Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Bikes and BBQs

Apparently I wanted to spend this weekend past covered in grease, because I spent the lion share of my time biking and cleaning my new BBQ.

On the biking front, a friend of mine recently got a new bike and was wanting to do some biking this weekend, so we decided to bike over to MEC to pick up some bike stuff, then we tested out the route he would ride to work if decided to do that1, and then we decided to try out the Central Valley Greenway, a cycling/pedestrian route that runs basically underneath the Skytrain’s Millennium Line. In total, we biked more than 26 km!

Now, I should point out that I didn’t bike to MEC from my place – that would be crazy. When I bought my bike, I made sure to buy one that I could fit in my Smart Car trunk. In order to do that, I have to take off both wheels, but they are quick release wheels to make the process easier. Unfortunately, since I haven’t taken those wheels off in about a year, the “quick” part of quick release wheel would be better described as “trying-to-remember-how-the-hell-these-wheels-come-off-and-then-how-they-go-back-on-and-now-I’m-all-sweaty-and-covered-in-bicycle-grease” release wheels.

Bike Tangent: I biked to work for the first time about a week ago and have been totally remiss in blogging about it! At Christmas, my mom gave me money to buy a rack and panniers for my bike and somehow it took me until July to actually buy them. But buy them I did and I biked to work and it was super fantastic. I’m very fortunate that the building where I work has a free gym, which means that I have a place to shower when I bike to work. It also has a locked bike room in the parkade to keep your bike in – and the room is in a high traffic location and there are regular security patrols of the parkade, so I feel safe locking my bike up there. And my panniers are like the purse that Hermione has in the 7th Harry Potter book where she fit in all their supplies, including a tent, into a tiny handbag because she put an Undetectable Extension Charm on it. That is to say, I can fit a ridiculous amount of stuff in there2! Sadly, I didn’t bike to work at all last week, as I had a few days where I had to go to offsite meetings and thus needed to have my car, and then it rained. But I did bike to work yesterday and it was just as awesome.

Pannier

Pannier!

Bike

My bike locked up in the bike room

Before I went out biking on Saturday, I went down to Point Roberts to pick up some BBQ grates that I ordered on Amazon.com and had to get shipped there because they don’t ship to Canada. I needed new grates because I acquired a BBQ with my new condo from the seller of the condo, but it turned out that he didn’t clean said BBQ and a few weekends back I tried to clean the existing grates and once I got down past the 87 inches worth of charred grease, I discovered that the grates were completely rusted. Seeing as I prefer to cook my food on something that isn’t likely to kill me, I opted to get some new grates. Before I could use said grates, though, I had to clean the rest of the BBQ. And let me tell you, that was quite a task. Like the old grates, there was about a million inches of charred grease inside the BBQ, which took lots of scrubbing and scrapping to get off. Which did result in my being pretty covered in grease. But in the end, I got it clean enough and then I made some delicious chicken and all was right with the world.

Brand new BBQ grill

Brand new stainless steel grill.

BBQ chicken

My first BBQ’d food!

Greek Salad and BBQ chicken

Delicious Greek salad and BBQ’d chicken breast.

BBQ Tangent: While talking with my mom about my BBQ, she told me about this news story, where a woman ate meat that had been cooked on a BBQ that had been cleaned by a BBQ brush from which wire bristles had broken off and ended up lodged in her throat. Which lead to her needing several surgeries and “12 days in hospital, including eight in the ICU hooked up to both breathing and feeding tubes”!!! So instead of having a BBQ brush, I have a grill stone for cleaning my grill. Which works amazingly, FYI. Also, the previous owner also left behind a BBQ brush, from which half the bristles were either completely missing or broken:

BBQ brush left behind by former owner.

Don’t worry, Mom – I didn’t use that brush. It went right into the garbage after I took that photo!

I have to say, after seeing that brush, I’m *really* glad I decided to buy new grates!

  1. His commute to work is sooo much nicer than mine. Part of it is along the seawall! Jealous! []
  2. For example, I fit my giant bike lock, a dress and shoes, a towel and soap, my make-up and jewelry, my wallet and keys, my breakfast and my lunch… and had plenty of room to spare! []

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Framed

One of the many ways in which I was spoiled by my mother for my MBA graduation was that she bought me a frame for my diploma1. But not just any frame. No, I needed a fancy pants Sauder School of Business frame. In my defence, my PhD is also from UBC and I already have a fancy pants UBC frame, so I wanted something that would make this degree look different than that one.

Anyway, while my mom was here, we ordered the frame and then I dutifully waited 10 business days for shipping… and it turned out they sent the wrong frame! Well, technically they sent the right frame with the wrong mat. Instead of sending me the mat with the Sauder logo and the Robert H. Lee Graduate School wordmark – I was in the graduate school, after all – they sent me one with just the Sauder logo. Like as if I were an *undergrad*! The horror!

I emailed the company that sells the frames and they quickly shipped me a new mat and then I waited something less than 10 business days and then all was right with the world. Here is my newly framed MBA:

MBA frame

And here is a close up of the Sauder School of Business logo *AND* Robert H. Lee Graduate School wordmark:

MBA frame

It also came with this swanky Sauder logo medallion at the top:

MBA frame

Also, I was surprised to discover that the frame was made in Canada:

MBA frame

Except then I noticed that the frame was made in Italy:

MBA frame

So I guess the “made in Canada” refers to the mat and/or medallion? At any rate, I have a lovely frame for my hard-earned degree. Thanks, Mom!

Perhaps hanging things on walls should be my task for this weekend?

  1. Being that I’m the type to lose and/or spill things on important documents, I wanted to get my diploma into the frame to protect if from me. []

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Frog Stand

In my old apartment, I had built in gas fireplace with a spot above the mantle that was originally meant to hold those old boxy cathode ray tube TVs, but which made a very good place for a frog tank.

Christmas tree

Apparently the only photo I have of the frog tank above the fireplace is from last Christmas! You can just barely see it in the top right corner of that photo

My new place doesn’t have the built in gas fireplace, so when I moved in, I was faced with the question of where to put the frogs. I needed a piece of furniture that was strong enough to hold the tank, that had room for the two electrical cords required (one for the filter and one for the heater) and, ideally, that looked nice too. When I first moved in, I put them on top of a small bookcase that I had1, which seemed fairly sturdy, but I wasn’t 100% sure it would be able to sustain the weight over the long-term.

One of my friends suggested that I should get a stone pillar – like the kind you might see in a garden, but I looked at a few places and couldn’t find one. And then I got the brilliant idea that perhaps I should actually look a a built-for-purpose aquarium stand. I looked around online and found a few things that would be serviceable, but I decided I should check out the store where I usually go for my frog needs, Aquariums West2. I needed some new filter pads for the frog tank anyway, so I headed downtown yesterday to the store to pick those up and check out my frog tank-supporting options.

They had some tall black plinths which were very nice, but cost nearly $200 and of all the things that I want to spend $200 on, plinths are not high up on my list. But, as luck would have it, they had a couple of small aquarium stands that were end of the line, so they’d built them up and were selling them at a deep discount. Which meant that I got an aquarium stand for cheap AND I didn’t have to put it together3!

And so I bought the stand and put it in a different corner of the living room than I’d had the tank in on the bookshelf – I’d put the bookshelf in was a corner between my two giant living room windows and so the tank was getting too much sunshine, causing the algae to grow like crazy. I’m hoping that having the tank not in direct sunlight will prevent that from occurring again!

New aquarium stand for the frog tank

New frog tank stand!

  1. All my other bookcases were too tall to put the tank on top, but the other shelves had closed backs so I wouldn’t have anywhere to put the cords other than running them out of the front, which would look silly. Plus, they are Ikea bookcases, so I don’t have a lot of confidence in their strength. []
  2. Note that I don’t have any affiliation with Aquariums West – I just like the store as the people there are knowledgable and helpful. And they only teased me a little when I asked them where they kept their terrariums with spiders in them so that I could always be sure to steer clear of that part of the store! []
  3. While I do enjoy assembling furniture, when it comes to furniture that needs to support a lot of weight, I much prefer that the assembly be completed by a professional! []

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Kitties Report, Q2

Introduction

This report covers Q2 of FY2014 for Snow Industries, Cat Division.

Assets

Asset acquisition was minimal in Q2, including only one item: a food dish with a timer-released lid, which allows food to be put out for the cats in a sealed compartment, the lid of which opens at a pre-set time. This asset was acquired since the CEO spent time traveling away from headquarters during Q2 and the timer-released lid allowed her to pay a cat sitter to attend to the cats only once a day, instead of twice a day. Thus, this asset was a significant cost saving acquisition.

Expenses

Primary operating expenses in Q2 comprised food and cat sitting services, due to the aforementioned CEO trips. Food products were diversified by trying out some high quality, grain-free dry food that could safely be left in the aforementioned timer-released dish (as leaving out wet food for 12 hours didn’t seem like a good idea). Dry food will be reserved for only such times as food needs to be left out in the new dish, much to the dismay of the cats, who lose their little kitty minds over this crunchy food. They have informed management that they will be consulting with their union rep on this matter.

Expenses lumped together in the “supplies” category the Q1 report were broken down into the more precise categories of “food,” “litter”, and “equipment”1, as the accountant felt guilty about her lazy accounting. See Figure 1 for a breakdown of expenses by category for the first half of FY2014 (i.e., both Q1 and Q2).

Figure 1

Developments at Snow Industries

In keeping with our luxury brand, Snow Industries relocated headquarters from rented space to owned space in a prime sub-penthouse location. The expense of this purchase was not included in the financials above because (a) the total would overwhelm all other expenses, making the graphs much less interesting to look at, and (b) the accountant is far too lazy to do the amortization calculations.

The process of moving provided significant excitement for CATpital investment Watson and CATpital investment Crick, mostly in the form of boxes, but also in the form of lying on the moving blanket that the movers accidentally left behind. See Figures 2 to 14.

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

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Figure 4

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Figure 5

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Figure 6

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Figure 7

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Figure 8

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Figure 9

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Figure 10

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Figure 11

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Figure 12

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Figure 13

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Figure 14

Another highlight of Q2 was a visit from Grandma and Great Auntie Eileen, who spoiled the kitties with love and toys. Toys, I might add, that the kitties completely ignored until Grandma and Great Auntie Eileen went home, at which point they started playing with them. Especially at night. Especially the ones with bells in them.

Risk Management

The teeth-related risk described in the Q1 report came to fruition with the destruction of a perfectly good, brand new pair of headphones (see Figure 15). Though security footage from headquarters did not reveal the culprit, the Security Department has their suspicions as to who was at fault. To avoid future property damage, it has been suggested that perhaps the CEO shouldn’t leave her headphones with their delicious looking cord poking out of her purse on the counter where a curious kitty might go looking.

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Figure 15

Marketing

The Marketing Department has been prototype testing a variety of cat nicknames, mostly because that’s what happens when you live alone with only cats to talk to. Some nicknames are generally applied to both cats equally (e.g., Muffin, Munchkin, Destructo-Kitty), whereas some are specific to a given cat (For Watson, they include but are not limited to: Dr. Watson, Big W, Watskipoo, Brother Cat, Kitchen Cat2; for Crick, they include but are not limited to Dr. Crick, Cricky, Crickskipoo, Crickerella, Sister Cat, Office Cat3. Future testing of cat nicknames is required to determine the best fit with Snow Industries overall branding strategy.

Return on Investment

ROI, in the form of cuddles, cuteness, and love, continues to be strong through Q2. The Finance Department remains baffled as to how to appropriately monetize these returns, as numbers big enough to represent the return do not appear to exist. Forecasts continue to anticipate ongoing positive returns for the foreseeable future.

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Figure 16: Snow Industries employee group photo

Footnotes

  1. “Equipment” comprises such items as toys, dishes, and scratching posts. []
  2. Watson loves to watch me when I’m working in the kitchen. []
  3. Crick loves to hang out with me when I’m in the office. []

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Yet Another 101 Things To Do in the Next 1001 Days

So it’s been 6 days since my last 1001 days list ended and apparently I just can’t live with a long list of goals, because here I am with my next list! This time I decided to use Google spreadsheets because that will be much easier than the HTML’d list that I’ve used in my previous 101 lists. Some of the items are things that I didn’t accomplish in my last 101 list that I still want to do 1. Some are things I blatantly stole from Dr. Dan’s Not-So-Bucket List. And several are things that are top of mind because I’ve spent the last little while unpacking and organizing my new condo and I have a bunch of stuff that I want to do/buy to get this place set up just the way I want it, so why not put them on the list?

I’ve also decided to start the 1001 days as of Saturday, as I’ve been building the list since even before I finished the previous 1001 days but I didn’t get around to publishing it until tonight (in fact, I thought I *did* publish yesterday, but I’ve just discovered that I neglected to actually click the “publish” button!). And maybe, just maybe, because I accomplished some of the stuff that’s on the list either yesterday or Saturday and I want to be able to check things off the list to start the ball rolling. So, for the record:

Start date: Saturday, July 12, 2014

End date: Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wish me luck!

  1. And some I think were on my *original* 101 list and if I seriously can’t accomplish them in 3003 days, then what is wrong with me?? []

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Happy 9th Blogiversary to me!

I’m coming in just under the wire on this one, but Happy 9th Blogiversary to me!

Number 9 Sign

When I started this blog nine years ago, it never even occurred to me that it would become such an integral part of my life. It’s my archives of my experiences and ideas (which I really need since I have such a terrible memory!). It’s a connection to family and friends who live both near and far. It’s a creative outlet. And although blogging seems to be much less popular than it was – and the comments section of most blogs are all but dead (damn you Facebook and Twitter!), I still think I’ll be keeping mine going for years to come. Happy birthday, my little blog!

Image Credit: Posted by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

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Day 1001 – A Summary

So, today is the last of the 1001 days in my allotted 1001 days to accomplish 101 things. It’s hard to believe that it was 1001 days ago that I wrote that list – it seems like only yesterday! Anyhoo, let’s check in on how I did with that list, shall we?

  • Number of items accomplished: 27 (26.7%)
  • Number of items partially accomplished: 3 (2.9%)
  • Number of items not accomplished: 71 (70%)

That is absolutely abysmal! It’s even worse than my previous 101 list, where I accomplished a mere 39 items. In my defence, I wrote my last 101 list on Oct 10, 2011, at which point I didn’t yet know if I’d get into the MBA program and then once I got in, I spent the lion share of the past 1001 days in said program, which had to have interfered with me pursuing some of these 101 goals. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

OK, so now let’s look at the items I did – and did not – accomplish, in a little more detail.

Completed Items

I’ve broken this down into two categories: A. Stuff I did that I figured I’d be likely to do and B. Stuff I did that I was surprised I managed to accomplish.

A. Stuff I Did That I Figured I’d Be Likely To Do

1. pay off my student loans in full!
4. live above ground
10. write a blog posting with 101 footnotes in it.
12. re-read Momo
13. re-read Johnathan Livingstone Seagull
16. buy a pantsuit
17. visit a shooting range and shoot a gun!
25. bake at least one thing per month for 12 months in a row, without baking the same thing two months in a row
26. do some kind of exercise (anything really, even if it is just a set of pushups, as long as it is beyond just incidental stuff like taking the stairs or walking to a store) every day for a year!
36. incorporate the word “growlery” into my vocabulary
38. eat a Montreal smoked meat sandwich in Montreal, which I haven’t done since I was a kid
43. make homemade pasta
44. do the CN Tower Edgewalk
51. get my Credentialed Evaluator designation
52. cook a decent tasting Eggplant Parmesan
55. leave the continent
65. go to a Vancouver Canadians game
66. write in my journal every day for a month
81. participate in five research projects
87. do another 365 day photo challenge
91. run in a zombie obstacle course race
92. make Dark & Stormy cupcakes
99. make Baked Alaska
100. print eight photos and put them in the photo frame that I bought ages ago that has been handing on my wall with the stock photos in it, because that really looks quite ridiculous the way it is
101. publish 501 blog postings in this 1001 day period

B. Stuff I Did That I Was Surprised I Managed To Accomplish

5. get a cat
9. own property

C. Stuff That I Partially Accomplished

3. get a promotion at work – While I didn’t get a promotion per se, I did get an appointment as an Adjunct Professor.
8. run a destination marathon somewhere awesome – I ran a destination half marathon (in Hollywood), so I count this as half accomplished.
94. make homemade egg nog – While I didn’t actually make it myself, I told my sister I wanted to make it and we found a recipe and then she made it while I was doing other stuff (probably playing with the kids). So while I didn’t make it per se, I was involved in it being made!

Incomplete Items

I’ve broken this down into three categories: A. Abject failures, B. Stuff I never thought I’d do anyways, and C. Stuff I no longer even care about/couldn’t do because of outside forces.

A. Abject Failures

6. learn to juggle
7. go to an Abbotsford Heat hockey game
14. do a round of P90X
15. buy a red suit
19. run a triathlon
20. host a dinner party
23. go skydiving
24. write a will
30. publish a paper with Dan Gillis
31. publish a paper with Rick Chin
34. present at a conference at an international location13
25. taking singing lessons
37. get a ride on a zamboni
39. go scuba diving
40. go for a ride in a helicopter
41. go for a ride in a float plane
45. do a 30-day hot yoga challenge
46. learn to do a handstand
37. complete a good cartwheel
50. run a sub-2 hour half marathon
53. go to New York City
54. go to Chicago
56. go surfing & actually stay up on the board
57. learn to snowboard (or at least try it)
58. hike Black Task
59. hike the West Coast Trail
60. read something by Salman Rushdie
61. for one week, go to bed at 9 and read non-work related books
62. read The Last Spike by Pierre Berton
63. skate on the Rideau Canal
67. go kayaking
68. camp at Joffre Lakes
69. visit Galiano Island
70. visit Salt Spring Island
71. visit Bowen Island
72. save $500 in coins
73. visit Newfoundland
74. visit Nova Scotia
75. visit the Yukon
76. visit Nunavut
77. do 15 minutes of yoga every morning for a month
79. record a cooking show (at least 5 episodes)
80. publish said cooking show online
82. up my blog readership to an average of 200 readers a day
83. see Groove Coverage in concert
84. go zip cording
85. make homemade marshmallows
86. scan all the photos from my pre-digital camera days
88. watch salmon spawning
89. go to Fright Nights at the PNE
90. do the Stanley Park Christmas lights train ride
95. take photos of each of my important pieces of jewelry and write a blog posting about their backstories
96. mail a birthday card to each member of my immediate family and my closest friends in time for their birthdays during a one-year time span
97. memorize 10 people’s phone numbers

B. Stuff I Never Thought I’d Do Anyway

11. learn to speak French well enough to carry on a halfway decent conversation
18. be named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40
21. be an invited guest speaker at a TED conference11
22. meet a Prime Minister (past or present)
27. attend a taping of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
28. attend a taping of the Colbert Report
29. be a guest on the Colbert Report
42. climb an active volcano
48. ride an elephant
49. ride a camel
61. visit Macchu Picchu

C. Stuff I No Longer Even Care About/Couldn’t Do Because of Outside Forces

2. host a lavish “I Paid Off My Student Loans” party [decided I just wasn’t into this idea]
32. take Dan and Rick to section 3 (a.k.a., the nerd bar) [Was foiled on this one, as section 3 closed down before Dan and Rick came out here. ]
33. be named the Nerd of the Month at section 3 [See above ]

So, before I get too depressed about my lack of getting stuff done on the list, I’d like to remind myself about what I wrote in the summary of my previous 101 list:

This all makes me think of Mintzberg’s work1 where he talked about how the most highly successful organizations do not implement 100% of their strategic plans; instead, successful organization are adaptive and take advantage of emerging opportunities that they couldn’t have foreseen when they wrote their plan – like, say, the opportunity to play hockey for 10 days to set a world record [or do an MBA!] -  and drop things that become less important as time goes on. So yeah, I think I did alright.

  1. Dr. Henry Mintzberg of McGill University []

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Half Marathon #11 – A Belated Blog Posting

This post is ridiculously overdue. I wrote most of it on the plane to (or possibly from) San Francisco, and haven’t gotten around to posting it until just now, what with all moving and traveling and unpacking and various other goings on in my life. But better late than never, right?

In amongst the moving and traveling, I also ran my 11th half marathon, which I haven’t had time to blog about yet1, what with all the moving and traveling and running half marathons.

The half marathon in question was the Scotiabank Half Marathon in Vancouver. I’ve run this twice before – once with Alicia (2010) and once with Kim (2011). It’s a really lovely route that starts out a UBC, where you run around the campus for a bit before heading by Jericho Beach, over the Burrard Street Bridge and then finishing up in Stanley Park. The day was also lovely – it was hot, to be sure, but not insanely so, and there was a bit of cloud cover so that you weren’t running in direct sun the whole time.

Scotiabank Half Marathon Route 2014

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon route for 2014. Note the elevation map – specifically, the lovely net downhilledness of this race!

The one thing that wasn’t lovely was that I was sick. For the third time this spring :S I’m pretty sure that I must have picked this cold up when I was in Ontario2. I was coughing up a storm and I’m pretty sure it was sapping my energy – at least, that’s what I’m blaming my slow finish time on. I finished at 2:15:05 – more than 5 minutes longer than the Hollywood Half in April and a reversal of my trend where I’d been improving my time my last few half marathons (remember, this is finishing time, so shorter is better!):

Half Marathon Finish Times as of June 2014

I ran the race with a couple of friends from work. Geoff was running his second half marathon, having done the BMO half in 2013 and Christina was running her first ever half! I had photos that Christina took of us, but I think she must have texted them to me and then I lost them when my phone went insane and I had to restore it to factory when I was in Toronto. Anyway, great job, race buddies!

After the race, we headed back to UBC on the shuttle bus to get Christina’s car and then we went to Trafalgar Bistro, where we had the most delicious brunch in the history of brunch: eggs benny, but instead of being on an English muffin, it was on a potato latke. O. M. G. D. E. L. I. C. I. O. U.S.

After having done two half marathons in two months, immediately following the running study that I was in, I’m feeling like I need to change things up from just running. I think I want to find a triathlon to train for next – if anyone knows of any good ones in the Vancouver area in the fall, hit me up!

  1. Funny that I wrote that when I typed this up on the plane – more than a week ago! []
  2. Damn you, Ontario! []

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Real Estate Mogul

FOR SALEHey, remember that time I bought a condo? That was pretty awesome and also stressful but mostly awesome. I’ve never done a real estate deal before, as I spent my twenties giving all my money (and a bunch of money that wasn’t mine) to various universities in exchange for letters after my name and the first half of my thirties paying off that crushing level of student loan debt. Couple that with the fact that I live in an insanely expensive city when it comes to real estate and, well, it means that I didn’t really think I’d be buying a place anytime soon. But I’ve really taken a liking to New Westminster and to my neighbourhood in particular. And when a place – almost identical to my current place1 but on a different floor – came up for sale in my building at a price that I was comfortable with, well, the rest is history.

The whole buying process was an interesting experience. I’m sure those of you who’ve done it before think it’s NBD2, but for a newbie, it sure can be overwhelming. I used a realtor and a mortgage broker, referred to me by a friend, who walked me through the process3. Once I’d looked at the place a couple of times, talked to a friend of a friend who happens to be on the strata council in my building and had my realtor look into the building, I was reasonably convinced that the building was solid4. After that, there’s a process of making offers and counter offers and once there was an accepted offer, I had 10 days to “remove the subjects”. I’d made the contract subject to some pretty standard conditions: for example, that I’d be able to get satisfactory financing, that I’d be able to read the strata by-laws and the last two years worth of strata meeting minutes and would be satisfied with those5 and that I’d have a condo inspector check it out and I’d be satisfied with the their report.

The latter one proved extra stressful because the week that I was removing subjects just happened to be the week of the BC Home Inspectors’ conference being held inHouse/Home Inspection Kelowna, so the first few inspectors that I called were going to be out of town until the day that I needed to remove subjects! Happily, I was able to find one guy who got good reviews on the HomeStars.com (basically the Yelp of home-related things) that was not going to the conference and he was able to inspect my place. He gave the building a good review – said it was in great shape and the strata council was doing an excellent job of maintaining the building to keep it in good shape. His only suggestion was that I should replace the rubber hoses, which can breakdown, on the washing machine with braided metal
hoses6.

Money makes the world go 'round.During this time, I was also arranging for a mortgage. Obviously, I wanted the lowest interest rate that I could get and I wanted to pay accelerated biweekly (which automatically saves you money and time on your mortgage), but I knew that I also wanted to have the flexibility to make lump sum payments7. As well, I needed to work with my financial guy  to take money from my Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) under the first time home buyers plan8 and other money out of my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) for my down payment. Along with other savings that I had, I was able to make a 25% downpayment, which allowed me to avoid paying Canadian Mortgage & Housing Commission (CMHC) insurance9.

So, once all the subjects were removed, I had a deal! And I have to say, I experienced a great deal of relief once it was all settled – I Sold Sign Boardfound it very stressful to be doing all this negotiating, investigating, deliberating, and deciding! After that though, I had to deal with all the usual stresses of moving – hiring movers, arranging cleaning/
steam cleaning of the carpet in my old place, changing over utilities, etc.10. Since I plan to stay in this place for a while (unlike when I was renting), I wanted to do a really good job of purging stuff that I don’t need11, so I was more deliberate in my packing – taking time to consider if I really needed this item or that item, and putting stuff in boxes for donation/recycling/garbage12. The move itself was the easiest one I’ve ever done – I just needed to move up four floors, so I booked the elevator and some movers to move my stuff – didn’t even need a truck! Since the apartment layout is identical, I told the movers to put every piece of furniture in exactly the same place in the new apartment as it had been in the old apartment!

The cats reaction to the whole moving process was exactly what I predicted – they LOVED the packing, as it meant everyday I was bringing cardboard boxes into the apartment and they had tonnes of fun climbing on packed boxes, jumping into and out of empty boxes13, looking inside of boxes that I was in the middle of packing. But the day of the move was a bit stressful for them, especially Watson. I had to lock them in the bathroom while the movers were moving stuff so that they wouldn’t get underfoot or escape into the hallway or onto the balcony and they didn’t like that at all. I went in to visit them, giving them pets and treats, throughout the duration, but Watson was unhappy – he alternated  between sulking and crying/meowing pretty much anytime I wasn’t in the middle of giving him a treat. After everything was moved to the new apartment, I brought them up to the new place and they sniffed everything and checked out the new place, but Watson remained a bit stressed for a while – I can tell because he was panting and following me around the apartment, meowing for attention. Lots of pets and playing and some treats helped to make him feel more secure and eventually he took a nap with his sister on the tallest pile of boxes. Crick remained a lot more chill throughout the whole situation.

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Now that I’m all moved in and have returned from my San Francisco trip, I have begun unpacking in earnest. I made some good headway with the unpacking this weekend and though I still have much do14, I feel like I’ve transformed the place from “giants piles of boxes everywhere” to “somewhat livable.” Perhaps I’ll post some photos once it’s all done!

Image Credits:

  1. The slight differences include that the new place has nicer appliances and fixtures (compared to the crappy appliances and basic faucets one puts into a rental apartment), dark wood laminate floors (instead of crappy carpet that you put in a rental suite), no cheesy wood panelling in the kitchen, a sliding glass door on the tub (compared to a shower curtain rod that often fell down in my old apartment), but no gas fireplace. []
  2. No Big Deal. []
  3. Not to mention talking to other people who’ve been through the process recently and reading tonnes of stuff about the process. []
  4. When I first approached the realtor, she was a bit hesitant about the building due to its age. But once we’d done the due diligence, she was convinced that it was a good building. []
  5. Oddly, I actually enjoyed reading the strata minutes – at least in part because my recent MBA makes me now able to understand financial statements and governance and other such things. I think I’d like to run for strata council next year. Yes, I know that this means there’s probably something wrong with me! []
  6. And since the last thing I want is a flood, I did that the day I moved in! []
  7. a.k.a. “balloon payments”, a.k.a., “prepayments”) and/or to increase the amount of my regular mortgage payments in order to pay off my mortgage faster. This is how I managed to pay off my student loans so fast – every time I got a raise, I figured out the after-tax difference and increased my student loan payment by that amount and when I did any contract work, I’d take the after-tax amount and make a lump sum. By making these types of lump sum extra payments, you pay off your principal quicker, resulting in significant savings on the amount of interest you end up paying. I have a spreadsheet to track all this ((Of course I do. []
  8. For the uninitiated, in Canada one can take up to $25K out of one’s RRSP for the purposes of buying your first home without having to pay tax on it, so long as you pay that money back into your RRSP within 15 years. []
  9. Don’t get me started on CMHC insurance. Basically, if you don’t make at least a 20% downpayment on your property, you are considered a risk to not be able to pay off your mortgage. Thus, in order to be allowed to have a mortgage, you have to pay the CMHC to insure the bank (or mortgage company – basically, whoever lent you the money) in case you default. Let me repeat that – the CMHC insurance protects the *bank* – it doesn’t protect you. And *you* are paying the cost of the insurance. I’ve talked to many people who don’t realize this – they think they are paying for insurance that protects them in some way, but it doesn’t. The thought of paying money for insurance that doesn’t benefit me in any way really irks me, though one of my friends pointed out that it’s basically like a tax for living in the Greater Vancouver area, where costs are so high that few people can save enough for 20%. At any rate, I’m very glad that I got a good deal on my place and have been good enough with my money to have saved enough to have a 25% downpayment. []
  10. Most annoyingly, I paid Canada Post to forward my mail – even though it’s going to the same building! But there’s no other way to get the mail from the old apartment to the new apartment – even if I knew who was moving into my old apartment, I couldn’t ask them to slide my mail under my door, as my building has a security system where your fob only gets you onto your own floor of the building, so they would have no way to get on my floor! []
  11. As stuff I don’t purge now is much less likely to get purged at any other time than during a move. []
  12. Of course, the level of deliberateness with which I packed decreased the closer I got to moving date. I started labeling everything by the room in which the contents belong, along with a description of content (e.g., “Kitchen – Wineglasses” or “Office – Textbooks”), but by the time I was a couple of days ’til the move, every box’s contents was described as “Misc.” []
  13. I swear Watson is spring-loaded – the height he gets when jumping out of a box is incredible! []
  14. Yes, I realize that I could have been unpacking more instead of blogging, but (a) I wrote most of this posting on the plane to/from San Francisco and just hadn’t gotten around to posting it. []

By

SFO

Sitting on the floor in SFO airport so that I can charge my iPad while I type this, since the seats in the waiting area that have plugs in them are all taken1. My flight out of SFO to Portland (where I have a layover on my way home to Vancouver) is delayed by 47 minutes (and counting). Apparently there is construction happening on 2 of the 4 runways here, so there’s tonnes of flight delays. My flight here was delayed, as was Kalev’s and several other people on our trip, for the same reason. My stopover in Portland was supposed to be 2.5 hrs so now it will be a shorter. Six of one, half dozen of the other…. assuming they don’t keep delaying my flight to PDX so long that I miss my connection to YVR2!

SF trip was super fun. Highlights include, in no particular order:

  • Staying in my first Airbnb place. There were seven of us on the trip, so we got an awesome 4 bedroom apartment in the Castro. It had a full kitchen, three bathrooms3. My better price than if we’d gotten hotel rooms – especially during Pride weekend – and we all got to stay together.
  • Taking my first (several) Uber rides. For the uninitiated, as I was before this trip, Uber is like the Airbnb of car rides.
  • Partying every single night! On Friday night we went to Badlands, on Saturday night to Beaux, and on Sunday night to The Vestry at the Chapel. They were all pretty packed, what with it being Pride weekend and all, and we had lots of fun. Though I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of the free pouring of the bartenders – I actually prefer my spice rum and diet Coke to taste like it actually has some diet Coke in it, rather than just tasting like a glass of spiced rum!
  • Super fancy dinner at Millennium, a gourmet vegan restaurant. This was the official Kalev’s birthday dinner and it was fantastic. A few people got the 5 course “summer harvest” dinner, which looked amazing but was way too much food for me. I had “steak” fries with blueberry-juniper ketchup and a vegetarian Wellington. Delicious!
  • Other great eats including Lucky Creation (vegetarian Chinese), Crepe Vine, and Pork Store. Oh yeah, and Reveille Coffee. To die for!

OK, I better start packing up. Flight will be boarding soon and it sounds like there will be a fight for overhead bin space as the flight is full and they are offering to check bags for free!

  1. I’m sitting next to a random pole that has an electrical outlet. Traveling is so glamourous. []
  2. Fingers crossed that does not happen! []
  3. One was a full bathroom including tub/shower, one was just a toilet & a sink, and one was a shower & a sink. Worked well for 7 people who operated on various different schedules of when we got up/went to bed. []