Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We Shall Move to Côte d'Ivoire

We met with the real-estate agent last night and signed the papers - now we have the open house on Saturday coming up and have to find a home soon. Reviewing my ISP server stats on this blog, I see that someone from the Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) visited my blog. Maybe we'll move there.

Click map above for more details.

Our Condo Pictures

Well, we're selling! Here are pictures below:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How To Move From A Condo To A House

For the last few weeks we have been making efforts to move from our condominium on the lake front in downtown Toronto to a house in the suburbs. It really isn't as difficult as I would have thought - I suppose having a patient attitude helps a lot. I will detail efforts and activities as we go along, in case anyone else is involved in a similar venture.

3 weeks ago:

1. Engaged with a selling agent. She came by and said we didn't really have to do anything to the unit other than 'de-clutter and depersonalize'. So that potential buyers can visualize themselves living in our condo, removing pictures of ourselves, dog, relatives etc... is paramount, and by de-cluttering, we make the space more inviting and open - ready for the paintbrushes of their minds. So to speak. As they say. In a manner of speaking. She suggests we will sell quickly - we're meeting her again tonight to do some paperwork.

2 weeks ago:

2. Engaged with Mr. Banker Mortgage man. He says we can get a mortgage for a new home. That is nice. He seems to think we're worth the risk.

3 weeks ago:

3. Engaged with a buying agent. We met with her this past Saturday, and discussed our goals and preferences. She was referred to us by our selling agent by means of an informal network. She then drove us around town and showed us some bungalows and split-levels. We liked one of them a lot. It now feels so real, now that we've seen some places.

1 week ago:

4. We have spent the last couple of days boxing up items, moving them (my Dad drove out yesterday and helped immensely by lugging out boxes to my folks' house), and wow it is amazing how much a couple of young folks and a dog can accumulate in a smallish condo in nearly 4 years.


5. Engaged with a cleaning lady who is coming in to give the place a good scrub. She was referred to us by our selling agent by means of that now-increasingly-suspicious informal network. Hmmm.

In 1 week:

5. Saturday we have an open-house planned. I am hoping that a contingent of Saudi oil sheiks have recently moved to Toronto for obscure business reasons and are looking for a condo on the Toronto Waterfront, and wish to pay a huge premium to us.

Hopefully in 3 weeks:

6. Once we've sold and bought, we'll change where we live and live happily ever after until we move again.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stress Hormones and Cyclodextrins

This morning clumps of snow the size of dice fell on me as I walked into work and it made me happy. I've needed some happy as I've been quite busy raising and lowering the stress hormone levels in my blood, and this does take some energy. My boss returned from a trip to Phoenix and brought me back a bag of Flamin' Hot Crunchy Cheetos. She warned me they are super hot. I intend to find out tonight. This will likely lower my stress hormones.

I have been to several interviews this past week. I went to a second interview at a place I worked at 5 years ago - it was surreal to stand in the lobby and see folks I knew from then walk by me and wave. This raised my stress hormones considerably.

This Saturday Spring and I are driving to look at houses - we're selling the condo and getting a patch of grass for Monty, a patch of sunlight in a back yard for Spring, and patch of soil for me, in which I can plant potatoes. This picture in my mind reduces my stress hormones but engaging in the search activity raises them again.

I really don't know much about how stress hormones work, biochemically/medically speaking, but I have been very curious of late about how Febreze fabric freshener works. I thought about it rather deeply this morning and reminded myself to do a Google search for 'Febreze' and 'industrial enzymes' as I was quite certain that this is how it works - the industrially produced enzymes catalyze the breakdown of smelly compounds. But I was wrong.

"Febreze is an odour-eliminating product with modified Beta Cyclodextrin as one of its main ingredients. When Febreze is sprayed onto fabrics, the some-what soluble malodour molecules are dissolved in water. This is an essential part of the deodorization process. As a second step, when the solution dries, more and more malodour molecules complex with Cyclodextrin and are effectively retained to keep their concentration in the air low. This total process (water dissolution + complexation) decreases the volatility of the malodour molecules and causes odour elimination."

I wonder... if I spray Febreze on myself, will it lock up all of those stress hormones? Just a thought.

That's all I have to write, got to get through the stress hormone fluctuations, back soon enough. Here is a 'happy-place' image on which you may meditate:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Mungo Ethicist

As I was walking Monty last night, I reflected on that fact that I - like all others on this big round earth - experience ethical dilemmas in our daily lives from time to time.

These are sometimes major, and these are sometimes minor. But the scale of choices do not always equate with the anxiety these dilemmas stir up within us - which makes us so much more human. And so here I shall treat a relatively minor ethical issue with some logic learned at university all those years ago:

(with apologies to Randy Cohen)


The convenience store in the lobby of the office tower in which I work has a coupon system in effect. I get a coupon for each coffee I buy, and after I gather seven of these laminated paper tickets in the leather recesses of my wallet, I can turn them in for a free coffee. The coupons do not indicate whether I bought a large coffee ($1.25) or a small coffee ($1.00), and I always buy a small coffee to save the extra quarter - plus a small coffee is sufficient for my appetite. Last week I traded them in to the cashier for a large coffee, who said nor in any discernable way communicated a concern with my actions, and yet I felt guilty for this. Having thought this over, I maintain in retrospect what I did was unethical - was it?


Although you were able to obtain a large coffee from the seemingly unwitting cashier, and nowhere was it explicitly stated or written that you must get an equal sized or lesser (i.e. small) coffee, you must subject your actions to moral scrutiny. The agreement also begs the series of questions such as 'if you bought 3 large coffees and 4 small coffees, what size coffee do you get as the free one?'. But these permutations are beside the point, you say you always buy the small coffee, and at the very least did for the series of seven coffees in question. What is at issue is that you deliberately exploited a loophole in the implicit agreement, and your conscience is reminding you of this fact.

Large coffee firms like Starbucks have explicitly written rules and regulations behind a marketing program thusly described. You will also see this carefully structured language on coupons from major food corporations, e.g. that you may get a second item of an equal or lower pre-tax price for an additional X% off, etc... While the small convenience store does supply these descriptions or materials, and the law may allow you to claim a large coffee, the dubious way in which you obtained it forecloses your involvement, and ethics preclude you from claiming the large coffee.

You can not reasonably investigate and learn the explicit and implicit rules of all commercial transactions, but if you suspect you are violating the spirit of an agreement, you should demur. You cannot avoid scrutinizing your understanding of similar implicit and explicit commercial transactions, and extrapolate these to this situation, thusly inferring the rules of this present agreeement. That knowledge compels you to make an ethical choice.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday Pancakes and a Walk in the Woods

It's Saturday, and we had pancakes for breakfast. Coffee that tasted like cigarettes was replaced with water, and the morning passed well - no more work week days for a couple of days.

We had planned to drive out to Oakville, a 30 minute drive, but Spring was feeling a little run down and so I drove in around lunch time. Saw my parents, had some lunch and then Dad and I drove up to Lion's Valley about 10km north of the lake.

We got to the top of the hill and realized that the access road was closed because of the ice and snow, so we scooted and walked down the steep road through the snow until we reached the bottom of the valley, and passed under the tall bridge.

The brown winter trees lined the valley, and the river was frozen over. A hole in the ice revealed the river running beneath and fish probably swam beneath.

We walked straight through to an entrance to a side valley and passed by a frozen waterfall - really a place of exit for an underground stream that came out of the sandstone strata.

Maple and elm and sumach lined the valley walls and we walked along through a wooded section until we found a flat region above the creek bed.

I cleared a section so I could lay down a mat of dried sticks while Dad searched about for firewood.

He called me over to see a rather gruesome winter sight - a raccoon had died and the carcass was eaten away by something.

My mora knife scraped against the firesteel and it rained sparks on a piece of cotton pad I carried in my pocket as tinder, and after the second attempt, lit the tinder and twigs and soon the fire had given up smoke and burned bright and clean.

We sat on a log and chatted for a while, and the ashes burned down.

We trudged back up the road to the top of the valley and returned home, smokey and satified.

We returned to the car after a while as the snow dropped down around us. Canadian geese flew over head, high above us.

Three red-tailed hawks circled around, the first being chased by the other two - probably an argument over a piece of food.

I drove home and we spent the rest of the day reading and watching television. All in all, a nice Saturday - a break from the anxious doings and comings and goings of the previous few days.