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Showing posts from February, 2009

New addition to the home: welcome Denny!

This is just a little post to show my tech-pride!

My vision of a functioning networked home took a big leap forward in the past few days with the addition of a new home theatre PC for the den, christened Denny.

Denny is an off-lease IBM desktop PC with a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4, 512mb RAM, 40 GB hard drive with Windows XP installed. And what a deal -- $149 at a local used PC retailer. Given that XP itself goes for, what, $180, it's like buying Windows and getting a computer free. And I found it exciting because the last time I paid for a whole computer, a Pentium 4 was out of my reach, and I was spending a coupla thousand at the time. Sure, a P4 is anything but cutting edge these days, but for my purposes, it was a great deal.


I spent a bit more to add a 500 GB SATA hard drive, and ordered an equally outdated EVGA FX 5200 video card so I could have an S-Video output to the TV. Ordered a wireless keyboard/mouse combo. And in the household tradition of cannibalizing old computers to equip th…

Did it: credit card cancelled

After mulling about it here several times before, I took the plunge and phoned Citibank to cancel my Mastercard this afternoon.

It's been sitting in my spare-change jar for months. The last transaction on it was a credit to me after overpaying once and not using it for a long time.

The MC is my oldest card. I got it in the early 1990s, and the available credit limit was pretty huge. But really, I never use it any more. It has no bonus features such as Air Miles or cash back or loyalty points. It's just a legacy credit card.

It's been out of sight and out of mind for a long time, so ... now it's gone for good. Ta-da.

Keeping your phone number while moving; or, how not to get screwed by Aliant

Let's say this happens: you're an Aliant customer, and you contact Eastlink to order phone service that maintains your existing number. Eastlink says everything's cool, just be sure not to cancel your service with Aliant or the number won't transfer. Eastlink does *not* you that you'll be liable for an extra month of service payment if you don't give Aliant 30-days notice of cancellation. Your Eastlink phone service is set up, the number is ported, and Aliant service is terminated. But because you never told Aliant you were leaving, you triggered the 30-days-you-pay-sucker clause and now you're on the hook.

That's how our final phone bill came out to twice what we expected.

Talking with Aliant, I've learned that this applies to customers who subscribe to bundles and long-distance plans. We subscribed to one of those all-the-services plans with a 1200-minute long distance plan. As I understand from the Aliant CSR and the supervisor above her, if we'…

When did curtains get so long?

Last time I cared about curtains -- did I ever care about curtains? -- curtains went from just above the window to just below the window.

Now I'm told that curtains go from a bit above the window ..... to the floor. And they're not called curtains any more -- they're "panels".

We've successfully hung our "panels" in the living room. The bedroom should be done soon. But some of the basement windows seem to invite the shorter curtains -- the foundation wall sticks out and comes up half-way to the window. Floor-to-top-of-window curtains ... panels ... might look weird.

But I've wondered about something else: when curtains fall over the front of baseboard heaters, is that good or bad? Does the heated air just go up behind the curtain, travel up the cold face of the window, where it might condense and not disperse beautifully through the room?

Or are the curtains an overall plus for heat saving, as outlined in this post from Clever Dude?


In the winter, ke…

Back to money matters: Household Budget lessons

Inspired in part by J. Money at the highly readable Budgets Are Sexy blog, and in part by the gajillions of dollars we've seemingly spent in the past five weeks of house buying and moving, I'm going to tackle something I've never detailed on the blog before: the household budget.

This post went through three major revisions.

Big Ass Lesson #1: Blogger doesn't have an easy way for me to do tables. And back when I first learned HTML, tables didn't exist. Then it was coding tables by hand, which I hated. So, screw tables. No tables in this post. Gonna do it old-school and ugly. Enjoy.


Big Ass Lesson #2: Don't blog about your spouse's bathroom habits. That's the comparison my partner uses to describe her aversion to sharing the actual dollar-figure details of our cashflow. Perhaps it's in part a Very Canadian aversion to doing anything that would call attention to the fact that you're doing alright in life, in case it might make others uncomfortable. P…

Back to money matters: The Household Budget

Inspired in part by J. Money at the highly readable Budgets Are Sexy blog, and in part by the gajillions of dollars we've seemingly spent in the past five weeks of house buying and moving, I'm going to tackle something I've never detailed on the blog before: the household budget.

Big Ass Lesson #1: Blogger doesn't have an easy way for me to do tables. And back when I first learned HTML, tables didn't exist. Then it was coding tables by hand, which I hated. So, screw tables. No tables in this post. Gonna do it old-school and ugly. Enjoy.

Cashflow in: Every payday, soon-to-be-Mrs. BigAss and I put $830 into "our" chequing account. We used to figure things out proportionally by inome, but our incomes are now close enough that it's presently unnecessary to do all that math. It was, I think, about $750 per pay, but our draft budget for the new house settled on $830 as a "make things work" number. Any more and we'd be feeling the hurt in our per…

Back to money matters: recalculating net worth

I put the net worth calculations on hold during the house hunt, because I was not clear about how to spread out the numbers with a house in the mix. I'm still not clear.

Now I've taken a stab at it through NetworthIQ, where I've been following my net worth for the past year.

The tricky part is this: we took $20k out of my RRSP through the federal Home Buyers Plan. That went from being 'my' money in my net worth to being part of 'our' house. Also, I can't in good conscience claim the whole equity value of the house for 'my' net worth, since it's 'our' house. Besides, I'm not entirely sure how to come up with that number anyway! And as of this moment, I don't have immediate access to how much is paid down on the mortgage.

So, here's what I've done.

Under 'assets' I put the price the house sold for. $200k. It may sell for more or less today (hopefully more, since we've put thousands into fixing things and improvi…

Back to money matters: electricity

We got a power bill recently -- "hydro" to those in some other provinces, although that outs us as come-from-away-ers in this province -- that summarized our use at the new house from January 1 to mid-month. This was *before* we moved in, although it does account for heating the home up to habitable temperatures and washing many loads of clothes.

The bill was ... well, it was more than $200. This was a bloody shock, since our bill at the apartment was about $120 each two months. So, in two weeks, we'd used more power than in three months at the apartment. I couldn't believe it. Amanda said we needed to do something about it, but I was so much in shock that I just looked at the bill, muttering that it was "outrageous".

The culprit here appears to be electric heat. Most homes in NS are heated with oil. Natural gas is only now coming to parts of the province. Our neighbours have oil heat, but we have electric. And despite changing keeping the home heat at a near…

Apartment Before & After

Apartment Before & After: Living room, front
Originally uploaded by BigAssSuperBlog When I moved into the downtown apartment in fall 2005 -- around the time I started this blog -- I snapped a series of pictures to send back home so Amanda could have a sense of how big the rooms were.

After moving out, I tried to take the exact same photos to show what might've changed. The property managers were due to do a move-out inspection, so I figured the before-and-after pictures might come in handy if the honchos claimed some damage had occurred.

Check out the whole series and see if you can spot any differences. You may nee to "view other sizes" to really see.