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Monthly Archives: August 2015

It’s Not the End… It’s Only the Beginning

Published August 19, 2015 - 0 Comments

Rachel-designstyle-friday-mOur family unit is about to undergo a significant change.  Jess’ 13 year old daughter will be going with her father to Ontario for a year.  Her almost 17 year old son will be moving in with us full time.  Tonight we had a little celebration in honour of Rachel.  Tomorrow morning she will get in the car… and then the countdown begins until when we see her next.  Ideally it will be during a long weekend or student break, but we won’t really know until she and her other family get settled in.

One thing’s for certain… her Mama is going to have a hard time with this.

Let’s Talk About Money: Tangerine Bank

Published August 16, 2015 - 3 Comments

27c314f8efc62c3b0b12364fe763a234Today I want to talk to you about money.  Chances are, if you’re like me, you like money.  You really like money.  And you probably never seem to have enough of it.  People who say “money can’t buy happiness” probably have too much of it.  For the rest of us, I’m sure we could find a way to be happier if we had a little more money in our bank account.

That brings me to the topic of discussion – Tangerine Bank.  What used to be known as ING Direct Canada became Tangerine in 2012 thanks to Scotia Bank purchasing good ole ING.  At the time Scotia Bank promised not to screw with Tangerine lest they have a massive mutiny of INGers jumping ship.  So other than the stupid name, Tangerine remained essentially ING Direct.

We recently received an email detailing a change that would impact me directly. Goodbye Whoops!  What’s Whoops!?  Whoops! protection is what ING Direct (and later Tangerine) called their version of overdraft protection.  It was an automatic $250 cushion for pre-authorized payments that saved you from those ridiculous $40 NSF charges that the big banks love to smack down when someone’s balance goes into the negative because of a bill payment.  I’ve seen me get dinged $40 for going $2 into the red… AND they deny the payment.  It’s ridiculous, and ING Direct knew that.  The best part about Whoops! is that it was free.  As long as you got your account into the positive within 30 days, Whoops! covered you without any cost.  Not anymore.

tangerine-logoNow we have something called “overdraft protection” (catchy, eh?) which starts at $250 and costs $5 any time you use it.  Well.. almost.  When the change was initially announced it contained few specifics, and I think that the social media backlash might have stung.  I know I was vocal (ie snarky) on Twitter.  Now that the program has been finalized, there is a caveat included that states  if you pay back the overdrawn amount on the same day, no fees or interest charges will kick in.  Call me crazy, but I think social media scored a win with this one.  

I have to be fair in this post though.  There are some benefits of the new program over the old Whoops!  I am pre-approved to a $500 overdraft, so that’s twice as much as before.  Plus it now covers any sort of payment, not only pre-approved bill payments.  No one wants to live on the negative side of their bank account, but it’s nice to know that if I need it, it’s there.  LTOpsO7J

All in all, I think Scotia Bank has done a decent job of incorporating Tangerine into their portfolio without screwing it up.  So far.  I worry about the future, and whether they will eventually just absorb Tangerine clients into the big red S.  But for now it’s pretty much business as usual, and I do appreciate being able to access my Tangerine account through any Scotia Bank ATMs.  I don’t do it often, but there were only 2 ATMs in Saint John that allowed me to withdraw cash from my ING Direct account.  Now I have access to the network of Scotia Bank ATMs, and there are considerably more of them around.

Cautiously optimistic.

Cooking Class at the Real Atlantic Super Store

Published August 14, 2015 - 2 Comments
Southern Fried Chicken, Mac ' Cheese, and Fried Greens

Southern Fried Chicken, Mac ‘ Cheese, and Fried Greens

Last night Jess and I attended a cooking class at the Real Atlantic Super Store in Saint John.  Although I’ve seen them advertised before, it’s the first time that I’ve been to one of these.  She had attended one through work a few weeks ago and loved it so much she insisted that we try it together.  So last night’s theme was Southern Hospitality.

I don’t really know much about southern cooking, and what I think I know is probably wrong.  KFC?  Not southern to southern people!  This was going to be an interesting experience.

The first thing I noticed about cooking class, is that the students don’t do any cooking.  This seemed odd to me at the beginning, but I quickly changed my mind.  We only have 2 hours to prepare a full course meal, and there’s no way that a group of people who had never done that before could pull it off.  It would be a nightmare to try to control a class like that, and I don’t think that we would get anything out of it.  If it was a single dish that was being prepared, maybe.  But not this.

So for $20 per person we got to observe as Chef James Clouthier worked his magic.  Think of it as being in the audience of a cooking show on TV.  He talked us through everything, and we could easily see what he was doing because of the perfectly positioned mirrors above his working area.  It was actually pretty cool to watch!

IMG_0403The meal consisted of Southern Fried Chicken, Mac ‘N Cheese, Fried Greens, and Pecan Pie.  Let me tell you… wow!  Everything was great, but the Mac ‘N Cheese stood out big time for me!  I am definitely going to try making it soon.  My second favourite would be the Pecan Pie… I’m not a huge fan of pecans, but I can work with them.  To say that it was sweet would be an understatement.

Think of it as a night out.  $40 for a couple, and we got to spend a couple of hours watching a live show, learn some neat things for the kitchen, AND get a meal served to us.  I can’t wait to go back!

[For a list of classes at the Real Atlantic Super Store on Rothesay Ave click here.]

Windows 10 is Pretty… but not Pretty Enough to Bring me Back

Published August 3, 2015 - 0 Comments
Windows-10-Super-Wallpaper-HD-14

Windows 10 is pretty

I swore off buying Microsoft Windows computers a few years ago.  I’d owned many of them over the years… from Windows 3.11 up to Vista.  Then I bought my first Mac, and I’ve never looked back.  I’ve been so happy with my Macs that I even bought one for my sister, rather than continue to live the eternal hell known as being “the computer guy”.  My mission to eradicate Windows from my family was thwarted by my Mother secretly replacing her new Chromebook with a Windows laptop with touch screen.  Shit.  Well.. there’s one in every family.

Then I heard a tale of woe… Jess’ cousin had a Windows 7 laptop that was sick.  Very sick.  Plagued with unwanted pop-ups and chronic pokiness.  Several times she had taken it to a local computer shop, and within days the troubles re-appeared.  It was an endless nightmare.  Or as I like to think of it… just another day with Microsoft Windows!

I couldn’t stand by and allow this to continue.  I had to do something.  But I’m old.  I haven’t had to troubleshoot Windows problems in seemingly forever.  (except at work, but hey.. that’s another story)  Could I even do this anymore?  There was only one way to find out.

“If you want to drop it off to me sometime, I’ll take a look at it for you.”

It was official.  I had come out of retirement.  Me vs Windows in a bloody, take-no-prisoners, bout.  A fight to the finish.  A clash of the titans.  Insert your own hyperbolic statement here.

I’d been out of the game for so long, I had to get myself back into shape.  I trained.  I Googled.  I talked to people who continue to do this for a living.  It was going to be ugly.  I needed the best tools for the job.  File scanners.  Harddrive utilities.  Anti-virus.  Anti-malware.  Anti-spam.  Anti-biotics. Even a bottle of Captain Morgan.  I had my work cut out for me.  And then something happened… a new icon appeared at the bottom of the screen…

Get Windows 10.

Really?  Well shit… that’s convenient!  Yup!  On the very same day that I sat down to try to clean the infected laptop, Microsoft released Windows 10.  After checking with Julie, I backed up her important files and went through the clean installation process.  Microsoft has greatly improved this from the days of old.  It’s very straight forward.  I had a brand new installation of Windows 10 installed in an hour.  It’s pretty.  It’s definitely faster than what she had been using.  Is it perfect?  I doubt that.  I assume there will be a bit of a learning curve to try to figure out where things are, and what they do, but that’s normal with any new software release.  I just need to be clear when I hand the laptop over to her… no support questions!

I’m retired.