Monday, November 30, 2009

Cost of Living

I realized recently that my cost of living has increased substantially lately. Most of that is because I am a homeowner now. It is a good thing but it is shocking how much life cost. we have a 4 car drive way so last week we bought a new snow blower. It was on sale but after taxes it still came up to $675. In addition we bought some new drapes for the and curtain rods to hang them from for the only bedroom where we hadn't yet changed the window treatments. There were all on sale but it still came up to about $120 for everything all included. It seems like there is always something that needs to be done. And it did all need to be done. I live in canada it's almost december and the snow will eventually have to come. And when it does I have no interest in being in front of my house for hours with a shovel trying to fight back the storm. My hope is that this snow blower will last me around 10 years or more. I mean i don't want to give the wrong impression here. We are not strapped for cash by any means. It's just that it seems like there is always something that needs to be done.

Ah well, that's life I guess.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Busy Weekend

So this weekend was a very busy one for me. On Friday we went to the 11th annual "When brothers Speak" event. It is a spoken word (poetry) performance here in Toronto. We went last year as well. It is a good event generally speaking but I enjoyed last years much more. The performers this year didn't seem to have as much energy. Also their performances were not as entertaining. It was nice to get out and go to an event though. The only thing is that in the future I think my wife and I will stick more to Saturday events. When you work the whole day and then go out again in the evening it can be pretty tiring. She actually fell asleep at the end and it is because were just tired from the day.

On saturday two of my wife's friends from college stopped for dinner. The live in Brampton so it was quite a trek for them. They have a very cute daughter who is about 18 months old. After dinner we were supposed to go to a play downtown in the distillery district. Unfortunately when we got there we could not find the unit number for the play. So we ended up just going for dessert and talking. IT was a fun evening overall.

Sunday we just stayed home and did nothing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat

So last night was the first Halloween in my new home. Halloween was never a really big thing with my parents. In fact for many years we just turned off the lights and actually turned off the doorbell also.

Since we are in a new home in a new community I decided I wanted to be a part of the festivities. So my wife and i actually went and got some decorations for the house. Pretty modest stuff really, just a plastic jack -o - lantern and a hanging plastic gargoyle. Total price for both was about $15. We also went and bought chocolates and candies. From now on I will do all my halloween shopping on the day of. We bought just under $40 dollars worth. At the time t seemed like a lot but it actually was all gone pretty fast. I think the hand fulls i gave out were too big. Next year i will give smaller amounts so it can last longer.

Overall it was a lot of fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good Hair

So i saw "Good Hair" this weekend. For those who don't know I am referring to the new Chris Rock movie. Please see below ...



This is a movie that covers a very sensitive issue in the black community. As a man hair has not really played a very big role in my life. That being said like all men I do have women in my life (my wife, mother, sister, etc ...). For those who don't know allow me to explain.

"Good Hair" has traditionally meant hair that is straighter and more closely resembling that of a white person. Conversely, "Bad Hair" is hair that is considered coarser or with a much tighter curl. Generally, speaking most (but not all) black people who would fall into the "good hair" category are those of mixed ethnicity. In the quest to get good hair many black women apply relaxers (a chemical that straightens hair), attach weaves or use various types of Hot combs or flat irons straighten their hair.

Chris Rock says that the reason he made this movie is because one of his daughters asked him why she didn't have "good hair"? So he decided to make a movie about the subject. He investigates relaxer factories and various hair salons and even travels to India where one of their primary exports is human hair that is then used in weaves and hair extensions.

The reason this issue is contentious is that many people in the black community feel that this information is not something that should not be publicly discussed. As for me ... I don't see what the big f'n deal is. White women don't change the nature of their hair in the same way that relaxer changes the nature of a black woman's hair. However, I honestly do not know the last time I saw a white women with the actual hair color they were born with. Many black women feel they need the long flowing hair in order to compete and look professional. There are lots of parts of the female body I am interested in but hair falls pretty low on my list of priorities. And the truth is long hair is not really something you want if your goal is to succeed in corporate Canada/America. I work for a large bank now and the women who have climbed the ladder and are in positions of power all have very short hair, i mean just about ear level or something approaching a pixie cut. The women at the lower levels all have the long flowing hair. Obviously their having short hair isn't the reason for their promotions but it does disprove the need for really long hair.

My wife, mother and sister all have natural (as in unprocessed) hair. So for me that is the norm. But in general i think more women need to embrace their natural hair. I don't really have any strong emotions toward this movie.

The movie was a hit and miss affair for me. I would only recommend it if you have some knowledge or interest in the topic before hand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall TV

So there are not really that many NEW television shows that look promising this year. Also, some of my favorites are either not returning until January or not coming back at all.

Not Returning:
Battlestar Galactica
Prison Break

January:
LOST
24

So needless to say this fall does not look as promising as some others. However, there are a few new shows and returning shows that I am glad to have back


Procedurals

CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami, Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds.

Of these the ones I am most looking forward to are Criminal Minds, Miami and the original Law and Order. If you are not already watching these shows you should. L&O is going into it's 20th season making it tied with Gunsmoke for the longest running drama ever. In my opinon the show is just getting better with age. I miss having Jack Mckoy as a lawyer tearing apart some scum bag on the witness stand but he is proving to be a very good DA and as long as he is on the show I will watch.

Criminal minds is going into it's fifth season. I started watching around season 3 but I am really hooked. It really is must see viewing in our house. How they come up with the cases is beyond me because some of the serial killers they chase are as close to pure evil as humanely possible.

CSI Miami is a show that is just about the most ridiculous 42 minutes on air each week and I love every second of it. I especially love the over the top acting, silly characters and the impossible nature of the cases they solve. The sci-fi nature of the crime lab is also fun. Take a look at the below clip and tell me how it is possible to not love this show.



Drama
The only returning Drama i am looking forward to is Smallville. As i have stated numerous times I am a big comic fan and this is really the only comic based show on right now. It is going into it's 9th season which is really unbelievable. I don't think anyone anywhere thought it would last more than 4. The producers are still doing a great job so I am back for another season.

Another returning show that i have a small amount of hope for is HEROES. It has gotten pretty shitty over the last few seasons and I am starting to think it is beyond fixing. I have seen 2 episodes now and I am not impressed. I am hoping it gets better but it probably won't. I will stick with it to then end because I am too invested to give it up.


New Shows

The only new shows i think are worth watching this season are Caprica, V, and Flash Forward. And only Flash forward has started airing. I saw the pilot and I was impressed. This show has been given the title as the "next LOST" however, those are very big shoes to fill. It has me intrigued so I am going to give it a shot. For anyone who doesn't know the show is: "Everyone on Earth blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds and sees a glimpse of themselves on the same day, at the same time, in the future."

Couger Town is exactly what the name suggests. I saw the pilot for the same reason people rubber neck in traffic. I wanted to see the carnage of a train wreck. And there was plenty of it. The show is a comedy but with out a laugh track I am unsure which parts are supposed to be funny. There is a scene where her son walks in while she is blowing some guy and the only thing I could think is YUCK! That being said i will give Courtney Cox credit. she is 45 playing a 40 year old but looks young enough to pass for mid 30's in my opinion. I don't see this show making it a full season.

That's it for this week...
Next week ... A taste of Ajax and a dinner party.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend getaway

So last weekend my wife and I went to visit my cousins in Michigan. As i have mentioned in previous posts I have 2 cousins in Michigan that I am really close to. When we were smaller my family went to Michigan often and their family came to Toronto often. Now however, things are different. All 3 of us own homes, 2 of us are married and 1 of them doesn't even actually live in Michigan any more. He moved to Washington for a government job. Can't say I blame him, considering the state of the Michigan economy. Anyway, my cousins Mike's daughter was having her first birthday last week so my wife and i thought we would make the trip up of the party they were throwing for her.

It was nice I have a lot of family in Michigan and most of them came to the party. The point I am getting at is that it really struck me how fast time goes. I have such clear memories of being 12 years old and going to Michigan with my family and staying up late and playing video games until all hours of the night with my cousins. Now we are all grown ups with homes and marriages and one of us even has a kid. It makes you wonder just where in the hell all the time went. Next thing you know I will be entering the dirty thirties. YUCK!

Next week... FALL TV.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

G.I. Joe

So i went to see this movie on Saturday. I have been meaning to see it for weeks but something always came up. My expectations for the movie were pretty low because outside of transformers this was probably the worst reviewed movie of the summer. Also, unlike most kids of the 80's I was never really a big fan of the cartoon. I think I have probably only watch 5 or 6 episodes in my life.

All that being said ... I really liked this movie. It was much better than I thought it would be. The plot was more coherent than many summer action movies. The acting was decent or at least on par for the genre. And the action was very intense and over the top. Just the way I like it.

I was basically expecting and earth bound version Starship Troopers but with a larger budget. What I got was a really fun summer popcorn flick. I can't speak on how true it stayed to the source material because as I said I am not really a fan of the original but if that doesn't concern you then I recommend this movie.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Car

So a few weeks ago my car died on me. I much as it hurts me to admit this buying that car was a colossal mistake. I 100% bought style over substance. I saw the tan leather interior and sunroof and I was hooked. The truth is i should have looked harder. It was a GM car and it already and 123K when I bought it. I bought it at a little used car dealer and he never really fixed all the things he said he was going to fix before i picked up the car. I spent a substantial amount of money each year just to keep it on the road and it still needed a lot of work. So far this year i had spent just under 2k in repairs. A few weeks ago i took it in and the mechanic gave me a list of all the things wrong with it. He told me I was actually looking at a bill around $2500 to fix everything. At that point i was just really fed up with the whole thing and decided it was time for a change.

I knew i wanted my new car to be an import. I was thinking either Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. Probably an 05 of both of those cars. But then I started to look at the Hyundai Sonata i really liked what i saw. I could could get one younger with less mileage for thousands less than the Nissan or Honda. Ultimately what I settled on was a Kia Magentis. Hyundai owns Kia and the Magentis is really just a re-badged version of the Sonata. A few years ago i would never have considered this but I figured i am going to be starting a family soon and all I really need is a low mileage low maintenance care. Since the warranty is full up to 100k or 5 years I am safe for at least another few years. All i really do is drive back and forth to the GO train and I don't need to have the fanciest car in the GO train parking lot.

One thing i want to mention is that a lot of the smaller used car dealerships do not let you take a test drive anymore. I went to a few places that required me to essentially buy the car before I was allowed to take a test drive. They also wanted a $500 deposit before you can drive it. I had no interest in buying a car I haven't driven so I said no. We ended up buying from an authorized Hyundai dealership. I might have paid a little more but the piece of mind i got was worth it. Also, unlike my previous car I am sure that this car was fixed to spec before I ultimately drove it off the lot.

We ended up placing an add on auto trader and sold my old car for $1300 as is. I consider since it has multiple previous owners, is 10 years old, has 200k in mileage, a major accident, and is still in need of major repairs, the money i got for it was more than reasonable. The dealer had only offered me about $400 on a trade in so i was happy with what i got. I hope the new owner treats it well. Although the car caused me a lot of aggravation it was still my first car and I think i will always remember it fondly.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy anniversary to me

Well, it's been a while since I posted but i have had good reason. I think the last month and a half has been just about the busiest 45 days of my life. Home ownership is a lot of work. I don't know if it is possible to realize just how much work it is until you actually own a home.

I will leave the home ownership post for later because yesterday was my anniversary and that's more important. On Aug 16th 2008 i got married, So my wife and I have survived our first year together. I have heard that the first and 7th years are supposed to be the hardest so I am very pleased with this accomplishment.

Since we have had to spend a substantial amount of money in the past few months (buying the house and making renovations), we decided to keep our anniversary gifts to each other fairly simple. What also did was go on a short Mariposa cruise down on the lake front. The served a nice brunch and we cruised the city. It's a nice low cost alternative that I would recommend to anyone. Other than that we just enjoyed the day.

I have a lot to update everyone on but it will have to wait until next week because I am running late for work.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My New House

Well sorry for missing last week. And I am going to warn this weeks post is also going to be extremely short. The reason for that is that I am now officially a homeowner. I am been non stop busy trying to get the house ready. The house is structurally sound the problems are all cosmetic. The biggest problem so far are paint colors. Most of the interior of the house was painted a very ugly sun burnt orange. So the wife and I have been painting non stop since we got the keys. We spend all day there on the weekend and we go up there every night after work and paint until about 10:30pm. There is not a single wall in the house that we could leave as is. Every thing was wrong. I think one of the main reasons we got the price we did is because of the decor. Houses with similar layouts on the same street have a list price of about 17k more than ours. We also had a new front load washer and dryer delivered on Saturday. And we went to pick out our new granite counter tops as well. We hope to have those in around 3 to 4 weeks. Our new hardwood floors are being delivered Wednesday and installed on Friday. So between then and now we have to finish painting upstairs and remove all the carpet. We only have to put one more coat of paint on one room upstairs and we will be done. Except for a little touch up work.

I hope that the next time I post i will be able to post some pictures.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation

So a few weeks ago I went to see Terminator Salvation (T4). There were a lot of people out there that believe the series should have stopped after the 2nd movie. I am not one of them. I thought T3 was as good as either of the originals. In addition with the casting of Christian Bale as "John Conner" I thought the series had a chance to break new ground because there was finally a protagonist who looked physically like he could be the leader of the world.

Overall I would give the movie a B+. So it was pretty good but not really epic. I would put it below Wolverine and Star trek in terms of other action movies I have seen this summer. The action was decent but I knew where the story was going before it even got there. Also, i felt that the John Conner character took somewhat of a back seat to the "Marcus Wright" character. Which doesn't make much sense to me. They spent 3 movies building up John Conner and spent money to get Christian Bale only to have him take a back seat to a poor mans Arnold. The movie has done okay at the box office but a sequel is not a sure thing. If they do another then I hope to story is more focused and I hope the focus is where it should be.

Next Week ... My new house!

PS. Chris if you are reading this, where the hell are you? You haven't had a new blog post up in 3 months! Are you still alive?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Season Finales

This post is long over Due.

Prison Break

This was the series end for this show. I was glad to see it come to an end. It has always had a fairly sill premise but this last season is where the show really jumped the shark. It just made no sense on any level anymore. So I was glad to see it go. The ending itself was good except for the fate of one of the characters. It made very little sense.

Heroes

This show basically had one good season (The first season). I think it has been coasting on that success ever since. The show picked up a little bit with the last 2 episodes but overall it pretty much stunk. I am too invested to quit now but I am really hoping that things improve drastically.

Battlestar Gallactica

This was the series finale for one of the best sci-fi shows ever. It had tons of action and character moments. There were a few decisions I didn't agree with but overall I think it went out on a high note.

24

This season has been up and down for me. It was never as bad as last season but it was still not as good as previous years. Needless to say Jack stopped the terrorists and saved the day but that was never really in doubt. I question where they will go from here because the character is aging and should probably not be on the front lines anymore.

LOST

What can a say about the best show on TV. This season was damn close to perfect. There was not a single episode that I did not like. This has easily been the best season since the first. There was a new revelation every single episode. I think since the writers know that they only have a certain amount of episodes left to tell the story it has made them much more focused. The show took a stronger step into the realm of sci fi this season by adding time travel. While this is something that I am sure will and probably did turn off some viewers to me it was excellent. The only thing i really want to happen is for Jack to just tell Kate to go to hell so he can move on with his life. But that is a small complaint. I really can't say enough good things about this show this season. I look forward to next year and the conclusion to a really great story.


Next week... Terminator Salvation and Games Night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Trek and Long Weekend

So last week I went to see the new star trek movie. Even though i am not a huge fan of the original series I have been a fan of the franchise for most of my life. I thought the last movie was decent even if most of the critics hated it. I thought the movie was very good. From beginning to end it moved at a very rapid speed. I also think they did a good job in making the movie accessible to non-star trek fans. I don't think my wife has watched and episode of any star trek series in her life but she did seem to enjoy this movie almost as much as I did.

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There is one thing that bothered me. That is the destruction of Vulcan. If the federation is a representation of the UN then earth would be the US and Vulcan would be Britain. You can't just blow up the second most important world in the star trek universe. I was very surprised and somewhat disappointed that they decided to do that. To the non fan I am sure it makes no difference but to a long time fan it was shocking.


Long Weekend,



So we did two things this weekend. On Saturday we went to buffalo for the day to do some shopping. My wife bought a few things and I bought a sweater. Thankfully the lines at the border were not too bad.

On Monday we went for a drive up in Ajax. We just wanted to get another look at our new house and figure out where other things are. We drove to the gym which was much better looking that I had thought it would be. It's about a 10-15 minute drive which i guess is not too bad. I have been spoiled a bit by living where I currently live such that everything is within 5 minutes. We also drove to the grocery stores and the GO station. They were also fairly close. While we were there we went into a few show homes that were being built. It seems that our model of house is not being built anymore. What I mean by that is slightly under 2000 square feet with 2 car garage. It appears that now if you want a 2 car garage you have to be willing to go up to at least 2300 square feet or more plus about 40k more that we paid for our house. I think our house is a better starter house. I have been parking outside for as long as I have owned a car and I am sick of it. I am tired of having to clean snow off my car and I don't ever want to have to do it in the morning ever again. The main reason we went into the show homes was to get some decorating ideas. We didn't really see anything that we liked though so we will have to keep looking.

That's it for this week.

Next week ... Season Finales.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Death

Unfortunately a cousin of mine passed away recently. Even more unfortunate were the circumstances surrounding her death. It has actually attracted some media attention here in the city so if you have access to Toronto news you may have seen it. The news stories are linked below.

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_34063.aspx

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090427/national/swine_flu_stranded_cdn

http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/canada/article/219757--ontario-man-claims-dying-wife-stranded-in-mexico-over-unfounded-swine-flu-fears


You may notice that the family wedding used in some of the pictures is actually my wedding.

Basically what happened is that she went down to Mexico for a vacation and had a very severe asthma attack. The doctors didn't want to let her in to hospitals here in Toronto because of fears of the swine flu. However, as i stated above she did not have swine flu she just had a very severe asthma attack. My understanding is that getting into a hospital here would not have saved her life. Her family just wanted to get her back here so that all of the family could say goodbye. They were eventually able to get her into a hospital in Peterborough. I believe she passed away peacefully within 24 hours of being back in Ontario. My wife and i took last Thursday off and attended her funeral. It was a very sad occasion. Her father and husband were in pretty bad shape understandably. It's hard when someone so young goes. She is actually less than a year older than I am. I can't say that we were extremely close because we were not but she is still my cousin and it still came as a huge shock to me what happened to her.

Well, that's it for this week.

Next week... Star Trek

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

So i saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine on the weekend. I am a big comic book fan and this is the only comic book movie that is coming out this summer. Overall I thought the movie was okay but nothing really spectacular. They didn't reinvent the wheel or anything. There are some comic fans that are going to say that this movie strays to far from the source material. However, I am not one of them. I think you stay as true to the material as you can but i don't think you let it tie your hands. I will give example of good changes and bad changes in comic book movies.

Good
Wolverine doesn't wear yellow spandex
Iron man doesn't mention the Mandarin directly
Lucius Fox knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

Bad
The joker kills Batman's parents
General Zod breaths in space, shoots beams out of his hands and superman flies backwards around the world to reverse time.

So overall i would recommend this movie to people who are fans of the genre and of action in general. If you are looking for some deeper meaning I suggest you look elsewhere.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My House

So the home inspection was last Friday and everything went well. There were no issues to speak of. The only thing the inspector pointed out was that the house was pretty dirty. The current owners have only been there a year so i guess they knew they were moving and figured why bother cleaning the place. There were no foundation or roof issues. Also he saw no signs of leaks. He did mention that the filter in the furnace was filthy and that we should have our furnace serviced and cleaned. He also said we should have the air ducts cleaned because judging by the current condition of the house it has probably never been done. We hadn't thought of having these services but they are good ideas so we are going to do them. The interior was a little smaller than i remember but that's OK. I think everyone has to start somewhere and I think this is a good place for us to start. If in the future we feel we need bigger then we will get bigger. But for now this will do.

On Saturday we went to see our mortgage broker at the bank. We were initially going to make a larger down payment but she advised against it. We are still paying over the 20% needed to avoid the penalty but we were going to pay 25%. Since it doesn't make any substantial difference in our monthly payments we will stick to the 20%. If we have money left over at the end of the year we will make lump sum payments our increase our monthly. We haven't signed the papers yet she suggests leaving that until closer to the close date (June 26th).

So that's it. and as promised here are the pictures of the house.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Buying a home

So we almost have ownership of our first home. I will go back and start at the beginning. We have been looking for homes in Ajax for weeks probably close to a month now. In fact we have actually put in several offers on a few homes at this point.

House 1

The first offer we put in was for the house listed in the picture of an earlier post. We put in what we thought was a fair offer. In fact the house was only 3 yrs old and our offer was for close to 20k more than they paid for the house when they bought it. I will admit that it was 20k less than their asking price. I think the seller has a right to make a profit. However, if you do the math from my previous sentences you will see that they were expecting to make over 40k in 3 years. Well after we made our offer the sellers agent got back to us and said that there was another offer on the table and we had to come back with our best offer. So we did and our offer was 5k less than their asking price. Then the sellers' agent comes back and says that the other offer beat us by 1k but we could counter offer. Just so we are clear, this is not allowed. The way it is supposed to work is that the seller takes the higher offer between to two of us and moves on. What the selling agent did in this case was go back and forth between us creating a bidding war. When it got to the point that we were at the asking price for the house we bowed out. We liked the home but we didn't think it was worth what they were asking and we didn't like the idea of paying 40k more than someone did as recently as 3 years ago. Also, this was a basic house, they made no upgrades to justify the substantial price increase they were asking. So, we were disappointed to lose the house but happy that we didn't over pay.

House 2

We found a bank foreclosure in the same general area as the previous house. It was in great shape and since it was a power of sale we thought we would get a great price. The problem was that the bank was taking forever to respond to our offer. Our contract always said that they had only 24 hours to counter. They took 3 days and they only took 2k off their asking price. Well we went back and forth this way for 2 weeks before they were getting close to a price we were comfortable with. However, by that point we had moved on to other homes.

House 3

This was the only older home we bid on. We actually bid on it because House 2 was taking forever and a day to give us a response. This was easily the largest house we saw and had the most land. It appears that most of the newer homes we saw were built on much smaller lots. This house was very large and the basement was finished incredibly well. We were kind of taken in by the size and some of the finishes. So we put in an offer. However, after we put in the offer we started to add up all the work we would have to put into this home. The house was built in the mid 80's. It had all original windows and the original roof. We figured that by the time we fixed all of this we would be in 20k-25k. I don't mind a bit of a fixer upper but this is more than I had in mind. So, we pulled our offer. The seller was so desperate that they came back after we said we were no longer interested and offered 15K less than their original asking price. But by this point we were sure that we didn't want this house.

House 4

On the same street as house number 2 there was another house we liked. However, we thought we would not be able to get them down to a price we liked since they had already lowered their listed price by 10k, so to get them to come down more seemed unlikely. However, since the bank was taking forever to get back to us we decided to use the time to give it a try. I mean what the hell, the worse they can do is say no. So we put in an offer on Friday. They came back on Saturday with a one time final offer. Their offer was for 2k more than what we thought would be our high. However, this was a nicer house than I think anything else we had really been interested in. Also, the close date was June 26th as opposed to the June 1st closing date we wanted. Still, we decided to take their offer. This house had 4 bedrooms and everything else we were looking at had only 3. This house also had laundry on the upper floor and a stainless steel appliance package. There are hardwood floors on the first floor and carpet upstairs. We are going to examine our budget and if we have enough left over we are going to change the carpet to matching hardwood floors. We made the deposit today and we have our home inspection scheduled for Thursday. So as long as everything checks out with the inspection then by this weekend we will be able to say that we are homeowners. :)

Pictures will follow after the house passes inspection and it becomes ours.

That's it for this week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cut Backs at work

So there were massive cutbacks at work this week. But I survived and I am still employed. It was a pretty shocking series of events. Basically I came in Tuesday and people started getting fired. I didn't realize what was going on until one of my co-workers came over and told me. I then started to walk around the office and I noticed that more than a few offices were now empty. My boss's boss called a lunch meeting for the team to tell us what was going on. She gave a speech, most of which i can't remember, and basically said that management above her head called for greater cut backs than they were already making. In all 13 people were let go from my floor and 1 person from my direct team. I was on a friendly level with at least 3 of the former employees. It is going to be very weird not having them around the office. This whole situation was just a very eye opening experience for me. In my head I know that large companies have no loyalty and are only concerned with the bottom line. However, this is the first time I have seen it in action. These people have lives and families they have to support and now they are on the unemployment line.

I am going to spend some time in the coming weeks working on fixing up my resume. I think I am relatively safe. The work i do is not really done by anyone else in the company. So there is no redundancy in my job. As a consequence getting rid of me means getting rid of that type of work all together. So I think I have a little bit of security, but then again who the hell knows. Either way I am not worried. I think i have marketable skills and experience that would allow me to find a new job fairly quickly. I was actually contacted by a recruiter early this week for a job that pays 20% more than my current salary. That being said I am not looking to leave my current job just yet. I like where I work and I generally like what I do. But it is nice to know I have options.

Next week ... Putting an offer on a house.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

House Hunting

So my wife and i have been going house shopping the last few weeks. It has been fun and stressful at the same time. We have been all over the place with regards to where we want to go. At first my thought was move out to Ajax. Most of my office doesn't live in Toronto. They live outside (Brampton, Ajax, Whitby, Oakville, and Mississauga) and take the go train. Because of that I thought that I might do that too. Then I started to calculate the cost of taking the go train plus the fact that property taxes are higher in Ajax and and i got worried and figured maybe i better stick with Toronto. So on Saturday my wife and I went to look at a few properties in Toronto. The results were very depressing. We went to see 4 houses. They were all unappealing. The first one was the only where it looked like the owners took the the time to stage the house. The rest were pure Shit.

House 2

Going into it I had high hopes for this home. It was the only one in our price range that had a 2 car garage. It was located just south of steeles near McCowan. I have always said that in Scarborough if you are going to live east McCowan you have to live north of Finch. So this was an area I was satisfied in. However, soon after we arrived at the house I quickly became unsatisfied. The house had some of the ugliest pink carpets I have ever seen. The kitchen was also much smaller than it looked in the pictures. It didn't have a dishwasher and there was no room to put one if we wanted to later. However, these are issues I felt i could live with for a while. What I could not live with was upstairs. There was no master ensuite. I want a bathroom in the master bedroom. This is something that I am not willing to compromise on. 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom for the entire house is not enough.

House 3

Very Bad!

House 4

Even worse.

Something happened in this house that i will remember for as long as I am alive. We were walking through the upstairs when I peaked in the bathroom. What i saw was a toilet with a load of SHIT floating in PISS. Needless to say I was completely appalled. I mean as a seller if you know you have potential buyers coming to look at your house don't you want to take the time to at least flush the damn toilets and clean the place up a bit.

Anyways after this fiasco we have decided to give Ajax another shot. We have a meeting on Saturday with our Realtor and he is going to show us some homes.

Just for comparison sake see below




And just so you know the houses are approximately the same price. WOW!

Next week ... Issues at work.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tyler Perry Movies

So a few weeks a go I saw the movie Meet the Browns. It is a Tyler Perry movie.

I have never been a big fan of this guys movies. I am happy to see a black producer be a success because quite frankly there are not that many of them. That being some of his stuff is just plain stupid. Consider this clip below.




What the hell is funny about this. This show allowed him to secure $200 million contract with TBS. On the one hand I say good for him. On the other hand this show is a piece of shit. I sat through a few episodes of this show but I couldn't take any more. Now I don't want to be too harsh on this. I mean it's not as bad as this ...



Anyways... That's it for this week ...

Next Week ... House Hunting.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Software Developers at work

So i have been having some issues with the IT guys at work. I don't write software or even work in IT anymore but I still have a lot of interactions with them. Basically when we put together a program at work I act as the project manager and work with the Business Analyst and the software developers to get the job done. In the past few weeks one of the projects that I have been managing has under gone extreme delays. One of the requirements changed recently (my fault) and the Dev team has said this will add an extra five days to the delivery date. I know that they are padding that. There is no way that this should take five days. Basically we are asking them to add an extra field to the table and exclude certain records. In simple terms this is what i am asking.

Existing

SELECT a,b,c
FROM table

New

SELECT a,b,c,d
FROM table
WHERE a not in (x,y,z)

It is a little more complicated than that but not much. I am very unhappy about this situation. Since I was a developer for a number of years I have some allegiance to them but I don't like that they are padding the estimate this much. I know they are dealing with a lot of red tape down there. I also know that the QA process takes a long time but this is just silly. Part of me just wants to say give me a desk and I'll write the damn thing myself but that would open a can of worms I don't want to get into.

Next week ... Tyler Perry Movies

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Color Purple

On Saturday night my wife and I went to go see the color purple the musical. I haven't been to a play since I was in elementary school. And i don't think I have ever been to a musical before. I thought it was a really good performance. I have never read the book or seen the movie so this play was my first time viewing the material. I found it to be a little depressing at times. Quite frankly any book, movie, or play set in that time frame (early 1900s) is going to be pretty depressing. However, the singing was really amazing. I was assured that they were not lip syncing but it really just sounded to good to believe. I think just about every person in the play should get a record deal.

Overall it was a nice night out. The tickets were not too expensive ($40 each) so we were able to have a good time without breaking the bank. We like to try to get out and do something fun every so often. I am clearly at a point in my life where saving needs to be a priority but I think it is important to remember that life is meant to be lived and that it is necessary to get out of the house and do something fun just for yourself sometimes.

That's it for this week.

Next Week... Developers at work.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Career Planing and other stuff.

So let's deal with the obvious, last week was the first week of the year that I didn't have a post up. I have no good excuse for it. It was family day last weekend. For my American readers, family day is a new public holiday created last year. Basically there were no holidays between Jan 1st and Easter. Since that is almost 4 months the government created a new holiday for February. The wife and i went to the auto show on the day. It was nice. I have wanted to go for the last few years but we never got around to it. I am not really a car guy in that I don't ever really see myself spending tons of money on what I drive but it was still fun to look. Below are some of the cooler car pics.







Career Planing

So i had my meeting with my manager 2 weeks ago. Overall I think it went fairly well. She gave me a pretty positive review. She said that I have a very even temperament. Meaning that I don't let things frustrate me and that I just try to focus on what needs to be accomplished regardless of what obstacles are in my way. The one thing she says I need to improve on is communicating my work load. My habit so far is to kind of just work on what I am assigned and not complain. The problem is that if too many ad-hoc requests come up then other assignments get pushed to the side. What i need to work on is communicating when I am going to have to push other work to the side to work on some request that has come up. Unfortunately, there are issues with in the bank. Although our line of business (online brokerage) is doing okay the business as a whole is not doing so great. There have been a lot of cut backs and they have announced that the annual pay increases are not happening this year. Needless to say no one in our department was pleased to hear that. I have been told that the annual increases were never that much anyway. As long as our year end bonuses are not effected then everything should be okay. We will still get our bonuses as long as we meet our numbers for the year. So we'll see how it goes this year.

Next Week ... CSC

Monday, February 9, 2009

Visiting Relatives

So I have been married for just under six months now. I am still working on finding the right balance of new life vs old life. What I mean by that it deciding how much or how often to visit my parents. As of now i see my parents about twice a month. I go over around every other weekend unless something else comes up. I call at least once a week to check in and make sure they are doing okay. I wonder if that is enough or too much. I am not really sure. On the one hand if I had left the city or moved out of the country they would only see me a few times per year. However, I didn't do any of those things. I only actually live about 15-20 minutes from their house so it's not really a fair comparison. I went to see them yesterday, it was a good visit but my father was a little under the weather. It's funny because when I lived there I would have known about this immediately but now that i don't i only find out about it when i happen to stop by. Now lets be clear it not like he was on his death bed or anything, he just has a cold and will take a couple days off and feel better again but it's still a little weird to find out days after it happens.

Another thing that is strange it ringing the door bell. I lived there for 28 years and I still have the key to the house on my key chain. However, I don't live there any more and it does feel strange to just walk in. They say i should just use the key and I do but i always ring the bell a few times before I turn the lock. I know it's strange but it seems like the right thing to do.

So I am asking ... what is the right amount of time to visit?

That's it for this week.

Next week ... Career planing (I have been putting this post off because my meeting with my manager keeps getting rescheduled)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sports Weekend

This was a really crazy sports weekend. The was the Australian open finals. UFC 94 and of course the Superbowl.

Australian open

I was 50% happy with the results. Serena Williams won and Rodger Federer lost. I have had my differences with Serena. At times I think she doesn't display the most sportsman like behavior. That being said I always root for her and want her to win. She has won the last 2 grand slams now so she is really on a role. As for Roger he just couldn't get it done. As much as I hate to admit it Rafa is the better player at this point. He has simply beat him in too many matches for me to draw any other conclusion.

UFC

I didn't watch it. I have never been the biggest UFC fan but i have been getting into it more and more over the last few months. I was looking forward to the GSP fight because I have never seen him and I hear he is one of the best pound for pound guys.

Superbowl

This was a fantastic Superbowl. The game itself was intense from beginning to end. I am not really a fan of either team so i didn't have a horse in this race but it still was a lot of fun to watch. The commercials were also great and the had the trailers for 3 of the summers most anticipated movies. See below.








Next week ... Career planning

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Barack Obama is the new POTUS

On Tuesday Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America. Back in April I wrote this post. At the time I said I thought he had a chance of winning the election and now he has won and been sworn in. I don't speak much of politics on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to document what is going on in my day to day life. I am not a politician so I don't see much point in discussing politics here.

If you asked most black people (myself included) as recently as 5 years ago if we thought it was possible that a black person would be elected president in their life times the answer would be no way. I am a fairly optimistic guy but I just didn't see the concept of a black president as possible. I am not saying the whole country is racist because I don't believe it is. However I did figure that the percent of citizens who are racist was large enough to prevent this from ever happening. Well Barack proved me and a hell of a lot of other people wrong.

I listened to most of the proceedings on my computer at work. However, when he was about to be sworn in I went downstairs to the main lobby of my building (First Canadian Place) to watch it on the jumbo screen. There were hundreds of people there. I was very surprised by the crowds.

I don't know if I really have much more to say. I just wanted to say congratulations to the new president and wish him luck because he certainly has his work cut out for him.

That's it for this week.

Next week ... Issues at work and procrastination.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mid Season TV

As i have mentioned many times before I am a big TV fan. This week is when a lot of my favorite shows are finally coming back. I start with the biggest one first.

LOST

After an incredibly long lay-off, what I think is the best drama on television is finally back. This is my review of last season. Simply put I thought last season was the best season since the first. I have very high expectations for the upcoming season. The producers have announced that the show is ending next year so really there are only about 36 episodes left in this show. It means that a lot of loose ends are going to have to be tied up this season. I am so glad that I stuck it out with this show. I know a lot of people jumped off the wagon at the end of season two and beginning of season 3. So much has happened since then and the writers and producers have really made an attempt to address these concerns.

HEROES

This show is coming off of two back to back incredibly stupid seasons. I am very close to giving up on it. The decision making of the characters is beyond stupid and it is just very difficult to understand the motivations of any of the characters. The show comes back in early February but I am not exactly dying with anticipation for the return of this show. I will watch it because at this point i am too invested to pull the plug but my guess is that if there are not drastic improvements this show will not be around next year.

24

This show started last week. And so far it is pretty good. They have shown 4 episodes plus the TV movie that aired in the fall. There have been some pretty drastic changes so far. This has always been a show that had no problem with the concept of killing supporting characters but they may have gone to far this time. Basically there are only 4 characters back this season from previous seasons. The characters are also working outside of the government and the concept of 4 people against the government and the terrorists may be a little too much to swallow for me.

Battlestar Galactica

I am a huge fan of this show. I have seen every episode multiple times. My only real beef with this show is that the network likes to put to much time in between seasons. They have split the last 2 seasons into 2 ten episode mini seasons. I know they do this because it is the most popular show on the sci-fi network but it really pisses off the fans to have to wait a year between mid season breaks. That being said the first of the last ten aired 2 days ago and it was really good. There were a few really good twists and a supporting character died. It's always good when a show is willing to part with a supporting character because it lets the viewer aware of the seriousness of the situation the characters are in. A show can kill too many characters (see 24 above) but i think BSG has handled death very well.

Smallville

Another of my favorites. As everyone knows I am a huge comic fan. This season the show has new writers and they have made a real effort to use as much of the DC comics library as possible. Rumor has it that this is the last season and if so i must say they are really going out on a high note.

Prison Break

This show doesn't come back until spring. It has also been announced that the episodes airing in spring will be the last. I like the show but as i mentioned in an earlier post this show really should have ended 2 seasons ago.

That's it for this week.

Next week ... Barack Obama

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Books

So I have actually been meaning to write this post for weeks. For 2008 the jobs i have worked have allowed me to take the bus to work as opposed to driving. Since I don't like to read the free magazines or newspapers available i have been making use of the library. I have read more books in the past year than in the previous 10. Below is a list of the books i have read, it is in comma separated format. If it is difficult to read copy and past in to a notepad file. Name the file something.csv and open it in MS Excel.

Title,Author,Subject,Month,GoodBad
Echo Park,Michael Connelly ,Cop,April,Good
Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks,Mick Foley,Biography,April,Good
The Third Option,Vince Flynn,Spy,April,Good
Hitman : my real life in the cartoon world of wrestling,Brett Hart,Wrestling,August,Good
The Vixen Diaries,Karrine Steffans,Biography,Feb,Bad
"A Time for War, A Time for Peace (Star Trek)",Keith R. A. DeCandido,Sci-Fi,Feb,Average
Superman: The Never-Ending Battle (Justice League of America),Roger Stern ,Comic,Feb,Average
Transfer of Power,Vince Flynn,Spy,Feb,Good
The Broker,John Grisham,Law,July,Average
Crime beat : a decade of covering cops and killers,Michael Connelly ,Cop,July,Bad
The WrestleCrap book of lists!,R. D. Reynolds,Wrestling,July,Bad
Hollywood Tough (Shane Scully Novels),Stephen J. Cannell,Cop,July,Good
Act of treason,Vince Flynn,Spy,July,Good
Protect And Defend,Vince Flynn,Spy,July,Good
*52,Greg Cox,Comic,June,Bad
Separation of Power,Vince Flynn,Spy,June,Good
Executive Power ,Vince Flynn,Spy,June,Good
Memorial Day,Vince Flynn,Spy,June,Good
Consent to kill,Vince Flynn,Spy,June,Good
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Death in Winter,Michael Jan Friedman,Sci-Fi,Mar,Average
The Death of WCW: WrestleCrap and Figure Four Weekly Presents . . .,R. D. Reynolds,Biography,March,Average
"Juiced : wild times, rampant 'roids, smash hits, and how baseball got big ",Jose Canseco,Biography,May,Good
Ric Flair: To Be the Man,Ric Flair,Biography,May,Good
The tin collectors,Stephen J. Cannell,Cop,May,Good
Three shirt deal : a Shane Scully novel ,Stephen J. Cannell,Cop,May,Good
The Stone Cold Truth,Steve Austin,Biography,May,Good
Term limits,Vince Flynn,Spy,May,Good
Blood work ,Michael Connelly ,Cop,September,Good
The poet   ,Michael Connelly ,Cop,September,Good
The appeal,John Grisham,Law,September,Bad
A darkness more than night,Michael Connelly ,Cop,September,Good
"It's no secret : from Nas to Jay-Z, from seduction to scandal, a hip-hop Helen of Troy tells all",Carmen Bryan,Biography,October,Good
"Physics of the impossible : a scientific exploration into the world of phasers, force fields, teleportation, and time travel",Michio Kaku,Science,October,Good
At first sight : a novel of obsession,Stephen J. Cannell,Mystery,October,Good
Off the books : the underground economy of the urban poor,Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh,Social Science,November,
The Lincoln lawyer,Michael Connelly ,Law,November,Good
Donnie Brasco : unfinished business : shocking declassified details from the FBI's greatest undercover operation and a bloody timeline of the fall of the mafia,Joseph D. Pistone,Biography,November,Good
Resistance (Star Trek),"Dillard, J. M. (Jeanne M.)",Sci-Fi,November,Average
Extreme measures,Vince Flynn,Spy,November,Good
American project : the rise and fall of a modern ghetto,Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh,Social Science,October,Average
"Gangsters and goodfellas : the mob, witness protection, and life on the run ",Henry Hill,Crime,December,Average
Before dishonor (Star Trek),Peter David,Sci-Fi,December,Average
The burglar on the prowl ,Lawrence Block,Mystery,December,Good
The brass verdict,Michael Connelly ,Law,December,Good

That is a total of 45 books. Most of these are novels but I have been trying to add in some more non-fiction over that past few months. My new favorite author is Vince Flynn. I have read all nine of his books this year. His writing is pure adrenaline. Reading the books is like watching an action movie. He puts out a new book every year and I can't wait until the next one.

Another Author i like is Michael Connelly, I have read 7 of his books this year and they were all great. Most of his books are crime related and characters from differnt novels interact. It's really cool when the main character from a previous novel turns up as a supporting or bit character in a new novel.

My goal is to get 50 books read in 2009. It might be tough because that would be damm close to a book a week. But i am going to give it a try.

Next week ... Crazy at work.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Goals and resolutions for 2009

Well, it's 2009 and that means it's time for reflection. To do that lets look back at last years resolutions

"At the beginning of 2008 I weighed 210 lbs. My goal is to be between 180-185 by the beginning of 2009."

On January 1 2009 my weight was exactly 185 pounds. So on the surface of it would appear that this is a success. However, i am only putting it as a mild success. I am without question in the best shape i have been in in at least 7 years. I haven't weighed this little since high school. That being said there is still room for improvement. I am much toner but i could be better. Also, i have reached a bit of a plateau in improvements in the last four months. In that time my weight has fluctuated between 183 - 187. I am going to be changing my workout routine my hope is to really hit it hard for the next 4 months and see what results i can get.


"My next goal is about my career. Basically I want progress. I am not really sure how to define and describe this. It's not just money, although I would be lying if I said that is not part of it. I want to be in charge of larger projects as opposed to just being a worker on them."


Well, I got a new job 8 months ago so this seems to be a success. I am still part of a team but i am responsible for leading a variety of projects. As such i am saying this a success.

"The biggest change for me in the upcoming year is going to be my marriage. However, this is not a resolution and I am not sure if I view the success of my wedding or marriage as a goal."

I am 4 months in and i have no complaints.

2009 Goals

1) weight Loss

I had hoped this would be the year where I would have no weight resolutions. As mentioned above I am close but I am not quite there yet. In terms of weight I think I would like to lose 5-10lbs. Also, just generally tone up overall.

2) Education

I graduated from York University in Spring 03. I graduated from Seneca College in Spring 04. In summer 06 i took a course in MS SQL Server but it was not a certificate program. It's 2009 now so the education portion of my resume has been essentially stagnant for almost 5 years. I hope to change that this year. There are two certifications i am considering for this year. The first is the Project Management Professional (PMP). My actual job title is already project manager. So obviously I don't need this certification to do my job. However, I do think this is a certification that will be nice to have. It is clearly not a deal breaker, by that i mean it is not something that will ultimately determine whether or not a get a job or a promotion. However, it does not require a huge commitment from me or a large financial commitment. So, I am going to pursue it.

The next certification that i am interested in is the Canadian Securities Course. I work for a financial institution. Again since I already have the job this is obviously not a mandatory certification. I work in marketing and of the 11 people in my department only 1 other person has it and she only got it 3 weeks ago. That being said I think i like working for a bank. While i don't ever want to be a trader having the CSC on my resume would show that i have general understanding of finance that might set me apart from others applying for the type of jobs I would be interested in.

3) Blogging

Now i will deal with the elephant in the room. My blogging has taken a dramatic drop in the last few months. I have no good excuse for it so I won't make a bad one. in 2008 I wrote 38 blog posts as opposed to the 49 I wrote in 2007. I will just say that in 2009 I intend to get closer to that first number again.

That's it for this week.