Cube Land, a Story of a Friend Boxed In

Without naming names and keeping the innocent anonymous, I will just say a friend who lives in a condo taught me a thing or two about why you should always do your homework before buying a home. At just 23, my friend bought his condo in Langley City, which at the time was a really awesome deal. His mortgage was just a mere $250.00 per month, and his work was just a 5 minuet commute away. On top of his monthly payments were some maintenance charges, and of course his yearly taxes and insurance payments too, but all well within his means. All was good for my friend, and his life was one to envy.

It was a dark and stormy day back in the fall of 2014 when my friend’s life changed. Cube Land (the condominium), as I called it, hit a sudden snag for him. The building had a large crack along the under ground parking floor, and it grew day by day, suddenly spewing water and causing flooding, forcing some of the owners to park outside along the street. A broken water main that ran underground beside the building was the blame, and the repairs had to done at once. The inhabitance of Cube Land rejoiced as the repairs were completed, and all was normal again. But not until a yellow envelope was found pushed underneath my friend’s door that dark and stormy day, did his happiness ended, and his world imploded on him.

First his girlfriend wanted to move away from there, then he decided it was time to leave too after months of resistance, but the cost of those repairs was half of what his mortgage was worth now, and together his young family found there was no way out unless giving up all that they had worked for. His debt now nearly doubled, and his upgraded monthly payments dug into his living expenses, so he took on a part time job on top of his regular work to help pay for life in Cube Land. His girlfriend, now his wife, also took on extra work to help. They now found themselves struggling to keep a float, and each day brought new horrors of higher costs and extra fees that they had to pay.

Cube Land, once utopia, now became known as The Blight. It instilled all that my friend hated in the world. Selling was not an option, as there were rules and obligations in place that made it next to impossible for him to do so. It was a tragedy.

In this strange world of Cube Land, unexpected events happen that catch you off guard. It took an act so devastating that it changed my friend’s fortune, unexpectedly, to the good. A fire broke out in the unit below his, and caused enough damage that my friend had to move out. One would think this to be the ultimate of tragedies, but not so fast. With the help of Lawyer, and his insurance company, he managed to take his losses and turned them into a gain. He was one of the lucky ones.

Today, he now lives on land, a solid foundation, a house with a back yard, in the little city of Chilliwack, BC, now a 30 to 40 minute commute to his job. Thanks to the buy-out, his family has a new lease on life, pardon the pun. Cube Land still sits unrepaired and empty, “cursed,” as my friend says. Never again will he set foot there, never again.

Snowpocalypse: The Dump Continues

I think this is the best word to describe it: “Snowpocalypse.” It seems to sum up it best for me. I measured it on my patio table, and I got 42cm of powdery snow. I also noticed that underneath, a layer of ice, about 2cm think, is everywhere too. I did a little drive in my SUV, just down the road a little, about 4km and back, and I seem to have had no troubles with getting around, but I was driving slow. But the weather prognosticators are saying that we will see snow weather systems for the next five days here in  the valley! Umph.

We must be breaking records around here with all of this snow and cold weather? I do not think I have ever seen it this bad in my time living here. Oh well, we have to live with it, no matter what. I hope the melt will be as fast as it got dumped.

I spent part of my afternoon shovelling out my driveway, for my morning commute tomorrow. I figure at least I should have a clean driveway so that I will not get stuck there. I just hope the Township has its snow removal gear out by tomorrow, or we will be in a Snowpocalypse for sure, as chaos erupts everywhere with crazy motorists on the roads going to work.

Another Dump of Snow

Say it ain’t so…, yes, it is another round of snow, brought to us by the freaky weather anomalies of climate change. Since yesterday, the snow has fallen here almost uninterrupted, with an accumulation of nearly 20cm of it. Driving on the roads here is almost a joke, though it is possible, it would be rough going. My little stretch of road just got ploughed an hour ago, and is was only a single lane that got cleared; so if you have to pass another car in the on coming direction, one of use would have to drive in the snow bank. 

I decided not to go out today. Even though I have lots to do, I elected to stay put. I am not going to stress myself out attempting to drive in all this snow, knowing that road chaos is out there. I will survive as long it takes until the roads are good again.

Fortunately the power has been pretty good. I only notice a couple of small interruptions, mainly just flickers of the lights, so hopefully our lick will hold. Though I am prepared for an all-night power outage, candles, water and a propane heater. But I would by grumpy.

The weather people say this could last up until Monday when the snow may start to melt away, as the rain eventually starts. So, I guess, this means my whole weekend is shot to hell. Luckily, the freezing rain did not start. I am sure the power would be out for sure if we got what Eastern Canada with their ice storm. But we are warmer then the last time we had a this type of snow storm. Maybe it will melt faster.

So, it is a good weekend to stay indoors, and off the streets. This is what I intend to do. I think some badly needed computer maintenance time is on my agenda at home.

It’s a Rat in Your Engine, Son. Part 2

OK, I finally got set-up with my “real” mechanic, who scheduled me in for Thursday to fix my broken Pathfinder. He looked at it, and told me that this really was an easy fix, and could not understand why the first shop I went to could not fix it. The problem was the computer that controls the engine was shorted out. A small cost of about $300.00 to have it replaced. However, there is labour involved, so the final bill was close to $600.00. But, now it runs better than it ever has since I bought it!

But it was not a quick fix. Apparently, Nissan only made the one computer for my make and year of vehicle. Meaning that older, or newer computers will not work on my truck. So, there was a day wait as the replacement computer needed to be shipped in from Abbotsford, BC–about a 40k trip away. I had to go a extra day without my main mode of transportation. 

When I took the truck home this evening, I was super impressed with how well it ran. Although I spent a small fortune of my savings to fix it, the smoothness of the engine, and how well it runs seems all worth it. In the end it is a bill of over $1400.00 to fix the damage done by the rats.

All is good for now. 🙂

It’s Rats In Your Engine, Son. Part 1

I started up my Pathfinder Monday morning, as usual, and when the engine turned over, something distinctly wrong happened. That smooth sound of six happy cylinders humming away was replaced with a “chug-chug-clank-chug” sound, that was not the sound of a healthy engine. Thinking it was the cold weather, I waited for the engine to warm up a bit, and gave it some gas to see if that would take the put it back to hum of the sympathy of cylinders back on track. Not a chance.

There was something wrong, and it was bad. I popped the hood, and could not find anything that stuck out with my eyes. The engine was running rough, and no matter what I tweaked, it made no difference. It was as if I was having a major timing problem, or I blew half my spark plugs. But from what?

I drove it to work. I made it, but it was a shaky ride. It was like riding on a sled, on a road full of large rocks, with no spring or shocks on the wheels. My back was sore from that first ride, but it seemed to get a little better on my way home, but just a little.

On Wednesday I took the Pathfinder a far as Langley City, were I found a shop that was close to where I work. I hoped they would let in without an appointment—they took me in. I left the truck with them and went to work. Later that night, I went back to collect my ride, and was shocked to find out that they could not fix it—this—after a $800.00 Bill! Sure, they got to run a little bit better, but the engine was still broken.

They told me that I had a rat’s nest in the plenum, and that they chewed all the wires around the engine block. The wires, and injectors tubes and other hoses had to be changed.

So I took it home, angry and insulted, and thinking what to do next.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Still Thinking About a Title

Here I am, it is the third week of January, and wondering how fast will the weather warm up–what are the odds that summer will suddenly start at the end of the month. I am still toting this flu/cold/germ bug around; nothing new on that part of my life. And the Bills, they keep racking up. I have a few thoughts on saving some money as I start 2017.

The weather has been warming up since our near record deep-freeze back in early December. Most of the snow that turned to ice, is almost gone now, yet still some patches still can be found in the shady places. I guess we cannot complain any more about the cold after receiving several nights of minus 15C. We are excepting some nights of minus 1C later this week, but somehow that seems to be a big issue any more.  

Awe, yes, the never ending flu saga. It seems I never really got rid of it. It sat there, waiting in the background, for a chance to spring up again. And spring up it did, back on Friday. What was different? I had the killer cough and muscle soreness. The cough kept getting worse until I got some from work. Right a way I jumped into bed, and stayed there until Saturday afternoon. After that I figured out what was going on. I saw a Doctor at the walk in clinic, and he suggested I keep my room heated around 21C, and do not eat or drink anything with sugar in it becuase infection loves sugar to grow with. So Root Beer is off the menu until I get over this. He went on to say that I must eat more fruits and veggies, and these should be the bulk of my diet. And take-out, an absolute no-no. In a round about way, he is saying, I should make a life style change.

The Bills keep coming. My worst Bills are my heating Bills. I have two choices to heat my home with: electric and propane. Up until last year, electric was far the best choice that I had as it was by far cheaper than heating with the fossil fuel propane. The problem here in British Columbia, is that our main electric company, BC Hydro, has started to raise its rates, at last report, 25 percent over four years. My last propane Bill for the month of December and January of 2014 was $700.00, comparing it to my Bill of this year’s electric bill of $512.00. You can see the difference, and there is a message, stay away from fossil fuels.

Ideally, in my humble opinion, a good old high efficiency wood furnace is the way to go. The cost of firewood seems to be far cheaper than what comes out of the ground, and it only costs what you put into collecting it. If you do not have a thousand dollars in the back for your heating, then good old fire wood is the way to go. Anyway, that is my saving tip of the month, heat with wood and get off the grid.

Out from Beneath the Rock

I am coming out from beneath the rock as the weather is starting to warm up, after what seems like an eternity staying inside from the freezing cold. So the rumour has it that Vancouver is getting this blast of tropical like air directly from the Philippines, across the Pacific, and landing on our doorstep. With it, a little rain (which we can deal with), and warmer temperatures for the foreseeable future.  Already, I am showing signs of happiness. See, I am smiling right now–> 🙂

I think the first thing I am going to do once the snow disappears, is clean the debris that is on my patio that had got blown around from the last wind storm a couple of weeks ago. I have a fair size mess there. Most of it is branches and twigs from the trees, but there also some garbage from the neighbouring fields too that is bugging me. Then I must start focusing on the leak in my skylight. That started about two months ago, but between not having enough time to deal with it, and being too cold to work on it, the upcoming week will be my time to deal with it once and for all. Also on my list, I will need to do a tune-up on my Pathfinder. It needs an oil change, and some other fluids to be top up as well. Oh, and wind shield wipers too; the snow and ice kind of wrecked the pair I have now from last week.

I am so looking forward to warmer weather.

Now I wait for the heating bill, hoping that it is not going to break the Bank. There goes the smile… 🙁

I Know, It’s Friday The Thirteenth

Yes indeed, it is Friday the Thirteenth, but in all, the day was not that bad. Though, it could have always been better, but never look at gift horse in the mouth, right! No, seriously, it has been a great day: here is why. Making no waves here!

Unexpectedly, I was notified that my annual review from my work was due today. Just to back track, I never had it last year, and the one from before was eighteen months late, so obviously no one at my work seems to be keeping track of these things. Like that last one, this one was no different. Overall, is was a very positive review, with the emphasis on good team work and good work attitude. I guess they notice that I show up every day, and take very little time off–that is how I interpret it. Unlike the one from before, this one was really quick–which I appreciated. Sure, if there was a problem, or issue, then we should sit down and talk for an hour or two. In this case I glad becuase I wanted to go home. They never do these at the beginning of the shift. LOL

Signs of the Flu. My body is almost rid of that pesky flu bug that has plagued me for the two-and-a-weeks. Sleep is that now, I can get a good night sleep now–so wonderful. There is the odd snot ball, but for the most part, no more rivers of snot from my nose, and my lungs seem to be healed now–but there is the odd lung button coughed up every now and then. In all, I feel pretty good. I still believe that this is all tied to the weather. Just to much of a coincidence here, eh?

OK, yes, I did make some small waves. Only small ones. A friend, who I still can call a friend, finally paid me the money he owed me from years back. I actually gave up on the debt after five years of nothingness. I just let it go. But then last week he popped in for a visit, and the topic of that money came up. When I lent the cash, a small loan of $300.00, which I wrote up a small contract, he agreed to pay it back in a five month term, in one lump sum. I kept the paper, as a memento, just in case such an opportunity would pop up again, like it did last week. He asked me for another loan. Well, you can guess what I said after that, happily reminding him of the outstanding loan. I must of really rattled his cage because he came back today, and paid me–in full. Will I loan to him again? Hum.

The weather still sucks here. Sure, it is not raining, or blowing, or too hot; quite the opposite. We are still in the grip of the deep freeze, the Arctic Vortex something unheard of over the last few years when we were getting warm ocean currents in our favour. Hopefully, the weather prognosticators are correct, this nightmare should be ending after this weekend. Rumour has it, we might see temperature as high as plus 10C! I cannot wait! Bring it on–faster. LOL

And Yet Another Power Outage

I was at work when one of my co-workers told me that his power was out at his place, and he decided to arrive at work early. His home is not to far from mine, about 5km away, and my shift was about to end for the night, the odds were very good my place was out too. Sure as ice one the road, when I drove through my neighbourhood, it was lights out, and by the temperature of my home when I walked through the door, the power had been out for some time. I was greeted with an outside temperature of minus 10, and an inside temperature of plus 4. Without electricity, what do you do?

I am fortunate to have a propane oven and range, plus a small propane heater that is built in to my home, but these only heat a very small area. This was my lifesaver, other than the twenty candles I placed around the house. Anything that generated heat without electricity was my friend.

After a couple hours without power, I managed to get my living room area up to 12 to 13C, but nowhere near that comfort level to be happy. I decided to stay up until the power was switched back on. I sat on my recliner chair, and placed two heavy blankets around me, and read some books. Sick and sore from lack of sleep to begin with from the flu, I knew that this was going to add more misery to the days ahead, as I needed to be at work. I already took two sick days from last week, so money in the future is going be tight as it is.

Around 4:00am the power came back on. I kept my heaters going, along with the candles, until the room temperature climbed back up to comfy levels. But then again, I have been psyched from time to time by BC Hydro, when the power came back on, then suddenly, it gets switched back off for a few more hours, before it is switched on for good. I just left everything the way it was until I sure that the power was stable enough put everything away, and I could get some sleep.