As I referred to in a previous post I’m getting my Internet and HDTV service connected tomorrow. In fact, it’s getting connected quite early, possibly as early as 8am. That means I gotta head off to my apartment now as I don’t want to wake up even earlier to go there.
I hope everyone had a fun St. Paddy’s Day!
I can tell its spring break around town. How can I tell? There are kids everywhere where usually I don’t see kids. At work today, I saw someone taking a mom and her two kids around the floor on a tour. They were looking at some stuff on the walls and then wandered into the 12th floor lounge area. Unfortunately, at the time Amy and I were both watching Joe make lime green Jello vodka shots on the counter. There were three large and empty vodka bottles on the counter as well. I don’t think the kids noticed when they walked by but the mother may have. In our defense, we have a St. Paddy’s day event planned so that’s why Joe was making the shots.
On my way home, I saw another sign that it was indeed spring break. The bus driver of the bus I took had his daughter on his bus. She was sitting right at the front of the bus to his immediate right. She was about eight years old. They talked while he drove. I guess he couldn’t find someone to look after her. I bet there’s nothing more exciting than watching her Dad drive from downtown Vancouver to the outskirts of Coquitlam.
Where else will I see kids tomorrow?
In my continuing education of all things house and home, I bought bed sheets for my new this weekend. I’ve bought sheets before. One spring while I was in grad school, I went on this wild adventure across the city looking for lavender sheets because I thought it my bed should reflect the new spring weather we were having. I wound up finding them at Zeller’s in Burnaby.
Back then, I wasn’t really paying attention to thread counts too much nor did I care much about what material the sheets were made of. This time I decided to do some research. Like for most things these days, I looked online for my bed sheet education. This page was somewhat useful in describing all things sheet-related.
In the end, I decided that while thread count wasn’t everything, it certainly gave you a good idea how soft the sheets would be. I wound up purchasing a 500 thread count, Pima cotton set of sheets. You can seem them here. The Amazon price is about what I paid for mine at the Bay.
There’s a slight sheen to the sheets which makes it look like it should be super soft to the touch, which it thankfully is. I’m almost afraid to put it in the wash for the first time as I fear it might come out feeling like a burlap sack.
[funnyordie id=0fa2bdeb11 width=512 height=328]
This product is apparently real and the commercial you see above is not a parody of some sort. The UroClub is a urine collection device designed to be used discreetly by male golfers while out on the golf course. It even comes with a towel that maintains your privacy while you relieve yourself. I suppose that afterwards you could even use the towel to clean your balls, you know, like Titleists or Callaways.
If such a thing interests you, I suggest you visit the Uroclub web site.
My day consisted of two highlights today. First, I checked in a huge number of files at work. When you work collaboratively on a video game, you check out files much like you do a library book. After you’re done working on that file, you check it back in so other people can grab your latest revisions. A “changelist” is simply a list of files you’ve checked back in at the same time. Depending on what you’re doing, a dozen files is considered to be a medium sized changelist. Today, I checked in a changelist of about 600 files. Now I admit the editing of 95% of those files was automated but that’s still a lot of files.
I expected that revising about 600 files and then checking them back in would have caused a lot of problems but suprisingly, there were none. I’ve never had so many files open for edit at the same time.
The second highlight of my day was purchasing a porcelain butter dish for about $8. Growing up, there was a glass butter dish in my parents’ kitchen, which they still have. I have fond memories of that butter dish because let’s face it, butter tastes awesome. In university, I had a cheap plastic butter dish. Now that I have a job, I went all out and spent the $8 for the white porcelain. I am pleased.
Next week Telus is coming to hookup my Internet and TV service. As part of the deal for buying my apartment, I’m getting a free year worth of Telus Internet and TV. Part of the TV service includes HD channels. This is interesting because as some of you know, I don’t currently own a TV at all, let alone one that is capable of displaying HD images.
Before I was willing to be patient as I am waiting to see if some new TV models suit my price range and purpose. Will this evapourate my patience? Will it eat at me, knowing there will be glorious HD signals coursing through my apartment’s internal network without any way for me to see them? Who knows?
Tonight I attended the very first annual general meeting for my apartment building. We were going to elect the first strata council members, vote on a ban on smoking in and around the building, and also vote the operating hours of the fitness facility. These were all standard and straightforward items on the agenda but I knew the hot-button issue would be the 30% increase in monthly maintenance fees.
When I got to the meeting I learned several things. First, it appeared to me that I was most likely the youngest owner that wholly owned a strata lot in the building. Second, the building is currently only about 50% occupied. I kinda like that because with less people, there’s less wear and tear on the building, less waiting for elevators, and in general less hassle. Third, of all the current occupants of the building about 60% are renters. This was not a figure that I was pleased to hear about. In general, you want a high percentage of owner-occupied units in any building. Owners of course are way more invested in their property than say a renter who can move at a moment’s notice. I’m not saying every renter doesn’t give a damn about the building but I’d prefer to see that number go down quite a bit.
The meeting was chaired by the property manager who apparently has done this line of work for about two decades. He explained the reasons behind the 30% increase in fees. In short, he’s afraid of a budget shortfall come the end of the first year. There was a lot of discussion about why some costs had gone up so much from the interim projected first-year budget. A lot of people were very unhappy about the increase. Since it was percentage-based the ones who were paying a lot already got to pay even more. I suppose I got away relatively lucky. In the end, we had to pass a budget this evening. Though there were a lot of opposition votes, the budget passed easily.
Then we had to decide on strata council members. I was hoping this was going to go quickly. There was room for seven members. During the call for nominations, I thought we were going to be under seven but people kept putting up their hands. It turned out eight people wanted to be on the council which meant we immediately had to go to campaign speeches and voting. Bah!
Half an hour later, we got our seven strata council members, including a woman on my floor which I believe is a good thing. If anything goes awry on my floor, I’m hoping that woman will be able to see it from my point of view quite easily.
The whole meeting took nearly two and a half hours, which makes me glad we only do this thing once a year.
Last week I did something that I had never done before. I sold some of my EA stock. It wasn’t because I am in desperate need of money but it’s because I’ve learned my lesson about “employee stock purchase plan” shares.
The ESPP plan allows us to essentially buy stock at 20% less the market price twice a year. It’s a guaranteed investment so to speak, better than any savings account. The key for a guaranteed 205 minimum return is to sell it the day you get the shares. If you wait, the stock price can do anything. If it goes up, great you can then sell it for more gains. If it goes down, you’re going to make less. Should it go down less than the 20% difference, well you’re looking at losing money.
Knowing that I could guarantee a 20% if I sold immediately twice a year, I’ve been an idiot and held onto my ESPP shares since late 2006. I have three offerings that are underwater right now. For the last offering which just completed at the end of February, I decided to show myself I had learned a lesson. I sold the shares immediately to get my nomimal 20% return.
Had I done that the previous years, I’d be better off now. As it stands, I’ll be selling right away until the economy rights itself.
For all of you who also participate in ESPP in your own company, go for the sure thing right now!
Today just for poops and tee-hees I decided to find out what kind of houses I could buy in the greater Las Vegas area with the money I spent on my apartment. What I found kinda made me sad.
Las Vegas is one of the hardest hit areas right now in the economic crisis that the US is suffering from. Perhaps I shouldn’t have picked an area that’s already down on its luck but its staggering what I found today. Also keep in mind that it is reported that 1 in 5 mortgages in the US is worth more than the actual value of the home in question. Crazy. So let’s get on with my findings.
First, let’s look at this home. Built in 2006, this house is three times the size of my apartment. It has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. There’s a two car garage and central air-conditioning. There also appears to be an in-ground pool in the backyard as well. All for roughly the same price as my place.
Then there’s this house. Built in 2007, it is over four times the size of my place. Three bedrooms, pool, air-conditioning… blah blah blah, you get the picture, it’s seems like an awesome home. It’s been on the market for just about three months. Again, it’s in the same price range that I paid for my apartment.
The thing to notice here is that I didn’t just go hunting for these bargains. There are literally pages and pages of listing of similar homes built within the last three years that are all dirt cheap compared to real estate here in Vancouver. If you want to look at the rest, click here for the list.
It’s very difficult to comprehend how situations are so completely different in the US. If only I could drive down to LV, buy one of the houses, and put it in my trunk for the drive back to Canada.