For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Somebody won big!

Someone, somewhere in Alberta, is now $54.3 million richer.

Whenever I go online, I at least check out the headlines, and that's one that's been frequently updated today. Last I looked, they had it narrowed down to the town it was purchased in, but the winner has yet to come forward. I don't blame them (him? her?)! Can you imagine the media attention this person will get? Then all the leeches that will inevitably come out of the woodwork. This is the largest lottery jackpot in Canada's history (and it's tax free, too - in Canada, lottery winnings don't get taxed, though the interest earened on them in the bank is considerred taxable income). When I headed to the little store in our building to pick up some drinks last night, people were still coming in and buying tickets. The owner told me the lottery terminals actually shut down for an hour due to the incredible volume of purchases. In the last few hours before the cut off time for last night's draw, the estimated jackpot total of $40 million jumped $14.3 million. That's a lot of tickets! Even the lottery's website was overwhelmed by the number of people going online to check their numbers after the draw. Of course, we found that out by going online to check our own numbers. Hey, you can't win if you don't play! LOL

I must admit to being glad that the prize went to a Western province. Working at the gas station before moving here, one of my daily jobs was to restart the lottery terminal at 6 am. The very first thing that would print out the morning after a draw was how much was won and were. One thing I noticed was the winners were overwhelmingly from Ontario, followed by Quebec. It makes sense. Being the most populous provinces, the same percentage results in a significanly higher number of actual ticket sales. Still, we were always happy to see the rare times when a western or Atlantic province was listed instead. It's always nice to see the "underdog" win.

The media sure played along with the excitement as draw time came closer. Newspapers ran stories of "what you can buy with $40 million," showing multi-million dollar homes, luxury cars, and so on. A local radio station was giving away a lottery ticket for free every hour to callers.

Inevitably, there were also the "money can't buy you happiness" comments. These would be followed by stories of jackpot winners who blew their fortune and ended up miserable. The Manitoba man who committed suicide after loosing his $10 million dollar win was brought up, of course. How tacky!

Still others are saying that $40 million is "too much" money for any one person, and that it should be split up or whatever. Somehow, these people seem to think no one person "deserves" to have a lot of money - or should I say, more money than they themselves have. They sound a lot like all those letter writers telling the AB government what they should be doing with their surplus rather than sending $400 "prosperity checks" to every man woman and child in the province. After all, people might actually use the money to go out to dinner, buy drugs, or *gasp* not give it to their favourite charity. I wonder if they'd say the same thing if *they* were holding the winning ticket?

The reality is, however, that the majority of jackpot winners *don't* end up blowing their winnings while living high on the hog, then crashing and burning. When lotteries were first started, it was a problem often enough that the lottery corp. now offers the services of a financial planner to big winnder. The majority of the winners are, in fact, quite happy with their money. One interview I'd read (of a $4 million winner) told how at first, he did buy the large house and did some travelling, etc. After a while, though, he realized the house was too big for his needs, so he sold it and now lives in a smaller, more modest home. He's done the things he wanted to do, and now he lives a quiet, content life. He acknowledges being much happier after the win, what with not having to go to work anymore, not having to worry about bills, etc. This is the more common scenerio.

So, to our latest jackpot winner, I say congratulations! Enjoy your money, and don't let the naysayers make you feel guilty for not spending it on whatever pet cause they have. You have nothing to feel quilty about. Have fun!

Monday, October 24, 2005

why is it...

Today, the girls and I were out pretty much all day. The local home schoolers were meeting at a park and we made the trip out to see what was what. We had extra incentive as part of today's goal was for the teens to start organizing their own things, and my eldest, while technically not a teen, wanted to take part.

Now, we've been exploring where we live fairly thoroughly, but we've never gone out that way. I've discovered I *really* like having access to an LRT system. One train ride, one transfer, one helpful passenger giving us instructions on how to get to the park we needed to get to, and we were there. Thanks to the LRT and perfect connecting times to the bus, it wasn't *too* long, but it's still a bit of a trip. About 45 minutes. We left in the morning and got back just before evening.

Dh is a phone person. He loves talking on the phone. Me, I don't use the phone unless I actually need to call someone, and even then, I find things like email to be more efficient in actually connecting with people. Every morning, while my older daughter has her turn on the computer, Dh phones, and every morning, I'm wondering exactly what he was phoning *for.* He doesn't usually have a reason to phone, but he does anyways. Otherwise, if I'm online, we chat on MSN. This morning, he called twice, even though he knew we had to be ready and leave by a certain time. One of the calls was for him to debate outloud whether he should get me to pack his gym things and drop them off at his office on the way. Then he wanted me to send him some digital pics, etc. etc.

Now, if he needs me to get something done for him because he's at work and can't do it himself, fine. But why is it only one way? We all knew the girls and I would be home after him. He cracked jokes that we'd come home to find him playing Xbox and eating junk food. As we were on our way home, I called ahead to let him know we were enroute. He initially answered the phone very cheerfully and joked with me. Then I mentioned that the kids were telling me they were hungry and thirsty (not knowing how things were at the place we met, I didn't know to bring stuff and didn't have change for the vending machines). Well, his tone immediately dropped, and I knew his mood dropped with it. Right about then, the LRT went underground and I lost my cell phone signal and I wasn't able to call back.

When I got home, Dh was in bed. No food had prepared. He hadn't even gone into the fridge to find the sandwiches that were there. We did find the bowl of junk food he'd been eating while reading a book. As near as I can figure, my mentioning that we were hungry and thirsty depressed him enough to go to bed, which is how he deals with depressed feelings. So the girls and I had a light snack and I started on supper. We've been home for over 2 hours now, and he's still in bed. My eldest did try to go over and talk to him, wanting to tell him about the stuff she'd done, but soon left him to sleep.

So why is it okay for him to keep asking me to do all these things for him, no matter how inconvenient they might be, but just hinting that he do something for us - like feeding us - is asking too much?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ok, I'm liking this!

One of the things to get used to again with apartment living is being able to hear all your neighbours all the time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Right now, as I write this, the girls and I are being treated to a live concert. On the first floor below us, there were some guys playing a guitar and singing. They have since been joined by someone playing conga drums. I've heard someone playing the congas before on another floor, but only vaguely through closed windows. Right now, they've got the windows open wide - I can't actually see them below us, so they're still inside the building - and it's been a real treat! These guys are pretty good.

You know, the more time goes by, the more I'm glad we made this move, stressful as it was to get to this point. I'm really liking it here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back again...

Another long time between posts, but that should be the last long break for a while. I *finally* have a computer desk, so I can actually type. Until now, the computer's been set up on boxes and bins - some of it rather precariously, I might add. Between the discomfort of using the computer as it was set up and the kids both wanting their own time on the machine, posting just wasn't happening.

Meanwhile, this desk is about the only real piece of furniture we've got, still! The family and I were going to do the rent-to-own thing to get some basic pieces. Just enough to make things a bit more comfortable, until we could save up to buy more cash-upfront. This is something we've done before about 17 years ago, when we were first starting out together, and we didn't expect any problems.

My God, how things have changed!

First of all, it's a lot more expensive than it used to be. Sure, rent-to-own cost more back when we did it last time, but it wasn't double, like it is now!!

That, however, wasn't what killed it for us. What did it was the application form. Now, this was one of those "no one turned down" deals - good credit, bad credit, everyone gets accepted. Which is what we needed, considering the ruin of our finances over the past 2 years. The form included the expected stuff - personal contact info, employment and income info, that sort of thing. Even the request for references wasn't unexpected. That at least 3 had to be family was a bit odd, but we could live with that. Then it got ridiculous.

Not only did they want the names of the references with contact information - a reasonable request - but they wanted to know what their occupations were, what their income was, who their employers were and contact info for their employers!! Excuse me??? Asking us that info, sure - we're the ones applying, after all. But to expect such detailed information about our families, too? Forget it! We'll keep sleeping on the floor, thank you very much! When the salesman came back to ask how we were doing, Dh told him (politely, I might add) just what we thought of the info they required, then tore the form up right in front of the guy. No way, no how are we going to give up our families personal information like that. Heck, I don't consider some of it any of *our* business, never mind theirs. I have no idea what the income is for *any* of my family members, nor to I want to.

So, we continue to make do. Dh and I at least have the futon mattress - the metal couch/bed frame is useless as it bent in a couple of spots in the first couple of months Dh used it. The girls have their own padded set up. During the day, the futon gets put back on the frame and we use it as a couch. We picked up a few folding chairs and that's about it. It's not the first time we've made do like this, but at least this time we know we'll be here in this apt. for about 2 years, and in our new city for even longer, so we can plan long term. The last time we went through this, we expected to be in the new city for only 6 months. We ended up being there for 2 years. Not fun!

The best thing for all this is that the car finally got reposessed. Yes, that is a good thing for us. We still don't know *why* it got reposessed. We'd made the arrangements and hadn't missed or been late for a payment since, so it was quite the surprise when Dh got a call from a sheriff. Then it gets really weird. The sheriff said he'd been looking for the car at Dh's home address and place of work. I think he had the home address correct, but the place of work was someplace none of us had ever heard of before. Then, Dh couldn't get through to the number given to him to find out why it was being reposessed, but really, we didn't care at that point. We'd told them to take the car the *last* time they threatened to reposes it, only to find out they were bluffing. Instead, Dh told the sheriff when and where he could get the car once we arrived.

When the day came, it was cleared out, the plates were off, and Dh was waiting for the sheriff to haul it away. It was probably the most peaceful rep job the guy's ever had. LOL He really didn't seem to know what to make of it. What he didn't know was that, between the inflated monthly car payments we were making, the cost of insurance, maintenance and the cost of fuel (and that's *before* the prices went freaky), loosing the car is freeing up almost $1000 a month! Since we now have rent, we really need that money. It'll go a long way to clearing up the last of our debts and getting us back on our feet. We can always get another car later on, if we need it. Until then, we have public transit, and that's good enough for us!