YEAR END

My employer does its employee annual reviews in late May every year and I had mine today. My manager met with me to discuss my performance for the last fiscal year and also to tell me if I got a raise, a bonus, or any restricted stock units.

I can’t say I have too much to complain about in my review meeting. By any measure, I did quite well in the last fiscal year. Unfortunately, my team or my game did not meet the financial targets that we set out for ourselves. They never tell us grunts how much the game made or how much we exceeded or fell short of the targets but this year I heard we missed it by a large margin. As such, my bonus and almost everyone’s else bonuses were quite small compared to previous years. The one bright spot was that I was awarded a generous amount of RSUs. Stock is great but it’ll take 35 months for it to fully vest, meaning I won’t take ownership of all that stock until May of 2027, which seems like a lifetime away.

I do acknowledge though, these are small problems given the larger context of the current state of the industry. At least I have a job, a bonus, and some stock. Thousands of my fellow developers have lost their jobs in the last year and a half. So I do feel very lucky to be where I’m at right now. There’s a storm to be weathered and my shelter feels fairly safe for the time being.

SAD MONEY

I want to make it clear that I really wanted the Vancouver Canucks to win. They are my home team and I will never stop wanting them to finally win their first Stanley Cup. That said, I am a realist and I knew the above outcome was always a strong reality. I will take this money but begrudgingly and with disappointment.

GOT NO TIME FOR THAT

I’ve been playing a game called Evil West and while it’s mostly enjoyable, I believe the difficulty it poorly balanced in some parts. I mainly play on the “normal” difficulty level but at times, the enemy composition and tight quarters for combat makes the challenge legitimately unfair for the player. When this happens, I have no hesitation in turning down the difficulty level and just continuing on. I could just restart the checkpoint after my character meets his untimely end without changing the difficulty, but who knows how many times I need to replay the sequence before succeeding?

I have so many other things to do that I can’t waste my time on a game that is poorly balanced. I’ll gladly put it on easy and continue progress on the game. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this in a game and it won’t be the last time. A game needs to earn a player’s valuable time and if it wants to make a level unnecessarily difficult, it certainly won’t make me want to replay that level over and over again. I’ll just cheese it with the easy mode and move on. The game is lucky I don’t quit playing it entirely.

THANKS FOR NOTHING

A few years ago, my information was leaked when LifeLabs got hacked. If you’re not familiar withe LifeLabs, it’s essentially a company that has a monopoly on medical testing services in my province. If you need to get blood drawn, pee in cup, drop off your poop, and the like, LifeLabs is basically your only option.

There was a class action lawsuit against LifeLabs, which I was a part of. The suit was settled almost a year ago and at the time, it was estimated the payout per person would be anywhere between $50 to $150. Now, if you think about it, even at $150, that doesn’t make up for the fact that your personal information was exposed to the Internet. Who knows what people did with some of this information. It’s possible that someone took this info, targeted a person, and then used the info to gain access to more info. The hassle and damage done by identity theft is hardly offset by a measly $150.

Well, after almost a year of administrative work, the payout for the settlement occurred this week. This morning, $7.86 was deposited into my account to make up for the fact that LifeLabs’ insecure systems allowed my personal information to be leaked. So not only did I (and everyone else affected) not get $150, I didn’t even get $50. It’s really quite telling how much your privacy is worth these days. $7.86 might get me a medium coffee at a decent coffee shop. Imagine the leak caused your credit to be ruined by identity theft. LifeLabs gives you $7.86 and says sorry, and waits for the next time you need to come in for a blood draw.

All of this is just so frustrating, from the leak itself to the compensation for the settlement. Companies will continue to leak personal information of their customers and the people affected will never get the full compensation they deserve.

TAXES

I completed my parents tax return this week but I have done the same for myself. I probably should do mine before too long because I’m only partially convinced I don’t owe more money to the government. My parents got a refund this year but I’ll be lucky to do the same.

I did the math and I should get a refund of less than $100. I had to contribute a hefty amount to my RRSP in the first sixty days of the new year to even get to that point though. We’ll actually see if my math was correct.

BANANA BREAD

I was at my local Safeway last week and I saw they were selling sliced banana bread in the bakery section. It was eight slices per package. I couldn’t remember the last time I had banana bread. I hesitated before putting the package in my basket because I wasn’t sure how much I was gonna like it.

When I got home, I ate almost half the package in a whole day. The banana bread was light, moist, and delicious. It made me remember that I enjoy banana bread but it also was a reminder that making banana bread can go horribly wrong.

While this was commercially prepared banana bread, I’ve had my fair share of homemade banana bread. I will preface what I’m about to say and state that homemade baking is lovely and thoughtful. It can be better than anything you buy at the supermarket. Having said that, it’s clear there is a skill to making banana bread, at least in the way that I like it. In some cases, people have made what I call “banana brick”. Somehow, their banana bread is incredibly dense. I can only imagine they’ve somehow used too much actual banana or the banana hasn’t been thoroughly distributed or mixed in. When it’s like this, it feels like less of a bread and more like a compressed brick of banana. While some people might like it like this, the consistency of it is not palatable to me.

As for the Safeway banana bread, I must have not been alone in liking it, because two days after I bought it, I returned to the supermarket and saw all of it had been sold out.

GIVEAWAY

On a recent weekend, I discovered my local municipality had set up an “Earth Day” recycling program at city hall. You could bring all sorts of stuff to be recycled or junked. This included textiles, electronics, random pieces of metal, and other household items. I learned about this about thirty minutes before the end of the event.

I really wish I had known about this well in advance. I scrambled to find things that I wanted to get rid of. I was able to gather several items of metal that I had been holding onto because I didn’t know what to do with them. One of these items was an old cast iron pan that was just sitting in my kitchen. The outside of the pan was and continued to flake, leaving black bits of cast iron whenever you moved or touched the pan. I also had several metal containers that previously held food, like not cans, but like cookie tins and such.

With minutes to spare, I arrived at the city hall parking lot where the recycling event was being held. I was glad to have these items gone but if I had more time, I would have gathered much more. In particular, I have so many old shoes that have holes in the canvas, leather, or soles. They’re no good for donation. I also have old clothes that are also ripped or contains holes, also not good for donation. I would have definitely sent those off for recycling.

I know I can drive about 40 minutes to offload these textiles on any weekend at a transfer station but my city hall is so much closer. Maybe next year?

DENTIST

At 9am on Saturday, I was in a dentist chair, which is usually not a place I am nor is it a place I wanted to be. About a month ago, I had two fillings done in two teeth that were next to each other. A week later, those teeth began hurting when I’d bite down to chew food. The pain would gradually increase until I had to chew on the other side of my mouth. Eventually, the pain would subside but still not go away completely.

Then the pain would return, cause me to not use those teeth again, and subside again. I figured I probably needed to go back to the dentist and see what the hell was happening. Now waking up earlier that I usually do on a weekday to go to the dentist on the weekend isn’t my idea of fun, so I was probably a bit grumpy on my way to the appointment. A small consolation is the dentist office is downstairs, so I walk about five minutes to get there.

Once I got there, I explained to the dentist my situation. He almost immediately thought he knew what the issue was. He believed that the two fillings were rubbing against each other, causing pressure on each tooth when I was biting down on food. The solution was to grind down the fillings slightly to get a bit more space in between them. Since he was only going to remove a small portion of the fillings, no freezing was required.

He did a bit of drilling and then checked my bite with that paper that they make you bite down on. He did this a few times and drilled a bit more and checked my bite until he was satisfied with it. He asked if my bite felt fine but honestly, I couldn’t tell because the pain only came if I was chewing on hard foods and it never was a problem when I was biting down on nothing. I sorta just left it in his hands and hoped he’d done enough.

I was out of the chair and released into the wild at about 9:18am, which is an indication of how fast things went. Since it was this early and I was now wide awake, I went and got a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. Once I got home, I was surprised that I could chew and bite down on either side of my mouth without any issue. The dentist had fixed the issue and correctly diagnosed the problem. He also decided not to charge me for anything, so that was a bonus.

I spent all weekend eating normally again which I was thankful for. This was the first time I’ve had to get a filling adjusted after the procedure. I wonder how common this is.

THE ANTS ARE BACK

You haven’t seen me write about ants in my home because for the last few months, I haven’t seen any. Well, that changed this evening. I was in the bathroom and I saw a line of eight or ten of them, crawling along a ledge. I know this route that they were on. They’re not really going anywhere, they travel along this ledge, get to a certain wall and they just turn back around again.

There were enough of them that it means that I’ll need to make new observations to figure out where they’re coming from. I might also lay down some new bait for them. I’m not sure why they’re back. I know there are some unknown points of ingress but they didn’t seem to use them until very recently. Was it a shift in weather? It’s been still kinda of cold for April. Who knows. I need to continue the work once again.

ONGOING BIKE

So I’ve had my exercise bike for about two weeks now and I’m quite enjoying it. One of the cliches about buying exercise equipment is that you stop using it and it just gathers dust in some part of your home. I know it’s only been two weeks and not two months, but so far I’ve been doing some riding about four times a week now.

No one wants to use a piece of exercise equipment if it’s a hassle or unnecessarily uncomfortable, that just adds friction to the whole experience. For the most part, getting on the bike is easy. It takes like thirty seconds to set it up in front of my TV. Once I figured out how to make the seat not feel like a block of steel, it meant that I could be on the bike for prolonged periods of time without hurting my ass.

I did about thirty minutes on the bike today and I got a good sweat going. Someone told me they used to go to spin classes where they go for nearly an hour. I think I need to work up to that. I usually just put on a long-form YouTube video on my TV and watch it while I bike. It’s quite the good combo and time flies. The bike has a shelf for a phone or tablet, so I’m able to check my messages or use the phone as a timer.

We’ll see how much I’ll be on the bike once the summer arrives and the heat comes with it. I have a nice big box fan that I can point towards me, hopefully that will help.