Wetter Weather and Thoughts On the Great Melt-Down 10 Years Ago.

We are getting hit with rain, as the rainy season kicks in, though seemingly earlier than last year, it is welcomed. And I just realized that this week marks the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Great Melt-Down, that crashed the markets and change the world, unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In all, the week is going good. Work is chugging along, and I am almost finished unpacking all of my boxes from the time I moved here to Thornhill, BC.

I was surprised that the Forest Fire Rating was set back to Low so quickly. We are only less than two weeks into the rainy season, and the rains seems lighter this year, so I was looking at the Forest Rating sign a little puzzled, as the arrow was placed in the green section. I thought that this might be to soon. Well, even the website says it “Low,” so who am I to argue. The good news, the campfire ban is lifted, so get out, in the rain, and have a camp fire. Oddly, camping season is also over too.

I was checking my journals from a decade ago, and came upon an entry from September, 27 2008. At the time I was living in Fort Langley, BC, working for Bell Canada. I wrote about all the news of the Melt-Down, and how it seemed, “over exaggerated.” Boy was I wrong; the news was correct, as my work saw over 150 employees in October 2008 get laid-off. All around me, nothing seemed secure and talks of lower Interest Rates and Buy-Out for Banks, blanketed the news. The cause and effects, they said would last for years.

Reading an on-line article on the BBC’s website, today, about the effects of the Melt-Down, the developed nations around the world have been experiencing lower than predicted birth rates. Yes, I only need to look at the schools around the Skeena Valley, to see this. The schools are half the size they were when I went to them. Home ownership is another one, as more younger people are renting because they cannot afford the market value for homes. And then there are the lack of good paying jobs. Yes, lots of low-paying jobs to go around, but few sustainable jobs to build a family with. So it looks like Generation Screwed is going to morph into the following generation with these market effects. The BBC article did say it could take another twenty years before we see the glory days of the pre ’08 era back, but the Market landscape has forever changed.

This week, I should have all my boxes sorted and unpacked. A few weeks ago I bought four sets of shelves, and that so far, has made unpacking nicer. I have a very small “compartment,” and brought an entire house with me. So, a sizable amount will live in boxes, until need, but the good news is, have more living space. I hope I find better living arrangements soon.

Golden Coloured Lawns

The little bit of a wet sprinkles we got from the overcast sky, that was not enough to quench the parched earth of nearly three weeks of awesome summer weather, and even before the hot weather set in, moisture was scares to begin with before that. It is hot and dry, and next week’s forecast is giving us more hot weather to come. The forest Fire rating sign is pushed all the way over to the right, in to the “Extreme” zone, to camp-fire bands are everywhere throughout the valleys and beyond. If it makes a fire, it is prohibited in the forests in the Skeena Valley. But water restrictions are everywhere too. If your lawn is a rich green, then that means you are probably using more than your share of the water that you are allotted to use. So, it is cool to have a golden coloured lawn, as it means you are doing you part in water conservation.

During drought like conditions, having a golden coloured lawn is cool to have. You can imagine that there are people who will break the rules and try for the perfect green lawn, just becuase they want to stand out from all the rest of the lawns in the neighbourhood. Sadly you are just wasting water. Your lawn will retain it green wonder once the cooler season returns. You just need to be content until then. But sadly, some will not take heed to the restrictions, and water their lawns with everything they can pour out of their water pipes. Meanwhile, once the water supply dwindles, then we all suffer.

So it was with great dismay, seeing this property owner vigorously watering his lawn by leaving his sprinklers on all night long, for more then three days (that I could tell) we hung our heads with shame.

Perhaps the city fined him? I do not know.

Everywhere you look, the heat wave’s effects are showing. Even some of the trees are showing signs of drying up, along with the bushes and marshy areas in the valley. So far this is a hot summer for North Coast Standards, and more is on its way.

As the Bubble Expands, Again

With news of the LNG project getting its second life at becoming reality once again, here in Terrace, BC, the real estate market seems to be erupting again right along with it, like it did when Reo Tinto brought wealth and prosperity to the valley. In fact, old properties that were once on the market, that I thought had sold, were being re-listed, but at slightly higher prices. It seems that Kitimat is once again the hot bed for the housing market, as speculators move in to take advantage.

My question is, “will the bubble burst, or is this the next wave of the markets moving to even higher house prices”? In hind sight, will this be like it is now in Vancouver, as million dollar homes become the norm? Will criminals take advantage of the boom and start flipping up here, to launder their ill gotten money, as reported on the CBC News in Vancouver this year. Will this be, or added to, a full blown housing crises? Will this be the boom-bust cycle that happens normally up here in the North Coast? So many questions, with no answers.

By comparison, the housing market is very reasonable, compared to the Lower Mainland. The average detached free hold house sells for about three hundred thousand here in Terrace today. I also noticed that hardly anyone is touching the mobile homes and condos, as much as the houses with property, as those inventories move more slowly.  I am starting to see more vacant land up for sale too.

I am holding back, as I wanted to buy in, but seeing what is going on, I may wait longer before I buy. The one property I wanted, did sell, but I herd that they got it for ten thousand less than what was asking. But that was a couple of months ago. And I still have a few conditions left to full fill with my Bank before we can start talking borrowing money. My down payment pile is growing in the mean time.

I am seeing a lot more out of province vehicles too. The majority are from Alberta, but I saw a few from Ontario and Quebec in the mix as well.There are more cars on the roads in the morning and afternoon–a good sign.

So this means that our little town in the Skeena Valley is growing again, as we help Kitimat absorb the boom. Good for the economy, but bad if you are looking to get into the housing market. Great news if you are looking to sell for your retirement nest-egg, but not so good for the low income class who cannot find a home, and afford to rent any more. When will the bubble burst?

We Had a Little Fender-Bender, But All is Good!

Imagen driving down a very dark highway, and you are going from 80km/h to 100km/h, and way out in front of you, you see a vehicle, then from behind it, sparks at random places on the road, and they are getting closer and closer. Then an object bouncing towards you that you can hardly see becuase of its dark colour. What would you do? The quick thinking Suzette did what most of us would have done: stop to avoid the object. She safely came to a stop, just metres from the object, and this is what we saw.

The object was a metal picnic bench, painted dark green, that was being transported on the back of someone’s pick-up truck, and they never bothered to properly secured it to the deck. It fell off as they accelerated in the 100km/h speed zone, so when it hit the road, it was already travelling a 80km/h. So what we saw from behind were sparks, as it bounced along the surface of the pavement then came to rest.

An emergency stop was initiated. The vehicle behind us also had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting us, and as we heard it brake–at that moment I was happy. But then a second later, a third vehicle was not so quick, and collided into the back of the car behind us, then the car behind us was pushed into us. So now we have a three vehicle accident, and loose objects on the road. We waited, and after a ten second pause, we assessed ourselves, and looked outside. There seemed to be no other sounds of crashing cars–it was safe to go outside.

I will not go into the specifics of what happened to all three vehicles, but I will say this, no one was physically injured. All three vehicles had to be towed away, and the metal bench was taken off the road, so we were thankful that it was just our vehicles that were damaged, not anyone else. However, a few things need to be addressed here.

Let me quote Suzette’s Face Book post, using her words:

This piece of metal lawn furniture fell out of a vehicle last night on Kitimat highway just Terrace side of Hirsch Creek. It caused a 3 car fender bender, no major injuries thankfully. I stopped in time to miss hitting it. The woman behind managed to stop in time to not hit me, but the third car hit her, pushing her into my driver side back quarter. So, all 3 had to be towed. PEOPLE! tie down your loads! If I had not seen the sparks when this fell out of the vehicle, I would have had less notice of something wrong ahead, could have hit it, into my windshield and could have caused a major accident. Now my car is heading to the shop…

Two points. First, the owner of the park bench was the cause of this accident. You never move items on your vehicle without first properly securing them to the vehicle to prevent them from falling off and causing damage to the road, property, and people. This is the law.

Secondly, As a driver, you must drive in a safe manner. This means driving with enough space between you and the driver ahead to stop safely, in case of an emergency. Driving too close is not only bad driving, but in the case of an emergency, you are not going to stop in time to avoid the driver ahead of you. This is the only time, that you are one hundred per cent at fault if you cause the accident.

Anyway, we are all good.

On a side note, I told Suzette today, “we were partly responsible of closing down the Kitimat to Terrace Highway for an hour, yesterday”!

 

 

Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.

My Thoughts on Trade Wars Over Oil

The opinions expressed below are mine, and mine alone: this is me thinking out loud.

I believe that British Columbia is in a great position to embark on the path of becoming energy self-sufficient, and adopting the highest standards possible of any industrialized region in the world on Carbon reduction. It is no secret that there is a possible trade war between the Alberta and British Columbia Governments over oil pipelines. The BC Government as slapped limits and restrictions on the oil pipeline that runs through the Lower Mainland, and with that Alberta has proposed to cut off all old it currently sells to BC as a result. This tit for tat trade war could very well be a blessing for BC, albeit cause short term pain for some, but over all, a boon in the long run to both the economy and the environment.

The Lower Mainland gets most of its gasoline from Washington Sate in the US, as I understand. Here in Northern BC, where I now live, we get our gasoline from Alberta. You might be wondering why I would endorse such a cock-o-many idea if it is going to effect me the most, rather than all those in the Southern half of BC? Simple, we can more then likely absorb the increases in fuel costs more than anywhere else under fossil use, until we convert to renewable energies. Sure, it will be painful, and effect our standard of living in the short term, but we will bounce back better, stronger and faster, then the rest of the Country.

Here is my point. We are a smaller, less dense, populations base. Northern BC is primarily focused on Mining, harvesting and Tourism. By harvesting, I mean we log and process trees, and catch wild fish. All of witch is heavily dependent on oil, currently, however; over time all these industries can convert to electricity, something that we create right here, right in our back yards. BC has a huge capacity of potential electric power, through the use of hydro dams, thus, a carbon free and renewable resource.

We have the technology, we now have to implement it. We can drive electric cars, transport our goods with electric trucks which are now available on the market. We send electricity to mines and mills, so that generating electricity through fossil fuels is prevented. And even with all this growth in electric usability, we could probably still have plenty to sell to other markets—all carbon free, with less of a footprint on the environment.

I say, “lets do the trade war over oil with Alberta,” this is our golden opportunity to change, and start reversing the effects on the environment. Let BC become the new frontier in renewable energy!

Scammer’s, You are too Funny!

Over the last two weeks now, I have been getting SPAM phone calls, emails, even a survey that was mailed to me, asking for some weird information, to a private organization. The level of frequency it hitting fever pitch. Most scammers are emailing me, and a quarter of those are from phone calls, and then there is the one piece of mail in the Post. I am not to terribly surprised, as this time of year some people are in debt and desperate for money, while those who are well-off, are usually tight in the wallets, so the flow of cash trickles this time of year. What made me write about scammers today is the call I just had a few minutes ago.

I just got home from work, and sat down at my PC to check emails when the phone rings. Normally I just wait to see who it is on the call display, then let it go to voice mail if it someone I do not know. I was not paying that much attention, and sometimes it is the girlfriend who phones around this time of day. Though Thursdays, she is usually out at her classes and social events. So I answer the phone. It was a women with a New York accent who says, “Hello, may I have few minutes of your time for this special offer…. your name was chosen to….” and I hung up. Then the phone rings again–I am letting it go voice mail!

I let it go straight to voice mail. It was a computerize voice synth, stating that it was the Canada Revenue Service, and I have a criminal warrant against me, and that I must pay in Bitcoin before I jail for the rest of my life. I thought this was crazy, two in a row.

Last week was the best. This East Indian chick phoned, and left a message on my machine saying that she was from a Collection Agency, and that she was directed from the “Toronto Corporate Office, representing the Credit Agency,” and that I have a debt that needs to be paid off by 4:00pm that day, or my credit history will be adjusted. This one was one of the best I have heard so far, but she got her “official” titles mixed up. The part about payment was outrageous too, as this Collection Company only collects money through Bitcoin. Imagine that? I used to work for a collections company in Langley, BC, so I know a lot about the rules about phoning people up begging for money.

Sadly my phone number is out in the Scammer’s data bases, or they got a list from my local Telco–which would not surprise me. But yes, the frequency of the scammers and sophistication is growing by leaps and bounds.

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.

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.”

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!