Back Up and Running!

It works! I am typing this post out on my main PC, and it feels so good. I just got this machine (PC) running a few minutes ago, as I was waiting for my RAM, 8G, DDR4 chips set, that arrived in the mail today. Luckily all my hardware and software works with it too! I am so freaking happy about this. OH, yeah, the weather–need to talk about that too. Oh my,  the weather is just as freaky as my happiness right now. But Ya, I have my good computer working again. Feels so nice.

Back to my personal computer news. So it is confirmed, I killed the main board. So I had to buy another one. Sadly, my old main board is no longer made any more. Along with it, I went for newer CPU too, and then the RAM. The price of RAM is through the roof–all due to Bitcoin Miners–I should point out. I went with upgrading instead of trying to replace everything with totally new gear. I kept the specs as close as I could being that I was trying to recover my hard drive in process. It all paid off! Not only do I have a faster main board with a faster CPU, but the RAM is fast too, and it works flawlessly with the way my hard drive is–OS and all. I did a benchmark render with my 3D software to test out the hardware, and I noticed the render time is about twenty to thirty per cent faster then before with my old hardware. This is awesome–$300.00 of awesomeness.

OK, the weather around here has been unreal, at least for me. People who were born here, this was–meh–whatever. Since January 28, 2018, we have had well over 110cm of total snow fall. The worst was on Friday, when we had over 48cm of snow in twenty-four hours. However, today was just as weird as well. The snow started late last night, and we were only forecasted to have a sprinkle of 10cm of snow. Instead, we had a dump of over 20cm, but it came down hard, and I feared that we were looking at another February 9th dump. The big difference was, we got up to 4C. But this was when it got weird. South Terrace, BC was getting snow, while East Terrace was getting hard compact snow, though only 8 to 10cm. It was Thornhill, BC, just across the river, where it was raining–hard. Right now, there are patches of blue sky, and my home thermometer says 4C, and the rain/snow has stopped.

So, back to my playing on PC! Yay!

Filling In the Pieces

Great news, as I just heard back from my friend down in Vancouver, BC who was looking into my finances on my quest for home ownership. It appears that my plans with my Bank up here on the North Coast are a go, too. I will wait until October of this year to start the process either with him, down in Langley, BC, or up here in Terrace, BC, for starting the mortgage application. I figure going with two options is the better way to go, this way if one is not happy, then I have the other.

The goal now is amping up my credit rating score. Doing the car loan, and various revolving credit accounts are paying off, so it is playing the time test, keeping the momentum going so the Credit Gods can see my “staying power.” Also, saving like crazy, which is what they really like to see. The point was to do the new Stress Test that the Federal Government implement earlier this month, and so far I pass with flying colours. Both with the Affordability Index and Stress Test, I think I meet those thresholds today.

I can see how the money lenders are getting nervous as Canada and World are sliding into chaos. At one part of the stress test, it was set up as high as 11 per cent, and I just made it at my current annual income. Of course, as a kid, I remember when the Bank Rates were up around 23 per cent. It would be interesting to see where the Prime Bank of Canada Rate will be in 2025?

My target of next October-December, are going as planed.

The True Cost of Living On the North Coast

Having met many more people who inhabit the North Coast, I am starting to get a better understanding of what the differences are between the North and South in terms of economics and lifestyle. Of course I remember the times from when I lived here as a kid, but having come back over thirty years later, I see and understand more complex issues than I have ever had before. Mainly in terms of economics, there are huge differences between the business world of the Lower Mainland/Fraser valley, and here, in Terrace, BC. Attitudes over taxes and how money is transferred between hands, the differences are subtle, and almost indistinguishable, but they are there.

Cash rules here on the North Coast. For starters, there are many hold-outs as far as businesses using merchant’s accounts and Bank Cards, than there are further south. If you want to see a movie here, you need to bring cash at the local Movie Theatre. Sure, there is an ATM, but it charges a service fee of three dollars to withdraw twenty bucks, on your credit card. Most services have Point-to-Point card machines, but they lean towards good old cash. Smaller businesses have cleaver ways to pass those Credit Cards fees back to you, making a cash transaction more favourable. However, the larger Big Box Chains have no issues with Credit Cards.

Taxes and fees are something many here dread. When there is no way out of paying those parasitic fees, life seems to go on, people here seem to deal with it. However, if the opportunity presents itself, then just cash moves from one hand to another, you can bet that taxes are avoided. These transactions seem more prevalent than from my old neighbourhood in the South. From my personal experience, Banks are very particular about Bank Fees and Service Charges, so I have found, the less bank activity, the better off you are. Then there are Property Taxes, which are some of the lowest rates I have seen in British Columbia, but with no doubt, you can get a good conversation going on that topic alone.

My conclusion on the economics between the North Coast and South Coast are that the further North you go, especially out of the Lower Mainland, the cost of living drops lower. The primary two factors are taxes, and property values that make this difference. Gasoline and Auto Insurance are huge, in the Lower mainland; these fees drop significantly once you move to the North Coast. And yes, there is loud approval of Northern communities to see user-pay by regions, so the North is not paying for the South’s infrastructure needs. And then the biggest difference, real estate. There could never be more contrast between these two regions than the cost of a home. The cost of a home is generally a quarter to three-quarters cheaper on the North Coast than buying in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley area.

It is All About Fairness – No Freeloaders!

I cannot stay silent any longer on this subject because I am sick and tired of listening to business people complain about how they are unduly singled out with higher taxes and other parasitic encumbrances to their bottom-line, and that they should be given tax breaks. In traditional fashion, you have the Right-wing saying that all businesses must be taxed in order to stay competitive, while on the Left-wing side, they say businesses must pay more in taxes because they make the lion’s share of the profits. Oh Boo-Hoo. I am tired of everyone from property owners to business people saying that everyone else except them should shoulder the taxes burden. I just heard a small business owner say that all taxes should be dumped on the consumer and property owners while they focus on enjoying their profits and employing more works. Oh-no, I say pooh to that, everyone pays their share—period, especially those who make huge profits in my city!

Ok, we have this issue of gentrification, and it is prevalent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gentrification is where you have a depressed area, become affluent and prosperous as a higher class of the socioeconomic population moves in as their boundary spreads outwards. When you have an area where everyone wants to live, that area goes through a cycle of inflation as property prices and costs rise. So too for businesses, as they enjoy rise in the boon of consumers. Nothing is free, as all must pay to enjoy the benefits of this. It boils down to choice. People move to the cities, like Vancouver, because they want to enjoy its weather climate, and the bounty of employment. Businesses do this along the same lines of reasoning too. But sooner or later, inflation creeps in, and so too do taxes. Remember, you have a choice to stay or leave—simple.

The majority of Canadian’s taxes are paid through taxing their income. This concept of paying taxes on the amount of money you make, goes back to the Second World War in Canada, and is one that many have no choice in the matter. You earn a pay cheque, you employer is obligated, in most cases, to collect that money on behalf of the Government. But the bulk of Income Tax goes to both the Federal and Provincial Governments, leaving the Municipalities left to eke out their sources of revue in other ways. So municipalities share the proceeds on mostly businesses and property taxes that they tax directly. I am probably over simplifying the tax laws here, as there are hundreds of different forms of taxation in Canada, but this is a thumbnail sketch of where and who gets what. So as a community grows, in its population and services, so too does its operational costs and development.

The idea of fairness is simple: all of us, who choose to work and live in an area that is going through gentrification, must pay their fair share, no matter who you are. If you are a home owner, then yes, you pay your taxes. As businesses who want to set up in this area as well, they must pay their fair share in taxes too, as they enjoy the prosperity and volume of consumers moving through their doors. Usually it’s the business owner who argues that the market economy should run the world; then let it be so, as the market place becomes over saturated, and the population shifts, then businesses should make a choice. If they have to raise their prices for their wares, then so be it, but to stay competitive by paying less in taxes is not fair—then you need to adjust your profits.

Bottom line, everyone pays their fair share in taxes. No one should be exempt, or reduced, from their fair share in taxes within the population. If you come here to make a profit, then you come here to pay your taxes to enjoy all the benefits that come with living here.

My Take On Property Assessments

The privilege of being a property owner is the right to do with it as you wish within reason. As a landlord, there are huge benefits, and responsibilities. However, as land is a “fixed” product, meaning that there is, and always will be, the surface area of the Earth to own and live on (in this context), so the value will hinge greatly location. When one area of the plant becomes desirable to live on, then so to does its value. With value, comes taxes, as land can’t move, or be relocated. Hand in hand, when its value goes up, so to does its taxes as most countries’ governments are depended on land taxes. Here is my take on Property Assessments, as my region undertakes what it calls Property Assessment Season, the time of year when British Columbia does it property assessments evaluations.

On one side of the table you have the land owners, who are loving the growing rates of real estate values in many regions, so their potential investments are, in some cases, beyond their wildest expectations. Where I use to live, the Lower Mainland near Vancouver, property values have sky rocketed, so many there are enjoying their investments grow over the couple of decades to the point that they are, in some cases, worth millions. Almost everyone has enjoyed this increase. Not too many property owners are complaining about their investments today, only those who wish to buy.

On this other side of the table, are the Governments, who all are enjoying this boom in property value as well becuase their cut of the pie is in the form of taxes. It goes hand in hand that both sides should prosper. Simple, eh? But here is where fun starts, in my opinion.

So the BC Government has just released their Property Assessments, and mailed them out to the property owners, plus you can go on-line and see them too. And so the grumbling starts. Many are not happy, and see this as a huge burden, especially those who have huge mortgages against their properties. Maybe many of those who are in this huge state of debt should think twice about being property owners in their desired area to live? But nevertheless, as a property owner, very few reasons can be given to kick you off of it, unlike a tenant in a rental situation. But back to the point, and I call this greed–plain and simple. Your investment has grown beyond your expectation, yet you see many parasites nibbling way at it. Sure, taxes can be seen to be that way, but when your bottom line is just barely able to keep up, any parasitic increases are seen as critical. Perhaps some land owners have forgotten what taxes do, and why inflation in land reflects in costs of services? It is called “inflation.”

One of the criteria built into the assessment is the land’s market value. But Property Taxes reflect more than just market value, they also reflect the community that you live in, such as what utilities you have servicing your community, and future developments. Sadly, I see land owners refusing to see this, but rather looking into their pockets and seeing the gouging by taxes taking place.

Roundabouts and Terrace, BC

OK, we have all heard the news by now about the main highway from Smithers, and Kitimat, BC, going into Terrace, being changed from a four-way stop to a roundabout. And we all seem to have an opinion on this. So I did an unscientific pole at my work, just to see what everyone there felt about it. The comments were both interesting and entertaining, and full of myths and lore, of what will happen once the roundabout is in operation. But first, please have a look at the link from the British Columbia’s Government website, before I move on in this post.

Highway 16 and 37 Intersection (BC GOV CA, as of December 28, 2017)

So, the number one reason for not having a roundabout in Terrace, BC, is: No one will know how to use it, and there will be accidents galore as everyone tries to figure it out.

Number two: People from out of town will never figure it out.

And three: It will be a complete disaster during rush hour, as driver’s compete with the transport trucks motoring through the intersection.

When I first heard about the idea of replacing the intersection with a roundabout, I was a bit in awe. Having come from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, I have driven over a few roundabouts in my time. The most frequent roundabout I used was at McCallum Road and Highway 1 in Abbotsford, BC. To see this roundabout, please go to the BC Highway WEB-CAM link.  I was actually quite amazed at well it worked. When I seen it for the first time, I had no troubles navigating over it, as long as I knew which lane to be in. The marking on the road were quite clear about that. So, the one  about to be built in Terrace, should be the same.

The BC Government made this nice animation about how the traffic should flow while using the roundabout versus the existing four-way stop we have now.

Next is a propaganda video about the myths of roundabouts, and why they are better than four-way stops.

Anyway, my personal thoughts about having this intersection changed is a positive one. I see it as something that is badly needed, and was happy to hear that it will be built, starting in spring of 2019. I think this will be a boon for any highway traveller going through Terrace, BC.

A Cool and Cuddly Passed Weekend

So it is Wednesday, or “hump day,” as I sometimes call a typical Wednesday, and with it, the happiness knowing it is the halfway point in the workweek where we are moving towards the next weekend, a sense of hope that Friday is getting nearer. So, having said all that, what I wrote below, was written last Sunday, and rewritten Monday night, with proof reading and corrections done. So forgive me on my past tents, and wondering sense of time, in my use of grammar. This is, after all, my personal Weblog, so I get to make up the rules as I see fit, yet trying to conform to the standards that I was taught.

Friday night is somewhat a night to myself. I did my laundry, cleaned up a bit around the apartment, and prepared for tomorrow.  I have a couple of emails to send out, and some matters on Evil-Bay that are pending. Mostly, my online to-do list is small this week. It is the month-end, so I paid all of my Bills on-line (November 30), and made sure that my Bank statement balanced out with my records; it all works out, right down to the penny (though Canada no longer has pennies). I also bought a large size bar of chocolate–do not tell–it was my treat for a week well done. Somehow, chocolate has gripped my needs and wants in the food department. For the record, chocolate is not just a “Female” food, we Males get the cravings too. 🙂

Saturday was spent working on the PC, getting it’s software all up to date and fixing some of the on going bugs that have popped up in the last couple of days. Then I spent the rest of the morning reading some Court Documents that I want to study. These are rather touchy for most folks who live in and around the North Coast of British Columbia, so I will not include any details here on the Weblog. But, I did spent over six hours pouring over them, and I learned a lot. But having said that, I see even the Courts are a long ways from finishing this matter, as there are so many questions still yet to be answered. About high noon, Suz., called, and said she is on her way to pick me up, as we wanted to check out the weekend’s community craft events. The craft fair at the Kitsumkalum Centre was the best one, in my humble opinion, as it was packed and had more goodies to offer. In all, we had a great time. To end the night off, it was movie night at Suz.’s place. A fun and relaxing evening, even the Cats enjoyed curling up on my lap, playing chaperone on the couch, as we watched the show.

Sunday was spent with more morning reading, though not as deep as the morning before, but the rest of the Court Documents that I had with me, I finished. Later on, the plan was having dinner with Suz., and her parents, as we were celebrating her birthday. The dinner was awesome, and I was very full. We had Chinese at the Golden Star Restaurant, in down town Terrace. I have to plug this place because they are great, and me and Suz., go there often. Then I left for home early, so I could have a great start for Monday at my work. 

This was an abbreviated version of my weekend. So much more happened, of course, but this is all I need to write. I would also like to add that my car went five weeks before I needed to fill it up with fuel, and my heating bill was under seventy-five dollars (electric heat). Now I know we are getting ripped-off down in the Lower Mainland as far as bad Land Lords and local Governments goes. Shame on you! Just so glad I moved away from all that nonsense. But, you all have a great week, and as always, “stay out of trouble.”

I Saw My Old Pathfinder On the Road

This was both funny and neat to see; I saw my old vehicle on the highway as I was coming home from work today. The smell of fuel was in the air, and I could see little droplets of fuel hitting the ground behind it, as I followed it into Thorhill from town. The new owner did get it going, not that the old Pathfinder was not running, but they obviously only did a band-aid repair to it, to get it back on the road.

If you remember a while back, I took the Pathfinder off the road becuase of a major fuel line leak that spewed out about a litre of fuel per hour. Driving it meant that you took a huge risk of damaging the place you parked at, or if you created a spark/heat source hot enough, you would have a nice size fire underneath you. I hope they fixed that. But by the smell of it, I do not think so.

The other issue with it when I sold it was rust. Not only did the fuel line rust away, but the frame was about half gone as well. In all honestly, I figure there is at least less than a year before the rear frame falls apart. But, hey, if they can weld all that back up, then I tip my hat to them.

I am happy that they got it drivable again, some what. May they live long and travel lots. Happy trails to the new Pathfinder owner.

Snow Removal to Air Plants

Where to begin? First I will talk a little about the snow removal issues that are going on in my little corner of the universe. There has been lots activities on that subject over the four days–to say the least. Second, me and Suz., went to the various local markets, to see old friends and see what lurks in the deals department, or anything that might “tickle our fancies.” It was a win-fall for Suz., as she won a huge basket of goodies in a draw that we entered. Lastly, I finally bought an air plant. Yes, a plant lives in the air, and has no need for soil. How cool is that!

The topic of snow removal has been a hot, yet muted, issue here in the sleepy little town of Terrace. We have been bracing for cooler and more wiled weather, since the weather scientists have been overwhelmingly predicting such. So far, for the this month, they have been right on the mark. So too have the snow removable companies, as they gear up for the bonanza of business. With my case, the snow plough company has been very aggressive with their efforts of make sure we have spotless yards, free of snow, before we start our day. However, with the lull in business over the last few years, they want their share of the pie, and when you are main game in town, it goes hand in had with modern day thinking, to want it all. So any way possible, to charge extra for work, especially when you do business for a large corporation, is oh so natural. At my work, the battle rages, as the snow removal company wants more money for there services, yet at the same time, wanting to leave the contract the way it is. I say, get some competition in this town.

My hat goes off to the very lucky Suz., as she won the huge basket of goodies today. It was kind of amusing, we were eating at the Golden Star Chinese restaurant, when she got the call. The women that called her is also named Suz., so it was kind of funny to know that there are Suz. One, and Suz. Two–they worked that out for themselves. It was Suz., Two that called to let Suz. One, know she won the door prize. Tomorrow, Suz. One will collect her prize.  Yay!

I finally got an Air Plant! I have it sitting on my old lamp by the window. This is a short term solution until I get something more permanent for the plant. The lamp “arm” seems to be a perfect spot for the plant for now, as it is right by the window, and easy enough for me to spry-water it. This was something that I always wanted for a long time (since I heard about them on Twitter, from a contact).

Six Months Later

Today marks a mile-stone since I moved back to the North. It was six months ago today when I undertook that move, the sixteen hour drive, with all my worldly possessions in tow, leaving the hectic and very expensive Southern British Columbia behind, and moving to the more manageable North Coast. I moved for a better life, a special someone, and less stress. All has been very damn great; a move that I should have done years before.