Friday Evening at the Lake: Sunset Included.

Not that I am complaining about the hot dry weather, but it is warm out, and I am getting a tan. With all this goodness, I do not want to be stuck at work, while all of this awesome weather is going on outside, knowing that soon, very soon, the rainy season will be upon us here in on the North Coast. It has been a great last couple of weeks, even knowing that it is still in the middle of May, and we have summer to reach yet. Oh yes, it is Friday, and we are at the start of a long weekend, Victoria Day, or May Day, depending on where you are. So some extra intensive to wanting to get out of work even faster to start the weekend. Spending time with Suz., was the highlight of the evening’s events. Unexpectedly, we went to the beach out at Lakelse Lake, just South of Terrace.

We went to Furlong Beach, now that the camp grounds and park area are open again after the long winter season. It was loaded with people, mainly young high school kids off on vacation, enjoying the super warm weather too. But for the nice weather, and wide open park, I kind of expected more people. The beach had many who were Sun Worshippers, basking out on the sand, then there were some who just walking around, and there were a few swimmers too, though I think the water is still to cold yet. The Sun was awesome, even Suz., sat quietly under its rays, collecting the energy from it. And of course, I could not resist the photo opportunity, while the Golden Hour of the day passed by, with my cameras.

As the Earth turned away from the Sun, leaving us in the dark once again, the people started moving out of the Beach area and back to the their camping areas for the evening. We stayed around for a short while, as the sky darkened. The air was still warm, and as a bonus, the mosquitoes were not out in full force biting yet. One last walk along the beach was in order.

With all the young adults, there was a police presence. Though we saw nothing out of the ordinary, it was nice to see them patrolling the area, keeping the law and order. I remember, as a younger person, this was the time of year to “let loose and be crazy” after being stuck inside all of the time during the winter months. I can imagine that has not changed for this generation, the Millennials.

The photos were taken at Lakelse Lake just at Sunset. I was using a 30mm MACRO Lens, set at f2.8, ISO100 with my Sony A77.

April Fools, or Just Fools?

Listening to all the news on the United State wanting to drop out of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or at least awing it in their favour, got me thinking about what lays in my future as a Canadian. And to be fair, I am only referencing this on my own personal life–a life that is almost spanning five decades now. So I think I have some experience under my belt. I remember a time before NAFTA. There was a time long ago, that Canada only had bi-lateral agreements with other trading nations, and it worked. But people wanted bigger, better, with more profits, and the ability to grow at more accelerated rates, and at the time, this was the Automobile Market that launched it. But this was far from the utopia of free markets that the businesses wanted. There will always be outside forces that could bring down, or at least distort, the economy, and as corporations grew mightier then the countries they lived in, so to were the negative effects of the market shifts.

When listening to the U.S. president say he was pulling out of NAFTA, or at least change it into his favour, I thought to myself this must be a April Fool’s Joke of some kind. Could this be true, or just another one of his “flip-flopping” agendas he is so famous for? Changing his mind through an early morning Tweet on Twitter, like a teenager on social networking. The ramifications of all of this is the Markets bouncing up, then down, reacting to every tweet, like a farmer in his fields watching storm clouds pass by.

Sure, it is nerve-racking, as the media plays on every and tweet the US presidents throws out into the Internet. But remember, you can only cry “Wolf” so many times before no hears again.

So here is how I look at it. And I have lived through a bunch of rescissions in my lifetime. We may have our cars and oil increase in costs, but these are commodities that will not bring down our neighborhoods and governments. Sure, it will sting as a small portion of the work force will have to adapts into new industries, but there basic needs that can be met to keep our nation running as long as we have the will to do so.

We can produce our own basic needs like food, building materials and modes of transportation. Unlike some other countries, Canada has the ability to move forward at both the micro and macro levels inside our borders with self sustaining ease. We are, after all, an exporting country, thought not as efficient as China or the U.S. due to our small population, but we can pick ourselves up and run with it. We are fortunate that we are not reliant upon service industries, and raw resources, we have kept a sizable manufacturing sector alive.

So it is far from not being the end of the world when the U.S. president tweets the end to free trade. In the end, he will only hurt the people he leads–his own country. Sure Canada, and Mexico, will under go a transformation too, but both nations will pick up where they left off, and continue to grow, as we all look for more stable markets to trade with. And with the changing world dynamics through tools like the Internet, and digital money, it is quiet possible the U.S. will be left behind if they stagnate.

We need to eat, and we can grow our own food. We need homes, and we can build them. The only thing that will hurt us in the current market economy, is the mountain of debt that the average Canada carries–this we must get under control. But perhaps we need this market shift to correct the economy after all? Homes are out of reach for now for many people, so a good shake up might be what we need.

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.

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.

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.”

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).

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.

Caught One, Rats! (Warning-Gross Image)

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps along with shock value, this image (below) speaks volumes to my plight. If you have been following my weblog, I have been battling with these vermin for the last four or five months now. They have cost me, in the pocketbook, a sum of around $1800.00 now, by replacing the damage they have caused. Chewed wires, holes in plastic containers and isolation, these rats have been nothing but trouble to both my home and vehicle. So I took action, and I am getting results!

Let us look at the above photo for a moment. This is the first rat caught while on the motor. I check my engine almost every day now. You can see the socks places under the wires. Those socks are filled with Mothballs, and since I have been placing them in the engine compartment, I have not had one wire chewed since.

Besides the Mothballs, I have been laying poison near my vehicle too. I bought some Rat-A-Way pellets, which did wonders on the first couple of days I set the traps. The first twenty-four hours three rat bodies were found underneath my Pathfinder, and the following day, four mice and one rat. Since then, the bait had been nibbled at, but no more bodies near my vehicle. Though, near my front door steps, I caught three more rats along with six mice in the last month.

But my main concern has been my vehicle. I now have proof that the Mothball method works!

To all those deniers and self-proclaimed rat experts (you know who you are) look-at-the-image. And “no,” I did not place the rat there and staged the whole photo–that is just gross!