Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hello, I must be going. Redux.

It's even more official now.

I have given notice on the Deep Cove hell apartment and I am moving back to the drive. This little experiment in frustration cost only a few grand. But there were some rewards - like living in the most beautiful area of the Lower Mainland.

Still, I miss the gittiness and handiness of the Drive.

Notice has been given and the landlord has the ads starting this weekend. It looks like it will be a smooth transition, but I have my doubts about getting the damage deposit back. We'll see.

The new place is basically a room in a house with a cool couple. It's going to be quite a change, but the rent is halved. And there are no utilities. Plus, I should be able to sleep once again.

A dream come true.

I've taken the new place for Oct 15th. Although most of my stuff will go into storage, it will still be nice to be able to move at my convenience.

I'm hoping the current place gets rented for Oct 15. That would be even better.

But at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This is the first and last time I will move twice in the same year!! At least with most of my stuff in storage, any further moves will be easy.


Friday, September 24, 2004


It's been a while since I've posted. Lots of reasons - the end result, no time.

I took a couple of days off and went in search of clarity. And I believe I have found it.

The current equation:

high rent + unhappy + debt reduction doesn't equal travel.
low rent + happy + debt reduction = travel!
So I am moving. Finally.

Either October 1... which will be a (doable) challenge or Nov 1.

I would almost rather moving next week - just to get it out of the way. I've found a couple of potential places that are reasonable (half) rent - although they are shared.

Both are back in Vancouver. And one is near the old place on Commercial Drive. But away from the bongos. I miss the lesbians, addicts, and general riff raff. I am *so* not a yoga wear, rich folks neighbourhood kind of guy.

I've found some reasonably priced off-sire storage too. And, I've found someone to take the big stuff so I don't need scads of storage.

All good.

There is more too, but I have to go get some boxes before rush hour starts...

More soon!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Got a bit of a break from Vancouver on the weekend. Friends offered up a free place to stay and a free ticket to the Victoria Beer Festival... How could I say no?

The highlight of the beer fest? Hearing people cheer each time Team Canada scored in the World Cup of Hockey game against the Czechs.

Or maybe it was the streaker.

Or maybe it was wobbling out of there and going to real estate guru John Hircock's basement of Scotch and Cuban cigars.

Oh! It's a hard life.

I worked at the CBC today -- doing the Winnipeg website. Up at 4am, downtown at 5. And then the phone rang.... a week of work here, a couple of days there, and an interesting call from video game manufacturer Radical Entertainment. We're not sure what the deal is yet.

CTV also called for me to come in today, but I was already booked.

It always works out.

Sleep calls.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Saga of the $500 car

I bought my 1987 Mercury Tracer for $500 just under two years ago.

At the time, I needed a car because I was shooting a lot of CBC items in places where public transit was nonexistent or wasn't convenient.

Chris Holmes, my editor at I was working with at The Corp. mentioned he had an old car that he'd let go cheap. No guarantees, he said.

My thinking was: a new car would cost at least $250 a month. If I could get 2 months out of a $500 car, I'd break even. Any more than that would be a bonus.

And what a bonus. With more than 380,000 KM on the odometer, it's the Timex of beaters.

Another concern with a beater is maintenance costs. It's great that the purchase price is low, and that there are no monthly payments. But if maintaining it costs hundreds a month, then there's not much point.

But the Tracer has been amazing.

During year one I didn't put a cent into it, other than for fuel, tranny fluid (more on that follows) and oil.

Then, at the end of my first year of insurance coverage, I was forced, like other BC residents, to get my car air cared. This is ostensibly to keep cars that spew off the road. But in reality, its a way for garages to make some money.

Here's the deal:

Take car to Air Care. Pay $28. If it passes, you can re-insure your car for another year.

If it fails - you got to get it fixed. But there is a limit. You only have to spend a max of $400. If the problem isn't fixed - you get a conditional pass. And that's good for a year.

So - in this scenario - the spewing car still spews. The provincial government has made 2 x $28 (2 tests) and the garage has made $400. And there is absolutely no benefit for the environment.


So... I failed. I paid my $400. I passed. The $500 car needed only $400 in maintenance.

This year there were some more problems. I needed 2 new tires, so I bought used ones (new to me!) and that was about $150.

Then the carb was being weird. That cost $50. And the thermostat went. That cost $50.

And then, I decided that leaking a litre of tranny fluid every few days was not a good thing. I took it in to the Deep Cove garage...

A seal was gone, and some tranny switch was hooped.

I figured that this would mean a huge expense. And, if I had to remove the tranny to fix it -- then it probably wouldn't be worth it.

The garage estimated $300! Shocked, I said, when can I bring it in?!

It went in today. And a few hours later, the phone rang. Uh oh!

I expected the worst. And I got great news.

The car was done, and the damage was $160! Cheap! I happily paid up.

The old beater is still going strong. And after having put in only $810 in the past 2 years makes me smile. It may not be pretty, but it works. And, $810 divided by 24 is just $33 a month.

Pretty decent payment plan, I'd say.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

It always works out...

The short version.

Today was the last scheduled day of work for me. After working non-stop for most of the year, it looked like I was going to have a long break. Not necessarily a bad thing, but income is important too.

Still seeking that ever elusive balance.

I was calling today my retirement day. And just this morning, I was wondering this morning how long it would be between finishing my last shift and booking my next.

It didn't happen.

First CTV offered up a couple of days later in the month.

Then CBC offered up two days next week.

And then CTV offered up a day in early October.

This is all good. A little work, a little time off, a little balance.

It always works out.


Sunday, September 05, 2004


I just realized that today, September 5th, is the anniversary of the day we signed on MITV in Halifax... in 1988. 16 years ago! 16!!!

16... 16... 16...


Happy Anniversary!


It's amazing how you can live in a place for seven years and still find things about it that surprise and amaze.

I'd heard of Buntzen Lake, but I'd never been there.

As the crow flies, it's very close to Deep Cove. But to drive there you have to navigate around Indian Arm... it takes about an hour.

The reason I had to go there was that I was working (acting?!) in a film that a friend of mine is shooting. It's low budget, but is being shot on actual film stock (16mm).

I play the main character - a Doctor - who has discovers the death of two people. In today's scene, I was canoeing on the lake with a little girl (Brianna, daughter of CTV graphic guy Al Moody).

Buntzen is surrounded by mountains. It is long and narrow, and stunningly beautiful. It's amazing to think that it is so close to the city - because it feels like being far up in the interior.

There is a massive beach, and today, there were lots of families and groups out BBQing, boating and fishing. There are canoe rentals on site as well.

We shot for several hours as I paddled around. The scariest moment was when Steve the director and DOP hopped in the canoe with his gear to shoot POV shots of me. Can you say tippy?

It was a shame to have to leave! But now that I know about this piece of paradise, I can see loading up a chair, a book, and perhaps a laptop.

And with lots of free time on the horizon, I will be back!

This evening I am off to Richmond for a meeting of the Night of Artist folks. It's $400 for another year... and while it's not good timing money-wise, I think it is important to continue with the project. Sales can only go up!

Labour day will be labour day - 18 hours of newswriting at both CBC and CTV. Then a couple of night shifts at CTV on Tuesday and Wednesday... and that's it! Retirement!


Friday, September 03, 2004

Things are looking up!

It's been a busy week... doing this and that and working at night.

Which, in fact, is where I am now.

Working, at night.

Today was another double payday - and I managed to slap another massive amount on my dwindling debt. It's cost a lot in terms of missing the nicest summer ever in Vancouver, but it also takes me closer to something even better: freedom.

It's still going to take a lot of work to pay for all those trip in the past 3 years. But eventually, I'll get there.

I've been joking that I am retiring on Wednesday. Sort of - at this point I have 3 days of work left and then the great unknown.

But I am mentally and fiscally ready for that - and I need the time to work on my own projects... so I can travel and make money at the same time. That is the key.

Well, the fires and motor vehicle accidents are calling...