Lowering credit card limits: any point?

I almost lost my Mastercard this week after almost calling Citibank to lower my credit limit. I guess I didn't stuff it back into my wallet securely. Thank goodness Natalie the Traffic Master found it on the floor and got it back to me. I didn't even realize it was lost.

I mentioned this in a thread over at Give Me Back My Five Bucks, and another poster asked why I'd want to lower my limit.

Good question.
I now have three credit cards:

- a MC with about a $9000 limit
- an Air Miles amex with an $8000 limit
- a bank Visa with a $10000 limit

Total: $27-thousand in credit, plus a bank line of credit.

I don't use it. I really don't use it that much.

I pay off my balance in full each month, and I don't charge much on them anyway. At most, some airline tickets and hotel when we're travelling.

I've *heard* that when it comes time to apply for a mortage, lenders may look at credit card credit as entirely debt, even if you don't spend up to your limit. I don't want the lenders thinking I have $27-thou in debt when, in fact, I have none.

I'm sure a simpler solution would be to cancel a card, but ......

- I've had the MC since about 1994 (or earlier?), so that's my longest piece of credit history. I'd love to ditch it, though, 'cuz I hear narsty things about CitiBank. And they're American
- the Amex earns me Air Miles
- and the Visa is with the bank and gets me points.

So, I'm reluctant to part with any of 'em.

That's what I'm thinking. Am I off-base?

X-Weighted is back

One of my favourite shows, X-Weighted, is back on the air for another season.

X-Weighted is a series of one-hour documentaries that follow peoples' struggles to get fit in six months. Each person has his or her own challenges and issues. Some succeed. Many fall short of their goals.

The first episode took a 260-pound woman from drinking 24 beer a week to climbing all 1776 stairs of the CN Tower. We watched the show last night, and it's every bit as good as every other season so far. It's already giving me that "I can do this!" feeling.

You may recall that I auditioned for X-Weighted a while back, and was this close ][ to getting on the show, 'til they decided not to shoot in Halifax after all. That spawned me to attemp my own (failed) weight loss project, Un-Weighted.

I'm grateful to my PVR, Little Eddie Dingle, for remembering to tape the show. I have it set to record "new episodes", so it just sits there in the background and starts rolling again when a new season starts.

I think it's about time to get the bike out of winter storage and hit the road. I found out last night my taekwondo gym is moving downtown. That'll cut my trip home -- the new facility is about two blocks from my apartment -- but it's a lot further from work, and when I walk to class now, I only barely make it there on time. Looks like my only hopes of getting to the new place on time will be to run (no), taxi ($$$!) , bus (route? timing?), bike or beg for carpooling. I think cycling would get me there in fair time, but tired. And there's the weather to consider. There's no way that'll work in the dead of winter.

Good news, bad news on the consumer front

BAD NEWS! Scooter, the Roomba Scheduler with intelli-bin that mom and dad got me for Christmas, is sick and/or dead. It started making a loud grinding noise and the main roller brush stopped working consistently.

GOOD NEWS! I got in touch with iRobot (the robot company, not the Will Smith movie) and they diagnosed the problem as a problem. They say they'll be sending a new robot and that I should just throw the old one in the garbage after stripping it for parts. Wow! That's customer service! And the Hammacher-Schlemmer warranty may even extend past the iRobot warranty.


GOOD NEWS! Steak-umms are back! Thinly sliced sandwich steaks that go from frozen to in-your-belly in minutes! TV ads even promote Steak-umm burgers!

BAD NEWS! The ads are American.

GOOD NEWS! I contacted the Steak-umm company (at www.steakumm.com) with an urgent request for information on Canadian availability of Steak-umms. Company e-mail responder Jena Evans responds enthusiastically:

We are pleased to inform you that Sobey's stores, as well as their affiliates IGA, Foodland and Price Chopper stores, are now carrying the Steak-Umm Sliced Steaks in Ontario Canada.

BAD NEWS! I don't live in Ontario. Crap. I miss Steak-umms. I mean, I love it here, but we don't have Steak-umms.

GOOD NEWS! We have donairs. Screw you, the rest of Canada.


BAD NEWS! My Western Digital My Book 500 GB external USB hard drive failed. I was using it for backups, file transfers and extra storage for the PVR. The WD drive diagnostics thingy craps out at various points, suggesting to me that either the cable is faulty (lies!) or some read element is broken (possibly true!). And from the comments at amazon.com, it looks like I'm not the only one with problems.

GOOD NEWS! I bought it a little more than a year ago from Future Shop. I contacted Western Digital to see if my warranty is still good and they can send me a new drive. That was weeks ago and they haven't replied. Wait, that's not good at all. That's BAD NEWS!

I finished the 5k, and that is a win

For the second year in a row, I took part in the 5k run/walk at the Blue Nose Marathon.

Last year I was doing my "Un-Weighted" project and was actually making regular visits to the gym. I was in passable shape. I wasn't training like an athlete, but I was training.

This year I wasn't training, and I'm not in shape. I've put on some (read: all) the weight I lost during the Un-Weighted project and I have not been training. Yes, I have been walking home from work roughly four out of five days a week, and attending taekwondo about once a week, but I have not trained in any sense that'd make real training athletes think I trained.

My goal this year was just to finish. I figured I'd tack another ten or fifteen minutes on my finish time.

But here are the stats: last year's time was 38:55.9. This year's time was 41:14.8. That's a difference of 2:18.1.

Really? No training, more weight, and over five kilometres I only went two minutes and eighteen seconds slower?


I can't explain it. I was just glad to finish, but I ended up finishing stronger than I thought I would've.

The running wasn't hard -- I didn't "blow up" and get winded so much as I got cramps in the muscles along my shins. That made it hard to run and even hard to walk. But I kept going.

Good work, me.

One tip that might've helped: I ran into Music Nova Scotia superstar Laura Simpson on Agricola Street. She snapped the photo you see here. She actually knows how to run. Like, she's run FAR. She gave me a tip about my stride, and for all I know, that's what prevented me from tacking on a whole bunch more time.

Thanks as well to Amanda for coming out to cheer me on!

Saturday night we watched Run Fatboy Run, the Simon Pegg film directed by David Schwimmer. It wasn't as perfect a movie as Pegg's Hot Fuzz, but it was very well done. A nice portrayal of an out-of-shape guy trying to get his life together in order to impress a lady he let down in the past. Very funny in places, and sweet enough to be a chick flick if not for the fact that the lead character is not a typical chick-flick lead.

Scott.... there's someone at the door!

What a surprise!

My mom and dad showed up Sunday for a visit!

Amanda knew in advance and arranged through my boss to get me two days off. My folks showed up Sunday afternoon and completely surprised me. What a treat!

They stayed for Monday and Tuesday, and we went out and saw some sights including the Halifax cemetery where some of the Titanic victims are buried, and the Halifax Citadel. Even though I live right across the street, I'd never been up there to see the old fortifications.

Yes, they ate donairs. Yes, they liked them, even though, IMHO, they weren't among the best donairs we've ever had.

Thanks to everyone involved in crafting this sneaky and super-sweet surprise. It was great to see my parents again after nearly a year. I'm so glad they were able to get out here to visit for the first time. I hope to see them again soon!

Considering privacy when there's nothing to hide

I'm looking for your opinions on this ... I think I know how I feel about it, but I'm aware that other people feel differently ... so help me understand here.

I've posted here before about people marking some of my Flickr photos as favorites in a post entitled "Gay guys totally dig me on Flickr." There's a contingent of gentlemen who think my chubby, hairy belly is dead sexy.

When I check recent activity on my Flickr gallery, I regularly find that people have marked some of the photos as favorites. When I click on the person's name to see their favorites, there's usually a theme. When it comes to the context in which I find my pictures, it's usually a collection of overfed and underdressed hirsute dudes.

Me -- I'm not that spooked by it. I find it flattering that people would find me so attractive they want to see my picture more than once. I don't feel threatened by it. My pictures don't portray me in a degrading fashion in any way that would impugn my character or smear my reputation. They're just photos of me that happen to appeal to a certain narrow demographic. I even stuck out my belly in one of the photos on our Cuba trip as a nod to my "fans".

Lately I've spotted a few people favouriting my girlfriend's pictures. And, likewise, there's usually a theme. Usually it's breasts, specifically cleavage, although one guy clearly had a thing for cute girls' armpits.

Now, this is where I acknowledge my opinion may diverge from others.

I'm not threatened by men on the internets looking at our innocent snapshots and finding my girlfriend to be hot. I'm kind of flattered that they think she's as sexy as I do.

Some people find it really really creepy that people would be looking at them like that. I don't think Amanda's comfortable with strangers finding her pictures sexy. I don't think she finds it threatening but she's clearly not into having her armpits fetishized for people who troll the web for shots that accidentally show the body parts they love most.

Now, I'm not taking pictures of my partner in sexy underthings and in suggestive poses to post on the internet to vampiristically solicit the drooling glances of other strangers. Not that that would be entirely unlike me, or some version of me from the past, but that's not appropriate, welcome or ... y'know, it's not a good idea. I get that.

Aren't I scared that these people are stalking me or her? No, I'm not. I don't believe these people are infatuated with anything more than the particular image they're looking at. I'm not afraid that someone out there has spotted my lady's 'pits or decolletage and is crawling the web looking for a way to get to her. I don't feel that kind of fear.

What's going on here is that we're posting perfectly reasonable snapshots that the average person would find innocent and plain. But people are devouring other peoples' photographed life and cherry picking the parts that turn them on, then saving them out to a collection that focuses on their particular predilections.

So what's a person to do? Cave into the peepers and go private with our otherwise unproblematic photos? Consider this: every parent who's posting adorable photos of their kids playing in the backyard pool are also sharing those family memories with oddballs who scour the web for pictures of children playing in backyard pools! Your little boy or girl could end up bookmarked for future insalubrious viewing by a guy whose viewing habits would make you throw up.

Where's it stop? If someone has a thing for women in red shirts, you may find your photos ending up in a collection along with other women in red shirts. Blue-eyed redheads? You're bookmarked! Flat-chested? Ample-bosomed? Somewhere in between or maybe a little heavier on one side than the other? Someone's going to fancy you! Someone's going to fancy you for a part of you you may not be proud of. And even if you're proud of it, are you comfortable with someone other than your honey bunny ogling you at the keyboard?

So, that's what I want you to meditate on and comment about.

How do you handle the knowledge that the material you post innocently to the web is likely being consumed by people who are using it for pervy purposes you hadn't intended?

Word of the day: unsalubrious

Morning editor Ruth floored me again with one of those words. One of those words that makes me stop her in mid-sentence and say -- that's new. I have to write that down.

Today it was "unsalubrious". The context was in a discussion of Maxime Bernier's girlfriend, and Ruth asking whether the government should now feel compelled to "screen all their dates for unsalubrious connections."

Wow. Good word.

Unfortunately, it's not quite the right word.

Although I find several mentions of the word through Google, the only appropriate dictionary mention I can find is for insalubrious.

Usually it refers to something "detrimental to health".

Still, good word. Clap clap for Ruth and her always inspiring vocabulary.

Loud Latvians: Update

Lloyd read the news.

The Latvians went home. Well, I just saw the last four of them leave.

I've opened the windows.

Now I can sleep.

If the cats don't keep me awake.

Peace out.


The IIHF World Hockey Championship is taking place here in Halifax this week.

In fact, it's happening just outside our windows.

As my old friend C3P0 used to say, "This is madness!"

I'm delights to be living in the heart of a wonderful city, right downtown, in the heart of the action, plugged in to the buzz of the city, connected to the energy and excitement of action and excitement.


I mean, it's almost 11pm and they're outside -- literally right outside our window, even though we're about 80 feet up in the air -- banging drums and blowing horns in a rhythmic and joyous fashion.

Now I know what it felt like to be living on Carlton Street in Toronto when the Leafs won the playoffs. Okay, that's a bit of a lie. Because, as far as I'm aware, the Leafs never won the playoffs.

I just walked down the hall to throw the trash down the chute, and even in the middle of the hallway, in the middle of the building, the drumming, horn-blowing, and endless "Ole, ole ole ole" chants were melting my brain. The noise comes in through the windows ... up through the trash chute ... in through the bathroom vents ... up through the toilet pipes, too, I think.

This morning, radio station Q104 set up shop on the corner to run a contest and give away tickets. Brilliant! But at 7am, I'm trying to sleep! I was ready to blame it on the hockey fans.

And y'know what? Y'know what? When the IIHF tournament is over, and these wonderful folks from around the world go home after spending their hard-earned money in our glorious city, it'll almost be time for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo!

What's that mean? Bagpipes! Drums! Drums and bagpipes! And brass bands! Outside our window at 7am! Noise that could wake the dead -- only, surprise, you're still alive!

I love this city. I love culture.

But anyone who knows me knows, I've never been a fan of hockey.

Especially hockey players.

You guys who beat me up in school -- you know who I'm talking about.

Thank goodness I have a box of earplugs. Something tells me that if the walls and windows don't cut the noise -- oh, there they go again with the ... oh, it's the na na hey hey goodbye song with ole ole shouts in Latvian -- the earplugs won't do much.

Oh, Lloyd Robertson ... please take me off to dreamland with the news.

And that's the kind of day it's been on this Tuesday, May 6, 2008. For some of you, the local news is coming up next.

Bacon + Vodka = Bacon Vodka

As simple as it sounds, in this recipe at Brownie Points:

Bacon Vodka

makes up one pint

Fry up three strips of bacon.

Add cooked bacon to a clean pint sized mason jar. Trim the ends of the bacon if they are too tall to fit in the jar. Or you could go hog wild and just pile in a bunch of fried up bacon scraps. Optional: add crushed black peppercorns.

Fill the jar up with vodka. Cap and place in a dark cupboard for at least three weeks. That's right - I didn't refrigerate it.

At the end of the three week resting period, place the bacon vodka in the freezer to solidify the fats. Strain out the fats through a coffee filter to yield a clear filtered pale yellow bacon vodka.

Decant into decorative bottles and enjoy.

'Nuff said. This sounds amazing.

Thanks to lilsis for the link.

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

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