Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

Randoms

Long time no update. Let’s see, what’s new?

  • Last weekend we went to the Interior Design Show at the CNE. Overall it probably wasn’t worth the price of admission, but we did get a few good ideas for our new loft. The one I like the best is the concept of a “dressing room”; here’s an example picture:

    Example Dressing Room

    They say it’s an ideal conversion for a large walk-in closet or a spare room. Unfortunately we have neither. I was hoping we could convert the area taken up by the existing closets, but after looking at our floorplan again, I don’t think there’s enough room. If we gave up the terrace and enlarged the master bedroom there’d be plenty of space (we’d probably never use the terrace anyway), but exterior modifications aren’t allowed. Sigh, so much for that.

  • In truth I probably got more excited over the peripheral food-related things at the design show. One booth that was hawking floor tiles was luring people in with free samples of parmigiano reggiano. They had a whole wheel of the stuff, the ones that sell at Pusateri’s for a few thousand dollars each. There was also a stand selling fresh lemonade; half a smashed lemon (with its juice) in a cup, and the rest filled with sugar water. It looked good, but it was merely tolerable.

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The second of what is slowly becoming a series…

Having a relationship with someone that works in a supermarket doesn’t come with the perks you might think. Check out this excerpt from our credit card transactions this month:

Credit card transaction excerpt

I think this is what people mean when they refer to “death by a thousand paper cuts”, or more accurately for this case, bankruptcy by a thousand small grocery purchases.

Last hoopla before turning 30… anyone still game?

So ends another successful cottage trip. There was much eating, golfing, and lounging to be had. It used to be an annual thing, but Calvin disappeared to HK last year, and even before that the fate of his family’s cottage was up in the air.

At the last one (in ’03), we devised a grandiose plan to go on a big group trip before we turned 30. This e-mail describes it:

Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 23:24:24 -0400
From: …
To: …
Subject: Last hoopla before turning 30

You are cordially invited to attend a luxury boat cruise to an
unknown, exotic location (Alaska probably doesn’t count) with your
fellow 29-year-old buddies in late May/early June 2008. Yes, this is
a serious invitation! And it would be great if everyone could go,
which is why this is being sent five years in advance.

After our last cottage trip ever (so sad!), the bunch of us got
misty-eyed and wanted to plan a future trip where we could do
something as a large group. Thus a cruise, where we can frolic on
land and sea and gorge ourselves to porky pigginess! It’s a chance
to sow your last wild oats before becoming middle-aged! Hopefully
in five years, most people will be out of debt and have at least
one week of vacation time to block off for this trip.

To encourage people to commit to this trip, we are asking for a
non-refundable deposit of $500. (Ha ha, oh great, now I sound like
I’m about to pull a scam.) We are planning to put all the money in
a bond or something similar so that we will have lots of pooled
cash to spend on the cruise and the daytrips. This means that if
you pull out, you’ll lose your money! Which is why you should make
sure that you can go! We have nominated Dave to be the treasurer
but if anyone else is interested in the job, let us know.

Just reply saying whether or not you are interested in going, and
you can reply all if you have any suggestions for the group. Thanks!

P.S. Spouses are welcome, but Dave and Bonnie have banned children
from this trip. Sorry! People with families will have to find
babysitters.

Suffice to say, nothing ever came of it. At the time we couldn’t really agree on a place to put the money, but in retrospect I should have just grabbed the bull by the horns and opened a joint trading account with someone. If we had put the money in an S&P/TSX60 index fund at the time like I was planning, we’d be up 50% by now (or 22% compounded annually).

Well there’s still 3 years… who’s up for it?

I’m a lazy, lazy monkey…

Having a relationship with a pharmacist doesn’t come with the perks you might think; Bonnie refuses to fill my prescriptions. Sigh, so much for the dream of IMing my symptoms to a doctor, who then phones in my prescription to the pharmacy, where it gets filled and magically comes home at the end of the day.

Japan Recap

It’s been almost 4 weeks since we got back from Japan, so I figure I’d better write something before I forget it all. It’s already been so long that I don’t think I can string together coherent paragraphs describing the experience, so here comes the random stream of consciousness.

  • People in Japan have one of the world’s longest life expectancies, but you’d never know it if you just hung around Tokyo. It seemed like everyone there was young and immaculately dressed (Bonnie described the Tokyo-ite clothing as “fussy”). It wasn’t until we got to the hot spring resort town of Hakone and Expo Aichi 2005 that we found where all the old people were hiding.
  • Did I mention that I’m not a big fan of their old people? They’re rude and pushy, like they’ve got some gigantic chip on their respective shoulders. The most vivid memory I have is standing in line to buy tickets for the Linimo (a maglev train, which by the way is just one big money grab) to the Expo. So I’m next in line, about to walk up to the ticket booth and this old woman comes out of nowhere, cutting in front. Yeesh.
  • All of their non-alcoholic drinks (wouldn’t know about the alcohol-laced ones) seem to be watered down. The Kirin milk tea that Matt raves about? Tastes like they steeped the tea for maybe 10 seconds, then poured in a ton of milk. Fruit juices? Watered down to at most 30%. They have some “100% juice” ones, but they actually taste like the crappy “from concentrate” juices you get in Canada. I’ll stick with my Tropicana Orange and Apple, thank you.
  • Smoking is still considered cool there, which I have trouble dealing with. My two most vivid Japan-smoking traumas are: 1) A First Kitchen fast food place in Kyoto, we wanted to try their Bacon-Egg-Burger (B.E.B.) cause the picture looked tasty. The place is two floors, first floor is where you order and there’s maybe seating for like 20 people. It’s lunch time, so the first floor is completely full. Fine, so we go up to the second floor – we turn around before making it to the top because there’s so much smoke in the air it’s like a dense fog. We end up eating on the first floor by the garbage can. 2) On our last day, the “Friendly Airport Limousine” we took from our hotel to the airport manages to lose one of our pieces of luggage (actually ended up being the hotel’s fault). Regardless, we end up sitting in the airport limo office for a good half hour while they sort things out. They have four employees lounging around in this cramped little office, two of them are puffing away the whole time. When we finally get out of their our clothes reek of smoke and my eyes are watering.
  • When you’re a potential tourist outside of the country, they extoll the virtues of the several hundred dollar Japan Rail Pass. It sounds like a wonderous form of public transportation, spanning the county in a safe and punctual manner. What you don’t find out until you get there is that JR is really meant for inter-city transportation. “Public” transportation within the big cities is actually a fragmented mess of private subway lines, each belonging to different companies. JR does have sparse coverage in the most popular urban areas, but be prepared to do a lot of walking if you only stick to JR. I’d almost liken the JR Pass to an unlimited GO Transit pass in Ontario.
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