Thursday, February 15, 2018

Post 3661 - One More Day To Go

I didn't write last night because I got home late. I was at the Archives until 8 or so. Then, on the way out, the commissionaire recognized me and we spent 20 minutes talking about unsolved murders, missing persons, and Denyse Sibley. Denyse was mixed in there, popping up every few minutes.

I went to Atlantic News to pick up the newest issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I learned that local journalist Dean Jobb is the new columnist at EQMM. They are combining the very long running Jury Box book reviews section, and the Blog Bytes section written by Bill Crider, who died on February 12th and who had been unwell for some time.

Anyway, as sorry as I am to learn of Bill Crider's death, and the ending of The Jury Box (which went back to the 1970's, if not earlier), I am excited to learn that local Dean Jobb, a true crime writer several of whose books I have here in my home office, is taking on this prestigious job. EQMM's editor, Janet Hutchings, takes the time to say some very nice things about Dean Jobb. I'm very much on board with this new column.

Here is a link to Dean's first column. You will be able to read it for free, so check back every month.

Anyway, today was another work day. Busy. And things promise to get even busier over the next couple of weeks.

The weekend is nearly here. It can't get here quite soon enough.

See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Post 3660 - A Great Find

I am cheap.

Well, let's go with thrifty.

If I can save a buck somewhere, I will.

The computer which I am using to type these humble, sub-par, slightly pathetic words, was purchased at the Staples in Bayer's Lake in January of 2009. Nine years ago. It was part of a Boxing Week Sale. A HP Slimline machine that came with 2gb of Ram, a 500GB hard drive, and which ran Windows Vista.

Vista was utter crapola. I eventually installed a Linux distribution on it, and used that version until long after it had become outdated and its developers had abandoned any updates. I am now running Linux Mint, and it is very nice indeed.

But it was starting to show its age. The traditional hard drive gasped and wheezed and apps took too long to load. I was starting to think I would have to break down and get a newer machine. But instead,  I took a 120GB SSD (solid state drive) and installed that a few months ago. The 500GB drive now holds my data. Now, it runs like the wind. It does everything I need it to do, flawlessly. Unless something untoward happens with this machine, I can probably get another couple of years out of it. I may yet, however, double the ram all the way to 4GB.

But I had a mere 15 inch flat screen monitor. I had a 19 inch one briefly, but it did not work on this computer. It would blink out after a few seconds. Maybe it was the drivers. Maybe it was just a dud monitor from the thrift store.

I took that monitor, and three others, to an enviro depot over the weekend. When cleaning out the closet that had those monitors, I found this one, a 17 inch LG. I swapped out the 15 for the 17 about 20 minutes ago, and it works very well. I will save you the math. It is about 13% bigger than the 15, which makes quite a difference to me.

This upgrade this evening cost me nothing. It was a monitor I had forgotten about. Swapping out the two monitors took me about 45 seconds. And I have a better computer experience now than I had before.

When I bought this machine nine years ago, I had no idea I would still be using it in 2018. I figured three or four at the very most. Now, like I stated above, I think I can get a few more years out of this.

What things have you bought that lasted you much, much longer than you expected they would?

You know how to contact me.

See you tomorrow.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Post 3659 - What Would You Do?

I don't talk about it much, but I work as a civil servant. I have the part-time writing gig for Frank, but most of my income emanates from my day job.

The government recently decided to allow civil servants to tap into what is called a public service award, an amount of money paid to retiring civil servants. One week of salary for each year of service, up to twenty six weeks. In order to get this money, you couldn't leave your job in any way other than retiring. If you left to go somewhere else, you didn't get it. If you got fired, you didn't get it.

They want the money off the books, so they're letting us get the money now. By now, I mean in the coming few months, as there are only so many people working away at calculating these amounts owing, and it takes a while to do this work. I won't pretend to know about it.

Last week, we all got letters spelling out what our PSA amount will be. We also got options for how to receive that money. We could get it as one big payment, less income tax, CPP contributions, EI contributions, and everything else. Those going for that option, will likely get about 50% of that money. Maybe 55% at the most.

You could also opt to put all, or some, of that money into a retirement savings plan and defer the tax, as you would never see it.

What you do with that money, and how it is disbursed as above, depends on one's financial situation. I decided to go for the full payout, although it means taking a kick in the teeth, tax wise. I took on a fair amount of debt before my mother died, and added to that right after she passed. I have had to add yet more to get other important things done, too. I have been dutifully paying it down over the last few years, and I have about two years left to go.

If i get this payout as I have described, I can pay off that balance of that debt pretty much instantly. I will free up the cash designated for this debt, and put it toward other things, including savings. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

But others like the idea of socking the money away into the RSP thing, getting the tax break, and applying THAT money to whatever debts and other financial obligations confront them.

In speaking with a co-worker today, I opined that many people give little thought to their financial planning. They just want their net pay every two weeks that they can spend on what they want. As they approach retirement, they feel they should retire as much of their debt as they can, but that is about it.

I am not too far away from that attitude, and we suspect that most people are not, either.

I think my decision works for me. The die is cast. I mailed in my decision last week.

I am wondering what you would do in my case, and why? You don't have to tell me your precise financial situation. Don't give me actual dollar amounts of what you owe, or what you would spend it it. Just give me a rough idea of what you would do, and why.

I look forward to your thoughts.

See you tomorrow.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Post 3658 - Two Days Later

Sorry I didn't write on Saturday. I did a quick Valley trip, to check out the house down there and take care of a few things.

I know I have some friends down there, and maybe they're disappointed that they didn't hear from me. I promise I am not trying to be a so-and-so. I promise to look you up in the near future. I know we need to have lunch and talk about stuff.


I returned mid-afternoon. A friend wanted to borrow our Toastmasters club's old timing device and stopwatch, so I dropped them off on the way home. I was greeted with the usual enthusiasm from Patricia and Newbie. I reported that I had brought back a quiche and a pizza, and prepared them both for dinner. After dinner I cooked some salmon, which will be for our lunches this week.

Once again, a three day weekend flew by as if it had never happened before. Once again, I wonder where the time went, and what I have to show for it.

I just remembered that I should re-plug the slow cooker in, and let it run most of the night. Patricia is making a beef stew, and I want to make the chaps at work jealous because their wives only made them flakes of ham sandwiches.

I am such a stinker.

You guys have a good night. See you tomorrow.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Post 3657 - Friday Night

A day off work. I love three day weekends.

Patricia had a make-up Pilates class this morning, or rather, thought she did. She got there and soon discovered it was cancelled, so she did some exercises and returned to the car early. Meanwhile I went to the nearby thrift store.

It's the same thrift store where I got this handy dandy Model M keyboard a few months ago. The same keyboard I am using for this blog post, actually. What a wonderful clickety-clack it produces! Anyway, they had a few keyboards there, but not anything like this find.

We had lunch with a friend, whom we had not seen for a while. After that, we went to the Young Street Superstore, and then made our way back home. We have spent the rest of the day just hanging around the house, taking things easy.

Weekends are nice, and there are two more days to go in this one.

Lots of fun on Saturday and Sunday. I will tell you about those days as the time draw nigh.

I learned "nigh" from reading comics.

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Post 3656 - Listen!

I didn't write on Wednesday because my body shut down around 8:15. Sorry about that.

I would have told you that the next edition of the Night Time Podcast is up. It is the episode that features me talking with host Jordan Bonaparte for 40 minutes or so, regarding the 1998 disappearance of Troy Cook, from Truro, Nova Scotia.

Here is the link. You can either stream it, or download it. If you have a podcast catcher you can set it up to grab every edition of this fine podcast ever done if that is your desire (it should be).

I am happy with how it turned out. I thought that my voice was slowed down, but Jordan tells me that he did not adjust my modulation at all. I guess I worked a little too hard to make sure I spoke at a deliberate rate. You may not even notice it. We spoke for about 43 minutes, and nearly all of it made the podcast, so that is cool.

One little bit he did cut was my offer at the very end to sit down with Jordan again and discuss another cold case. I hope he takes me up on that offer.

I don't know if my articles, if Jordan's podcasts, help solve any cases or not. I haven't heard about the police arresting anybody and thanking Frank Magazine or The Night Time Podcast for helping generate tips that led to the arrest. But I like to think they do help keep the word out about these older unsolved cases, and that word can lead to discussion, which can lead to people calling the police with some piece of information that can lead to an arrest or three.

Thanks, Jordan. That was fun. Let's do that again sometime.

See you guys tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Post 3655 - A Good Laugh

I have spent far too much time this evening, and during my lunch hour today, enjoying the heck out of a thread on a Facebook page I follow with some interest. It was inspired by something I had written the other day.

On the "Marvel Comics Fans 1961-1986" page, on Tuesday, there was the following exchange:

People have been writing at great length about it all day, and I have had a wonderful time reading these posts. Here I am with one of my contributions.

My very favourite made me laugh out loud. Here it is:

I got such a kick out of this because, well, I learned to read from comics more than I did from anything else. I developed a taste for other types of reading, fiction and non-fiction, but it all came from comics. I sold off 99% of them over the years, but I still remember reading them very fondly. And I remember the insults that, say, Doctor Doom would throw at his minions. "Craven cur" was likely my favourite.

I learned that "laser" and "maser" were acronyms.

I learned that "moribund" means "dying" because I read that a comic book was in that state due to poor sales and was in danger of cancellation, a form of death if you want to look at it that way.

There will be a new Ant Man movie in 2018, with The Wasp as his partner, played by Evangeline Lilly. Her character is often described as "winsome", so I have known that word since I was a child.

I learned that "naught" means "nothing" from reading comics.

I had a job more than 30 years ago when I told my boss I was working on something "for the nonce". He told me he had not heard that phrase since he had studied Shakespeare. I got the phrase from reading Thor years earlier.

I learned that full moons last for three nights because I read "Werewolf by Night" as a youngster, and Jack Russell would become a werewolf for three nights per month. Gotta love those old stories by Doug Moench and Don Perlin. I asked a teacher in a science class why they last for three nights, and got a perfectly scientific answer for my troubles.

(Doug Moench and I share the same birthday, by the way).

I occasionally tell people here on the blog to calm down by writing, "Fear not, effendi". Got that from reading one of Stan Lee's Soapbox entries from back in the day, in some Marvel comic, likely from the early 1970's. Probably written by someone else, but you get the point.

I really hope that this Facebook thread goes on for days and days. Grand old fun.

What does this mean to you? Well, not much, except that if you catch a seldom-used word here from time to time, there is a decent chance I got it from reading comics. You know, the scourge of literature.

And I have paid it forward a bit in my Frank articles. In one I did in the Autumn, I could have stated that a man was so "sad" that he took his own life, but wrote "disconsolate" instead. My editor did not change it, so it was all good. I am pretty sure I got that word from comics I read as youngster.

Now, begone, ye vile miscreants. I must needs sleep ere the morn, lest I be enervated.