Friday, April 29, 2011

Renovations – denied

So the bank came back and is now saying that they don’t want to lend anything for any renovations. This is certainly a surprise to us as the only reason we were even trying for the full renovation amount was based on the understanding that the second floor renovations were going to be no problems. After all, if we there was any question about being able to afford a $130K renovation project, why would we try asking for $240 instead?

I’m going in to talk to the bank manager next week to complain about the agent. I don’t expect anything to change about the loan but I do want to express my displeasure about the agent and ensure that we never have to deal with her ever again. We’ve dealt with her twice over the years and been frustrated both times. A third time when she was on holidays we got to deal with a different agent and had a wonderful experience.

As frustrated as we feel about this, we feel even worse about our renovator – who had done proposals and floorplans and who we had told to pencil us in for starting in June. He had been great and we were looking forward to dealing with him for this. Now he’s going to have to try to move up other projects or get a project to fill the slot that we're leaving empty. I told him about our meeting next week but to start looking for some other project as I don't expect a different result. If we somehow manage to get approval for our minimum renovations we'll just add on the end of his list.

Regardless, the game room is out. We’re going to have to look into getting a storage locker and cleaning out my room and our storage room and moving the boy downstairs. It’s not our first choice, but it should be workable for a few years until we get to try again.
I’m so looking forward to going through this again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Komarno - now that's a mosquito!

We didn’t really look around Komarno too much. I know I have an uncle buried there but we didn’t visit. We did stop by their local monument though.

It’s a giant mosquito.

And it’s on a pivot so it can be turned.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

fist full of happiness

After finally getting our laptop we went to buy a trackball. While I grudgingly have to use a mouse at work, our computers at home have had trackballs since 1996. They’re harder to find than the mainstream mice but so much better to use. I’m still using the original Trackman Marble I had bought back then. My wife is using the newer Trackman Marble (with the center trackball) on her older laptop and it wasn’t even a question about getting one for our new laptop. (Since we will share the new laptop, my thoughts on changing the keyboard to Dvorak were met with less acceptance).

Since they haven’t been adopted by the masses, the selection is notably smaller. The new Logitech M570 is very similar in style to the Trackman we use on our main computer. It loses a button for a scroll wheel and forward/back buttons. It’s also wireless. Best Buy had the Logitech M570 on display – but again had no stock. We popped over to Future Shop. They didn’t have any stock either. In fact, they only had 14 in their system – 4 in Coquitlam, 5 for the Future Shop online eastern division and 5 for the western division.
We were running late so I had to use the touchpad included with the laptop on Saturday. While passable, it still had issues that would take a while to get acclimated.

Calling Staples however, I found that they had stock – 6 at the location I called and about 18 here in the city. I find it amusing that Staples has more in stock here in this one city than Future Shop has in their system for all of Canada. We picked it up, it installed with no trouble, and works like a proper device should. The back/forward buttons will take a bit to get used to but the thumb ball works just like the old one and the scroll wheel feels nice.

As a note of interest – the trackball was invented over a decade before the mouse. The trackball dates back to 1952 as a result of the Canadian DATAR project and the mouse followed in 1963. Contrary to what I always say, the mouse was not simply a precision tracking device turned over and rubbed clumsily against a table.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Laptop of joy

We had popped into Best Buy last week to get a laptop. After checking out the stats and the feel of the keyboards I decided on the Gateway NV53A63U. It would have come home with us if they had any in stock. Or if they had any at the other location, or even any coming in. But it seems that they didn’t. Which makes me wonder why they still have it on display.

So I spent the week checking options and narrowing it down to my next option. I decided on the Acer AS5253-BZ611. It has 3 GB RAM and 500 GB HD, a Radeon HD6310 graphics card, a SD reader, 3 USB ports and HDMI port. So it hit all my needs. The graphics card doesn’t have any dedicated memory so I won’t be able to play all the new graphics-heavy First-Person-Shooter games – but since I don’t play those, it should be fine.

We went back to Best Buy and, even thought they didn’t have the model on display (they still had the Gateway) they did have them in stock so we purchased one. I turned down the service plan and turned down their ‘cleaning’. They also offered to charge $150 to clean out the ads and load on Nortons.
That’s okay. I spent about 6 hours starting up the Windows 7, creating my backup disks and startup disk, connecting to our network, and setting up the user profiles. I spent another 4 hours the next day installing our firewall, and loading on Diablo 2 and Hellgate. I look forward to playing them this weekend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sucker Punch - good times

It’s certainly very stylized. I can understand why some people have a problem with it – in that they feel like they’ve been cheated by the ending. We didn’t – we liked it. If you’re paying attention to the narration, the opening story, and who picks up the action after the first change then the ending doesn’t surprise nearly as much.
The girl’s dream costumes are pretty sparse – but this is clearly shown in the ads and posters. If they offend you, this may not be the movie for you.
We liked Zack’s take on 300 and thought he did a great job with Watchmen. Sucker Punch fits in nicely with those two. If you didn’t appreciate either of those, you may not like this one either.

It’s very pretty with the entire film appearing in muted colors reminiscent of Noir films or sepia photographs. Except a brief framing sequence, the majority of the movie takes place in a noir/caper dream with various genre sub dreams as the story progresses.
While the mix of modern and old in the sub stories can be a bit jarring (notably the WWII vs the Fantasy Orcs) the soft focus makes it all work together. It does seem a bit like Zack couldn’t decide on which genre he wanted to make so he mashes them all together for this film. But as it’s for the story within the story – it all makes sense.

While Emily Browning shows off her great legs as the lead Baby Doll, I feel it is Jenna Malone’s Rocket that steals the show. Vanessa Hudgens manages to hold her own as Blondie. Jamie Chung plays the pilot Amber and Abby Cornish rounds out the main cast as Sweat Pea.

Shan and the kids also liked the film. G was a bit concerned about the fates of the other girls – but it is sufficiently vague about what happens to them in the ‘real world’. It could be that I’m deep into Crimson Skies right now but I liked the Noir story and the various sub stories as well. All in all - I'd recommend it - I'm certainly looking to pick it when it comes on DVD to hear some of the commentary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Game Room - Denied!

So the bank (credit union actually) finally came back with the bad news. Due to the current general softness of the housing marking, our proposed renovations don't fall in our range of risk. They are okay with the numbers on how much our monthly payments would be for the money, but due to their regulations, our amount borrowed compared to the assessed value after the full renovations would be about 87% - over the 80% they are comfortable with lending.

So now we have to go through the assessment process again (and pay the assessment charge again) with our alternate choice. With the numbers so tight, we'll forgo the third option (which would still give us a game room) for now. Rather, we'll try for the second floor addition and deck off the kitchen and look at adding the wing in a few years after the market recovers. This should be less intrusive and take less time in the short run but will end up costing even more in the long run.

At least the subsequent addition should not require us to have to move as much when it gets done. We will probably have to get a storage locker for some of our long-term items and work at getting some new sheds.

Of course, if we hit the Lotto Max in the next few weeks, all bets are off and we're back to doing it all. Here's hoping.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Picture Overview

Even though we have digital cameras, I still wait until we download the pictures onto a disk at Walmart every few months. This is why I use the 'pictures to follow' label as a place holder and the 'pictures' label after I have gone back and update them. Some posts I try to delay a bit if I know I'll be doing the disk soon but mostly I'll post as it comes up and fill the pictures in later.

That said, here are the kids on the roof above the kitchen shovelling off the snow. This is from early March when we had a bit of warm weather. It's good to get the snow off to prevent it leaking through the vents as it melts. It may also be the last time we have to do this - with a new roof we won't be able to get that high.

I've also added pictures to the following posts:
How may Daleks do you need?
Figure Painting Total Mar 2011
Western Town - Supplies
Tyranid conversions
William – destiny fulfilled - as a note, we finally buried William yesterday. The ground finally being thawed enough to be able to dig a hole. It was pretty sad for the kids.
need zamboni
Ice to see you
ice weather

Friday, April 1, 2011

Figure painting total Mar 2011

I'm digging myself a bigger hole for this year. However, I still remain optimistic.

While I added a lot of figures this month, I feel that I should be able to touch them up enough to finish them pretty quickly. Maybe not before the summer but certainly afterwards. The Cybermen and Judoon should be easy to repaint, and the Daleks are too cute to avoid. The animals should be easy to finish once I decide on colors. I seem to be getting closer and closer to a tipping point on the western figures.

Daleks - 51
Cybermen - 16
Judoon - 16
5 sets Farm Animals (1/35 scale) - 60

Mar figures bought – 143, figures painted – 0
Running total 2011 – figures bought 178, figures painted 0