Hockey Night in Terrace: Guns Vs Hoses

Me and Suz, went to the Terrace Arena last night to see the game between the RCMP and the Fire Fighters. This was a charity event with a few half time events featuring a small game between the “Tim Bits” players (very young hockey players), along with various other charity events along the side, such as a 50/50 draw and Puck Toss. We had a lot of fun, even though the first official snow storm of this fall and winter season was raging outside. We made it safe home feeling great.

There were quite a few people at the game. I could not tell you how many, guessing, I would say a couple of hundred? But there were enough to make lots of noise. Also, from this charity, seeing the Police and Firefighters play was the apex of this event, as ticket sales sky-rocket for this game. Perhaps many people have their favourite side for whatever reason, but all the money raised goes to charity, and this event pays out a lot of money just for this game alone–it is very popular. No idea how much is raised, but tickets are only five bucks, and then there are all of the other events in between that you can participate in for a small fee. A very worth while event to see.

During the first intermission, we saw the very tiny Tim-Bits players go, as they play a short game out on the ice. It was cute to watch, and there were some good goals. Those young hockey players really gave it their all.

During the last intermission, there was the Puck Toss, where the idea was, you buy a puck to toss out onto the ice, and the winner is the puck that makes it as close to the middle of the centre line (centre face-off point) as possible. So, the announcer calls the start time in which you can throw your puck out onto the ice, then after a few minutes, all the pucks have to be thrown. So there is some strategies at play here. Being close to the centre line helps a lot for that critical toss, and waiting for the all the puck to land help too, as a lot pucks get bounced away by other pucks tossed afterwords. The fellow sitting beside us won the Puck Toss.

The game itself was action packed; however, one sided on all accounts. The Hoses, or Infernos, ruled the game with a shut-out victory of six to nothing, with the first period scoreless. For some reason the RCMP could not get their game together, as they seemed to have great plays, but shots on goal was not in their favour. They played good defence in the first period, but after the second, it was all down hill from here. The Hoses kept the heat on after scoring four goals in second, and their final two goals in the third period.

The winners! The firefighters from Terrace, Thornhill and Kitimat, British Columbia, as they have their victory pose with the trophy.

The above image is all of the players who played in tonight’s game from both teams. If I fined out later how much money was raised, I will post it here. In all, worth the five bucks to be there for the entertainment. Awesome night!

Sold the Pathfinder – Yay!

Just a quick post. I just sold my Nissan, Pathfinder, just moments ago, to a couple who live not to far from my place, around the Copper Mountain Subdivision area. They were happy, as they got a good deal, and I am happy, I got rid of it rather than taking it down to the scrap metal place. At least it will be driven around for a little while longer if they can fix the fuel-line issue it has.

I got a “thumbs up” from the messenger from their Facebook account, so that must mean they are unbelievably happy with it–or at least I hope they are. In the end we agreed on $300.00 clams for it, a fair deal if I do not say so myself.

I am happy. Now I get my parking spot back for my newer car. Thankfully, the apartment next-door has not rented yet, so I was using that spot. So I had until the end of the month to get rid of the truck.

Thanks to the guys at my work, and some help from Suz., I set up a Facebook account, to log onto the local buy and sell chatroom and with in three days I was getting messages about the Pathfinder.  So that is how you buy, sell and do things around here, as the dedicated websites are to full of scammers and idiots.

A great day!

I Bought the Car!

I finally got it! I own a new set of wheels! I have transportation again! Yes, I bought a 2014 Ford Focus. Sure, it is a used, err ummm, pre-owned car, but it is in very good condition. With just over 62,ooo KM on the odometer, it sort of feels like a new car, well to me anyway. When I took the car for a test drive the week before, It handled nice, tight steering, good traction, and the engine sounded great–could hardly hear it. With a black body, and black and grey on the interior, the looks very black. And it has a lot of stuff into.

Getting financing was at story unto itself. For nearly two weeks I had tried to a loan. Two major hurdles. First, I only lived up here for lass than six months. Second, with my very good wage, I still had only worked for my current employer for just over three months. This put me in the “high risk” category. Remember, I nearly had three-quarters of the money already sitting in my saving. My goal was to bolster up my credit to eventually buy a house. So I was comfortable borrowing the money, the question was from who, Bank or Dealership financing?

A bump in the road to buy a car from my Bank’s loan was that the car could be no older that a 2013, and had to be in the range of twelve thousand dollars. The issue here was that it takes time for the Bank to give me the green light for that vehicle. So, sadly, I lot the first two cars I was looking at becuase of this huge waiting process from my Bank. Although I final got this car through the Bank’s loan, it was a nail biter.

My other option for the loan was to go through the dealership’s financing. Sure, I passed that hurtle, but the For Focus that I eventually bought, had was a called a “Declaration” against it, meaning it had been in a accident, repaired, but the loan could not be issues becuase of it. So, dealership loan was out for this car, and there were no other cars that fit what I wanted to spend. I had my personal limits too.

So, the dealership kept the car, as long as I made an offer, which meant I did not put money down on it, but told them that my Bank was going look over everything before they approve the car. My Bank wanted to see the paper work, with stuff link VIN numbers and dealership’s information, before they would give the OK for me to buy it.

The car was worth more than the loan, so some of the money came out for my savings. No problem, I was OK with that. But it did ass to the time waiting with my Bank. But it was all cleared up.

In the span of one week, the car was mine. I took it off the lot today at 4:30pm. Remember that I had to take a copy of the ownership papers to my Bank, then get the car insurance, and then go back to the dealership to get the keys. Thank you, GM MacCarthey for the courtesy car with driver, so that I could get to and from the Bank and insurance building without having to walk. They were awesome!

Now I do not have to walk to work! Yay!

All Eyes Looking

The quest for the vehicle continues. Right now, it is deciding whether to go with what the Bank has offered me, or go with what the dealership can do. But for now, I am still looking. I have already lost two great deals becuase my Bank took so long drawing up the paperwork, and I fear I might loose another becuase these things take so long to do up here–I just got approval, but at a lot less than what I need for around here. But at least I have options, so I decided to give the other side of the street a look, in other words, I might skip the Bank altogether and just go with dealer financing instead.

I totally understand, or at least I think I do, the inner workings of what buying a car is all about. Each dealership seems to have slight variations on selling vehicles. Some include the sales tax and dealership fees, while others do not. Some have “special buys” with tax included, while other “special buys” come with packages attached that usually cost extra money. One dealership that I went to told me that all of their cars have no tax included on the sticker price, or other fees attached. So, going car shopping means you are confronted with a sale person who wants the deal to go their way, so you have no idea what is in fact a good deal or not, but they make it sound so good that you are getting a break. The question is, are you getting a break?

So I think I found a car that will get me by for now. I am going to go with the dealership financing instead of the Bank pre-approved loan, just becuase it is fast for everyone. Sure, my Bank will loose their cut, but they still have me as a customer. All I want is a car, albeit a used one, but still new enough that I can sell it again, and go for something I really want later on when build my credit score, or buy it out-right.

I had no idea that buying through a dealership up here in Terrace was a pain. Now I see why so many choose to save first, then buy out-right. It makes sense now. Even talking to people who have awesome credit scores, and good financial connections, are still faced with a huge waits. It is way different than what services you get down in the Lower Mainland in my humble opinion. But I can not knock anyone person directly–everyone has been great helping me out. I understand that I am asking to borrow money, so I do not mind paying extra for that, but I need a car now, not later.

So tomorrow I try again. This time me a Suz., will go down together and look. Maybe the Car Gods will be on my side then, and all will work out. For now, all eyes are looking in all directions, searching for that car with the right fit.

Terrace Transit: The Pathfinder that Packed it In

My vehicle died on me this week, right around mid Wednesday, so I had to do a bit of walking to get around. Fortunately Terrace is a small place both in size and distance; getting around by walking is very possible, it just costs you some extra time. So rather than paying for taxies and bumming rides off of my friends, I just started walking. Then yesterday, I walked to pick up my wounded vehicle from the shop, but they told me that they would not work on it. Go figure–bastards. So I drove it home. This morning, I walked into work, but this time I thought I would use the transit system to get home. First time transit user in Terrace, British Colombia–here I come.

So in preparation of using the transit system, I did a bit of home work. Sadly, the maps and transit times found on-line, were vague and very general. So until I took my first trip, I had no idea what lays ahead. The maps they post on-line were very basic. They tell you what roads each bus will take, but if it travels over the same road twice, or several bus routes go over the same area, then you have no idea when your bus will travel it. So between the Number 3 bus, and the Number 5 going out to Thornhill, I went past Walmart Twice. They do not point out where each bus stop is either. So I had to guess where I should be at what time on the bus route, except for the designated resting points. I choose one of the “Timing Stops,” or resting stops, according to the map as my pick-up spot. It meant that when I got off from work, 3:30pm, I had thirteen minutes to travel half a kilometre to that stop. Of course, hind-sight being twenty-twenty, I could have stayed right at my work and waited eight extra minutes for the same bus, and waved it down!

I got on the bus at Braun and Medeek Street. Even though I raced down to that intersection, timing myself, I still waited eleven extra minutes after the posted time lapsed. Needless to say, for two dollars, I was happy to see it, and be on it. I asked for a transfer, since I had get off at the Skeena Mall, to transfer over to the Thornhill Number Five bus, for the last leg of my journey. In the end, it took almost fifty-six minutes to get home, versus the one hour walk it took me to walk it this morning. The benefit of talking the bus compared to walking, was very little walking–I still had to walk one kilometre to my home.  In all, I was happy, and my feet too. I understand how that part of the transit systems truly works now that I tried it. I know better next time.

As for my wounded Pathfinder, well, I blew the fuel-line, rusted right off. Where it mounts to the frame, it is very rusty, so it makes repairing it difficult. It cannot be driven as is becuase it spews fuel at a rate of one cup per hour. I am in the process of buying a new car or truck, so that is what I will focus on this weekend.

Oh, I almost forgot, this is a long weekend! This is the Thanksgiving Weekend! Yay!

Fixed the Broken Hard Drive

After nearly two weeks, and many frustrating hours, I recovered about ninety-three percent of my data from the broken hard drive. What I lost did cost me, some valuable files, and my emails were mostly complete, but they suffered too as the archive file had to rebuilt with a loss of about four percent. Just to create the four tare-byte image took one hundred and twenty-six hours. Then another eighty hours to recover the data from the image. I had to buy a six terabyte hard drive just to capture the image onto it with. So, a lot of patients, worrying and money.

The program I used is called Testdisk, a mainly Linux command program that runs on the Terminal. The idea is to clone the hard drive, one byte at a time, into an image onto another hard drive. The programs ignores any bad sectors, and will keep copying until the whole drive is done–including the empty spaces. Once done, I can begin extracting the data left in the image on a healthy drive. This usually takes less time than creating the image, but still, a four terabyte drive is huge; a time vampire.

I was impressed at how much data I was able to get. I had about nine hundred and eighty gigabytes worth of data, and was able to recover nearly nine hundred and sixty. Not bad at all considering the damage to the drive. The hard drive would not mount–period.

Now, I should point out that the file structure was corrupted, so Testdisk was not able to create that for me, so any files that were recovered was renamed, and almost randomly placed in order of the placement from the image. But the key main files I wanted were found. In fact, files that were deleted, were also recovered. That was freaky to see. So remember, when you thought you deleted something, think again. Unless you copied over top of it, the file is still on your hard drive.

I am still a little sore about having the hard drive crash on me–OK, a little angry and foolish–it was an emotional time. The external hard drive was almost brand new, maybe less than five hours on it. But at least I could recover most of the data–thinking positive.

Next time, two back up copies, and use drives that I know are in good condition. Even though upgrades are fairly routine with me, I should have take more precautions. Maybe even transferring valuable data onto a live PC for good measure.

My Old Home From 1972

Last Friday, I took a walk around the block, the one that I live on now, and for one reason and one reason only, I wanted to see my old home from 1972-73. When I was just we lad, way back, I lived here (see images). My parents were just starting out, and it was just me and my sister at the time. Thornhill and Terrace, BC were totally different then they are now today, as the populations of the towns was much smaller. There were more kids then, but it the place was not kid friendly, or at least from my point of view. But we kids made due with what we had, and somehow we made it work. But it was fun to see the old apartment buildings up close, and I was amazed that they are still standing!

A few notes of interest. The pine trees on the right, those were about a little taller than I was in 1972. I figure the building are at least fifty-five years old, built circa 1960. Back then, they were a kind white stucco, with crushed glass in it for siding, and it was not paved. In general, all the buildings are exactly the same as they were back then.

The apartment we lived was number three, about where the red mini van is parked. My parents move around quite a bit when I was young, so I really never had a “attached” home that I called my own except this one, other than our home out in Old Remo, about eight kilometres from Terrace. So when I look back at this place, this was truly one of my most memorable childhood memories growing up.

I cannot believe that these buildings are still standing!

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!

Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

Above the Clouds in Never Ever Land

This post was a long time coming. As most Canadians know, the price of a house is way beyond the average wage earner now, especially here in the Lower Mainland and surrounding Vancouver area. As money from Banks gets cheaper, with super low mortgage rates, and the supposed Off-Shore buyers, the prices for a house have gone passed the clouds. The effect is not just here in the lower part of British Columbia, but have spread everywhere, where there are meaningful services and work. The North Coast, for example, has also seen its share of higher real estate prices, just like the South, but not as strong, yet. I was doing some searching on-line, and saw something disturbing, in my opinion. 

Buying a house up North seems to be relatively easier than here in the Vancouver area, with almost a two-third difference, but I noticed that the rent rates are almost in tune with each other. As a good friend told me, gouging seems to be the flavour almost everywhere in British Columbia, as both job and house seekers alike scramble to get their share of the pie. Sure, makes sense, if everyone cranks up the rent, hey, that is a good thing for home owners, right? Now it seems that everywhere there is a house shortage…, or is there?

I say no! There are lots of homes to be lived in for everyone, but who has the money to live in one when rent rates have to keep in pace with the mortgages. It seems you need a 70k plus per year job to keep pace with the housing markets. So, if you’re not a drug dealer, C.E.O. of a off-shore corporation, have rich parents, or won the lottery, then where are you getting your money from?

This goes into my next question: what happens when the prime lending rate bounces back? I mean, a full on gain of say, five percent, by the Bank of Canada? Market crash, as the big correction take place? The bubble explodes and prices tumble? Something tells the Bank of Canada will not let this happen, unless…

The crash of ’06 seems to teach us a lesson that we are all greedy, and some more than other’s, when money is at play. The United States taught us that it is not just the head of fish that rots first, but the whole body at the some time. Canada follows the U.S. lead well, although there are more ridged rules in place to prevent financial institutions in Canada from imploding the market from this type of mismanagement, we are on the path in my opinion. But I think Canada is just a decade behind the U.S., and we only out lasted the impending melt-down with these rules, but we will get there.

At my work, I am tied directly to the housing market. I see people doing renovations, upgrades and complete construction projects, and the do-it-yourself-er. I see the cost of those materials going up, and cost of labour climbing even higher. The race to upgrade the house for the already set homeowner to cash in on the white hot market has created it own super local economy. Sadly retail has also become a race to bottom, as customers demand the lowest prices, and competition make the profit margin that much thinner. This leaves the worker at a huge disadvantage now–where to live?