Thursday, November 30, 2006

Must be nice....

So I give back the truck I've been renting for 3 months today....

My significant other has put her feelings on the matter down quite eloquently here. As for my feelings.. I feel like we're hemorraghing money right now. I want it to stop. Im lost in a maelstrom of spending where I cant tell up from down. This ... right before Christmas... the biggest spending frenzy of them all.

It's a weird feeling since I've dissassociated myself from the meaning of dollar amounts. Our credit line balance is huge.... HUGE! There's no equilibrium here! Used to be that I felt something when I spent $100. Now? Nothing! I know it's a bad thing though....

I still want things... lots of things... but the little white guy on one shoulder tells me to stop (in a wimpy fading voice). The little red pimped out dude with the gold teeth on my other shoulder however.... he's never had it better. Little bastard is dragging me down, but I cant (or dont want to) stop. I want the big screen TV, the second car, the new computer, etc. I dont want to wait, I have the credit, why not? 'Living in the now' is how we get into trouble.... but isnt it a fun way to go? I love stuff!!!!

I wonder how many people feel the same way.

The house has to get finished, I know this. I also know that until it is finished, it would be folly to splurge more (on the Babylonian niceities) without knowing the financial foundation upon which we stand. I can estimate our net worth, the money coming in, even the money going out (to an extent).

When the smoke clears (soon I hope), will we be in a good place?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Without further adooo....

Took me a bit longer to get my photos for the house up and captioned....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Going down....

I'll be headed back down to Calgary this weekend. Im trying to be positive about it. One day, it'll all be over and then I'll be ecstatic!
There's still a lot to do, but I can see the end. I'll take the camera down this weekend and see if I can't get some good shots to post.

The weather outside is frightful....
It's christmas shopping time and the stores are packed. I havent begun my christmas shopping yet, I have too much on the go. Everyyear I wait till the last minute and everyyear tell myself I wont do it again. I know Im not alone in this, the sheer volume of shoppers (when Im shopping) tells me that. By the time christmas actually rolls around, it's something of an anticlimax. I do look forward to stuffing though....mmmmm.... stuffing..... As a child I didnt like cranberry sauce, now I cant eat turkey dinner without it. Also, growing up we had a tradition in my family of Oyster soup for breakfast. I thought it was normal but havent run across anybody else with quite the same tradition. My wife's family looks forward to butterhorns christmas morning. They're kinda on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Any weird (or not so weird) traditions in your families?

It's a good time of year, if I can get this freakin house done, it'll be a GREAT time! Anyone wanna help? Just thought I'd ask.

Anyways, no real life lessons today (lately I seemed to be on a soapbox) I was too busy working (damn employers want me working not blogging!!) to think about other things.

Hopefully I'll get some good pics this weekend and get em up come Monday.

For those of you in the US of A, have a great Yankee Turkey Day!
.......mmmmm.... stuffing......

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Wrong Lane

The wrong aisle, the slow checkout line, the 'faster' lane which immediately becomes slower, the 'greater' of two evils (though evil is a strong word.... 'quasi-evil' maybe?)

About a year ago I was faced with a choice between 2 stocks. They have similiar portfolios and actually have interest in a lot of the same properties. So I chose one. At the time it was actually valued more than the other stock.

Why is it that when faced with two choices and you have a 50-50 chance of coming out ahead, the coin seems to always land on the wrong side? It's only apparent in hindsight of course.

My stock is at about half it's value and the other stock? It's up.

Now I know there are probably times when I've come out ahead, but I can only seem to remember the choices where I've chosen wrongly. Now thankfully not too many of my choices have been life or death (that poor cat....) and for the most part I've gotten to where I want to go(for which WalMart thanks me for my patronage). I would have to say Im something of a Seinfeld where I pretty much break even. If I want to destroy my theory I could sit down and count my blessings, but as I said, I may get there eventually, but not in the timely manner that I wanted to. I've had to wait for everything. In a previous post I mentioned my concern with how fast I want to go.

I think the problem is the news. I hear about the boom in this province and can't but think that Im missing out somehow. People/friends/acquaintences/coworkers are leaving the company I work for in droves... DROVES! Where are they going I wonder? More importantly should I be heading there myself? How much money are they making? It's enough to drive one crazy!

I, originally, was talking about Murphy's Law in this post (where everything that can go wrong will go wrong), but it really doesnt does it? I hate the slow lane, but I have a car. I hate the slow checkout lane, but I have money to buy groceries (and other niceities). I hate having to drive down to Calgary to work on the house.... which I own.... Dammit! I've been blessed!

But it sure would be nice to win the lottery and fastpace things a little!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dr Frankenstein

There's only one Frankenstein movie that I know of where the good Dr had a son, and that was a comedy. Was the Dr's motivation simply to create life? We all know how the birds and the bees work. Of course, it wouldnt have made such an interesting story if all he did was get laid. Maybe Mary Shelly came up with the story in a dispute with Percy in order to illustrate what man would have to go through in order to create life without women. Apparently our world would pretty much end in disaster. She won the argument so convincingly that he hooked her up with his publishers...

Many of life's problems are needlessly complicated by trying to create elaborate solutions when the simplest answer will do. Life of course wouldnt be half as interesting though if we all 'smartened up'. Or would it? Could it be that we simply find the wrong things interesting?

For example:
The equality movement has lobbied so hard to push women into the work force that I believe their message became not one of choice but of disdain for women who dont excel according to their standards. The image of the homemaker is such that it's hard for women who choose to raise their children to take pride in that fact. I've talked to women who've mentioned that they feel inadequate when faced with conversations with some old classmates who seem to have 'accomplished' way more than they. I admire anyone of any gender who has a master's, is a doctor, etc. I understand the effort involved and in most cases would find myself lacking if I aspired to their position and accomplishments. But how do we measure what is truly an accomplishment?

Having recently become a father myself, I see with new eyes. I suffer from no illusions that what I do in the workforce is more important. Far from it, what I do is purely financial. Do I get satisfaction in it? A little, but my joy is at home with my family. Lasting happiness. I truly did not understand before I experienced it. I also see the trials and hardship that my wife goes through in order to provide for the needs of our child. We tried the dual income, daycare route..... it was a disaster! Jacob wasnt the same, our marriage wasnt the same. The quest for more money was NOT worth it!

Now dont get me wrong, I like my toys, I like a lot of the stuff money can buy. I have a penchant for video games, sports, electronics, movies, good food, a nice house, etc and they all have to be earned. Before my marriage and parenthood, I looked at my status in the form of the things that I acquired. What car I drove, how big my TV was (size does count!), etc. I spent loads and thought I was doing pretty good. What a waste of time..... and effort! All the stuff I acquired became outdated, I had to repurchase, upgrade, replace pretty much everything! Over time all those things didnt mean a hell of a lot.

Now? Im trying to balance the need to provide, with my duty to raise my family, and be a good husband. I look at the little person developing before my eyes and and realize what's important. You dont have to be religious to recognize that. Though it helps me to understand my place in the world.

I cant fully recall how Frankenstein ended (the book that is), I seem to recall the Monster seeking the Dr's death in the arctic or something like that. I guess that he was seeking revenge for abandonment issues or something. If only the good doctor would've played with him more... maybe taught him how to ride a bike ('Go Frankie Jr! Go!') .... it probably wouldnt have ended that way.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The caste system is alive and well. I live in a world where education and for the most part knowledge is irrelevant, nothing can beat experience according to this system.

The key to winning any argument is to simply find out something that the other person does not have and then say that because they dont have that, then they dont know what they're talking about.

Example, I have a house, a car, a wife and a kid (amongst other things I do). Therefore, if I run across anyone without one these things then I outrank them and can safely disregard their advice. However, if someone has 2 kids, then they outrank me and I have to listen.This is commonly heard in the following (progressive) conversation examples:
'Single! Ha! you dont know how much free time you have! Just wait till you get married'
'Married? You dont have any kids yet? Ha You dont know how much free time you have! Just wait till you have a kid'
'Only one kid? Ha! You dont know how much free time you have! Just wait till you have 2 kids, or 3 kids, or 4, etc'.

There are special qualifiers such as twins, triplets (who outrank twins, by the way) and such. Twins outrank 2 'regular' kids, though if one of those kids has ADD, ADHD... I must say the negotiations can be tricky to work out who outranks who. This situation can only be decided by a knock down throw down spewing of outragious experiences and stories of hardship and trials experienced by each party. A third party is usually required to make a decision on who has 'suffered' more and is therefore the highest ranking parent. This is due to the fact that each parent in the dispute will be biased to themselves if the experiences are closely ranked in level of grossness, embarrassment, or physical harshness.

This system also extends to other activites as well. House ownership doesnt necessarily go by quantity but by how long one has been 'in the market'. Though this can be 'trumped' by doing some renovations. 'You havent renovated your own kitchen? PFFT! You dont know how easy you've had it!'

The beauty of this system is that the rules change on the fly and is only really limited by the strength of your internal convictions. 'Laws' here are subject to review and can be changed with a strong argument.

Now the more logical among you would say that just because Billy-Steve Williams has 10 kids doesnt make him an expert father. To this I say 'Do you have 10 kids?' No? Well then maybe when you have 10 kids you can say that washing the kids in the yard with a garden hose is not the correct way to bath the kids. I could use other examples, but I dont want to stereotype 10-kid families since I dont have a family that large myself.

It's hard to dispute that simple logic. Unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.....

Do we even bother to try? Maybe all laws should pretty much be thrown out in the face of such arguments since the only people that are truly capable of judging ourselves.... are ourselves.
Among other things, I've got a problem with the local 'maximum speed' laws, I can handle much faster speeds and therefore should be allowed to go much faster. I can safely double the speed of most off-ramp speed signs, and on a straight stretch, well let me tell you.... I CAN FLY!!! On that note I know there are much better drivers than myself, take professionals for instance... Race car drivers should be allowed to go pretty much whichever speed they want. Of course they get into accidents as well..... but it's usually the car's fault not theirs. So I suppose the car itself has to be taken into consideration when judging how fast Im allowed to drive...

I declare myself a country of one, ruled by me!

Of course, it'd be pretty lonely there, so maybe an association with other 'countries' might be a good idea. I guess there'd have to be agreed upon relations (rules if you will) so that we can come to some sort of compromise when dealing with each other. And of course my son really hasnt grown into a capacity where he can rule himself considering he still has to be changed and cant communicate what he wants with anything more than a scream and point in the general direction.

Then there's my wife, if I want to have relations (of any kind) with her I have to abide by the 'written in stone' rules that have been put into place. Now, I cant make everything myself, so I'll work for some other 'country' or countries that have the money I want to buy the things I need.
Geez, it's starting to sound like Im right back where I started! Just another citizen in a country filled where my behavoir is governed by officials who impose penalties based upon my actions and whether or not I've broken some law put into place in reaction to situations that I wasnt involved in and shouldnt be held subject to. Even though it might prevent me from making the same mistakes.....

But still.... if you havent renovated a house or sired a child, then you dont know what you're talking about!! So there!

Building ... Building ...

Back in Sherwood Park once again. This time the whole family is back up here.... Except The House, it broods... and plots... and is patient. It can wait, it has waited years.... it's moment of triumph will soon come, the day of feasting is at hand when the street will run RED with BLOOD! MU-AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !

I wonder if I can sell the movie rights or write a book about this whole ordeal. 'THE HOUSE!!' 'just when you thought it was safe to go back to Home Depot.....' coming soon to a theatre near you! The Amityville Horror movie doesnt have the same level of dread that I feel when the weekend approaches. I feel the change approaching and my outer exterior begins to morph... my skin changes... my hair stiffens .... I acquire a shuffling gait. I have become the most dreaded of all undead.... The Renovator!

Seriously though.... weekends suck.

One day I'll look back and laugh... I laugh right now, but it's a nervouse maniacal kind of laughter. My brother said I sounded 'on the edge'..... Fair enough.

I have my wife and son up here this week at least and thats a good thing. Playing video games and eating fast food after work just doesnt hold the appeal that it once did. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with them. It is the reason I took this position after all. The 5 minute commutes, no travelling... I think it will all be worth it in the end.

If not, I'll at least have built a lot of character.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One Step Forward....

Two Steps Back!

An old joke/proverb/question 'How do you eat an elephant?' answer 'One bite at a time' . I've got a new one 'What do you do when the elephant performs mitosis (go with it), splits into two or three more elephants (of larger size) and then flanks (military expression when your enemy splits up and attacks you from the side) you?' Answer............ RUN LIKE HELL!!! At least that would be the sane answer. My answer is apparently 'take a deep breath, loosen the ole pants, sharpen the knife, and take that next bite'. Assuming of course you like elephant meat...... which I do.

I've recently discovered some truths about myself. I have an addictive personality. No No its true! When reading a good book I can stay up all night (then pay for it in the morning). The same is true for playing a good video game, watching television, or eating great food. I could mention other things, but I think I've made my point. If I like something a lot, I will do it, generally at the expense of other things in my life.

The trick I am trying to achieve is balance. I have many responsibilities right now. Im a husband, father, employee, man, gamer, athelete, friend, and blogger (amongst other roles). I like these roles, though they are hard to balance. Some are fun and some are just necessary. Lately the renovator 'elephant' has stomped on me pretty hard, but it doesnt mean that I can stop my other roles until it's done with me. It's taken a considerable amount of willpower to try and force some balance and get the other roles back into play.

Each job I have has it's own list of tasks to perform and I must say that I've been falling somewhat behind due to the beating I've been taking. I've been making progress though. The hard part is taking that first step. When I stop and look at some of the tasks in their entirety it causes me to gasp and want to turtle (grasp head with hands and curl body into tight ball), but when I can just do that first step, then the next step comes a little easier. It doesnt matter if the steps multiply, change height, disappear.... whatever.

Im just looking for that next step.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Once again I find myself coming off a weekend, this time a 4 day bender. If you think Im talking about drinking you havent read any of my previous posts.

I havent been able to publish for a bit, been too busy. I dont have very much leisure time on the weekends. It's only when I'm at 'work' do I have any computer time to spare.

My wife is still in Cowtown while Im back up in the frigid north. When I was driving last night I found myself 20km south of Leduc and suddenly the landscape turned to winter. Icy cold, snow drift covered roads, people in the ditch ..... the works! Why am I here again? Some might say 'To prepare to meet God' .... I figure if I stay up here, it'll probably be sooner than later.

The house is looking better, some say it's beautiful. I however see it for the harsh mistress that she is.... eating up all my money and time, always demanding more more MORE! We made a list of work still to do... it was 4 pages long! I feel pretty good about the things we've done though, and the simple fact that we are able to do them. I cant imagine how much it wouldve cost if we had to try and go through the contractors. SCARY. Anyways, enough about the house.

I think Im gonna start carrying a personal voice recorder. I find myself having thoughts throughout the day that I think are great but can never remember them later. Im sure I'll listen to them later and probably think 'what the hell was I thinking?' but at least it'll make for great comedy.

Speaking of comedy, 'The Office', in my mind, has become the funniest show EVER on TV. I know that's quite a statement, but even when I watch it by myself, I laugh out loud..... hard.... everytime. I think last night I may have even peed myself (just a little bit). I wont turn this into a TV show debate blog, but suffice it to say, if you work in an office (or historically did), or maybe you're just a little bit whacked like me, then The Office will hit the spot.

Well, enough daydreaming, I'd better get back to 'work'.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Price of Admission

I love television. I shouldnt, but I do. There's a lot of reasons why television is bad. It wastes time, you get lethargic and fat sitting on the couch, I could go on.

The current reasons for me watching are: Psych, CSI, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Smallville, Corner Gas, The Unit, Heroes, The Office, My Name is Earl, pretty much any game show, Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, House and even though I dont like to admit it, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. There's other reasons too, but those cover most of it. I need my two PVR's just to catch it all each week. If you dont have a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) then you arent experiencing efficient TV watching. Being able to pause, rewind, instant replay and record easily is essential.

With my renovations, I have to leave my PVR's for the weekend (starting Thursday the busiest TV night of the week), but come Monday, I get to check out the list and catch up on what I missed (sans commercials). It's great!! Especially after a 10 plus hour workday.

Im sure not everyone shares my joy of TV, but oh well, to each his own. The next evolution Im considering is HDTV.... a big one. I have Bell Express Vu Satellite and it's pretty good. To take the next step Im thinking will cost about $2k for the TV and maybe another grand for a basic surround sound system. Then there will be another $20 month added to my bill , plus the cost of the HD receivers to get the signal. It's quite a financial commitment! On the plus side, I get much joy from TV (and movies) and it's pretty much my major activity in the wintertime.

It's definately a luxury thing.... and my wife is actually on my side on this one. The only hurdle is the renovations......

Monday, November 06, 2006


I think it's amazing about the amount of stuff that goes into a house. At first glance, you look at a house and when it's empty of furniture, it looks pretty bare. Not so!! Every weekend I buy more and more stuff to put into my house. Im not talking about furniture, kitchen goods or what have you. I speak of the things of which a house are composed. Tile, paint, glue, nails, screws, caulk, carpet, vanities, corpeus amounts of wood, lights, fixtures, faucets, yada yada yada. The trips seem endless. I waste more time going back to the store (getting that missing part) than I do actually working on the house!

Did I mention the mudding? That magical stuff that fixs and hides and generally makes walls walls and a room look right. I think I've gotten pretty good at it. If you look pretty close you can tell where it is, but overall, things are looking up. Not that I dont have a whole crapload of things still to do (the bathrooms are taking forever!) but I think I've reached a point where things will start to go together from here. I wish I was in Calgary though during the week so I could work at night. This whole long distance relationship with my house is hard! Of course the relationship is doomed anyways as she has cost me so much Im going to have to sell her. ....

That brings up an interesting topic of conversation ? Wouldnt breakups be much easier to take if you could trade/sell your ex to the next person? Kinda like pro athletes. "Things arent working out honey... but I talked to Neil and he's got a 2 year relationship deal that isnt working out either. We've come to terms and I think you'll be very happy over there." If you could recover some of the financial implications of a relationship, you wouldnt feel so stupid afterwards. Hmmm.. that sounds suspiciously like divorce proceedings. Oh I know there's a lot of kinks that would have to be worked out in that system like trade deadlines and such, but Im sure if we put our greatest minds to the task they could work out a collective bargaining agreement....

PS. In the off-chance that my wife is reading this, I am in no way implying anything by the last paragraph. Chalk this up to Section 4 Paragraph 3 in the "Stupid Things that Guys Think Of" Book.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Bout

Im heading back into the fray today. Im probably talking a little too much about renos but it pretty much dominates my life right now.

I find myself in automatic mode like Adam Sandler in click. I've been married over 4 years now and I still feel like I'm just trying to reach a goal thats beyond my reach and when I get there I'll be able to enjoy my time. At this exact moment, Im trying to get my house finished, then sold, then probably get another house up here in Sherwood Park in order to stay in the market. Im sure I'll have to renovate the new house, but hopefully it wont be as extensive or expensive as the one we're doing now, and the previous residents will have kept better care of it.

No matter what, I always know in the back of my mind that I've been blessed. I only have to look in the news to see that. The life I lead in Canada is pretty damn sheltered. There's a shifty undercurrent and if you're looking for evil, you can find it (sometimes it even finds you). On the whole though, I've done some traveling, seen how some of the rest of the world lives (pakistan, brazil, UK, US) and suddenly my own backyard seems pretty damn amazing... and sheltered. My concerns are mainly financial, my stesses are manageable, and now I have this cool blog to vent in.

So, the obvious stated, I'd like to cream whoever felt the need for excessive paperwork that proves every step of everything. Cover Your Ass is the battlecry of todays businesses. It's no wonder considering the litigious nature of our society. With lawyers and devils planting the ideas that suing is the answer to every injustice, everyone has to armor their backsides or get a better lawyer and prepare to fight. There are physical wars (eg.IRAQ) and there are wars that we fight everyday just to get by. We fight banks, insurance companies, our employers, and especially the government just to get a fair share. Most conflicts that we face everyday are unnecessary. Taking a defective product back to the store, asking a contractor to fix their mistake.... just a couple examples of how if you dont say anything you'll get screwed because it seems like a surprising number of people want to stick it to you just because. It wouldnt cost people much to treat everybody like they themselves would like to be treated (aka 'the golden rule') however the first reaction is to try and get away with something, get there first, take the last cookie, cut in line, hide the mistake/cover it up, pass the buck, blame someone else, run away.... then finger the person that they just wronged because they said something.

I was in a restaurant the other day and overheard the people at the next table talking about how a store made a mistake and gave them a free order of hardwood flooring. They didnt need the extra flooring but took it anyways. They didnt even know what they were going to do with it. Only that they got away with it for 'free'. They laughed about it. Kinda made me sick. It never occured to them to say they already got their order and the store just forgot about it.

Someone has to pay for it. Either the prices go up, someone gets fired, the store absorbs the loss .. whatever, someone will have to pay... it just wasnt them so why should they care.

I still care.

Im not saying I dont have my own issues and imperfections but I want to live in a place where people care about each other. They dont have to be sappy about it. I'd probably feel pretty damn uncomfortable with everyone telling me they loved me. Im just talking about respect. Respecting someone else and having them respect you. Is it too much to ask?

No answers here today, just a few questions. .................................................................................................................................................................. and hopefully a few jokes along the way. ;)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


As I watched the little kiddies come and go last night, I couldnt help but think about how kids live for the free candy however as an adult, I can go and buy as much as I want. As great as that sounds if you said it to a child, it's kind of dissapointing as an adult.

It's the understanding of the consequences that is the problem.... sometimes I may not mind the consequences, but I understand them. Too much sugar and fat is unhealthy and the cost can be great. Kids think they are invulnerable. Having no real grasp of what is or isnt healthy, a kid will pretty much go for what he likes pure and simple.

I wonder what my body,teeth and overall health would be like if I'd shown a little more restraint earlier in my youth.

On another note, I dont have the desire for extreme sports anymore, I dont want to jeopardize myself. In addition, I fear for my son and wont want him to do these things either. I vaguely recall my parents telling me what to do but didnt pay it much mind at the time.

Ignorance is truly bliss.

I wonder if Im worrying too much and should just enjoy life. I can help feeling like the more that I know, the worse off I feel. On the other hand, I've learned a lot of great things. I have to take the good with the bad.

Nothing really got in my craw today, so these random thoughts will have to do. If anyone is reading let me know your thoughts.