Archive for December, 2008

Running some numbers

Okay, so I’ve been running some numbers with regards to my (~) investment property.  I can basically do the following:

  1. Sell it
  2. Rent it out.
  3. Move into it.

Now that I have some solid numbers, these options are eliminating themselves.  By selling it for the same price I purchased it for (it’d be impossible now to sell it for a gain), I’d be losing about $25k after taxes, shipping and handling.  That’s a lot of money and it would hurt to lose that much.  I could recover from that, but I don’t particularly want to lose that much.

Conversely, if it sat empty for the next year, I would lose about $17k.  So, at the very least, doing nothing for a year costs less than selling it.  Ergo, selling it is not an option in this economic environment.  But leaving it empty is pretty lousy as well.

Next up is renting it.  It’s been up for rent for two months now with no takers.  I can drop the rent a little more.  I have calculated that if I go down by another $25 per month, I will lose $6500 per year.  That’s looking a lot more attractive.

Finally, I could move into it.  If I did that, I could stop paying rent on my existing place but the drawback is that I’d have to move into a condo I don’t really want to move into.  But if I did, compared to my current place, it would cost me an additional $4624 per year compared to what I am paying now.  Is the change in lifestyle worth $1900 to me (6500-4600)?  The traffic patterns are a little worse and the area of town is more isolated, but I could get by.

Now that I have numbers compiled this is starting to make it a little easier to come to a decision.

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For the longest time, I used to make fun of people who drive SUV’s in cities.  After all, people don’t really need the gas guzzlers because they almost never go off-road.  They do almost all of their driving on paved roads with good traction.  It’s a bit of a waste of money.

Well, turns out those folks had the last laugh.  During the recent Seattle snowstorms, my little Corolla absolutely sucked in the snow.  I got stuck 4 times in a week and I didn’t even drive every day!  It would have been handy indeed to drive a vehicle that has 4×4.  I’ll never mock SUVs again because once in a while they come in handy.

But this brings me to the point of the title of this post.  Getting stuck so often convinced me that it was time to change the tires on my car.  Ever since I got the car I knew the tires weren’t great.  The first week I had it back in Winnipeg, I discovered in winter that starting from a standing stop the tires would frequently spin.  It was just like being a cartoon character.  Yet, I put off getting new ones because in Seattle, who really needs great traction?  The roads are all paved and it never snows!

But getting stuck so often in the Seattle snow changed my mind.  I figured it was time to get my tires changed.  I needed new ones; besides which, it’s not a bad thing to get new tires put on your car when they haven’t been changed at all (I’m guessing) in 84,000 km.  So, I took my car in to get the tires fixed and I got a call just now.  They took the tires off and inspected my brakes and recommended I get new brake pads put in.  They say that normal is 10mm and mine were down to 3mm (whatever that means). 

Now, once again, I’ve known for a while that my brakes were getting a little squeaky.  But only just a little.  But I figured "Meh… might as well get the brake pads replaced too, because I can hear them squeal and I’m not a brake expert so I don’t know how long they will hold out."  Of course, the net cost to me?  An additional $250.  That’s in addition to the $200 to get the tires done.

I guess procrastinating getting that stuff done wasn’t the best idea.

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It’s now been a little over nine weeks since I had the arthroscopic surgery on my hip.  During that time I have slowly been recovering.  Here’s an update.

My hip feels both better and worse.  My litmus test is the box step pattern I alluded to in some previous posts.  It’s something I have to do for physiotherapy but it’s also a dance pattern.  I couldn’t do the move because it caused me a great deal of physical pain.  It was mostly located in my upper leg around the back of the leg, right where the hip fits into the socket.

I can now say that doing that move doesn’t hurt anymore… most of the time.  I test it out all the time and most of the time it doesn’t hurt.  However, for some reason sometimes I feel it give and feel a sharp, short pain in that same part of the leg.  It doesn’t hurt as badly and the pain is much shorter, and it is intermittent.  I can’t reproduce it every time.  So it’s like my hip is almost all the way better there, but not quite.

Then there’s moving side-to-side.  When I move from left to right, I can feel a pain in the outside of my hip.  But this one, too, is intermittent.  Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes when I bend my knees slightly, it’s fine.  Other times it doesn’t help at all.  But the pain isn’t as bad as it was a few weeks ago so I think that’s on the mend as well.

However, the inside of my leg hurts a lot.  When I bend down and raise my full body weight on my left hip (such as bending to my left to pick something up), that hurts.  A lot.  That certainly will need to spend a lot more time healing before it’s back to normal.

So my prognosis is that there are some parts of my leg that feel better, and some parts that feel worse.  I guess I have a ways to go before I’m back to normal.

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Smirking just a bit

Referring back to my previous post, I’m a little amused by the native Seattle-ites and people who have moved here and had never seen much snow in their lives.

When the snow first hit, people were all saying "Ooh, it’s wonderful, it’s magical!  Look at all the snow!"  Now, a week and 28 snowfalls later, people are saying "When is all this snow going to go away?"  Being from Winnipeg where we have snow 8 months a year, I was smiling to myself.  I kind of knew that people would be enthralled with the snow at first, but after a while they’d be wishing that it were gone.

For you see, snow can be very disruptive.  You can’t drive anywhere and your plans and daily life are all thrown for a scuttle.  After a while, you just want things to get back to the way they were before the snow.  Most of Seattle cried uncle in a week; just think about how everyone in Winnipeg has to deal with it.

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Here in Seattle, I got back into town 6 days ago and it’s been snowing ever since.  Quite frankly I’m getting a little tired of it all.

In Winnipeg, a lot of snow is commonplace and it can shut the city down, but the streets are normally plowed in good order.  Not so over here; it takes a while to plow the streets but what’s worse is that our streets are very hilly.  Most cars just don’t have the traction to get anywhere.  Even I couldn’t get back to my place one afternoon because I simply couldn’t get up the hill.  My tires kept spinning.  I had to park my car in someone else’s spot for two days until it warmed up a bit and the snow melted.

Now, I look outside my place and it’s snowing… again.  I’m beginning to get tired of this.  It wouldn’t be so bad if Seattle salted/sanded the roads.  But they don’t.  So I’m stuck.

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Something different

Normally at this time of year, I do an end-of-year magic video featuring me doing a bunch of different magic tricks.  These are normally short clips about 10-20 seconds long and I slice together about 10-12 of them.  I’ve been doing this for the past three years.

I have decided that I am not going to do that this year.  Instead, I am focusing more on doing a complete trick from start to finish and uploading that instead.  I got some really good video editing software this year and while doing a bunch of clips would be easier than ever, the reality is that I think doing an entire trick packs a more powerful psychological punch, as it were.  In addition, I am incorporating feedback from others who say that they like the complete tricks better than the series of short clips.

So, my first video that I am putting up here is one of my favorite card tricks, entitled Sam the Bellhop.  I performed it on my birthday.  Enjoy.

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I went and checked my mail this morning and I got one heck of a surprise.  I expected that I would be getting a bill from my health care provider for the cost of my surgery.  I phoned them up a couple of times and they told me that the maximum out of pocket costs to me would be $500.  This is because Microsoft chose not to renew the contract with the health care provider and the only ones who performed arthroscopic hip surgery were with this provider.

So, I figured that $500 wouldn’t be too bad.  Yet today, I went down and received my bill.  In fact, I got two of them.  The first one, dated Nov 22, 2008, is a bill for $2317.  The second one, dated Dec 6, 2008, is a bill for $4360.  I think that one is for the surgery and the other is for the anesthesia.  So, the total cost is $6500.  That’s way more than they told me it would cost.  In fact, they told me on 3 separate occasions it would only be $500.

I’m going to have to phone some people and figure this out.  So much for health insurance.

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