Saturday, November 28, 2015

PCC- the first attack

The first of many, I think.

Pre-Christmas Crankies. I get them. Maybe you do too. There we were, driving to work much later than usual on Friday. Linda had an appointment in the building next to my office for 9:30. I am carrying a small surplus of hours this month, so I wasn't in a hurry to get into the office. Therefore we were going past Chinook mall at 8:45. Northbound on McLeod trail, in the left lane because I know I'll be making a left eventually.

Well, no, not quite. The left turn lane into Chinook is backed up and spills over into the left through lane. I eventually get out and around the backlog of cars, marveling at all the space between the cars in the turn lane. Drivers oblivious to their surroundings, focussed only on impending shopping delights, though only I figured that out later. I noted crappy parking already taking place, bad enough I could see it from the road, while driving. Sigh.

In the office, a couple people were planning some shopping. As near as I could tell, this wasn't anything they actually needed, it was more like a smash and grab raid merged with a free the hostages objective. If they planned their work that well, nothing would ever go wrong.

As most of you know, I and my current boss and a very few others are the only survivors of The Great 5th Floor Massacre of last September. After work yesterday some of those people met up in a bar. My entire old team, as constituted at the time of the aforesaid massacre, showed up. It was lovely to see them all and get caught up. I text with a few of them, but had lost touch with the rest. Of the 7 of us, the score is 3, 3, 1. Three are working, Dan, Meby, Patricia. Three are not yet, Debbi, Dahlia, Richard. And me, still there.

My best remark of the night. My one colleague has a 2 or 3 year old son. Another has a pair of late teen daughters. One of the daughters was babysitting the son at a nearby mall. They'd sort of arranged a 7pm end time. At 7:30 the daughter plaintively texts, and asks what's happening. I almost got the phone in time, and said while they were replying, "Tell her to sell the kid, take the money and run, two happy sets of parents result." The daughter's father laughed out loud. The son's mother was saying "Wait, she can't do that!" My response? "Black Friday, people will buy anything."

And so they will. I don't get it. I've only lined up for a sale once, and we saved $3000 on a plasma TV, way back in the day when such things were still fairly rare, and the "standard" 42 inch screen retailed for about $8000. Yes, I know. Times have changed.

Generally if I actually need something, I'll figure out where to get it, and pick it up at some convenient time, or have it shipped. I do try to find local suppliers, and pick up in person when I can. My thinking is that money spent locally is more likely to stay local, or at least some of it is. Plus the local shops are employing people in my community, which is a good thing.

I've been buying stuff in Calgary on and off now for 35 years, and some days I think every damn thing is still in this house, breeding more stuff. Outside of consumables like groceries, there isn't much I actually need to buy these days. There are wants, though, and boy do the advertisers push those wants!

The consumer debt numbers are frightening. I'm appalled by people making quite good money, even by oil patch standards, that have to visit the food bank within a month of being laid off. Does nobody save money any more? Does nobody else realize Calgary has a very cyclical economy, and if you want to get through the bust times, you have to plan for it during the boom? There used to be a bumper sticker, "Please God, let there be another oil boom, I promise not to piss it all away this time." Well, I've seen several of these booms come and go, and people are still pissing it away.

One guy, laid off in September, is waiting till January to put in his EI claim. He was well paid enough that some of it would be clawed back if he took it the same year of earning salary. His thinking is to take the 8 months of EI, not working next year or at least not for a salary, then line up work for 2017. He was mentioning complicated calculations about RSP withdrawls, taking some tax losses and rebalancing his investment portfolio. At least he has money to play with, for now. 2017 will come quick. He did mention he had very little cash to carry around from now till the new year, and had to be careful of what he spent.

Back to the bar last night. For a city where at least 18,000 people have been laid off recently, the bar was so full we couldn't reserve a table in advance. We had to scrounge, and promise not to stay past 8 pm. The place was full, and the wait staff run off their feet. We shut it down about 8pm, as the bar was picking up steam. People were hovering to snap up our tables. I did not have to invoke my iron-clad leaving the bar rule.

I only had two very tasty beers, and was home about the time I normally go to bed. The transit system was fairly quiet, only one somewhat obnoxious drunk. Still, at Chinook our fairly empty train car was invaded by dozens of people. Suddenly the car was rush hour full. All happily chatting to each other in not-English. There's probably a story there, but I don't know it.

Then I got caught up with Linda's adventures in traffic as well. No damage, but a lot of frazzling. She bailed on some of her planned destinations because the traffic was so crappy.

The consequence of the beers is that I didn't plank last night. Technically I've broken my streak. But I'm planning to plank this morning in conjunction with morning workout. I'm still dithering between a spin or a run. It's nice out. Then later this evening, I'll do another plank. So I'll have to be careful, saying "averaging a plank a day", to be correct.

I'm trying not to be maudlin about this year. There's still a month to go after all. But Christmas. Ho Hum. I'm not quite to Bah, Humbug yet, but I'm working on it. I'll probably get there in time. These photos make me feel better. How could it not? Curtis is so regal in the morning sun, and it's cute how their tails had all twined together as Celina snoozed hard.


  1. Dave and I are pretty young, but we've always been about the savings! Our retirement is going to be awesome :)

  2. I love Christmas but really hate this part of it. I don't like crowds, especially these ones. They bring out the worst in ppl. Esp when parking.


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