Podcasts

Dec. 13th, 2015 10:54 am
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
It's been a while since I posted, and this has been sitting on the notepad for a while…

When I was at work, I listened to a lot of podcasts to damp down noise from the floor while doing not-too-intense work. At home, I find time here and there — while cooking, sometimes while the kids play if the kids are off doing their own thing, while on the bus to grab a car… it's a small luxury to let a chunk of consciousness run around with smart, different folks across Internet audio.

Here is what I manage to listen to regularly:

Spark from CBC Radio: Nora Young has the best radio voice among living radio hosts, in my opinion (Lister Sinclair gets best ever). The podcast is mostly about technology, but in an expansive, humane way that often focused on usability, accessibility and the creative uses people come up with for existing technologies.

Death, Sex, Money from WNYC is a show of long-form interviews touching on the title topics (usually all three of them) with people who have lived through some interesting stuff.

Planet Money from NPR is a show about economics for laypeople — sometimes they do a show on explaining a hyped topic (What is a collateralized debt obligation? What just happened to the Chinese markets?). Sometimes they look at something mundane and explain the minutiae (t-shirt manufacturing, raisins) and sometimes they follow a person's cunning business plan with an eye to what economic mechanisms are in play underneath (a y taxi medallion empire, for instance).

More or Less from BBC Radio 4 is a show of statistical fact-checking: from political claims to memes about toxic levels of banana consumption (hint: absent a health condition that makes you super-sensitive, you will have trouble keeping down enough bananas to kill you via potassium or radiation poisoning). It's funny, chatty and a neat way to think about all steps of the statistical process while finding out what's preoccupying Brits who listen to or make geeky podcasts.

I also listen to and enjoy Savage Love (US politics and relationship advice), Polyamory Weekly (charmingly indie relationships and media watching), Radiolab (lovingly crafted, humane stories touching on science) and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (passionate lectures on a huge range of history, mostly military and political, with lots of quotes from original sources and psychological guesswork — and a voice and delivery that I like but is hard to be neutral on).

Any suggestions I might like, especially in the 15–30 minute range?
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
It has been forever since I did a good/blah entry. Life is pretty good, really. Way back when, I did these every 20 entries, so that there would always be one on the first page of my entries. Maybe I'll get back up to that pace again.


GoodBlah
  • We're within a payment of being done with the mortgage — we lucked out on interest rates and help and nice stable professional employment, and now we're looking at owning our place outright. It feels good.
  • Everyone here (human and cat) is currently pretty healthy (even my leg is feeling progressively better)!
  • Both kids are learning fun and exciting new skills.
  • I feel like I'm doing pretty well on my year list, including the long-term stuff.
  • Taxes are more or less done, and look to be in good shape: a refund but not a gigantic one.
  • I took my wedding band to the ring shop, and now it fits (my fingers have gotten more slender since 2008) and it got a complimentary shine as well.
  • I'm happily married to one awesome and beautiful person, and happily dating another.
  • Less than two months of parental leave left. Work will be kind of exciting, but the transition back could be rough.
  • World Vision keeps sending increasingly over-the-top fundraising pules. We got a great big envelope containing an bubble envelope containing a spoon and a measuring tape that they would like us to mail back to them (with a donation) for them to ship to Africa. I gave to World Vision in honour of my Christian relatives who are fans of them. Next in-honour donation will be to MSF or the Canadian Red Cross — close enough in the useful stuff they do, and at least their fundraising stuff is flat.
  • Feeling a bit sciatic-y, a little creaky in the knees and occasionally elsewhere, I think due to moving over winter footing with kids and groceries and stuff. I hope it clears up with better conditions.
  • There are always cool things I'd like to do, and don't make time for. Getting one or both kids to sleep and/or securing babysitting makes this one a little harder.
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)
I was poking around my tax returns, and it dawned on me that the last year I wasn't on parental leave for at least part of the year was 2009. It sort of follows from this that Elizabeth has been pregnant at least part of every year 2009 to 2012. Starting a family is a long-term proposition, apparently.

I've been thinking a bit about sort-of-off-label uses of financial objects lately. I bank with RBC (a big bank with lots of branches and ATMs) and ING Direct (whose slogan used to be "save your money" and which is a no-frills Internet bank). Strangely enough, I'm putting most of my savings and investments (and mortgage and credit card) over with RBC, and have found that for long-term saving, ING is kind of mediocre, but that their daily banking is fee-free, highly automatable, and quite convenient (as they have agreements with a bunch of other smaller banks to share ATMs). I think the magic time horizon is about a year — shorter than that, or wanting instant liquidity, and I go with ING, longer than that, or wanting more control over what the investment is in, and I go with RBC.

Another thing I've worked out is that although the yearly limits and long-term labelling of TFSAs would suggest that they're an account for socking away vast (to me) sums for projects on the order of years, I think the optimal use for me is actually kind of short term. I used to get HR to deduct a little extra so that I wouldn't wind up owing come tax time. In the last couple of years, inspired in part by [livejournal.com profile] spacefem's post (can't find the entry) reminding us that refunds are really just poorly-performing investments, I decided to stop kicking in extra and instead take the money and sock it away for tax time in my own account — a general "taxes" one that I try and keep ahead of federal, provincial, municipal and school tax obligations as well as missed deductions while I'm on parental leave. RBC helpfully suggested that they could wrap in my school and property taxes with my mortgage payment and pay those over the year, but I decided we may as well earn the interest on that rather than letting them have it. Over a year, all those taxes and contributions waiting to be paid generally accumulate a bunch of interest, enough to generate another slip to file. I'm more against managing another piece of paper in a house with a toddler and crayons as I am for saving the few dollars in income tax that slip obligates me to pay. Because the annual limit on TFSAs ratchets up each year, so long as my taxes stay relatively stable, I should be able to deposit and withdraw on a yearly cycle, earning modest tax (slip) -free interest and keeping me from having to come up with taxes owing. Having a TFSA for taxes owing seems a little perverse, but I think it's a pretty good use of the space.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

I've wanted to write a little about how I handle financial matters, and how our household money situation works — I like reading about other people's ways of doing stuff on LJ, and thought I'd throw my thoughts into the mix.

money and the pipes it flows through )
metawidget: close-up of freewheel of a bicycle (bicycle)

Life without owning a car is something that gets enough questions asked of me that I thought I'd post a few things about it. Also, I like reading this sort of thing from other people (hi, [livejournal.com profile] asimplelife!), so I thought I'd give back.

So, for starters, here's the situation: I live with my wife and toddler son in an older residential neighbourhood in Hull. We're within walking distance of most of the basic necessities of life, none of us have any mobility-reducing disabilities. I've got the lone driver's license in the household.

the details )

When Oscar was on the way, we heard predictions that we'd be buying a car (or maybe even a minivan!) soon 'cause young kids require cars — we (well, mostly I) did consider getting one (by buying or hand-me-down), but so far we're managing pretty well with a toddler and all the options we have. I know of one co-worker who's thriving with school-aged children and no car, too, so apparently parents in the right situation can manage with multiple kids and not owning a car.

I guess that's a fairly broad picture of how we manage transportation in our little family. I've been wanting to write that out for a while, I hope it's useful or interesting to some people out there...

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Save the Tranzac, buy Elizabeth's CD

My wife, Elizabeth Bruce, has played a couple of times at the Tranzac, and it is a cultural institution and an awesome venue. It's in dire straits right now, so she's giving half the purchase price of her CD to the rescue effort until the end of 2010. If you don't have a CD and like her music, now is a good time to get a copy. If you like the Tranzac in a larger-donation sort of way, or don't want a CD, you can also donate to them directly.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I have a $50 Concordia Bookstore gift card, no expiry date. I'm graduating soon, and would like to turn it into cash to help tide me over during the last throes of thesis. I'm asking $45 for it.

For pick-up at the downtown campus or somewhere else mutually convenient.

x-posted: [livejournal.com profile] concordia_u

edit: sold!
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Pay what you can: music and cupcakes!  All proceeds to Head and Hands.  August 17th, 7 PM.  Featuring the You and Me band, Elizabeth Bruce, Shane Watt and The Spare Limb of Nathalie Portland. 4211 Wellington, Verdun (metro de l'Église)

This is also an opportunity for you to see where we live! Be there, and help raise money for Head and Hands!

good news

Mar. 31st, 2006 05:25 pm
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
1) No root canal... the dentist took a look and saved my tooth #46, so I am feeling rather frozen but not nearly as poor as I thought I would. I also get to avoid going back until the fall. He and his assistant are nice and all... but I can content myself with saying hi on the sidewalk this summer.

2) I won the GSA Science directorial election, with two thirds of the vote (an impressive 66 - 33 victory). I was pretty relaxed about it either way, but it's nice to be validated, and I hope not just because "Hortop" sorts lexicographically higher than "Saleha".
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Managed to wonk my shoulder again (first time in five months or so) in the supermarket. It wasn't too painful, but it still sucks. I did it in front of a guy who also had recurring shoulder dislocations. He stood there and talked to me, and winced when I popped it back in. My forearm aches now.

I just realized that if Noisette has a full cat lifetime, she'll be with me into my thirties or even early forties. How's that for life-changing decisons? And feeling old?

I think, all things going more or less as I predict, I'll be financially stable on paper (as well as in reality) in a couple of weeks, delinquent roommate contributions or no. That could be very good.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Things seem to be working in the getting-me-paid department. I have a loan to call in a chunk of that I still don't know about, but I think the paperwork's all done and settled for everything else on my plate. Things should all be caught up by mid-February (well, chances are I'll still have some chunks to go on the loan-which-won't-die, but everything will be rolling along).

Scrabble yesterday was a bit of a flop... things were slow in coming together with bookings and materials, so we pretty much called it off (but hung around the site to see if anyone turned up)... another contributing factor was that it turns out we were in competition with a literacy conference over at UdeM, so they were probably drawing the literacy crowd as well as not coming down to play with us. More communication next time.

Candide last night at Pollack hall with [livejournal.com profile] rottenfruit was fun, we were whacked over the head with symbolism and general ribald humour. Voltaire and Bernstein's work was done well by Opera McGill. Go see it if it might be your cup of tea.

Today, people from the CBC and some of our partner organizations came by work for a quick look at us all. I hope they liked it — it felt kind of rushed, though.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
OK, you've done the huge MIT survey, now help [livejournal.com profile] almond_tiger in her lower-fi quest for enlightenment:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/almond_tiger/608843.html

I spent last week getting installed and setting up the apartment. The place is pretty much under control... bookcases to rebuild, extension cords to lay out, but it's starting to look more habitable.

My Dad's birthday was on Thursday... us siblings got him a bright yellow ukelele and songbook, and Mum painted him a big watercolour card and repaired his favourite necklace.

Last week, Elizabeth was in Ottawa and Toronto. I missed her like crazy, but kept busy with apartment stuff, Frontier, D&D, talking art, and heading home briefly. Now she's back, and we had a chance to catch up, play some Scrabble and bring [livejournal.com profile] feygele some stiff opposition at the get-together at l'Utopik yesterday. One game each for him and me... the rivalry continues! One of these days, I'll meet Pumpkin the cat, who I'll be adopting for a couple of weeks while [livejournal.com profile] feygele is out of town.

In fiscal news, got started on recovering that account of rent and bills I've been chasing after. It feels good to see that number go down and know that I'll probably be able to get it to zero amicably.

The next couple of weekends are on the road for me: first a weekend camping trip with Elizabeth, then my cousin's wedding. Looking forward to both of those!

Life is good, looking forward to camping and writing and seeing more of people I like.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
1. Who do you owe?
The bank (some money), a few people (gratitude and celebratory food)

2. Does anyone owe you?
One person owes me a sizable chunk of change. Everyone else is pretty much in the black.

3. How many credit cards to you have?
One.

4. Do you care about national debt?
Enough to be glad ours isn't growing, and to be scornful of the US fiscal disaster under Bush (mis)management.

5. Would your friends be surprised if they accidently saw the balance in your checkbook?
They'd be surprised if I kept track of my balance in my checkbook... and so would I.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Moved in on Thursday with the help of my sister and [livejournal.com profile] rottenfruit, in among the boxes of the departing previous occupant (in exchange for living in among the boxes, I get to keep her fold-out couch and possibly some bits of connecting hardware that she won't really be needing when she moves in with her boyfriend)... the subletter situation is still a bust, but I'm seriously considering squeezing the bailers-out to get their stop-paymented deposit. I don't think small-claims court would disagree with me, and they can even bargain me down a few dollars if they ask nicely...

Sorted out the network and phone situation, so I'm writing this from my little office nook (aka converted closet) in a room that, while stacked high with stuff to go out in one end, is feeling a little more homey. There's still lots to do, but things are starting to settle some.

Next week will include a bunch of work, geekery, Frontier-ing, meetings and rat-sitting.

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metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
metawidget
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