So as I’ve written before, the retail complex below my apartment is taking shape. Some of the retail spaces have been leased but no signs have been put so it’s impossible to tell who is opening up shop soon. Near my end of the mall, there is a rather large space, nearly 10x the square footage compared to the other normal stores. I was quite excited about this because it seemed like a great opportunity for a restaurant to go in. Thoughts of a White Spot or a Swiss Chalet danced through my head. The prospect of delicious rotisserie chicken or Triple-O sauce infused burgers just downstairs from where I lived had me looking at buying elastic waist pants.

Weeks went by at this retail space and nothing but a “leased” sign even indicated that someone had plans for moving in. Then last week, the corporate entity that had leased that space finally showed its hand. A simple white signed was plastered on one of the windows, “Dollar Tree“. I was immediately disappointed. A crappy dollar store was going to take up one of the largest areas in the mall. I have nothing against dollar stores in principle. They are great places to get that odd item that you usually never buy but need so badly and don’t want to pay a lot for. The problem is, dollar stores are not what you consider a “high-end” retailer. The stores are almost always very basic, plain looking, and in most cases, a bit messy. Also for some reason that I can’t figure out, every single dollar store I’ve been to always smells like something that will give you cancer. The other issue is that most of the merchandise in a dollar store, by virtue of its price, is of low quality. They always have these weird brand names you’ve never heard of before. All of this adds up to a retailer that I wish hadn’t taken up such a rare spot in the mall. If this sounds like a “not in my backyard” type of stance, well I guess it kinda is.

I’m just not excited that I’ll be able to buy a package of “Mrs. Freshley’s” cookies for $1. I’ve never even heard of her before!


Last week, I came home to find a sheet of paper had been slipped underneath my apartment door while I was out. It was a letter informing me that action was underway to remove the current strata council members and to replace them with new ones. I was really disappointed to read this for two reasons. First, I think my strata council has done a pretty good job since the completion of this building three years ago. Council members are knowledgeable and are always there to answer my questions. Second, I really dislike having issues of this nature. I pay good money each month in strata fees and I just want my building taken care of. I don’t want any stress about it.

The letter told me to attend a meeting which would divulge additional details to any owner that wanted more info. I, of course, attended that meeting. I will summarize what I found out. It turns out that for a building that’s now three years old, the original deficiencies still have not been addressed by the builder. Strata had been begging the insurance company to come to the site, do an inspection, and get going on the claim. It’s up to the insurance company to act as a go-between for the strata council and the builder in determining what can be fixed under warranty and what can’t. Unfortunately, the insurance company did nothing for three years about this process. Meanwhile, engineers have inspected the building and have given strata reports on existing problems and problems that could get worse if they don’t get addressed. Strata also has their hands tied because they can’t start repairs because they just can’t bill the builders later. Any repairs that are done without the claim being settled means those repairs were done outside any future settlements and you can’t force the builder to pay for them.

It got to the point that time was going to expire on some of the legal rights that the owners could have, namely legal recourse against the insurance company, should that be required. Strata made a decision to file some legal paperwork that gave the owners a chance for future legal action. That legal option also stopped the clock on some of the rights from expiring. I, along with many other owners, had no problem with strata doing this. It protected us and our substantial investments from some huge possible headaches in the future.

Sadly, a group of owners did not agree. Here’s where it gets murky and an odour of conspiracy arises. My building contains a large number of non-resident owners. These people bought into the building as an investment. About fifty or so of these units hired on a property management company to help maintain their units and help rent them out. These absentee owners also have given their votes on strata council issues to one dude who works for the property management company. This dude can tell those owners whatever he wants and he can vote for them on their behalf. He can make decisions on his behalf. It is this huge block of owners (via proxy), led by dude here, who have started this action to remove the council. Here’s where it gets really nasty. The property management company is affiliated with the company that built this apartment complex. You can easily see the huge conflict of interest here. The property management company, which is essentially a subsidiary of the construction company for the building, is trying remove council so they can install some sorta puppet council which they can control. If they are successful, they can then control how vigorously they pursue the deficiency claim with the insurance company. If the new puppet council just lets the claim die, the builders are then off the hook for thousands and thousands of dollars of deficiency repairs.

If one needs to find an analogy in history, the Vichy government from World War Two springs to mind. It is my suspicion that the property management company has deceived the owners that have under their control. They have told them lies and are using their proxy votes to abuse their power to benefit the builders. I also suspect they have already chosen puppet council members to be installed as soon as the special general meeting has concluded. Oh yeah, I need to mention that this action is all coming down to a vote between all owners in a special general meeting that will take place in mid-March. The evil block of proxy votes currently has the upper hand in terms of numbers. Theoretically though, there are enough independent owners to vote down this action and send these morons back to Berlin. The challenge for us, the Allied forces, is to get the word out to enough owners to get them to vote on our side. We’ve had two meetings so far. Each time, we get more and more new people who get educated about what has happened. There are just a few weeks left to rally enough owners to defeat the other bloc.

This isn’t just a small debate over who should pay for some paint on some balconies. The reports are forthcoming but there could be potentially millions of dollars worth in repairs that hang in the balance. If we lose, the repairs will have to be paid by the owners in special assessments. If we win, the right thing will happen and the builders will fix the things they should have in the first place.

I’ll keep everyone posted as we approach that critical vote.


I believe spending that week in San Diego has affected my perception of how long winters should be. Having enjoyed a week of sun and warm temperatures, I’ve really noticed how cold it is in Vancouver in comparison. I stepped outside today and while it was almost 10 degrees Celsius, I still thought it was a bit cool. I then thought to myself that it shouldn’t be this cold and that it should get warmer soon. I realized it was still February and that in Vancouver terms, it wouldn’t really get warm until May. That thought made me a bit sad.


Having the support of a friend is always good when you go through life’s trials and tribulations. To that end, I have an unemployed buddy whom I shall call “DeShawn”. DeShawn and I go way back when we both worked on the first skate game. We’ve been friends for a while now. In fact, he moved into my building with his then-girlfriend about two years ago. Since then, he’s bought his own apartment which is in a new building just half a block from where I live.

DeShawn got laid off from his job a few weeks ago which is unfortunate. If there was a silver lining to that, it’s allowed us to be both focused on getting that next job. Since he’s not a software engineer, we don’t go for the same positions but we both tell each other if we see a company with a job opening. We compare notes in person about twice a week, usually over lunch or dinner. It’s been extremely helpful to have someone who is dealing with the same set of circumstances as sounding board for ideas and suggestions. It also helps to combine all our contacts in the industry to see what is out there in terms of opportunities.

We both hope we won’t have all this free time for much longer.


Today I did something I should have done a long time ago. No, I have not stopped wearing parachute pants. I finally bought a TV antenna to pull in free HDTV over the air.

For about two years now, I’ve been paying Telus about $30 a month to get a very small set of TV channels in HD. I get all the local channels in the Vancouver area and then a few American channels that cover the four big networks, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. The $30 a month doesn’t get me any specialty channels at all. I don’t even get the regular sports channels like TSN and Sportsnet. A few months ago, I realized I just don’t watch a lot of TV, at least the channels that I have. I usually watch network TV maybe twice a week at most. On Saturdays, if there’s a Canucks game on CBC I’ll watch that, then perhaps Saturday Night Live later that evening. On Sunday, I’ll most likely catch most of the animation shows on Fox. Other than that though, I don’t watch any other TV with my current TV subscription.

It occurred to me that wasn’t a great use of $30 a month. I already use torrents to watch shows on channels that I don’t have. I wondered if there was a way to eliminate my current TV package and still get the shows I usually watched live. That’s when I discovered receiving HDTV over the air using an antenna. Now I hadn’t even heard of people using antennas for TV since the early 1980s. I couldn’t even remember the last time I saw a TV with an antenna attached to it. The antenna has made a big comeback in the 21st century though. Lots of people are using them to get free HD channels over the air and cutting out those expensive cable packages.

You can make your own antenna but if you want save some time and hassle, there are dozens of TV antenna models on sale. I went to a discount retailer and picked up an indoor antenna for $11. It looks like this one but way cheaper. Now the installation was quite easy since all I needed to do was connect the coax connector to the back of my TV. The chances of success with using your antenna really depend on a few factors. First is where your home happens to be. You probably need to live within 50 miles of a broadcast tower. Second, is how unobstructed will the antenna be from that tower or towers. It’s quite possible to live within walking distance to the tower but if your house or apartment is blocked by another building, you might have problems. You must have a clear line of sight to the tower.

Luckily for me, I live fairly high up on the 28th floor. Also as important, my apartment windows face north, which gives me a great line of sight to the broadcast towers on Mount Seymour. Just based on the first place I put the antenna, I was able to register seven HD channels. With those channels, I am able to watch all the programs I usually view during the week. I won’t miss any hockey nor any of my cartoon funnies. This made me quite happy as I can now cancel the my TV package tomorrow.

If you don’t watch that much TV and are still paying for channels, consider buying an antenna. It might save you money in the long run. In my case, it pays for itself in just one month! As a starting point, you can visit this site, which will tell you what stations you’ll be able to receive based on your current location.


I finished my tax return this evening. I can’t remember doing my taxes this early in the year before. I suppose the reason behind this is two-fold. First, I was anticipating a refund and since I’m not pulling in any money right now, there was no real reason to wait to get that chunk of change back to me. Second, I have free time on my hands so I didn’t have to leave it to later.

It was also the first time that a large number of my receipts and statements were submitted to me online. I usually have a pile of paper income statements and tax receipts that I need to wade through as I enter in all the info. This time, nearly half those documents were only available to me in PDF form. It certainly saves on the paper and it means I can file my taxes anywhere and not have to worry about bringing those paper documents with me.

I hope the guberment doesn’t delay in getting those pennies back to me. Daddy needs to eat!


So for some reason, my keyboard sometimes stops working properly. When I hold down shift and try to type the special characters, I get something completely different. For example, this is what I get when I type the “at” symbol: “. Yep, I get the double quotation mark. The double quotes yields: `. Let us see what happens when I try for the percentage sign: /. Wow, that is great.

I am not sure how this happens. I think I might be accidentally hitting a key combo that makes Windows think I want to enter into some weird keyboard mode. What that key combo might be, I have no idea.


In a previous post, I detailed how I bought new shoes for my trip to San Diego. What I didn’t write about was a funny little anecdote that happened while I was in the process of buying those shoes.

When I went to the store to look at shoes, I actually tried on a few pairs of shoes before settling on the running shoes. The sales dude who helped me was non-Asian which is an important detail to keep in mind. The first pair of shoes I decided to try on were a pair of Nike cross trainers. I also didn’t tell the dude specifically what I was going to use these shoes for. Combine that with the fact I wanted to test out a pair of cross trainers meant he had no clue what I had in store for them. When he came back out from the back, he said to me:

“These shoes are really good for badminton.”

I almost laughed aloud when I heard that. Come on! I know he was just playing odds of what sport I possibly could have been interested in but still. He went for something so stereotypical, even he should have paused and thought about it before saying it. I think I muttered, “that’s great” and just continued on lacing the cross trainers up.


I might be guilty of posting the above video based on the timing of a certain basketball sports story but the video is quite entertaining nonetheless. In this video, YouTube star kevjumba attempts to learn how to play basketball from some dude named Jeremy Lin. This video was from last summer when Lin was still property of the Golden State Warriors.


When I was a child, my mother introduced to me the concept of white and dark meat in poultry. She explained to me that generally dark meat tasted better and was the more desirable type of meat. I was also told that for some reason, white people loved their white meat and would always choose that over dark meat. I quickly learned for myself that I indeed did prefer dark meat in poultry. Dark meat has a nice texture to it. It has a moistness to it that makes it really easy to appreciate. I really don’t like eating white meat. I find the white meat in poultry to be dry and tough. It’s like having a mouthful of dry fibers.

What surprises me is that you usually have to pay more for white meat compared to dark meat. At KFC, there’s an extra charge if you want your entire bucket to be white meat. That’s crazy. Who would actually pay extra to get the tougher and drier meat? I guess it’s a matter of personal preference but the difference in the two types of meat is so drastic, I’m just having a difficult time figuring out why one would choose the chewy and dry meat. As a further argument, dark meat contains more vitamins and nutrients compared to white meat.