starting-blast landlocked

Category: apartment

In which I sincerely hope I never move again.

I’m no fan of moving. Haven’t been a fan of moving since, well, the first time I did it. More often than not, it ends up turning into a headache which then leads to stress and confusion, which then leads to more headache, and the circle goes round. This move wasn’t quite as migraine inducing as some others (I’m looking squarely in your general direction, Bell), which is a thing that works in its favour. But yeah, if it’s all the same to you, I think the next time the possibility of moving comes up I’ll just, er, not.

The move itself went quicker than anything I’ve seen in approximately ever. May and I had a ton of help (thanks by the way, guys, times a million), so the actual moving process didn’t take nearly as long as I was figuring–everything was loaded at one end, transported, and offloaded at the other in a little over 2 hours. Coordinating the administrative end of it all, though, was a large part of the exercise in patience, tolerance and general–well–restraint. Did you know, for instance, that if you’ve got your phone through someone like Bell Canada and your internet through someone like TekSavvy, to get both services switched over requires a remarkable skill in fancy dancing? Yeah, neither did I.

Either TekSavvy or Bell (my money’s on Bell, personally) requires your phone service to be on at the new place for at least 5 days before they’ll let anyone touch your internets. I suspect this is a Bell idea largely because I’m pretty sure if we’d gone back to their Sympatico service there’d be no such foolery, but you’ll have that. May and I are both in school, so 5 days with no internets during approximately now is kind of a big deal–more so for me, given the nature of the program I’m involved in. Several phone calls and some numbers fudging later, it was still mildly annoying–but fixed, and with a minimal amount of bloodshed, but the time between mildly annoyed and fixed was just enough to remind me why if it were entirely up to me and US long distance requirements weren’t a consideration, there would be no Bell in relatively short order.

The place itself is kind of awesome. Three bedrooms, two of which are currently playing partial temporary storage for the long list of crap we’ve yet to unpack, sort through and optionally get rid of, plus an overall not crappy living space. The living room area, for example, is large enough that I can sort of turn part of it into a defacto office–this will become useful if/when I end up needing to decide between homework and hockey, but y’know, priorities and all. We lose our back yard, but the currently half-snow-covered balcony will make up for that–just as soon as I get around to acquiring things that belong out there. And then, well, find the energy to clear the thing off so they can belong out there. They lock the laundry room here at night–oh, yeah, and relatedly we actually need to leave the place to do laundry again–so there goes our waiting ’til half past dark on the day we need to leave for somewhere useful before we decide it might be in our best interest to actually, you know, leave with clean clothes. But we’re back to a secure building, which is always a plus–particularly when family decides they feel up to dropping in and you’re not even close to awake, nevermind dressed yet (yes, this has happened before).

This apartment’s laid out similar to another I used to live in–and, actually, is owned by the same company, so moving in here I kind of knew what to expect already. Still, the level of awesome was just a tiny bit surprising–I’ve met and had actual conversations with more folks in this building than at most others, for one, which could potentially be positivity material. And they seem quick to react to issues as they crop up, which–yeah, some other places could probably stand to learn from (note: intentionally not naming names, but the info’s out there), so there’s at least that. And holy crap on toast the amount of stuff we’re actually able to walk or bus to without needing to aquire a degree in creativity. It’s almost like the place I lived in when I first moved to Ottawa in that respect–all kinds of places a minimum of a few minutes’ walking and a maximum of 1 bus away. Or two, if you need to stretch it because there’s just no other way. Unfortunately it’s like where I lived when I first moved to Ottawa in that I also don’t right now have a whole lot of time for actually, you know, figuring out the best way of getting me from here to most of those places–back then it was working, now it’s school. Go figure. But when I’ve got the time for it, this place is going to turn around and probably be completely perfect–or, you know, as close to perfect as you can probably have for what they expect from us in rent per month.

I can’t stand the idea of moving to save my life. But since I’ve kind of, well, done it, I suppose I could have picked a far worse place to move to. And hey, if the trend of apartment living continues, I might actually have to start taking notes again–my last few places provided nearly as much blog material as I could come up with on my own. Because, you know, other people and other people’s problematic problems, but you’ll have that.

Two things I’ll just kind of drop here that I picked up on in, say, the first week of us being here. Thing the first: we are not the only blind folks in this building–I literally ran into one on my way to class this past Monday. And thing the second: Apartment-level blogging more than likely won’t include the third rendition of the weed basement. And for that I say, freaking thank you. Now, I suppose I ought go unpack something…

I hate moving. In other news, we’re moving.

Every few years, almost as a matter of routine it seems, it comes around to a point where for whatever reason a pack up and move operation needs to happen. I moved to Ottawa nearly 10 years ago to take a job. I moved to Petawawa 2 years later when that job went south. I moved back to Ottawa because Petawawa’s job market sucks. I moved 3 times in roughly 6 months within Ottawa until I ended up where I’m living now. And next week, due to things we can’t control, May and I will be moving yet again.

The rent we’re paying here isn’t cheap by any means. The tradeoff, though, is the place we’re in is freaking awesome. There’s enough in walking distance that if we really needed something to do it could happen. The bus routes aren’t perfect–okay, so on weekends we tend to avoid taking the bus, but who’s counting–but during the week, it’s hard to blame them for not getting us from A to B. Not getting us from A to B on time, on the other hand, is another story–but that’s an entry for when I’m not actually, you know, killing time between classes. The problem with the current situation is a simple one. It’s a math problem, surprise surprise.

If we’d stayed where we are now, at the end of this month our rent would pretty much max out our price range. Factor in that we pay for our electricity here too, and just keeping a roof over our head and heated gets just a teeny tiny bit, well, expensive. So we started the usual routine of wander the neighbourhood, look for a place, slap our name on it.

The good news: the bank, it is not broken. As of next week, at least for the next two years anyway, I won’t be having dreams of my bank account being taken to the side of the road and beaten at midnight by my landlord. And by the time that two years is up, well, it’ll be just in time for this routine to start all over again–so, you know, business as usual and such.

The bad news: Say hello to the return of apartment living. We’re in a two-story house right now. Awesome place. Plenty of space, fenced-in back yard, hardly a disturbance from the neighbours, the works. The last time I spent any amount of time actually living in an apartment, the basement spelled decidedly of weed on an almost regular basis. It’s just a little tiny bit of a downgrade. But, it’s a company I’ve been with before, and we’ve got decent history, so there’s that.

Most of the place is packed, except what’s being used. We officially get the keys next week. After that, all hell officially breaks loose. This on top of school means holy crazy freaking busy if you’re me. Geek in training? Try geek on marathon. I love it. Now, about that 5 minutes I need to breathe…

Friends don’t let friends rent from Paramount Properties, part 2: this is not the apartment you’re looking for.

This is the second in a series of posts on why Paramount Properties in general, and Greenbank towers in particular, is bad for you. If you’re contemplating a move to Ottawa, or moving from somewhere within Ottawa, this company should be avoided at all costs. For more information, beyond what will be in these entries, just ask.

Moving into a new place is hardly ever fun. there’s the making sure you didn’t leave anything behind in the old place–I’ve done that about half a dozen times already, the making sure you’re not having to chase half your services all over the countryside and then some, the criss-crossing–and, subsequently, the uncrossing–of just about every scheduling wire known to exist, and all this before the first week of your move is over with. The last thing most people want to be adding to their laundry list of moving related foolery is the nailing down of your property manager so you can therefore nail down an equally lengthy list of problems with the new place that need to be addressed–especially when most of it was supposed to have been addressed, or scheduled to be addressed, already. That was us, at around the beginning of October.

the fun actually started before the official moving day, although most of that fun was–surprisingly–out of the property manager’s hands. Before we could move in to the new place, the guy what lived there needed to get his crap and get out. Problem: he had no bloody idea when he’d be doing exactly that. He’d give the manager one date, then change his mind a day or two later. So actually finalizing things was a bit of an exercise in migraine. Still, we knew there’d be problems with the apartment–mostly because we were warned the guy what lived there before us had absolutely no problem whatsoever with not, you know, looking after the place.

When we went in to see the place, to say it was a bit of a war zone was putting it nicely. The door to our storage room was off its frame, and leaning against the wall inside the storage room. Several–meaning most–of the light switches were missing outright their fixtures. there was a hole in the wall of one of the bedrooms. Closet doors were damaged. The screen to our patio was off. The place needed desperately to be painted (that part they told us before we moved in). The list goes on. We were told, before we even moved in, that either before we moved in or shortly after, the property manager would get someone in there to fix things up. Promised, even, that yes, manager lady knew it’d be a wicked hot mess, and it’d be taken care of pronto. It’s why we had no problem signing paperwork, and making arangements so that when, finally, the place was actually vacated, we could move our crap in.

Due to the nature of how things ended up happening, we didn’t get moved in until the day before someone else was scheduled to move in to the old place. So naturally, they didn’t have a whole heaping helping of time to go on a fixy fixy binge before we got our hands on the place. Not helped by anything was the fact when the guy what used to live there took off, he took the keys for the place with him–so priority numero uno became let’s make it so we can actually, you know, lock the place when we leave. That part, at least, we didn’t need to go chasing a fix for–swap out the locks, bring the lock from the old apartment down to the new one, replace the lock on the old unit, bing bam boom have a lock see ya later. It was the rest of it that we got to go fishing for.

The day after we moved everything in, I went to the rental office myself. Here’s the laundry list, in its finalized form. You said it was bad, you were right–this is how bad. They’d get someone in this week, manager lady told me. As soon as humanly possible, but we’ve had a lot of moves, she said, so you might need to wait a bit. We waited a bit. The week, if we’re being honest. No one came knocking. we still had a hole in the wall. We still had no storage room door. Oh–and we found a couple more surprises to add to the list, which was done when I went to ask manager lady why that list hadn’t been touched yet. I got much the same, complete with an I’m sorry I thought it was done already, and she’d have it taken care of this week, as soon as possible but definitely this week. Not holding my breath, and the thought starting to nibble at the outer edge of my mind that we’re kind of pushing the boundaries of legal territory (keep in mind, by this time we’d started speaking with a lawyer due to the last episode), we were prepared to have this drag out until we found somewhere else to move to–we’d started looking pretty much by this point as well, largely as a result of part 1. The money we paid into that place, and it looked almost like someone decided to throw a going away party, then went away before the cleanup crew got there to bill them.

A second week went by. No repair person. No phone call about a repair person. Supposedly the repair person was telling folks he’d been by, but the state of the apartment said no he damn well hadn’t. This time, manager lady was prodded in writing. We got the same general response back. Now, this *was* getting into legal territory. Legally, the landlord has about 2 weeks to address any concerns or issues with the apartment after a move. They were pushing three. And in writing, that was pointed out to them. Once again, repair person would be by this week, as soon as possible. No, that wasn’t going to work. Not unless there was going to be issues upon issues. Repair person was going to be by no later than the next day, or holy hell would there be issues upon issues.

Repair person indeed *was* by the next day. And, much to my shock and amazement, most of what was there actually did get fixed. Somewhat. We had a door to the storage room again. We had working closets. He had to replace the screen for the patio–but we had a screen for the patio. We still had a hole in the wall, but he did come back later on to fix that. Oh, and proper light switches for a change. Well, mostly. He ended up not fixing a few of them, as we’d find out later on, but by then we’d just given up on the whole idea. The place still hadn’t been repainted, which was the one thing they wanted to do shortly after we moved in–because, they told us, this is what they do with all their units in between tennants and if they had the time, it would be done already. And there were still a few things on that list that just generally went untouched, but again, we’d given up with chasing them for it. We were done with this hot mess, whether it was done with us or not. As it turns out, that was probably the smartest move we’d made since this entire soap opera started–we’d see proof of that shortly after we’d moved everything out of that unit.

Paramount Properties, and Greenbank Towers, talked up a good game. But where it came time to translate that into actually getting things done, they passed the buck, dragged their feet, and generally just put off what, at the end of the day, we were paying them for. If they even had documentation that said we were in there to have these things addressed, almost no one read it–confirmation came again after we moved everything out, and will be explored in another entry. They’ll tell you what you’re hoping to hear, show you a sample of the things you’re looking for. But after you sign the papers and everything’s settled, Paramount Properties is not the apartment you’re looking for. In a future entry, Paramount finally starts to show us what they’re all about, for real–and we get the feeling we’re not *really* as welcome as they tell you you are. But as for now, two very good reasons to maybe bump Paramount Properties down a knotch or 5 on your list of possible living arangements. You can, and should, do much better. I’ll even give suggestions, if asked. No one running a business this shot deserves your, or anyone else’s, money. Not even sweet-talking ones.

Friends don’t let friends rent from Paramount Properties, part 1: The Rent Kerfuffle.

This is the first in a series of posts on why Paramount Properties in general, and Greenbank towers in particular, is bad for you. If you’re contemplating a move to Ottawa, or moving from somewhere within Ottawa, this company should be avoided at all costs. For more information, beyond what will be in these entries, just ask.

I’ve been around the block a time or three when it comes to apartment shopping in Ottawa. Almost always, the top 5 includes at least one building from Paramount Properties. Everything about them from the outside looking in sets off at least a dozen awesome alarms. The places are usually fairly decent, the staff will usually let you play 20 questions, it’s kind of like you’re dropping in to say hello to a friend. Then you go and move in.

Due to situations with the former roommate, I had to go on a hunt for an apartment in July of last year. Due to some very interesting cock-ups by that self-same former roommate after becoming my former roommate, there suddenly became an opening. It was sharing an apartment in Greenbank towers, a property owned and maintained by Paramount. I moved over there, with May, at the end of August. We’d already made arangements to move at the end of September into a larger apartment (she had a one-bedroom at the time), and the folks over there seemed perfectly fine to go about the idea. About a week after I moved in, things got nifty.

Paramount Properties allows you, like most places do, to set up preauthorised debit for your rent–the better not to have to chase down your landlord with your hand out and beg them to find 2 minutes to take your money, my dear. For 3 months, that system worked as designed. From June, right through August (remember, May had this place before I moved over), there be no problem. Come time for September, there be problems. Rent is due on the first, and usually comes out by then. It being we were dealing with a weekend and labour day and the like, we expected to maybe see it come out a little later. So by about September 6, it still hadn’t come out. We go tap on the property manager–the second one in a year, but I’ll get to that in another entry. “Hey, manager lady? Take your rent, please.” “We’ll take it,” she tells us. “Holiday and whatnot. It’ll come out, promise.”

We give it until around the 10th or 11th. Tap tap tap. “Hey, manager lady? You still haven’t taken our rent.” “It’ll come out. Give it a bit.” “Look. We have it. It’s like right here. Paying you will take 45 seconds. Then it’s done.” “We’ll take it out. Just what with the holiday and all. Give it a bit longer.”

It’s the 15th of September, by this point. Legally, we’re now officially late with the rent. Not a good place to be, if you’re us and in the middle of a lease and not planning on packing up and moving right the bloody hell now and three quarters. We’re getting a little bit twitchy. We go back to the rental office. “Okay. Look. It’s been two weeks. We’re staring at the prospect of being branded late. Take. Our. Goddamn. Rent.” “Yall have automatic debit. It’ll happen. Put your bank card away–we’ll take it. I’m on the phone with the guys what handle that today.”

By this time, we have school things starting up, so our time, energy and money is about to be diverted to much more fun and interesting prospects. Of course, by this time, tuition money hasn’t come in just yet, so part of that diverting is to invent varying degrees of financial creativity so as not to end up needing to slap a deferral on top of everything else education. We gave up trying to prod the landlord at this point. They’d either take it, or they wouldn’t. And if they didn’t, it would become part of the diversion–they’d just have to wait their bloody turn, now. We had things to do, and just ran out of time to sit on a property manager. So we up and went about our business for the rest of the month. No word from Paramount. We paid what needed paying at the beginning of October. We paid the rent on the new place in the beginning of October–I’ll get to the issues with the new place in yet another entry. We didn’t set the new place up for automatic debit, given the issues we ran into in September–which hadn’t yet been resolved by then, so to avoid a double payment coming back to bite us later, just no thank you please. That was done. No mention of the rent for September, which we still didn’t see come out. We weren’t bringing it up again, and neither did they. So the rent money went temporarily to tuition.

First two weeks of October, we didn’t hear a word. We were getting things sorted out for school, and getting ready to head out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend. Chasing a landlord who we’d previously offered to pay was not exactly up there on our priority list. So we did what we did and would circle around to that hot mess later. Except they circled around to us first. And, on the 15th of October, they started making noises about rent we hadn’t paid. Not rent we’d offered to pay and they’d asked us to wait on–but rent we hadn’t paid. The back and forth went on over the phone initially, with Paramount deciding on the 15th that yes, we owed rent, and yes, we’d pay at least half of it right then and there. Being not made of money, being that the month was half over, and being that we had school to pay for, oh–and being that we’d already made several attempts to pay them, we didn’t have that money handy right then and there (see: schooling, paying for). And this is around when we learned our property manager had amnesia.

The conversation started out innocent enough. Just calling to let you know we don’t have your rent for September, all that lovely stuff. We asked what happened to Paramount taking it out of the account. They tried and couldn’t, says manager lady. Maybe we should get hold of our bank, just in case something went sideways on their end. Hey–it’s happened before, so I was willing to give Paramount the benefit of doubt. That, was a mistake. In the span of about 10 minutes, we learned 3 things. Thing the first: your bank logs *everything* under the sun–whether it’s a successful something under the sun or not, so if John Q. cheapy says he up and tried charging your face off, and he did actually up and try charging your face off, the bank can usually tell you he tried–and why he didn’t succeed. Thing the second: The folks over at Paramount aren’t very good liars–they didn’t do a damn thing, and it showed after the afore mentioned 10 minutes (to cover our asses, we called a second time with pretty identical results). Thing the third: It’s been an aweful goddamn long time since I’ve had to, but I can still call someone out left and right if and when I need to–especially if you’re gonna decide today’s an awesome day to screw with me.

So it’s back to Paramount we went. Hey, lady? Yeah. About that problem at the bank. Feed me another one. Then, it got interesting. She still insisted there was a problem taking rent out in September. I should probably point out none of the info changed since August–when they were perfectly capable of making money disappear. She still insisted that we pay at least half of it right then and there (see also: money, not made of), and wasn’t entirely all too excited about the prospect of backing down from that–or being told that she’d get rent money whenever we get tuition, since the former had to go to cover the latter and, since they weren’t altogether too concerned with taking the former when it was due, they could damn well wait now. But the really fun part’s what happened next. Like it was a thing she practiced in the mirror that morning, and completely with a straight face, she said we should have made alternate arangements to have rent paid in September. Now, I’m gonna let you stop right here and go read a couple paragraphs up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

May and I both thought she might have been smoking something. We both explained to her, more than once, that we tried paying the thing directly–in bloody september. And, taking care that our poor manager may be suffering the early onset of amnesia or something, we reminded her that we approached her in september on a few occasions to pay the thing manually. We reminded her that she up and said no. repeatedly. We reminded her we persisted. And, we reminded her she still said no. She was highly uninterested in hearing any of it–going so far as to say we knew this needed to be paid, and this was our responsibility. Uh. Yeah? Whatcha think we were trying to do, here, chicken little? We certainly tried not to keep our money.

It got to the point where property manager wanted a sitdown with myself, May, her, and her manager. Both she and her manager were still under the mistaken impression they’d be getting money from us. Since now we were over a month late, and we weren’t overly large fans of what we were apparently heading into, before we did anything else we decided to go legal. Not full on legal, per say. But lawyers were contacted, advice was saught, and decisions were made. We put everything in writing, in an email to the folks at Paramount–specificly, to the property manager with a copy sent to her manager. We explained this is what we were told, this is what we responded with. We were told to wait, we offered to pay it manually, and we were still told to wait. Repeatedly. And it was explained to them that, on the advice of a lawyer, we wouldn’t be attending that there sitdown meet and greet. Oh, and by the way, you’d still be getting your rent money as soon as tuition funds come in and not a minute sooner, but thanks for trying.

They backed down almost immediately after getting that email–only mentioning the outstanding rent once, at the beginning of November, and being pointed right back to the email we sent them (see also: amnesia, suspected). And, when tuition funds came in later on in November, we gladly went back down to the rental office, and this time, manually paid the damn rent. But by then, they’d cluster fucked the situation so badly that we weren’t entirely sure they wouldn’t pull something similar in 6 months. Any trust, any professional level of respect, that might have been there beforehand was shot. They got crooked, and when they were called on it, they got greedy. And when they were called on that, they doubled down–there was no room whatsoever for the possibility they screwed this one. They flopped, then tried pinning the blame for the flop on us.

That wasn’t all that lead to us deciding not only to never rent from this company again, but to make as many people aware of this company’s business practices as humanly possible. But, it was a mighty fine start. And by the time anything else happened, we’d already decided we weren’t sticking around there any longer than we had to. In the next, hopefully not quite as lengthy entry, another significant contributing factor. How to ruin a professional relationship in 30 days–by not actually dooing your job.

BRB. Melting. All over the place.

So I’ve been hella crazy busy since I got back. Wicked busy. And it’s culminated in a brand spanking new place. Two stories, 4 bedrooms (or 5, if we do it right), and in a wicked quiet part of the west end of Ottawa. I’ll probably write an essay on the thing soon enough. But right now? If there’s a wall, I’m bouncing off it. Twice. I’ll calm down eventually, but the blog might just take a beating first. Sorry. Except not really.

The dog phobia days of apartment living.

I’m a huge dog person. Always have been. I grew up with and around them, raised and trained one of my own from 6 weeks, and now am raising a second with May–who also happens to be a huge dog person. So this apartment building was, in that respect, a perfect fit for us. Very relaxed pet policy, and no shortage of places to take the pups for walks or other reasons. The people? Could use some relaxing.

I took Lacey on one of those afore mentioned walks for other reasons yesterday, and both leaving and coming into the building, I must have ran into at least 6 people who have a decidedly very large issue with my admittedly a little hyper, but ultimately harmless, dog. There’s a family with a rather large dog issue on this floor–actually, pretty much across from the elevators. Which, escentially, means especially in the mornings, we try and time our taking the pups out to avoid them. Because not doing so produces a reaction not entirely dissimilar to one you’d see on, say, Nightmare On Elm Street. If the dog even looks in their direction, they wig out. Backing away, occasionally screaming, and generally proving that not every grown adult is physically capable of actually acting like a grown adult. Also somewhat amusing in that even if I make the dog sit, the very act of whichever dog I’m walking doing exactly that prompts them to hit the cieling. If they and we are destined for the same elevator, I’m expected to hold the dog back until they get on the elevator, and–if they can get away with it–to wait for the next one. I’ve decidedly been doing a significant amount less of that, however, simply because–hey, pet friendly building. Dog who’s most deadly weapon is occasionally her morning breath. Chill.

While that’s the most consistent example, it’s not the most recent–or the most amusing. As I said earlier, I ran into a few while taking Lacey on one of our little walks yesterday. One of them was already on the elevator when it got to my floor, and it was heading for ground level already. We got on, as we normally do, and this lady backs herself into the corner of the elevator opposite where we are. She stands there, sounding like she’s about to burst into tears right there on the spot, while I make sure this particular elevator is, actually, going to drop me off where I need to be dropped off. It was, which only confirmed she was going my way. So logic would dictate since we’re only another 5 floors up that she just stay put, right? Of course if she did that, there wouldn’t be a need for mockery–so we’ll just leave our logic at the door, kay? Kay.

No sooner am I away from the door and getting Lacey into a don’t you dare move because I’m not extracting your nose from the door position, then does this ladey make a run for it. Out the door and across the hall just before the door’s about to close. Pretty sure she didn’t actually go into the apartment across the hall with the rest of the phobia clan, as we were just heading downwards when the elevator next to us opened. So she very likely ended up on the main floor at the same time as me and the dog for about 5 seconds anyway. Objective, failed.

Now, I get that people have their reasons for being afraid of dogs. Even to the point of going out of their way to avoid them. I don’t question that–hell, to each their own, I say. But here’s the thing. You live in a building with over a hundred other people. Quite a few of them, if our occasional nosing around the building is any indication, are dog owners. Said dogs, unless they can fit in the palm of your hand, will likely need to be making regular trips outside. That, unfortunately, means you’re likely going to be sharing some common ground, at least temporarily, with something that goes woof. Knowing this as you likely, hopefully, do, why would you 1: act all surprised/shocked/horified/traumatised every single time a dog gets within 20 feet of you, and 2: put yourself in a situation, in this case a building, that pretty much guarantees 1 is going to happen with some degree of regularity? And why would you, having put yourself in that situation and knowing precisely what that situation is, expect the people with the dogs to go out of their way to make sure you’re not put in that situation?

I can be accomodating. I can, out of respect, minimise the dog’s interaction with you–yes, even if the said interaction would usually be limited to trying to lick you to death anyway. what I cannot do, or rather will not do, is shift my entire routine–and the dog’s with it–so as to avoid you even having to tolerate that minimal or nonexistent interaction between you and dog. I have a problem with 10-year-olds that think it’s funny to send random elevators to just about every floor in the building–especially if one of those elevators happens to be requested to take me somewhere, like to ground level with a dog that needs out–but I’m not going to insist you keep your kid on a short leash until I’m safely on the main floor. to do that would be absolutely ridiculous, and I’d expect no less than half a dozen people to call me on it for that very reason. People’s reactions, in this building at least, to having to breathe the same air as a dog for as long as it takes to drop a few floors are equally ridiculous. You are in a pet friendly building. That means there are pets. Probably lots of them. If you don’t approve of this, then pick a less pet friendly building. Your right not to be traumatised does not trump my right to do as I please freely, with or without something firry attached to my wrist. You do have the right not to be offended, but please, don’t be offended somewhere else. There are things that need doing and you’re kind of in the way.

Hey look, Ottawa can actually compete with Toronto on something!

Nevermind that what they’re competing for is second place on the “most expensive city to rent” list. We can actually compete! Toronto still has the upper hand on us so far (we’re number 3), but we’ll handle those bastards. Just like Ottawa’s hockey team handled Toronto–oh wait. Nevermind. Neither city can touch Vancouver, which is either wicked awesome for us or wicked crappy for Vancouver, but when a tiny little closet with a bathroom (they call those bachelor pads) runs just about as much in 2011-2012 as my 1-bedroom started at in 2006, and the actual buildings themselves haven’t really changed a whole lot since then, somebody up in here has a problem or 5. But we’re competing with Toronto! Go Ottawa go!

More on Ontario’s choice between the same, the same, and the same. Rent increases!

So yesterday, partially inspired by a conversation I had with Trish and Roger over the weekend, I explained–not for the first time–in detail why it is this provincial election thing just isn’t doing it for me. And why the federal election–only a few months ago, for the record–did only slightly more than that for me. And now, or rather a while ago, the 3 leading parties have produced another in a long list of reasons for yesterday’s entry–in the form of their reaction to this year’s rent increases. Back in August, an increase was granted of a maximum of 3.1%, or higher than any previous increase since the late 90’s or early 2000’s. The basic reaction of all 3 major parties? Ow, that sucks. The liberals are making noises about reexamining the legislation after the election, with not much in the way of actual specifics on what they’d change. The conservatives are making the same noises with the same kind of specifics or lack thereof. And the NDP’s just making noises–I think they just like to hear what they sound like, personally. Meanwhile, those of us who can’t aford to buy a place to call home and don’t want to live in mom’s basement have been forewarned to hang on to our wallets–it’s about to get wicked nifty not so cool. This happens a lot in recent elections–an issue comes up that’s got a pretty significant enough number of people pissed off, and gives anyone with half a brain cell a golden opportunity to do something–oh, I dunno–different with it. Then, within a few days of it being talked about, all 3 parties come out with an answer at the same time, and all 3 parties escentially flop it. And all the while, folks get ready to have less money to hand out to everyone else who’s bills are going up. If our choices are going to be widdled down to the same, the same and the same, do I really need to know which one wins?

This apartment now feels like home. Complete with the lazy approach to dishes…

In yet another example of things that didn’t happen when I lived in Ottawa last time, the company what takes my rent money every month–the same company I was with before I left the city 3 years ago–now gives you a lazy type option for doing, in my opinion anyway, the most tedius of the household chores. And, knowing my tendency towards the lazy as I do, first chance I got I was all over it. So as of this morning, mixed in amongst all the other usual stuff that goes into getting the apartment set up and getting me refamiliarized with this area of the city, I got my hands on my first apartment-sized dish washer. Yeah, okay, so it’s not exactly world’s most major. But, well, it’s kind of somewhat vaguely amusing to me–I’ve lived in 3 apartments so far, two of them in Ottawa and two of them owned by the same company, all in the span of the last 5 years–and until today, it’s been by hand with the actual cleaning of things. I still haven’t gotten my apartment-cleaning, laundry-doing, food-preparing robot, but I’ll settle for a dish washer until such a creature is perfected. Hey, these things make me happy. Proof I need something more to do? Maybe. Potential of that happening tonight? Not unless you count sleep. Eventually.


Moving is almost always a 2-week exercise in waiting. Sometimes, it’s even a 2 month exercise in waiting. There’s the waiting for the approval in the new place. There’s the waiting for the confirmation the new place won’t fall down around the previous tenant’s ears before he moves out, nevermind before you move in. There’s the waiting on things to finally cancel themselves out at the old place so you’re not paying for phone or electricity services you’re not gonna need anymore. There’s the waiting for confirmation you’ve got your vehicle of choice ready to throw your entire life into the back and hope like hell it comes off that vehicle in one piece. And there’s the waiting to see how long it takes before multiple people blow a blood vescel with the help of the company renting you the afore mentioned vehicle containing your entire life. That was escentially last weekend for me.

I finally got the approval for the apartment officially, and subsequently blogged–again–about it. Which meant in about 45 seconds, everything and its dog got cancelled, transfered, delayed until its effective cancelation date, packed in a box or otherwise done away with. So all we had to do was the easy part–pick up the UHaul trailer, load it, get it to the other end, offload it. Easy, right? Except for those parts where it wasn’t.

Because of scheduling issues with the primary driver, we had to have someone else go pick up the trailer on Friday. Now, standard procedure would be the thing passes at least one safety inspection before it’s allowed to leave the lot, nevermind any last minute checks that get done as it’s on its way out. Standard procedure. Unless, apparently, the trailer’s being rented in Petawawa. It got to my parents’ place, where it would be spending the night until we were ready to use it, initact. Well, mostly. The primary driver did his usual run around to make sure everything was appropriately glooed in place the next morning, and discovered it was obviously put through its safety inspection pre-departure by someone who just so happened to be nearly as blind as me. There were no working clearance lights on the trailer. Not overall a huge matter–they aren’t exceedingly used for a whole lot anyway. But, there were also no working break lights on the trailer. Yeah, as you could probably guess, that posed a small problem. So we were shoved 4 hours behind schedule while that got looked into. No huge dealy, really–we still got loaded that day. And the garage we took the trailer to was more than willing to bill UHaul directly for the repair work–an offer, I have to admit, at which I spent the rest of the day snickering. So we get everything to Ottawa, it’s intact, and the trailer hasn’t blown itself to pieces inexplicably. Cause for cellebration–which we did after everything was offloaded. But not before we made an attempt at taking the trailer to its final resting place–well, as far as we were concerned, anyway.

See, the thing about being in Ottawa is there’s half a million UHaul locations capable of receiving vehicles like this between here and the east side. The bad thing about living in Ottawa is there’s half a million UHaul locations who could easily decide they don’t want to let us make them this trailer’s final resting place. We were given the address of, what we would later find out was a small little convenience store type dealy or something. That convenience store type dealy just so happened to be registered UHaul location, so UHaul told us “Yeah, sure, go ahead and drop off that trailer over there. They won’t mind.”. They did. And made it very clear they did. Which prompted us sitting in their parking lot while my father, who happens to share my name and can do things like this, called up UHaul and unloaded with both barels. The end result was spending a few more minutes at $1.40 per liter driving across town to their primary drop location for the Ottawa area, and finally getting rid of that trailer.

So, we eventually got everything loaded. We eventually got the trailer tossed somewhere that isn’t attached to the back of one of our vehicles. And smartly, UHaul hasn’t as yet tried to turn around and bill me for their failed safety inspection. And all it took was the twisting of approximately 3 arms, and the smashing together of the equivalent of two heads. Not bad for a weekend. For the right price, UHaul. At this whole organization and basic covering your ass thing? UFail.

I has an oh my god busy.

Things that happen when you go 3 weeks without updating, episode number I’m not sure how many. House hunting, of a sort, didn’t turn out to be a complete and total flop–hence the, well, nearly a month without updating this thing. Which, yes, means I’m once again nearly a month late with April’s highlights–that’s on the list. In between all the other insanity. Sandwitched between trips to see family, an entire life shift kicked me in the face. Not only has the job market actually at least done a relatively average job of not sucking, but as of 3 days ago officially, I have a location that will for the foreseeable future pretend to be a new place to live. And, surprise, it’s back in Ottawa–roughly across the street more or less from where I used to be. The apartment’s laid out pretty well like the old one was. And, to boot, it’s in the same building as–and, in fact, is directly below–the rental office that used to manage the building I moved out of.

Shane and I have had a running joke amongst ourselves since before he moved in here that I’d eventually be evicting him from my living room. So, when we first got wind we’d be landing this apartment, I wrote him an informal eviction notice–which, naturally, got blogged. It generally wasn’t received all that well by many, in spite of references to it for the majority of the 5 or 6 months he’s been living here. Still, it was mildly entertaining to those who actually had some involvement with it. And, officially official now, on the 15th of this month–yes, that’s in 2 days–I sign the papers for the new apartment, and officially evict him from my living room. Larger apartment, more space, major city, and in a decent area for getting to potential places of employment–not much could be better. Well, except for having something to do at one of those potential places of employment–but we’re working on that.

Speaking of potential places of employment, I’m encountering indications things might actually be trying very hard to return to some kind of pre-2010 level as far as job market activity goes in Ottawa. What lead me to that theory? For the first time in just about ever, Rogers, who I’ve gone rounds with before for other reasons on the customer side, has once again at least temporarily started posting openings–and I’ve applied for just about all of them. And if that wasn’t a vague attempt to possibly lull me into a false sense of getting somewhere, another potential employer I hadn’t heard from in nearly a year threw out a few positions of its own. Alcatel-Lucent, who I’ve had an interview with in the past–and who’s building is actually laid out very similar to the one Dell used to own–is, also at least temporarily, back in the hiring business–and likewise got poked with an application or two. I’m not sure what all will come from any of that, or the few job postings I responded to by more conventional means from companies I haven’t seen much of in the 3 years I’ve been looking, but hey, I can’t exactly do much worse off on the job front.

what all of this means is I’ll potentially have plenty more in-person things to comment on and/or mock rather than the occasional dumping of links that also hasn’t actually been happening in quite a while–I need to fix that–or the seemingly lacking actual coherent thought that happens to have more to it than 140 characters. Such thoughts may or may not involve version 3.0 of the pot-smelling basement. Or, they may be extremely disjointed list-type stream of consciousness “I’m sick, so have an entry” type posts–not entirely unlike this one. Or they may be little more than 140 character thoughts in blog format–at least, if Twitter keeps doing what it was doing for most of today, anyway. Still, things are trying real hard to calm down now–and will do a whole lot more of that after this weekend. Which, you guessed it, means the mockworthy comes right back to where it started. Hey, on second thought, I should go 3 weeks without updating more often. No, wait–next time something important might actually happen.

Moving week festivities. Or somesuch.

Apparently, March is the month of moves and potential moves. Back in January, I was looking at the possibility of returning to Canada and right away diving into a move of my own. At the same time, Jessica has been building up to her own move. Mine fell through, but in this last week of February, hers is in full swing. To the tune of several dozen boxes, storage bins, and various other containerlike objects that can and will be used as packing boxes (thanks, Heather, by the way). This tiny apartment almost looks like it would be cramped with all the packing materials that have yet to actually be turned into things what contain personal belongings. It’s extremely odd to think in a week from now, most of this stuff will be exactly where it should be in the new place. And I’ll have been here to make absolute sure it gets there. I guess I’m participating in a March move after all–just not my own. Hey, whatever works. Now where’d I put that roll of packing tape?

In which I get an introduction to ODSP math.

I’ve been on ODSP’s case for, like, ever about not escentially drumming us out of the running financially, for what little my being on them’s managed to accomplish. For those just tuning in, ODSP is the Ontario Disability Support Program, also known as those folks what pay me because no one likes to hire the blind guy and I still have bills to pay. I’ve done everything from harass folks locally to write the folks who actually make the decisions, most of which eventually ended up documented on this thing calling itself a blog. Adding to my reasons for harassing folks at both ends of the food chain, my recent attempt to save money has prompted ODSP to attempt to save a little on its end. Thus, not doing a whole lot on mine to make actually saving money worth my while.

Let me bring you up to speed. I live in a fairly cheap apartment, rent-wise. It’s $550 a month, plus your electricity. For most places, that’s cheap. For Pembroke, I’m surprised it was even vacant. I’ve lived there since 2009. At the end of 2010, I decided it would be in my best financial interest to do the roommate thing. Yeah, that would eventually require a bigger apartment, but two bank accounts are almost always better than one, so the math should have worked out. Then I got a phone call. I’d forgotten there was actually two different types of math at play, here. There was actual math, as in that stuff you were forced to sit through before they’d let you get out of highschool, then there’s ODSP math. That, apparently, follows an entirely different, much more nonsensicle, set of rules.

We ran the math out, figuring we could probably manage to free up an average of roughly $250 between the two of us, which could easily be realocated into bills we otherwise would have had a difficult time paying had we decided to be stubborn about it and forego the whole idea of a roommate. Those numbers in hand, we actually planned our month of January figuring if things changed, they wouldn’t change by a whole heaping lot, so we could optionally minus 50 from here or there if we needed to in order to cover off something else. We played with it until it didn’t hurt our heads, then left it there. The month rolled over, and shortly after, the phone rang. It was ODSP. They’d decided they’d be cutting a nifty little slice off each of our monthly allowances, to the tune of very nearly what we were figuring we could just end up reusing. On top of that, a letter showed up in my name 3 days after that wonderfully heartwarming conversation, escentially telling me they believe I was overpaid for the month of December and they’d be collecting that back, kind of now like. And they did it in the form of slicing off what they were going to, plus what they thought would be an awesome magical number to just sort of start at for repayment. Yeah, just how I wanted to start my 2011. While dealing with that, we were also looking at the possibility of said larger apartment, and trying very hard not to laugh at the prospect of them arguing with us about our attempt to save money just long enough that they wind up being forced just by way of our expenses to reverse themselves anyway, and we’d still wind up not having actually managed to come out any further off the financial ropes.

Since I hadn’t yet figured out exactly how much they’d be snagging from me each month to compensate for having paid me more than they’ve decided I’m worth, I went with their usual practice and left things as they were for the time being. Then the roommate fled to see his girl, and I came down here. I wouldn’t find out until a few days later, when I both had time and wasn’t at too much a risk of losing a lung to actually do the month’s finances on my end–belatedly, but hey, they got done. Their definition of a repayment plan leaves me with less money at the end of it than I had pre-roommate. All told, I actually ended up losing most if not all of what I was kind of aiming to put towards the actual paying of bills.

Look, guys, I get you’re cheap. Really, I do. I get you measure your $10 annual increases in the context of millions of dollars combined. Again, I really do. But not even you can comprehensibly wrap your heads around this attempt at math, as evidenced by the fact no one I’ve spoken to on this file’s come anywhere near close to an explanation that doesn’t try very hard not to trip over itself and fall flat on its face. Just what actual sense does this make? Seriously? Not only does ODSP want to not actually give you more money, but if you actually try and save yourself some of the money they do give you, that only serves to invite them to claw it back whether they actually should or not. And of course, the system is designed in such a way that they decide you can live on this amount, and you get to provide them 80 metric tons of documentation on why you can’t, then wait for them to maybe or maybe not–usually not–change their minds.

ODSP is here to foster independence and help recipients to actually function on their own without needing to spunge off family/friends. Just don’t actually try and avoid spunging. Turns out ODSP math doesn’t allow for it.

In which James seriously needs to stop failing at this blogging thing.

It just randomly occured to me, as I was plowing through various things that have been piling up while life was busy throwing us curve balls, it’s been exactly, as in to the day, two weeks since I’ve actually posted anything up here. And probably longer than that since the anything had actual content. Oops. Publishing don’t number 1, and I did it. Oh well, you’ll have that. And the worst part of it is, the two weeks in question actually stood a chance at being somewhat exciting. If by exciting you mean a small rolercoaster of fun.

Where to start. Big news in the nowheresville household, we had our eye on a larger apartment and moving back to Ottawa. Well, back to Ottawa for me–Shane has never actually had the good fortune of living there, specificly. So we had the apartment lined up–the lady showing it to us had us sold within the first 10 minutes. We filled out the application. Then, we sat around here and waited. The application ended up not going through, which made things very interesting–note to readers, if you’re looking to make a major move like this and you’ve already gone ahead and set things in motion to have services moved/activated on your moving day, watch out for that quick 180. It’s real hard to hit the off switch when they come back and say you can’t actually have the apartment. Or maybe that’s just a Rogers thing–anything’s possible. We ran into that problem when the phone call came in that we didn’t actually land the apartment. We have a pretty good idea *why* we didn’t land the apartment, and while yeah it sucks, we know for next time. Too bad, too–it was a wicked awesome apartment.

Fortunately, since we look for bright sides on this here blog when we can, the apartment falling through means it doesn’t complicate our return from yet more planned events in the past two weeks. Shane had originally planned to drop in on his girlfriend at the beginning of February, but situations ended up coming up that sort of necessitated he be down there now. I’m still on schedule for bothering Jessica, who has actually managed to update her blog more than once this month, at the beginning of the month as initially planned. We were originally going to come back from our respective vacations on the second of March and promptly pack the place up for moving, but now we have a little bit of flexibility re: when we come back, just in case things decide that falling sideways while we’re down there is the order of the day. It also gives me a bit more time, if necessary, to help Jess with her own move at the end of February without having to worry about shooting back up here for mine. And, since I like not being attached to a deadline, I can presently put a questionmark on my return date–we shall have to see how things play out.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however. In list format, with explanatory posts to come when I have more brain power. Because presently, this caffeine thing isn’t working for me anymore.

  • Life decides at the worst possible time to throw one hell of a curve ball. We got smacked with one this past weekend–and are still recovering. Which reminds me, I need to move a few more things over to the replacement external HD.
    • Related: Hey Dell? You can ship Shane’s laptop any freaking time, now. Seriously.
  • Those guys from Toronto actually one a game or two. That should be posted about before I forget. Again.
  • Sadly, they also lost a shitload. That, I wish I could forget about posting about.

Related: Mixed in with the last couple weeks’ fun helping of funness were multiple large doses of snow. And yes, an extra side order of snow. I’m selling it for cheap. Want some? Please?

Now, let’s see how many of these hockey posts I can crank out before I go fall over. And later today, or tomorrow, a metric ton of mockery. No, I’m not kidding. I’m looking at two pages of blog material over here. And now I actually have time to post it. This might get very unpretty.

Roommates, apartment hunting, and inching forward with employment. Sort of.

The job market’s been doing a very good impression of a miserable failure the last year or two, at least up here. Very slowly, the interviews I was involved in began to slow to a trickle, then eventually stop. Then the same happened with jobs I didn’t have to have lived in a university for the past 10 years to apply to. Now, jobs in the Ottawa and valley area are kind of at a premium. I’ve been doing the disability income thing for the last year out of desperation, so I’m not forced to go back to living at home–not that I don’t like my parents, but from over here, please. This after being on employment insurance since the job I did have went to India in 2008. That has, naturally, required some financial creativity to keep myself ahead of the curve. My latest attempt at financial creativity consists of turning my one-bedroom apartment into a somewhat improvized two-bedroom, and taking in a roommate. It kind of works, seeing as he’s needing to get just about as financially creative as I am. I love my own space, but sometimes, sharing is caring. Or in this case, sharing is not ending up in the poor house. So on December first, shane will be borrowing my living room. Bright side: there will be much geeking. Not so bright side: some of our debates, when we start having actually meaningful ones, may or may not end up bloody. But hell, that’s half the fun, no?

The roommate situation has kind of pushed forward the necessity of looking for a new apartment. Because, really, while this works, I’m not quite so mean as to restrict him to the coutch for the foreseeable future. Particularly given he’s probably just about as likely to have a significant guest show up over here as I am. The coutch, while folding out and quite comfortable, is probably not conducive to, well, much of anything beyond sleeping. I’ve been looking for a bigger place the last week or so as a result, and have come to a very not quite surprising realization. Finding an apartment that doesn’t generally suck, have craptastic heating, or fit rather easily into this one is pretty near to impossible–at least in Pembroke. Which may mean our financial creativity will probably end up taking us back to Ottawa. Good, ish. Except for that part where the rent in Ottawa was what sent me all the way over here in the first place. Fortunately, the only deadlines we have are how long we can keep this whole creativity thing going. And the only restrictions we have location-wise really depends on whether or not, and where, one or both of us may end up working when we decide to move. In the meantime, hey, I like this kind of adventure.

As for where one or both of us may be working, it’s pretty much certain I’m probably not going to be working at Online Support after all. You may or may not recall I was waiting for questions to be answered, and paperwork to be processed before I could start over there. And oh yeah, Freedom Scientific‘s JAWS for Windows program so I could actually, you know, use their computer and know what it’s yelling at me. It took a little longer than I expected, but the ball’s finally rolling on the purchase of the screenreader–give or take the time it takes me to drop kick certain answers from certain individuals, I should have a copy that runs on windows 7 professional by the end of the month. Problem being now, though? Online Support hasn’t responded to me since a day or two after I wrote that last entry. The guy I’m dealing with from Ontario’s second career program has been trying to get a shot at them as well and hasn’t gotten anywhere. I’m leaning very much in the direction of just writing off the company. except for the fact they’re pretty much the only thread that hasn’t snapped off completely over here–yet. I’ve always suspected if I did end up employed again, it would probably be somewhere that isn’t Pembroke. This is kind of lending a bit more support to that suspicion.

Things are definitely happening, and in a quickly kind of way. But they’re definitely happening. And in a couple weeks, it’ll be nearly four years since the last time I developed a roommate–no better time to snap that streak. Or something. And just in time for that, we’re lining things up for a goodly portion of insanity. In other words, just another day in the life of me. I think I need a new one.

God, I’m glad I don’t do this very often.

Only slightly less irritating than job hunting, and for completely different reasons entirely, is apartment hunting. Sadly, in my case, doing the one almost necessitates doing the other–see, and if Ottawa employers had just returned my phone calls we could have avoided that. If I go for the position who’s offer has just about everything to it but my signature, I’m going to end up needing to move closer than I am right now, strictly on the principle that my day’s pay would otherwise be going to transporting me to and from. Which leads me to a bit of random curiosity digging around today. And that promptly left me exactly where I was this morning.

To start, folks in Pembroke don’t advertise. At all. Unless one counts the occasional thinggy you’ll pull out of the local newspaper’s classified section. The ones that do advertise, like the one I went in to have a look at this afternoon, shouldn’t advertise. At all. It was a basement apartment, which literally was just the basement of–I’m pretty sure–someone’s house, turned into apartments (yes, plural). It had virtually no distinct living room/kitchen area to speak of, something that vaguely pretended to be a bedroom, and no closet space–what we thought was closet space turned out to actually be furnace storage space. And given I saw nothing in the place that would indicate I controled my own heat or whatever, my guess is the floor above me has it for the building. This is not how these things are supposed to work. Added on top of that, with utilities included it rang out to the tune of approximately $40 a month more than my rent right now, plus electricity, for this place–also a basement apartment, laid out much better than the one I looked at, with an actual living room and a distinct, if not exactly roomy, kitchen area. And heat I don’t need to knock on my upstairs neighbour’s door for.

I ran into similar problems in Ottawa, only with a twist–apartments in my new, post-layoff price range located not in the middle of nowhere amounted to little more than closets. My room when I went to college was bigger. I have a rule when I go apartment hunting. If I can throw something and hit my bed from the front door, it’s way too small. I could do it with a hundred percent accuracy in some of those places. Granted, if the potential job possibility in Ottawa ends up being something that doesn’t vaguely resemble nothing, that’ll be significantly less of an issue and I can safely look for something a step or two up from closet.

I’m very glad I don’t actually have to do this very often. Now, if I can just skip forward to the point when I don’t have to do this at all, that’d be awesome. Failing that, anyone have a spare paycheck they’re not using? Yeah, didn’t think so. So much for my master plan of getting rich by being lazy.

I need a work from home apartment. Then, a work from home job.

Okay, so maybe I may or may not actually need it. But I’ve gotten to the point where that’s one of those things I’ve been contemplating. Almost seriously, actually. If only because the idea of deciding exactly how much I work on a given day is way, way too appealing to me. And considering the fact that your usual type jobs aren’t doing a whole lot of hiring lately, this might just turn out to be the next best thing.

I’ve given thought to temping, and have even applied with several agencies to that end–not that they’ve gotten me anywhere, but who’s counting? The income would probably be just as steady, only I’m not doing it in -40 degree temperatures after spending nearly as much time getting to/from work as I do at work. There’s just one very minor little problem. Work from home opportunities in Canada aren’t exactly overly well advertised.

I did come across one or two companies who pretty much just serve as the bridge between contractors and clients, which is probably kind of what I’m looking for–unfortunately, in one case they’re primarily US-focused for both clients and contractors, and in the other their method of actually getting contractors into the system escentially requires that you forget Windows and boot into their own operating system–not cool for someone who kind of needs to hear what he’s doing. thankfully I’ll probably never be so desperate for work that I’ll just grab hold of the first thing to pop up, so this is mostly just all manner of research at the moment. It’s an interesting prospect which, if I do it right, will escentially allow me to work a halfway decent schedule and still have time to do the important things–like spend time with the fiance, and plan for the eventual wedding on top of finding a so-called real job.

If I can find a company with the flexibility I like and technology I can actually work with, something kind of like ContractXchange minus the need to use their own OS, it’s a definite possibility for me to consider–if for no other reason than I’ll already have most of what I need handy, and situations like this one may not be as frequent an issue.

It’s things like this that the research I’ve been sort of doing tonight comes in quite handy for. That, on top of the added fact that if I’m seriously thinking of actually doing this, I’m probably going to need a bigger apartment. A lot of these arangements I’m noticing strongly recommend you have your own dedicated office space, plus phone line, for this kind of thing–or at least a dedicated digital phone if nothing else. Which pretty much means the current setup I’ve got going on–the computer’s in the living room, and the only phone line I’ve got here is my personal one (Is my apartment even big enough for two landlines?), plus at the moment it’s a one-bedroom–is probably not about to make the cut. Neverminding the fact actually doing the work, particularly during the hours I’d prefer to be doing the work, would not be conducive to anyone I happen to have staying over–like, say, the afore mentioned fiance–actually sleeping if it was done in this apartment. I could probably, in a huge pinch, invest in something like Skype or Vonage if I had to and solve at least one problem. If I wanted to take all this ultraseriously, I could go even further and invest the money in an entirely separate computer strictly for all my work-related crap–but that just might be pushing it a little tiny bit. Since the initial setup’s probably going to cost me anyway if I’m actually considering this, it’s kind of worth throwing out there. Particularly if I have to start making modifications to the setup on this machine in order to get it to play nice with what they want me to do.

Like I said, this is pretty much mostly just research and random contemplating at this point. I’m throwing it up here mostly because I can, and because if I do decide to dive in with all this, I’ll probably need to look this up to figure out what I don’t want in a potential employer of this variety. And, well, because there may be an idea or three floating around I haven’t yet run across. I don’t even know if this is something I’ll seriously give chase to, but if I do, at least now I have a pretty good idea what I’ll need, what I’m looking for, and what both will cost me. Now, let’s see if I can pull a random job out of my hat. That’s always helpful.

I am renaming August to the month of Broken.

The month is just over half over, and already things have gone and decided breaking is the thing to do. It started last week, with the near breaking of my plans to return home this past weekend–plans that were changed for other reasons, which will be elabourated on once the appropriate people have been properly hunted, nailed to the nearest wall, and my time and effort in aranging things is appropriately compensated–in blood, if necessary.

Then, earlier this week, the old blogging stomping grounds of LiveJournal, where I still occasionally show up mostly because I’ve yet to convert all the cool people away from it to much more fun things, decided it would be fun to break my LJ RSS hack. More specificly, one of their upgrades apparently broke their own authentication mechanism. That only ended up being fixed an hour ago–and not, laughably enough, before several people who were experiencing similar problems re: their RSS feeds had decided to bring it up quite blatantly in the dev community–I should really consider watching that community, now that I think about it.

Last night capped off the reason for renaming the month of August to the month of Broken. We needed to get laundry done. As in, like, ASAFP. Which turned out to be at just about midnight last night–hey, we never claimed to keep a normal schedule. That was around the exact same time we figured out that hey, this building’s supposed to have two working washers and two working dryers. This building has one of each. And the broken ones are broken in such a way that by the time we figure out they’re broken, we’ve wasted a dollar in each. Those are, to my knowledge anyway, still broken–we’re presently air-drying the affected articles of clothing. Sadly, my name isn’t on the lease here so I don’t get to personally scream in some poor maintenance bastard’s ear about it, but Jess will undoubtedly take amazing amounts of pleasure in doing exactly that just as soon as she can find 30 seconds to breathe.

Well into the third week of August, and we’ve already had plenty of things go breaky smash on a technical and non-technical front–an average of one per week at this rate. I’m officially renaming the month of August to the month of Broken. Now, to go whip something real quick up to make it official on this here website.

The rules of apartment renting don’t apply in a small town.

Take the act of actually paying your rent as a perfect example. If you happen to live somewhere like in Ottawa, failure to pay the rent on your part resulted in a warning of eviction notice on the part of the landlord a week or two later. It doesn’t matter if you have the money and they didn’t try to take it, or they tried and you didn’t have the money. Compare that to somewhere like Pembroke. Apparently, not taking one’s due rent–even if you have the cheque that says you can do so and even if the money exists–is perfectly fine. I might be inclined to say normal. Of course, equally normal–for the building I live in, anyway–is to not actually get your landlord on the phone to figure out if he does, indeed, intend to cash the said rent cheque, or if it’s just going to sit there collecting dust while he does I’m not sure what. I’ve lived here for almost a year now, and I think I’ve actually gotten him on the phone all of twice.

I handed him 6 months worth of rent cheques in April; he’s already cashed two of them. This month’s rent should have been drawn at the latest by the seventh of the month. As it’s currently ten days later, and I still have more money than I should, I’ve spent a large part of today trying to invent a means of geting him to wake up and answer his phone, short of showing up at his front door with cash in hand. If I can’t drag an answer out of the man by Monday, I’m halfway tempted to do just that.

I’ve been contemplating finding an apartment over here that may or may not be slightly cheaper than what I’m paying right now, in an attempt to stop my bank account from sliding in altogether the wrong direction. At the moment, cheaper or not, at this point I’d settle for a landlord that’s actually available. I’m not a huge fan of talking to someone’s voicemail–particularly voicemail on a cell phone. I’m an even less huge fan of it when we’re talking money owed that has not been collected. I’m significantly less of a huge fan when the owner of that cell phone who’s voicemail I’m forced to talk to is extremely bad at returning phone calls. I get the pleasure of having to contend with all three rolled up into one.

Tiny little note to my ever so pleasant landlord. I’m trying to give you money. Or, rather, I’ve given you permission to go right ahead and take my money. I’ve even given you that permission for the next four months. I have money, which you have not taken. Please to be rectifying this situation quickly, lest you like the idea of irritated blind man showing up at your front door. I can oblige, if you’d prefer. Personally, I’d just prefer you take my money. No love, the irritated blind man.

Also: He clearly loves his voicemail. Just called yet again. Is there a legal method for firing your landlord while still keeping the apartment?

Update: Superintendant dood doesn’t have an answer either. Yay multiple levels of stupid. Now we both get to wait for the guy or guys who actually own(s) the place. Go me.

Note to potential landlords. My age has nothing to do with giving you money.

I’ve been trying to find halfway decent ways to save me some money–cutting back on things where possible, changing companies if another company offers me a price significantly lower than what I’m paying now, and most recently, looking for possible places to call my temporary residence that end up being relatively cheaper than that which I’m currently staying in. On top of trying to get me properly educated, but that’s another entry. Since no one around here wants to hire folks in my particular fields, and since no one in Ottawa has gotten around to calling me back yet, saving money until either situation changes is the thing to do. Enter a bit of research being performed on my part over the last couple days.

There’s a possible building I’m looking at moving into. When I called about it on Friday, they didn’t have anything available. I got a call just a few minutes ago that one of the renters there may be looking to sublet the apartment. Over the course of the conversation, the process of 20 questions ended up starting. Around question 19, I was in full WTF mode. He asked if I was working at the moment, which–okay, I get it–you need to be paid. So do I. I told him I was presently on disability, but that I had been working. I didn’t tell him if I have my way I’ll either be working or back in school by this time next year, mostly because that would generally lead to me informing him I’d be moving out just as soon as either situation came to light. Then, he asked my age.

I’m not one to keep my age a secret by any means–I’m 26, if you’re curious–but, er, what does that have to do with my ability or willingness to pay the rent? I don’t get it. If it’s a disability thing, I’m kind of WTFing just a little more–but that, at least, isn’t altogether very surprising. But, still. I have money in hand. I want to give this landlord money. I can keep giving this landlord money until such time as either I go completely and totally broke or he raises his rent beyond my price range. My age has very little if anything to do with that. So, uh, what’s it to him? Anyone have a clue? Can I borrow it?

Unexpected Victoria day cellebrations, and fun with .wav files.

Sometimes, my apartment has the weirdest benefits. I blame living in a small town. I was treated to a rather unplanned–at least, I didn’t plan it–fireworks show for the May two-four weekend. Or, as we call it up here, the Victoria day weekend. It didn’t last entirely too long, but it was vaguely entertaining. Kinda makes me wonder what unplanned goodness I’ll be privy to for Canada day. Or if I’ll still be here to see it.

In randomly unrelated and still amusing news, I’ve gone all 24th century on my cell. My text message, instead of one of the default Nokia sounds the thing ships with, is now one of the com badge sound effects from Star Trek: Voyager. Because, well, I had it on the computer and didn’t have any other use for it. I was moderately amused. Still kind of am, a little. Or rather, I was–now I’m just lazy.

Sorry, no earth-shattering content here. Perhaps I should have saved my PAC-MAN rant for today? Oh well. I’d of still posted this anyway.

Who needs air conditioning? This place has it all natural like.

Thing about having a basement apartment, even if it’s in a building that lacks certain important features–like, say, security–is you have certain built-in benefits at no extra cost, be it for electricity or the extra convenience. Like small-time central air. I think it’s a law internal to the building. Usually, it doesn’t matter what part of the building I end up in. If it’s warm outside, it’s pretty nearly hot in here. Step into the hallway and it kind of slaps you in the face. But, step into this apartment, and holy crap. Temperature drops a good 10-15 degrees the second the door closes. I almost never open the windows in here. It’d be a sort of violation of the laws of summer, I swear. In here, the laws work in reverse. And at no extra cost. I can live with that. I can really live with that. Now, let’s see if it keeps being liveable in about, oh, August.

Apparently, my neighbour’s cat is broken. Badly.

I haven’t been spending a whole lot of time in this apartment, particularly when compared to how long I’ve been paying rent on it. But, there’s one very noticeable thing that always seems to be present every time I am. A very bad-sounding, apparently constantly in heat, cat. I didn’t pay it much mind when I first moved in, mostly because I had no idea what it was and, well, was home even less than I am lately. The cat and its owner live right across the hall from me, so anyone who happens to be dropping buy, or standing close enough to this side of the outer door of the apartment, gets treated to a very entertaining meow.

We initially thought the cat might have been sick and/or left alone–particularly considering it’d been keeping it up for almost the entire time Jessica was here after Christmas. So I had little to no choice but to get the landlord over to have a look and make sure. Shortly thereafter, we discovered a note posted to she who shall be officially dubbed Catwoman’s door explaining the cat hadn’t been abandoned/starved/what have you, just that it was in heat. A week, two weeks, three weeks later, and it seemed the cat was still doing that. There might have been small breaks in between, but it seemed every time I left or came back to my apartment, that cat was always in heat. And, sure enough, to this day the note still remains stuck to her door. And I thought I heard it go off again this afternoon.

If I had some kind of decent recording equipment handy I’d post a sample of this cat’s vocalisations up here, mostly because it tries very hard to sound pathetic and instead comes off more slightly amusing. Still, Catwoman maintains the thing’s just in heat–I don’t even know how long a cat’s supposed to be in heat. And, since I can’t prove otherwise, all I can do right now is be highly amused. And try to get a halfway decent recording. Anyone wanna loan me something portable that does MP3 recording? Anyone?

Why my next apartment will be in a secure building.

I spent almost 4 years in Ottawa, on the third floor of a three-story building you couldn’t get into without buzzing in, or having a key for the front door–this on top of the key you had for your apartment. Jessica’s building in Rochester takes it a step further, needing a key to get into the building, a key to get onto your floor, and a key to get into your apartment. This building in Petawawa? You have a key to get into your apartment. Well, actually you have two, but who’s counting? And this building gets something the other two I mentioned don’t seem to get–or at least, they get very rarely if at all. Folks coming around marketting their own electricity initiatives.

I get an average of one of these people knocking on my door on a weekly basis. And, of course, not being able to know who’s there until I open the door, I take a chance it might not be someone trying to sell me something. And every time I’ve done so, it’s been any number of situations from people who’d just like to see my hydro bill, to people who just want to tell me about the green initiatives their particular company/organization/what have you is offering. To one offer I’ve received asking if I’d be interested in locking in my hydro and/or gas prices for 5 years. And every time, my response is the same–I point at the door leading out of the building, with a polite suggestion that they go that way.

I received a grand total of one such offer while living in Ottawa. And they were stupid enough to try pitching that offer to me over the intercom system the building has. They, of course, got hung up on. I don’t have that option here, so to get rid of them, they first have to be effectively standing on my doorstep. I swear, just as soon as I can twist a governmental arm far enough back that it decides it’d be in its best interest to increase disability payments–or just as soon as I can get myself hired again, whichever comes first, my next move will be back to a secure building. Ideally I’d much rather see that type of marketting made illegal, but since that’s not very likely to happen, I’ll take my secure building. Besides, there’s something to be said for having a little warning when you’re getting company–welcome or not. Gives me time to hide my porn magazines. Er, wait, I didn’t say that.

So that’s where all the semi-cheap apartments went to.

For about two or three months before I moved to Pembroke, I scouted the apartment listings for a halfway decent place that doesn’t knee me in the wallet. The very few places I found that didn’t were, well, closets. My room during my time at Algonquin College was considerably bigger–they pretended to call it a bachelor. And, of course, now that I’ve found this apartment to fake my way through calling home for a price that almost doesn’t knee me in the wallet, halfway decent places for almost halfway decent prices started becoming available. Now, just when I can’t actually move into a place like that. Somebody clearly has a very cruel sense of humour. Nice to know such creatures exist, though. Now, if they just could have showed up while I was still looking.

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