bought the Osco pharmacy chain a long time ago).  Shaw’s has been on a tear, buying up all the other supermarket chains.  At 5:38 PM we pay $55.26 for 13 items, only some of which will be used immediately for Rosh Hashanah.

(Tune in next time for part 2b of our saga, where we celebrate the Jewish New Year 5772—in a hotel room!)
pyesetz: (Default)

So, I drove the family to Massachusetts and back.  And I said I would write a post about it.  But all I have is this pile of three dozen receipts.  How am I supposed to weave them into a story?  I guess I’ll start with a dedication:

This road trip was funded by a grant from the estate of BIL #1, who died last year of alcoholism after being thrown out of the Army for refusing yet another tour of duty in Iraq.  I consider him to be a war casualty.

Day 0: Preparation

Buy gas: It is 1:45 PM on September the 26th.  The big trip begins tomorrow.  I am at the recently-opened gas station down the street from my house, filling up my tank.  I buy 67⅔ litres of gasoline for $81 (that's about $4.80/gallon for Americans).  I am thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t buy so much gas, since it’s cheaper across the border in New York, but I don’t want to deal with the stations near the border — last time I had trouble with a gas pump that wouldn’t accept my American credit card because my address doesn’t have a zipcode.
      This gas station has a large sign that says “Mac’s” with an owl logo.  The pumps have logos for Shell Oil.  The receipt says it’s from Shell Canada.  Nowhere to be seen is the name ”Alimentation Couche-Tard”, which I think is the shadowy megacorp that actually owns this store.  They are apparently not very nice and perhaps the #OccupyMontreal people should keep them in mind.  Still, they were willing to spend lots of money to build this station in my little town, so I guess they have some redeeming social value, unlike the banks who refuse to open any branches here.
      The receipt also includes a store number, a gas pump serial number, a transaction number, a credit card approval number, a sales tax ID number, zzzzzzzz...  You know what?  I don’t give a shit about this crap!  Let’s jump forward to the middle of the story, because that’s just the kind of left-handed doggie that I am.

Day 5: Aquarium

October 1st is one of two days of our trip that were set aside for visiting museums, on the grounds that BIL #1 would have wanted us to have some fun with his money.

Drive to Boston: We are on our way to the New England Aquarium.  I paid some tolls on the Mass. Turnpike to get here, but didn’t get any receipts so fuck it.  I haven’t been to this aquarium in many years.  As we get closer to it, I vaguely remember that it has some sort of parking problem.  I pass by one garage that seems quite far away from the destination, but advertises $18 for aquarium parking.  I keep going in hopes that maybe something more convenient will show up.

Parking: We arrive at Central Wharf, which is a mob scene with wall-to-wall tourists.  Eventually, at 1 PM, we complete the maze of one-way streets to arrive at the parking garage that is adjacent to the aquarium.  The charge is $35.  Ah, now I remember!  The aquarium and the garage next door are enemies; it is the $18 garage that is friends with the aquarium (get your parking stub stamped for a discount).  The aquarium hates the $35 garage because it causes people to feel cheated before they even get in the door, which reduces the take from their gift shop, etc.  This has been allowed to go on for many years, so I presume the City of Boston is raking some off the top from the garage.  Mustn’t miss an opportunity to scalp the out-of-towners!  The whole thing stinks of corruption, which overpowers the slightly-fishy odour of the wharf.  As we exit from the garage, we are accosted by barkers trying to sell us overpriced tours on harbour boats.  For a moment I feel like I’m back in Mexico.  But we must soldier on because that’s what BIL #1 would have wanted.

Waiting in line: It is Saturday at a museum.  The line to get in is very long.  I generally avoid lines, figuring that anything *that* popular is probably overhyped.  But “visiting the aquarium” is our scheduled activity for the day, so we enter the line.  I feel like a sitting duck with a neon sign over my head saying, ”Attention all pickpockets!  The tourists are ⇒HERE⇐ and they can’t leave this line.”  But our time spent in line is uneventful.

* * * * *

I later learned that #OccupyBoston was holding a demonstration at South Station, about a mile away, but there was no evidence of any disturbance at Central Wharf.  I wish the occupiers well, but the situation is similar to the end of apartheid in South Africa: it is very, very difficult for the oppressors to climb off their pedestals, having told each other all their lives that they *must* remain on the pedestals because otherwise surely the unwashed masses will tear them limb from limb!  Well, no, actually the masses just want this horrid financial game to be over.  It is only after food becomes unaffordable that the violence will start.  There is still time for the top 0.01% of the ultrarich to do the right thing, but very little evidence so far that they can find it in their hearts to do so.

There is some confusion among the occupiers about who their enemies are.  While “the 1%” is a catchy phrase, most of the top 1% hates the ultrarich as much as the bottom 99% do.  Once all the wealth has been sucked out of the 99%, the vacuum will then be turned upon the 1% and probably many of them know that.  The real enemies are people whose names you have never heard of, who have fudged the public records so their loot appears to be spread out among a horde of fake nominees, because they believe that if their lives ever became public knowledge then of course they would be put to death immediately.  You might as well call them ”the Voldemorts”.

Of course, it is presumptuous of me to be speaking on behalf of the 1%.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor have I ever wanted to be, a member of that class.  At the peak of my career as a software engineer, my income was barely into the top 20% for Americans; it is much lower now.  I have always refused offers of promotion into management.  I have never kissed anyone’s ass (no, it’s not just a figure of speech) and I don’t intend to start now.  I have gotten into stock trading, not because it’s a popular pastime among my rich friends, but because my health is poor and it is one of the few jobs that truly doesn’t need anything more than a brain, a computer, some seed capital, and a whole lotta nerve.

The stock market is broken.  It has become a casino where the world’s wealth is gambled away.  It should be restored to its proper function.  But in the meantime, if you’re not playing, you’re losing.  The world’s corporations are taking the money from your pocket and putting it on the stock market.  If you want it back, that’s where you have to go.  To win, all one has to do is be smarter than the average bankster, which seems like it shouldn’t be that hard.  But the banksters have had many years to hone their game, while I am a newbie.

Many people have written their versions of ”What #OccupyWallStreet’s demands should be”.  Here is one from Shah Gilani, who is a member of the 1% and has been neck-deep in Wall Street for 30 years.  The language is a little stilted, and some of his demands are perhaps too lenient, but he seems to be roughly on the same page as the protesters outside his offices.  That’s a refrain I’ve heard from many sources: most of the people who work on Wall Street agree with the protesters, not with their own overlords.  They hate how corrupt their jobs have become.

* * * * *

Aquarium entrance: At 1:40 PM we finally got to the front of the line.  In the meantime, the rear of the line had become maybe 20% longer.  I pity the fool who joins it now!  Admission is only $91.80 for a family of four.  As soon as we get in, we immediately find ourselves at a penguin feeding show.  I really dislike the crowd-control language that the emcee is using, so I wait on the nearby benches until the show is over.

Lunch: At 2:20 PM we head to the cafeteria.  I get a salad.  Later I get the runs; hey Toto, maybe we really are back in Mexico?  The kids get chicken fingers and French fries, which are heavily coated with some bright orange powder of indeterminate origin and purpose (I suppose it *might* be food).  Only $31.51! McDonald’s would have been healthier and tastier.

Aquarium exhibits:  I liked the deep-sea tank, because it was a fake diorama.  They can’t actually replicate deep-sea conditions in an aquarium tank and it is very hard (or impossible) to capture deep-sea creatures alive and put them in tanks.  You can’t even taxidermy them because their bodies explode when you bring them to the surface.

Aquarium gift shop: The receipt says we bought a T-shirt for $25, but I don’t remember that because I waited outside.

LongHorn Steakhouse: In Franklin MA, just down the street a ways from our hotel.  We had stayed at this hotel in the past and thought this restaurant was worth revisiting.  Just over $100 for a family dinner with tax and tip.  I think the food was not as good as I remembered.  Perhaps the restaurant has had a change in management?  Wikipedia says the LongHorn chain was bought by the Olive Garden/Red Lobster people back in 2007.  Ah well; something’s gotta give in a “down” economy.  Receipt is dated 7:21 PM.

Stop & Shop supermarket: In same shopping plaza with LongHorn.  Just popping in for a few items while we’re here.  $22.35, 7:43 PM.

Buy more gas: Actually, this was 11 AM.  I am mentioning it out of order BECAUSE I CAN!  And because I wanted to start with the driving-to-Boston scene. Only $3.39⁹/gallon! Filled the tank with 17½ gallons.  Sunoco station in Franklin MA.

Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, Walpole MA.  Wifey bought $45.62 worth of sewing supplies.  We could probably obtain them in Canada, but Jo-Ann’s has a nice selection and we remember them fondly from our old life in New Jersey.  The receipt says we completed this purchase at 12:03PM, while the receipt from the $35 garage (27 miles away in Boston) says we entered there at precisely noon.  I think the garage is lying its head off.
      The Walpole Mall is just sad.  Around half the stores are out of business.

pyesetz: (Default)
"I'll be bold and predict that today is going to be the coldest day we see until the fall."

(link)
pyesetz: (Default)
The black line runs off the top of the graph!  The accompanying text says, "We have only had one September in the past 10 years that was colder than the 1971-2000 average (and that was only by 0.1 of a degree). So even though it was full degree above average this year, it was still the third coldest September of the past decade.".

pyesetz: (sozont)
Saturday night my basement flooded.  Sunday into Monday there was a hose coming out of my window, spewing water into the yard.  Monday the local utility company called to say that my gas meter is "obsolete" and needs replacement.  They wanted to stop by on Tuesday to replace it but quick-thinking Wifey told them to wait until Wednesday.

The utility tech was supposed to show up between noon and five.  He arrived at 2 PM and said it would take 40 minutes to replace the meter, then he would need to "restart" all the gas appliances in the house.  It actually took over an hour for the meter replacement.

All of our gas appliances are located in my art studio basement.  As the tech entered the basement, he thanked me for "waiting for him" (what, I was supposed to run away?).  While he was relighting the pilot for the hot-water heater, he remarked on how new it was, and the furnace isn't very old (1994), and the gas dryer is new.  The furnace and dryer have electronic ignition and don't need "restarting", so he just demonstrated that they were still working.  He seemed impressed at how clean-burning my furnace is (I had just had it serviced in February after letting the soot build up since Sept. 2007).  As he left, he thanked me again for "waiting for him".

There were plenty of signs of a recent flood (damp floor, etc.), but the tech didn't mention that.  The dryer has a floodwater line about an inch up from its bottom.  Was the post-flood meter-replacement really just a random coincidence or was this service call actually about checking whether my gas appliances have been water-damaged and are about to blow up?  There's no way to tell what he *might* have said had there been damage in evidence.  I like to think that this was an inspection, because my house "passed".  I remember when I had a gas line installed for the new dryer: a journeyman asked if the work was going to be inspected; the master plumber said, "always assume that your work will be inspected!"

Flood!

Mar. 14th, 2010 06:00 pm
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
My basement flooded last night.  I saw it coming around 9 PM and started using a rug-washer as a water-pump, but the washer couldn't keep up, so around 11 PM I declared a "family emergency" and everyone had to help out getting stuff off the floor in the basement.

Thankfully the water level crested only a couple of inches above the floor, so the furnace continued working through the night.  Apparently only the very bottoms of the expensive washer+dryer got wet, so hopefully they'll continue to work.  The wooden bases under the bookshelves were submerged, but the water didn't get up to the books, so we didn't lose any of those.

I drove down to my local Home Hardware today and got a water pump.  They tried to charge me $107, as shown on that web-page, but the price tag on the pump said $92 so I got it for that price.

Not mentioned on that page: the pump comes with a "suction plate" that allows it to continue pumping until the water is only ⅛ inch deep—very nice!  But the pump is not rated for continuous duty: its instruction manual warns of overheating and suggests running it only 15 minutes per hour.  I've been running it for a ½ hour at a time; it seems to be doing okay because the water is cold.

But I still need a sump pump.  I've been putting that off since Sept. '07 and clearly I have put it off too long already.  A sump pump needs a sump and apparently a sump needs a permit from the township because it involves digging.

My parents' house used to flood all the time because the neighbour's willow tree was clogging the drain.  After many years (and many metre-deep floods and many books lost), they finally got a sump pump.  But one day, during some torrential rains, the sump pump couldn't keep up and water rose out of the sump and spread over the floor—so once again all toys had to be picked up off the floor before they got soaked.  Finally the neighbour got rid of his tree and all was right with the world.

So even with a sump pump, I might still need this new pump I just got, to help out during super-heavy rains.
pyesetz: (fire-hunter)
Globe & Mail:
Statistics Canada said virtually every major metropolitan area in the country experienced an increase in the number of regular [employment insurance] beneficiaries over the last year.

“The largest increases between January 2008 and January 2009 occurred in Southwestern Ontario, where the manufacturing sector in particular experienced heavy layoffs,” Statscan said.

In Windsor, which has experienced deep job losses as a result of layoffs in the auto sector, the number of regular beneficiaries rose 81.6 per cent to 10,600, Statscan said.

The cities of London, Kitchener and Hamilton were also hard hit by the manufacturing downturn.

Thankfully, my job seems secure for the moment.  In fact, I just got a nice raise starting next month!  Maybe this year I'll finally be able to get a sump pump for my basement.  I got an estimate on Friday: $500 for parts, almost $500 for labour—ouch!
pyesetz: (Default)

Thursday, August 7th

Got out of bed, got started on getting rid of those US Savings Bonds.  Went to the Federal Reserve’s website: you can’t sell back treasury bonds direct to the treasury!  Googled for banks near Franklin MA.  Bank of America sounds good.  Called them up to ask how to get rid of large quantities of bonds when I don’t have an account at any bank in the commonwealth.  They said I could just open an account with the bonds as the initial deposit.  Well, it’s a plan, anyway.

[Aside: 25 years ago, when I was still working at Company ℳ (my original job title was “baby-sitter”; final job title “senior systems programmer”), the Bank of America was one of the customers for our securities-DBMS product.  The joke around the office then was that Bank of America was one of our smallest customers, followed by Bank of New England and then Bank of New York.  The customer’s actual size was inversely proportional to the geographic area they claimed to serve!  Bank of New England later became BayBank, which bought up many area banks including the Newton-Waltham Bank where I had a "youth account".  BayBank merged with the Bank of Boston and then with Fleet Bank (two more of our customers).  It was later assimilated by the Bank of America (= "the Borg").  Meanwhile, the Bank of New York (which was America’s first bank, founded by Alexander Hamilton) got heavily into money-laundering and was bought out by Mellon.  Bank of America was originally the North Carolina National Bank and is now the largest bank in the country.  Resistance is futile!  All this bank-merger activity is indicative (despite what this guy says) of robber-baron capitalism which does not serve the public interest.  Oh noes!  I’ve linked to a Communist Party website—the McCarthyites will get me!]

So we drove back to that same plaza with the Longhorn Steakhouse.  At Bank of America we were told that there were only two employees, “Beth” and “Seth”, who could open the accounts for us, but they were both busy.  So we waited.  Wifey and the kidlets went back to Bath & Body Works for more vanilla stench-emitters.  Still no Beth or Seth by the time they returned, so we waited some more.  After half an hour, we celebrated American capitalism by rejecting BofA for poor service and going over to Strata Bank at the other end of the plaza.  The bank manager there immediately led us into her office and formulated an action plan: we would cash ¼ of the bonds at Strata today, ¼ of the bonds at BofA today (avoiding the need to open an account there), then do the same thing again tomorrow for the other ½ of the bonds.

Both banks had little signs showing today’s date to help you fill out your forms.  Both banks showed yesterday’s date on their signs.  As far as I know, this is always wrong: bank dates must be either today or the next business day.  Being surrounded by signs that were lying about the date seemed to bother Kid #1 rather a lot, so I told her about my experience as a baby-sitter for one of the founders of Company ℳ.  In his house was a clock that chimed the hours.  It always displayed the wrong time, so I fixed it whenever I went over there.  Later it was always stopped, so I wound it during my visits.  Eventually I found out that the founder and his wife hated the noise that the clock made—the wife was starting to think that a ghost was winding it up just to annoy her!

After converting the bonds to cash (non-customers can’t get bank cheques!), we went to Stop & Shop for yet more food, then to the sign “Franklin: Home of the Nation's First Public Library” to take pictures of Kid #1 holding a copy of Superior Saturday.  She was supposed to be wearing her banned-books bracelet but it had been forgotten at the hotel room this morning.  Finally we got to leave that plaza!

Then we drove to Arlington MA.  Have I mentioned how sick I was getting of all this driving?  Oh yeah, it was supposed to be mentioned in the entry for August 6th that I skipped.  Anyway, our computer-generated route had us driving by the synogogue in Lexington where I had chanted my Bar Mitzvah, so I got off the highway and went to look at my childhood house nearby.  It’s still about the same, except that it now has pink vinyl siding and the shrubs I remember have been restored (the next owners after my family had yanked them out).  We also drove by my elementary school, which looks awful due to extensive grass infiltration of the asphalt ball courts, but apparently there are plans afoot to remodel the place.

In Arlington we visited Penzey’s Spice Shop, because they don’t deliver to Canada at a reasonable price.  Wifey spent $65 on a year’s supply of spices, plus $5 for an ounce (that's a lot!) of dried chives for my aunt.  Penzey’s has a “kids’ drawing area” where both of my kidlets drew OPEN signs and then taped them to the window.  Sometimes "they're all together ooky", if you catch my drift.

Then we drove to my aunt’s house in Brookline.  It was the usual chit-chat.  My aunt used to travel a lot during her retirement, but recently she (like [livejournal.com profile] ozarque) has decided not to fly anymore.  Apparently the problem is that she is a little old lady in a wheelchair, which is exactly the demographic that the TSA goons like to pick on.  (I wouldn’t doubt that many of those creeps had tried the duct-tape-on-a-cat experiment when they were kids.)  There was a bit of a disagreement over dinner, which had been scheduled to be home-delivered Chinese.  Usually we buy dinner at her house and she buys for us when she flies to Philadelphia for a conference.  But we don’t live near Philadelphia anymore.  And we’re a little tight on funds right now.  So my aunt bought the dinner.

Brookline is no longer the sleepy bedroom community for Boston that my aunt grew up in.  The city has swallowed it now.  After the USSR broke up, Brookline became a Mecca for successful Jewish immigrants from Russia and Israel, who continue to speak their native languages on its streets.  After visiting my aunt, we went to a local Stop & Shop (which was originally a Jewish-owned supermarket chain).  We bought traditional Kosher foods like pigs-in-a-blanket, crumbled Communion wafers, and some delicious US patent #3,108,882 which didn’t exist yet when I was born.  Also purchased was some APS film and 3 more items for the Iraq care package.

Finally got back to our hotel room at 10 PM.

[Meanwhile, back in Canada, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro took $122.71 out of my chequing account today to pay for the electricity used by our now-unoccupied house.  I still don’t understand what the business situation was that induced Wilmot Hydro—and not the electric companies of the other six Waterloo County townships?—to merge with Kitchener, whose laconic corporate history page is just the history of Kitchener (née “Berlin”) with nothing about Wilmot.]

pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
Since [livejournal.com profile] momentrabbit took my bait, I am now obligated by the rules of LJ memeage to post in my journal:
Everyone has things they blog about.  Everyone has things they don't blog about.  Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll respond (if I can stand the searing pain your suggestion causes in the back of my head).
It's too bad that Moment and I aren't furiends.  If he were (and if I am reading the tea leaves properly regarding his whereabouts), he would be my second-closest furiend after [livejournal.com profile] solstice_sings.  Well, [livejournal.com profile] tehpyrex might actually beat Solstice for proximity if I friended him, but let's not go there today...

So what's on my furry to-do list?  Thanks for asking!  Let's see:
  • Bark Bark Woof Woof is still waiting for an answer to his email asking about how things are working out for me in Ontario (he lives in Miami FL but visits Stratford ON every summer).
  • [livejournal.com profile] shy_matsi (who just got out of hospital after having chest pains at age 29½) asked me for more detail about what it's like being married to a she-bear (see [livejournal.com profile] she_bears nope, that's a different kind of "she-bear").
  • [livejournal.com profile] loganberrybunny sent me extensive commentary on the complex situation of citizenship in the former British Empire, but I still don't quite know what to do with the pull-down "Country" menu at my employer's website, so I should reply to him again.
  • [livejournal.com profile] giza wrote a comment on my journal.  I need to find some way to respond that defends my point (because I still believe in it) without denigrating his much-greater experience in website design and maintenance.
  • [livejournal.com profile] tgeller wrote an entire post (last December!) in reply to one of my off-the-cuff comments.  I still haven't dared to look at the links he found.  BTW, on BoingBoing recently they showed a clip of zit porn.  I don't know about you, but somehow my zits just never look as *voluptuous* as those!
I also have non-furry to-do items, but you probably wouldn't want to hear about those.  Oh, you would?  Super!
  • "Mr. Bear" keeps asking when I'm going to hire some local college kids and start a little software-for-export business.  That's because I keep complaining about the "bodies" he hires who produce too little work for too much money.  But running a business is such a pain!  I could then join the local Chamber of Commerce, where I could hear all the town gossip myself instead of getting it second-paw from my dentist who is a member.
  • The government of Ontario hands out money to academics in April.  I really should apply 'cause it's free gravy.  And time is running out!
  • Most of the sewage pipes inside my house are clogged and they probably all need a good hard reaming.  Does that make you think of buttsex?  Enjoy your laugh if so.  But I would like to officially announce at this point that no human male has ever inserted any original-equipment piece of his body into my anus while thinking of me as being a creature named "Pyesetz".  Of course, the preceding pronouncement says nothing about my lurid (and nonexistent) life as a Topman.  As for frottage, my equipment is just not shaped properly for that activity (though I suspect it might be possible in a zero-g environment?)
[livejournal.com profile] swift_fox got some good responses when he posted this meme.  But of course I won't.
pyesetz: (star-of-David)
It's Hanukkah!  In previous years we've displayed a very gaudy Star of David with blinking lights in chasing patterns, etc.  This year we decided to refubish it and... let's just say we ran into many problems.  We ended up just wrapping it with a rope-light and calling it "done" for the year.

Why do I mention this?  Because [livejournal.com profile] shockwave77598 just put up a YouTube video of *his* house decoration in action.  His house now screams "electronic engineer lives here!" while mine whispers "some bizarre denomination lives here".

I've been calling our star various bad names, like "The Lucky Charm—it's magically incandescent" and various epithets involving shamrocks and unlikely genetic recombinations.  Because I can't seem to control my camera (it insists on "S-2" even in manual mode), you can't see the wooden pair-of-triangles frame that's holding up the lights.  The frame has sharp angles, like a Star of David should, while the rope light has a minimum curvature that's too large.  For verisimilitude, I suppose I should cover up the "kite tail" with black tape.

If I were still an LJ newbie, I would go back to my old posts and install this icon for the ones with a "Judaism" tag.  But nobody reads old posts.

*Edit*: More comments over here: it looks like a "party balloon" or a "snowflake".  *Edit 2*: Virgomusic thinks she has me beaten in the "inappropriate for Hanukkah" department:
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I have yet to find a source of weather predictions for my area that is accurate enough to be of any use.

(Northeast lawn of my house)


(Northwest lawn of my house)
Yesterday and the day before I received 11 emails from Environment Canada entitled "WINTER STORM WARNING for Waterloo—Wellington".  These two citites are 300 km apart; apparently the forecast is aimed at all 30,000 km² of Western Ontario.

The official statements:
Date/TimeStorm locationSnowfallWarns
WedThu
21-Nov 12:01Missouri5-105-10Ice pellets
21-Nov 17:35Illinois1010Ice pellets, Low visibility
21-Nov 22:46Illinois1010Ice pellets, Low visibility, in a line from Toronto to Goderich
22-Nov 00:25Ohio1010Ice pellets, Low visibility, in a line from Toronto to Goderich
22-Nov 05:01Ohio--5-10Freezing rain in progress from Cobourg to Kingston
22-Nov 05:40Ohio--5-10Ice pellets, freezing rain in progress in Kitchener
22-Nov 07:34Pennsylvania--5-10Freezing rain in progress in Kitchener
22-Nov 09:13Lake Erie--2-5"The worst is over", snowsqualls from London to Barrie
22-Nov 10:39New York--2-5"Ended", snowsqualls from London to Barrie
22-Nov 13:53New York--2-5"Ended", lake-effect flurries
22-Nov 16:59New York----It's over

What actually happened:
  • Rain turned to ice pellets around 2 AM.
  • ½ cm or less of freezing rain fell during the wee hours (note: not predicted until already in progress)
  • About 5 cm of snow during wee hours of Wednesday night, approximately 0 on Thursday.  Not even enough to cover the grass!
  • No snowsqualls or lake-effect flurries.  No white-out blizzards.
The overall effect here is of a weather service that is so afraid of missing a Big Event that they predict 15 of the last 10 recessions.  I don't know what they're talking about re "traditional snowsquall belt from London to Barrie"; the never-wrong Wikipedia says lake-effect snow only rarely gets even as far as Kitchener.

And the stupidest thing?  Starting Wednesday night it was abundantly clear from radar that the storm was passing well to the south of the line from Waterloo—Wellington!  Don't these meteorologists actually *look* at their equipment, or are they required by law to recycle successful forecasts of the past?
pyesetz: (fire-hunter)
I just Googled the route I walked my dog tonight: 2.4 kms.  Now I have to eat 109 Calories to make up for it.
pyesetz: (Default)
Tomorrow I'll have been here a month.  It's a good thing I didn't try to buy a cheap dumpy house and avoid all debt—I forgot that one needs to reserve additional 20% of the price of a used house for fix-ups, which I couldn't have afforded without a line of credit.  So far I've spent $1200 for electrical upgrades, $1800 for plumbing improvements, about $4000 for appliances, and $2000 for a shed—built on-site from local Ontario pine!  Plus lots of small stuff: $80 for plywood so the attic in the addition will have a floor, $20 for a bag of mortar.  I'm not impressed with the mortar.  Applying it requires lying on my side on the driveway (which is disintegrating into pebbles), reaching over my head to poke a stick into a bucket and pull out a heaver goober of mortar, then fling it over my belly into the cracks in the foundation.  Very tiring for the forepaw!  And I'm still getting some water in the basement troughs after rainstorms.  Maybe the "weeping drain" under my house is clogged?  My neighbour is proud of the fact that the original weeping drain under his 1890 house is still working.  But he's decided not to replace his half of our shared driveway because he'll probably be selling out his house to a commercial developer within five years.

My postal code includes all of five houses.  One was recently replaced by a dental clinic.  Another is in the process of becoming a veterinary clinic.  The owner of a third has a terminal illness and wants to sell.  My neighbour with the 1890 house is thinking of buying it so he'll have a double-lot to sell to the developers.  Then I'll have the only residential lot left on my block!  That will be good for my property value.  Meanwhile, the local post office (which is also a bakery, restaurant, and convenience store) has the street addresses labelled on each mailbox and ignores the postal codes when they sort the mail.

There's a standard joke about Americans bringing skis on a summer trip to Canada, thinking the place has the same weather as Mt. Everest.  Apparently October is rainy season here in Southwest Ontario.  It's 12°C.  The impatiens are still blooming.  I need to mow the lawn again.  For Hallowe'en they're predicting partly cloudy and 15° going down to 6°, so it should be a good night for candy-collection.  Supposedly the snow won't arrive until January.

Still haven't gotten my permanent-resident card, or my Social Insurance Number.  Haven't retitled my car in Ontario, or gotten a local cell phone.  Still have dozens of boxes of stuff from the move that hasn't been unpacked yet.  My digital camera is ???someplace??? so I still have no photos to post.

Kid #2 is out selling popcorn for Cub Scouts.  Yesterday Kid #1 went out selling cookies for Girl Guides.  In the States my wife was a Service Unit Manager (she led a troop of adult Girl Scouts who were themselves leaders of girl troops) but it doesn't seem like they're hurting for volunteers around here and don't really "need" her.  The local Girl Guide uniform is exceedingly plain, consisting of a shirt embroidered with "Girl Guides" and a single pin.  It's quite a change from the Girl Scouts USA uniform, which looks like a Women's Auxiliary unit of some military organization, festooned with patches and pins and dangly doohickies.

It might be time to try reaching out to the local furry community.  [livejournal.com profile] danruk is a bit of a drive from here, but I'd like to find out whether he's really the wild and crazy guy that he usually pretends not to be online.  LJ says there's about a dozen journals from people in my township, none of them updated recently.  When I brought the family into the local hardware store to have a custom kitchen island made for us ($600), the woodworker asked "what kind of animals" I have, referring to the kidlets.  I think he wanted their names, but that's not what he asked for!  So I told him that kid #1 seems to be a lion, while kid #2 is definitely a monkey.  Then kid #2 went into his banana routine; it was nice of him to back me up.

The chairman of the International Monetary Fund says the greenback may be due for an "abrupt" fall.  I should move my 401(k) money into Euros.  Some investor or other says the US economy is in a recession.  Well, duh!  Is the sky blue when a bear shits in the woods?
pyesetz: (Default)
Yesterday was the "open house" for the new dentist's office, next door to my house.  The dentist comes from Vancouver.  He says he designed his new building to look like my house, so it wouldn't stick out too badly in this older neighbourhood (which has several houses over a century old).  His wife, the hygienist, hails from a city that's 30 km away, but she went to high school with the previous owner of my house (there is one high school that serves this entire county and also an adjacent one, perhaps 2500 km² total area).

The dentist's open house had a competitor for "village news of the day" yesterday: farmer Arnold's barn burned down.  It was a sad day for Arnold's cows, who lost their home, but apparently the neighbouring farmers will be taking them in.  Meanwhile, an entire barn engulfed in flames, being battled by the fire department, isn't something you see every day (unless you're [livejournal.com profile] swift_fox), so lots of gawkers came by to see the show.  The barn was adjecent to the part of Baden Creek that opens out into a pond, but the firemen ran a long hose out to the nearest hydrant rather than grabbing water from the creek (perhaps to avoid clogging their equipment).

It seemed to me that there were two groups of gawkers and they did not talk to each other.  There were the "townies" who operate the farms and have lived here for 150 years, and also the "newcomers" who moved out from Waterloo to raise their families but continue to work and shop in the city.  The population of the village of Baden has tripled in the last seven years!  I sort of felt like I ought to be in the Townie group since I live in an old house and not one of the new developments, but really I'm even newer than the Newcomers who are mostly native-born Canadians and ethnic Mennonites like the Townies.  So I didn't talk to anyone.

Tomorrow the electrician will be coming back for his third day of work upgrading the house to something decent.  (This is the same guy that the previous owners had hired to replace their knob-and-tube with something insurable.)  It's very hard to add external receptacles to this house, which has a double layer of bricks on the outside, large stones and mortar for a foundation, and several layers of plaster on the inside.  He needed a 30-inch drill to get from the front porch to the basement!  Also tomorrow, the plumber will come over to replace the rented hot-water heater with an owned one, remove lots of extraneous plumbing (the pipes double back on themselves several times because previous owners of the house changed their minds), and add a gas line for my new clothes dryer.  A gas dryer costs only $70 more than an electric and should pay for itself in a year, but I forgot to include $200 to run a gas line over to it from the furnace!  Everything is difficult in an old house because there have been so many upgrades already.  Concepts like "electrification" and "central heating" and "indoor plumbing" were not part of the vernacular of rural Ontario in 1870.

Wireless Internet works better here than in my old house (which has drywall with corner mesh, so its walls have more metal in them than these lath-and-plaster jobs).  Download speed is only half of what was advertised, but Rogers claims they'll be making a major upgrade to the Wilmot central office on October 15th (hey! that's tomorrow!) so we'll see if things improve.  Still, I manage to find lots of things to do besides working.  I think that, on an average day, I'm spending more than I'm making.  That needs to change.

I signed a bill of sale for my old house as the movers were packing their truck.  Two weeks later I called my agent to see how things were going.  The buyers had backed out after signing and never gave their deposit.  This is the third time the house has "almost" sold.  I'm getting sick of this agent, but NJ real estate is a racket and no licenced realtor would talk to me if I walked away from this guy before his contract is up next month.  Also, I hadn't planned to continue paying interest on that mortgage for many more months.  After I finish opening up credit-card accounts in Canada (maybe next week), perhaps I'll ask the bank if I can just sign over the deed to them and walk away.  At this point I've already sucked out of the line of credit all the value I expect to get from the property and am just selling it to pay off the mortgage.  I'm still using my A+ credit rating in the States to gain credit in Canada, but that won't be needed for much longer.  If I try to hold up two mortgages, one of which is just bleeding money, I'll either go bankrupt or end up in a hospital.
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
It's October in Canada.  I'm still walking around outside without a coat.  Temps are 10°C above historical norms, but then Global Warming is the "new normal".  Québec now has thriving blueberry farms!

The moving van finally arrived today; no more sleeping on an air mattress!  A few bits of minor breakage (van driver gave me $5 for a broken mirror, apologized for a broken lamp which I managed to fix, etc).  Now I am the proud owner of a house full of packing boxes.

Rogers.ca is disappointing.  I'm supposed to get 7 Mb/s broadband speeds, but I'm actually getting only 1.5-3.5.  Being out in the country has its downside!  The physical plant in my town is old and can't support broadband-telephony or any digital-TV tuner that was made during this century.

I've been here for almost a week and still feel like a fish out of water.  My passport says I'm a permanent resident, but I'm still "an American in Canada", hiding out from the US Fascists.  It seems most of the people on my street are twice my age.  The local hardware store has a cartoon that makes fun of people with college educations who don't know the stuff that really matters.  Maybe I need a local job.  UWaterloo is hiring for a Linux administrator position, but the required qualification is just "a college degree in computer science", so I'm probably overqualified with a master's.

Didn't get anywhere near as much for my NJ house as I had hoped, so the ON house has a lot of debt on it.  Thankfully I moved mucho dinero up from the States back when 1 CAD = 0.97 USD.  Now it's 0.99975 USD.  That makes a difference for a down-payment on a house!

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