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Monthly Archives: March 2012

House Hunting – Part 1

Published March 31, 2012 - 0 Comments

Technically I’ve owned a house before, but things were very much different then.  My ex’s family built us a house, and we really didn’t go through any of the joys (or frustrations) that accompany that process.  Mostly everything was handled for us.  We just showed up to sign the paperwork.  Because of that, we had fewer headaches than the average homebuyer… but we also had a much smaller voice than someone who is responsible for every detail.  If things weren’t 100% the way we wanted them, we felt that we really couldn’t make a big fuss because we were getting a substantial discount.  That wasn’t always a blessing.

Fast forward 10 years and I am once again looking at houses, although this time success or failure is fully my responsibility.  It’s kinda fun, and kinda frustrating at the same time.  I have looked at a ton of houses online (MLS is a fantastic website!), and chosen a few that I wanted to see first hand.  Almost without fail, my expectations were dashed as soon as I saw the house in person.  People seem to be very talented at taking pictures (or not taking pictures) that leave out some very glaring problems.  Sometimes I even question whether it’s the same house or not.  The only exception so far was a place that was listed for sale yet had an accepted offer in the works.  Too bad.  It was a nice little place, in a part of the city that I had never been to before, and really felt as though I had somehow stepped outside of Saint John.  The real estate agent dealing with that property promised to call if anything happened to the accepted offer.  There has been no call.  Oddly enough, there has been no call even to see if he could help locate another house.  I guess he wasn’t interested in my business.

But really none of this matters at all if I couldn’t convince the bank to cough up the money to buy a new home.  And with my previous credit difficulties, I wasn’t really sure what would happen.  Client of the Year, or no Client of the Year… my credit is in the rebuilding phase, and the real estate landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years.  Nothing was for certain.

It was time to make a call to the bank!

Another Leafs’ Season Comes to an End…

Published March 29, 2012 - 6 Comments

I’m pretty sure that I can just go back to last year and copy the same post… or the year before that.. or even the year before that… It’s not that the Leafs’ season has come to an end… but their playoff hopes certainly have.  (OK, let’s be honest… any chance of the Toronto Maple Leafs making the playoffs died long before they were “mathematically eliminated from playoff contention”)

It’s not to say that there haven’t been sparks of hope at various points throughout the season.  I can remember the day that I exclaimed to anyone who would listen “Toronto is #1 in the League!  Toronto is #1 in the League!”  Yeah… that was a good day.  I should have taken a screenshot of those standings.  As I look at the standings now, I see that Toronto is second last in the Eastern Conference.

The only consolation is that the Montreal Canadiens are in last place!

For now…

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog

Published March 17, 2012 - 3 Comments

I planned on writing this post to share another interesting fact that I recently learned… but as I was fact checking (yea, sometimes we bloggers have to do that) I noticed something else that I had never known… all this time I had been saying the titled expression wrong! I would have sworn up and down that it was The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog.  Jumped.  Past tense.  Apparently I’ve been wrong a very long time because it’s Jumps, not Jumped.  Who knew?

But the whole point behind this post is this:  Do you know why people use this phrase to begin with?  The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.  I had no idea… and maybe I’m the only one, because I know that there are people reading this who already know the answer and are thinking “Duh… how did you NOT know that?”  But it’s true.. I did not.  Until very recently.  And the answer is this:

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog is a pangram, which means that it is a sentence that uses every letter in the English language!  I had no idea.  That’s why it is used in typing practice.  It allows you to strike every key.

I think the first time I saw this phrase was during typing exercises on my trades training when I joined the military.  While everyone else wanted to be a radio operator, two of us decided to go another route.  We wanted to send messages via computer, or so we thought.  Remember teletype?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  My point is that we first had to “learn to type”, which was incredibly boring if you already knew how (albeit not 100% by the book).  This probably explained why I quickly got bored of typing that phrase over and over, and began to customize it slightly until it became “A duck is a duck.  Fuck the duck.  Cluck Cluck.”  I thought that it was pretty funny.  My sergeant instructor did not share my opinion.  Had I known then that the phrase that I was supposed to be typing was excellent practice because it used all the letters of the alphabet, I may not have been inclined to have taken creative liberties on my own.  OK, that’s probably a lie.  A duck is a duck is far more fun to write.  Besides, I was only 17.

And now you’re learned 3 things.

  1. It’s Jumps, not Jumped.
  2. A pangram is a phrase that uses all the letters of the alphabet at least once.
  3. I’ve always been something of a smart ass.

Cluck Cluck.

Fitness Update: The Ides of March

Published March 16, 2012 - 1 Comment

I discovered something interesting today… My treadmill inclines while I’m on it!

I always knew that it had a setting to increase the incline, but I’ve never been bothered with it.  I always assumed that it was something that you set prior to getting on it, and was quite surprised today when it started to incline automatically!  Then again… I think it was probably more surprised that I was even using the treadmill…  I haven’t exactly been wearing it out lately.

Rather than using the straight “manual” setting, I’ve started to experiment with some of the pre-programmed settings.  Today I did 45 mins of “weight loss” which basically alternates me through a walk and slow jog, burning a whopping 182 calories… or slightly more than a can of Coke.

Then for fun, I thought I would try something called “fat blast”.  I set it for 15 mins because I was honestly assuming that it was going to have me going on a sprint, and I didn’t think that I could handle anything like that.  But no, it maintained a steady walking pace for the duration of the program, but increased the incline every couple of minutes.  Each increase was very small, but by the 5th one, I certainly noticed the difference.  At the end of 15 mins, I had blasted away 78 calories.  Wow.  It’s amazing how quickly you can consume calories, yet after a full 60 mins on the treadmill, only 260 calories were used?  I understand that my pace isn’t exactly spectacular, but still.  Ah well.. it’s a starting point!

As I stepped onto the scale again and noticed that I was up 2 pounds since the last time, it occurred to me that I really have to make an effort to be much more consistent.  Having a good day here or there doesn’t really make a difference.  Not when a bad day can easily wipe out any progress that I’ve made.  And several bad days in a row… well… forget about it.

So I’m off to find something to eat!  I took chicken out for supper, but it isn’t nearly thawed enough, so it looks like I’ll be having that tomorrow instead.  But what to have in the meantime?  Surely there must be something reasonably healthy tucked away there somewhere…  maybe….

 

The World’s Next Great Super Power, Eh?

Published March 10, 2012 - 2 Comments

I noticed this on CNN.com the other day, and knew that I had to write something about it as soon as I watched it.  I had already heard the news that Iceland was considering adopting the Canadian Dollar as their official currency, but thought it pretty far fetched.  I still do, but after watching this little blurb did… well… maybe it does make some sense after all.  And with Stephen Harper at the helm, who knows what kind of world domination the man has his sights set on.

So look out, World…  Here we come!

Peanut Butter Prices Spike! (I don’t wanna say “I told you so” but…”)

Published March 7, 2012 - 8 Comments
Kraft-peanut-butter

Is this worth $50?

                   I TOLD YOU SO!

You all thought I was crazy, didn’t you?  Admit it… Among all the hype about the end of the world, one man standing on the lone street corner holding a sign that read “THE END (of low peanut butter prices) IS NEAR!” didn’t seem very important.  Bah..  another kook, right?  Yeah well… Have you stopped to take a look at the price of peanut butter lately?

$6.49 for a 1Kg container!  SIX DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS!

Who’s the crazy one now?

And if you think that’s as high as it’s going to go, oh no my friends… I’ve been keeping track of this for you.  (You’re welcome)  On December 31, 2011 the regular price of that same container was $4.99.  Sure, you could get it on sale, sometimes even 2 for $5.  That’s when I started my collection, which currently sits at 8 jars, and is beginning to make me a little nervous.  Then in January the price creeped up $0.50, just enough that most people wouldn’t notice.  But that’s why you have me on the job, isn’t it?  The grocery stores didn’t stop there.  Nope.  A mere few weeks later another $0.50 increase.  Your $4.99 container of peanut buttery goodness was suddenly $5.99.  No big deal, right?

Flash forward a couple more weeks, and it’s now March.  I wonder what our current price for peanut butter is?  Oh look!  Another $0.50 increase!  $6.49!  It’s like watching the price of gasoline go up, and up, and up… In fact, I’ve begun to wonder whether I’ve fallen into some alternate reality where peanut butter is the new precious commodity to hoard.  Throw your gold away, folks.  Start your own peanut garden.  Just hope that you have better luck than peanut farmers last year, who recorded a miserable crop, snowballing into the unparalleled  crisis currently facing us today.

Still think I’m crazy?  When I decided to write this post and went looking for a file photo (that you see above) I discovered it on EBay of all places.  EBay?  They don’t sell peanut butter on EBay, you’re thinking.

WRONG!

Not only do they sell peanut butter on EBay, but they sell it for a small fortune!  Check out this auction.  Don’t want to be bothered with clicking that link?  OK, how’s this sound?  $9 for 1 Kg of peanut butter.  That’s not a typo.  NINE DOLLARS.  And that’s just for the peanut butter… you still have to get it from the seller to your cupboard.  That’s gonna set you back $15 for S&H.  My math is a little rusty, but I think that comes to a grand total of $24 for a single container of peanut butter.  PEANUT BUTTER.  Oh sure… if you buy more than one, you can cut your shipping down on a per item basis… but you’re still looking at an insane total.  Even if you could magically teleport the peanut butter from the seller to your cupboard for free, that container would still cost you $9.  And yes… those prices are in US funds, so if you’re in Canada, you’re probably going to pay slightly more, depending on the day and currency market fluctuations.

So what can we do about all of this?

I think the solution is pretty clear.  Civil disobedience.  Yes, that’s right.  A new Occupy movement that targets grocery stores everywhere!  Well, just the peanut butter aisles.  Protests in the streets!  A run on the shelves, similar to the run on the banks in the 1930s.  Mass hoarding.  The right to protect your personal stash by any means necessary.  Desperate times require desperate measures.  It’s every peanut butter lover for themselves… OK, some of those ideas may in direct conflict of each other, but I think you get the idea.

The end is near…

2CELLOS And Glee

Published March 5, 2012 - 1 Comment

I’ve been a little slow getting caught up on my Glee posts lately (sorry Jan, I know how much you miss these) …

A couple of weeks ago they performed a Michael Jackson-themed show. There wasn’t really anything overly special about it for me… until I started listening again to some of the music from that episode.  Their version of Smooth Criminal was a duet duel of sorts, and I think that it worked really well. (And not simply because Santana is smokin’ hot)  But what made it even more unique was that all the music in the song comes from 2 duelling cellists (I had to look that up because apparently celloist is not a word.  Go figure.)  Check out the Glee version of the song.

That’s all fine and dandy… but then the latest Gleek, Jess, pointed out to me that the guys playing the cellos have their own thing going called 2CELLOS (Don’t hold that astounding originality against them) and have several songs on iTunes.  So I went there to check it out, and it’s quite amazing!  With or Without You.  Use Somebody.  Welcome to the Jungle.  It’s really neat to hear their take on these songs!  I ended up buying their video for Smooth Criminal.  After doing some reading, it seems that’s the song that got them first recognized, and it’s easily my favourite.  If you’re looking for something different, check this out!

Through the Drive-Thru… St Hubert Express

Published March 4, 2012 - 4 Comments

Looking for something a little different to eat before I came into work tonight, I decided to try the brand new St Hubert Express recently opened on the conveniently named Hubert St.  As a quick side note, do not fall into the trap that you can access St Hubert Express from the McAllister Mall parking lot.  It may appear that they are connected somehow… they are not.  Trust me on this.  You will be tempted to pull a U-turn, even if there are 2 marked police cars across from you.  Resist that temptation.

Since it was 5pm on a Sunday, and I was alone, I decided not to bother going into the restaurant to eat.  I suppose that I could have walk in to look around, and then gone to the take-out counter.  But I wanted to try the drive-thru.

The menu is a little pricier than Swiss Chalet’s, although you get the option of unlimited coleslaw and fountain pop.  Of course that’s only IF you are eating in the restaurant.  I’m curious whether there is any difference in pricing between the drive-thru and the restaurant.  Looking at my receipt ($14.01 after tax for a Chicken Breast meal, and extra $1 for bottled Coke) I am guessing that it’s probably no different whether you eat in or not.  That’s a little disappointing, but I’ll have to test that theory some time.

So how was it?  Well I took a picture before I started to dig in.  This is what $14.01 will get you at St Hubert.

Where's the Beef?

Impressive, isn’t it?  Actually it’s not too bad… but I still think that it costs a little more than it should.  The fries are nothing special.  The creamy coleslaw isn’t all that creamy.  The dipping sauce is good, but I think I prefer Swiss Chalet’s more.  There is half of a bun hidden under those fries, but no butter to put on it… so I dipped it in the sauce.  The chicken was good, although I question why the cutlery package does not include a knife.  Sure, those plastic utensils are garbage, but if you’re going to give me a fork.. why not a knife too?  And because it’s all pre-packaged you can’t say that they simply forgot.  That would be ok… but that’s not what happened.

All in all I would say that my first experience with St Hubert Express was relatively neutral.  By no means was it horrible… but I think a proper restaurant visit is in order before I can say with any certainty whether or not I’m impressed by its return to the Port City.

The Perfect Price to Pay For Jeans?!

Published March 1, 2012 - 4 Comments

Reading through the latest copy of Money Sense, I saw a short article about the perfect price to pay for a pair of jeans.  “If you go under $80 the fit might be off and the denim might be too thin.”

$80?  Really?

I don’t tend to buy many of my own clothes (as you can probably tell if you know me at all) but I’m pretty sure that no one has ever spent $80 on a pair of jeans for me!  The ones I’m wearing right now are from Zellers, and I think I paid $10 for them on sale.  I understand that $10 for a pair of jeans is very much at the low end of the spectrum, and I wouldn’t expect most people to want to pay so little, but I don’t really care too much about my jeans.  I’ve never been trendy, and $10 jeans work perfectly fine for me.  (Although I will say that the pocket linings tend to wear thin easily, so I can’t put change in my pockets without it falling out through my pant leg).

But even for the average person who wants to spend a little more for quality, $80 seems excessive.  But maybe that’s just me.

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