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.

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

Sort of Good News… But.

I still have the flu, though it is showing signs of letting up. Sleeping is still a pain in the butt, and work takes more than one hundred percent make it through each day, but over all, my body is healing. It is still freezing out side, and winter still seems to have a never ending cycle day after day. Right now, it is very clear, and seemingly beautiful outside, if you are looking through a window from inside a warm house. If you are on the outside, it is harsh for Vancouver’s standards. The next worry, or, the aftermaths from this will be the heating bill yet to come!

OK, what is new and exciting? Hum, let us see. Oh! I got it. I have noticed that it is taking longer for my stuff that I buy on-line through EBay to arrive by Post. Most of my items I buy from China. Last year, it seems, the average wait time was around three to five weeks. It seems that around last September, wait times jumped up to and average of eight weeks after that time. Could this be the work of our Government worrying about it citizens buy goods outside of the country, or is it the Post Office, protesting, becuase it has to honour the Chinese Post Office fees when goods come into Canada? I ordered several items back in September and November (2016), and all-of-a-sudden, they show arrive, and it is January (2017). What gives?

Our roads are still slabs of ice. I laughed though, when I saw a salt truck, spraying salt-brine on the ice, when it was still minus 10C. I thought, why, when there is so much ice on the roads, and it is still so cold. What we really need is a good plough, but I guess that seems more expensive than spraying slat. Right now, when I drive, I have to stuff my kidneys back into place afterwords from driving on the ice. Our roads are in a sore state right now; only the main roads are in awesome condition.

Well, that is all the energy and thoughts I have for now. I am going to spend the rest of my weekend healing–in bed.

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.   

New Year. Do I Need My Emergency Kit?

Looking back, most of the day was spent without Internet, Cable, Phone and access to my street as five cars that could not make it up the hill, huddled in front of my driveway. It was not the snow, but drivers that made my day a stay-at-home one. The power lines were lined with trees that were leaning up against them from the weight of the snow. Last night’s snow fall was nearly 14cm according to my measurements on my patio. Up until 10:00pm, I was so grateful that the power held, although at multiple times my lights dimmed and flickered wildly for several minutes, until it finally switched off for four hours. However, my Internet was connecting for a few hours at a time, I did have partial contact with the world.

The highlight of the day was listening to the trees bend and break through the early morning. When I walking outside, I was awestruck at the sight I saw: winter. The night before, I took some night shots of the forest, and saw huge green flashes of light, as trees were touching the power lines. But even during the daylight hours, I saw one flash that almost made me jump out of my clothes. Then it struck me: we are not done yet with this weather.

It seems that most weather forecasters get it wrong for my area. When they say I should see 5C, I often get ether something higher, or a lot lower. So when the Snow Warnings were issued, and temps were forecasted, my area was deemed minimal, more inline with the City of Vancouver. Even Abbotsford, the city to my East, was given higher values than what I received, so I had a misguided sense of security with my environment. So I got more snow, and it was far colder then what I thought we would get. Sure, I dealt with it, but under protest.

Tomorrow, the forecast says were are going to have clear skies, but with wind. WIND! Oh, great, there goes the power for sure. Trees bent over from snow, and temperatures well before freezing, now being mixed with wind; all for a recipe for power outages, bad roads, and a long night sleep. I am thinking I should have my Emergency Kit handy–better safe than sorry.

Happy New Year 2017!

In just a few hours from now the new year will kick in, and with it, a three day long weekend! Now that is something to celebrate! The very end of 2016 has been (or still is), well, shitty for me, to say the least. I am ending the year off with the worse flu I have had in years. I even took time off from work becuase of it–that is how bad. I am not going to let that dampen my mood tonight as the old year draws to a close, and we switch over to 2017, I will stay up and celebrate it!

The only worry I have tonight is that we are being told to watch out for some bad weather. It is snowing at the moment, and it should start to clear up tomorrow, but then stay well below freezing for the next ten days or so. All should be good if the roads are free of snow before the freeze starts. If not, then we will have ice everywhere after that. And so much for the heating bill too.

I am planning on staying home, like the last five years, to celebrate the New Year moment. I will watch my clock as it moves from 2016 to 2017, and then wait for the neighbourhood to erupt with fire works (gun shots) and horns to mark the calendar change. Then slip quietly back into bed. Actually, last year, if I remember correctly, I think I just stayed in bed: woke to the noise, then fell right back to sleep.

ADDED:

It is about 9:30pm now, and the snow has not let off. There is one thing worse than having to deal with 15cm of snow, and that is power outages. Already, since 7:00pm, I have had 5 short outages, caused by trees touching the power lines. Luckily none have lasted longer than 10 seconds. The forest sounds like a war zone from the branches breaking from the weight of the snow. No doubt it will get worse as the night goes on. I think I am OK as far as a tree breaking on my home though, but I do have large ones not to far away from me. Tomorrow we are expecting to be well below freezing, so if the power does go out, it will be a chilly one.

I just looked outside to check on the falling snow, and it is still falling at a fast rate. No matter what, I am staying inside tonight; staying far, far, far away from driving on the roads today. OK, signing off. See you next year…

The Rush, the Rude and the Screwed

As promised from one of my earlier posts this month, I compiled a list of moments when acts of rudeness (only becuase these surpassed acts of kindness), and not surprising, most were motor vehicle related. With the Holidays, everyone here in the Lower Mainland and Metro Vancouver were out rushing about to get shopping done, preparing themselves for those lavish family dinners, and stocking up on general stuff. The big box stores were packed, and most Malls too, as people crammed the last minute shopping for gifts. But then there are screwed, like myself who was stuck in bed with a bad flu, which seemed to make the whole thing mute as I had no enjoyment for the next three days.

Acts of rudeness. By far, and way ahead of the rest, the number one spot on my list of rudeness happened back on December 15, when a woman, in her 30’s tried to hold a Handy Cap parking stall for here husband, while a legitimate Handy Cap driver was trying to park in it. In the Walmart parking lot, front parking stalls are always sought after, simply becuase you do not have to walk far to the store. I brushed up on my Handy Cap permits in British Columbia knowledge a while back, and have learned how to tell the difference between the fake ones. The fellow who was trying park had a legitimate permit. However, the woman refused to surrender the stall. Even I told her that she cannot hold a parking stall like this, “it is first come first serve.” She ignored me, and the rest of the passer bys as well. Finally, when I saw what her husband was driving, a rather large black SUV, he had no Handy Cap permit! His truck was to big to properly fit in the parking stall anyway. Maybe this was poetic justice?

The rest of my list is just small stuff; I will type not out a comprehensive list here. There is just no point to do that. I will just point out the highlights. Drivers driving to fast, or trying to cut in front of other cars to “get there first.” Leaving garbage in front of your driveway, or as in one case with a friend, in the back of his pick-up. Stopping in the middle of an aisle in a busy shopping store to talk on your cell phone, while others are also trying to shop down that same aisle. How rude. Coughing straight into the air, or into a crowed of people in a public place, with out covering your mouth. Leaving your shopping buggy right in the middle of the parking stall becuase your are to lazy to return it back to the special shopping cart drop-off centre. The list goes on and on, but I will stop here.

Then there is me, the Screwed. I caught it on Friday. When  I got home from work. It had progressed into the full-blown symptoms of a flu. I already felt like I wanted dive right into bed when I walked in the door. So far, this is on nasty little bug. I have a full chest infection, and my whole body is going through the chill, and fever cycles every couple of hours. The worst; the coughing. I cannot sleep becuase it. I think next week will be hell if I cannot rid myself of this.

Taking Time Off

Loving the idea of having the next tree days from everything, is nice, but I am starting to develop what seems to be a full blown flu bug. Is there some cosmic joke playing at me, taunting me with 72 hours of bliss, and I get the flu right at the start of it? Right now I have the stuffed nose, congested lungs and a headache that comes and goes when it feel likes. Right now, talking is difficult becuase of the coughing. Some are enjoying my silence, but once it passes, I will talk up a storm to appease them. (Grin)

The Sun came out, but that only meant that it was bitterly cold out. I think it was -4C when I took these shots. The weather prognosticators are suggesting that we will be getting more snow for tomorrow, and possibly the day after. Great, more snow. I guess no bargain hunting shopping this week–staying home if it snows too much.

Yeah, I just rechecked my patio thermometer again, and it is showing -4C out.

Funny, the above shot seems like it is nice and warm day out, but it is not. There are icicles in this shot. Time to stay inside where it is warm, and drain my nose.