First Post (27FEB2005)       Previous Week      Next Week      comments       Most Recent Post

senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

policies run amuck

Tuesday, 13SEP2005:

attended the 1st day of a 2 day policy course. my favourite portion of the first day was the chance to handle a request for decision as a cabinet member. i ended up being the lead minister who had to present the proposal and convince the other ministers to support it. the timing of the course was serendipitous as a new housing policy was announced early in the afternoon and we were able to evaluate the new policy with what we had learned that morning.

the aim of the new policy is to get the government out of the subsidized staff housing model. as an incentive to get current employee renters to investigate other alternatives such as individual home ownership, the housing corporation is increasing the amount of rent by 15% as of january 1st, 2006, followed by another 15% the following year, followed by annual increases of a further 20% until the rental rates charged to government employee tenants is the same as the prevailing market rates in town ($19.39 per square meter for a 1-bedroom apartment).

i was all gloomy until i ran the numbers and figured out that i would be able to survive for at least a couple of years of increases. i'll be out an extra $5000 a year, but that's still better than jumping into the financial idiocy of buying a house. i clarify that actually owning a house is not stupid. however, buying a house at the current market values with the prospect of mortgage rates skyrocketing as the economy hits the skids and all the banks start getting squeezed ... well, it's just not going to be pretty.

the other aspect that this new policy neglects, as with most other benefit programs offerred by governments and union shops, is the seeming preference for those willing to settle down for years at a stretch. i find it hard to believe that folks younger than me would willingly accept such a situation when they have many other opportunities available to them. i've been here over 3.75 years and that's a record for me. the longest i've ever worked for any employer since leaving my dad's restaurant is just under 4 years and the longest i've been in any one place is 3 years. i'm always looking to build up my bank of skills as much as i can and often that means leaving to pursue other opportunities rather than continuing with the same employer in the same job. i think the government's recruiting and retention process will become much more difficult in the years ahead.

the other big beef that i have is the fact that i have to pay into the employer-run pension plan where i have no control over the investment portfolio. besides the fact that i don't agree philosophically with many of the investments made by the plan (tobacco, alcohol, biotech), i lose out since the majority of the plan benefits are skewed to those with higher seniority. i'm not a fan of bush's idea of pushing everyone to an individual plan off of social security, but i think that we should definitely have a choice of where to invest our pension funds that are not CPP. ideally, the deductions made by the employer would just go directly into my rrsp. there will still be plenty of folks who aren't interested in tangling with the stock market beast and will be happy to let some plan administrator rake off the cream.

after the course ended for the day, i hit the office for a few hours to clear out the inbox and then i wandered over to city hall (2d floor of the old arena) to take in the city council meeting. i had been told over the weekend that they would be discussing how to salvage some ice time at the new arena, a portion of which has become unstable due to water flow beneath the concrete pad. after sitting in on the course, listening to the councillors go round and round without having the proper information to make a decision was painful.

section divider

poking holes

Wednesday, 14SEP2005:

day 2 of the policy course covered the elements of a briefing note and what kinds of things central agencies look for before passing proposals on to decision makers. brevity and conciseness are keys. again, the best part of the sessions were the times where we broke off into groups and worked on a hypothetical scenario.

after work, i attended the museum board meeting. afterwards, i got assigned the task of being on call for any emergencies next week while the museum director is away at a conference. hmm, now's my chance to poke around all the good stuff that is kept in storage :)

rushed home to get changed and head up to the high school gym for a few games of soccer. i haven't played for months, and boy, was that obvious. i felt like swiss chees. they scored between my legs, over my head, past my arms, rebounding off the wall off of my back - it was pitiful. i probably would have done better with my eyes closed. consolations were that i only made a single bad forward pass, and a couple of my kicks to goal-scorers were placed perfectly.

section divider

i ... can ... seeee ... you !

Thursday, 15SEP2005:

thanks to slaw for pointing out the gvisit service that provides a map-based overview of recent website visitors. to see where other people are reading this blog, click here.

section divider

dreaming of the good life

Friday, 16SEP2005:

uploaded my latest mix, ♥beats to artofthemix.

did a double-header at the astro this evening, taking in both 'just like heaven' and '40-year-old virgin'. i enjoyed both, but am more likely to see the former again. JLH featured reese witherspoon and mark ruffalo in well-cast roles, and is the more idealistically romantic of the two. 40YOV was also very funny, but perhaps struck a bit too close to my own bachelor life. there were almost too many recurring characters who all seemed to need to throw their 2 cents in without adding anything to the story. however, i must say that catherine keener played one hot grandma. the other point in favour of JLH was some great music including the classic eponymous cure song and another cover version of that song.
show me show me show me 
how you do that trick
the one that makes me scream she said
the one that makes me love she said 
threw her arms around my neck
show me how you do it
and i'll promise you
i'll promise that
i'll run away with you
i'll run away with you
oh, and the garden scenes were very lush.

didn't feel like heading home right away, so i wandered over to the legion to grab a couple of sandwiches and sign up for a round of pool. after 20 minutes without a table opening up, i went over to the quiet lounge and chatted with david who had just gotten off shift from the nav. he complained that people there had been downing their beers in 5 minutes flat, calling for refills before he had even finished making a circuit of the rest of the tables. another fellow dropped by to promote the hockey association draw by emphasizing what a difference the $20,000 cash prize would make.

i didn't let on that i already had a sum in the same range languishing in my savings account and that i was more interested in determining how to invest it to maximize returns, than on planning how to spend it. it really brought home to me that i really am in an elite financial position where i don't really worry about making ends meet day to day. sure, i dream about getting rich quick like everybody else, but i am already living more comfortably than most of the people around me. while i credit hard work and smart choices, i can't shake the notion that i've also been a very lucky fellow.

anyway, when i went back to the pool tables, i played the holder of table #2 and won. no one else seemed available to play, so i called levi over for a re-match - he had shellacked me last time, sinking all of his balls in a single run off the break. however, he would only play for money and i grudgingly agreed. during the first game, he was up ahead quick, but i kept hooking him on my many balls and finally got a good run to finish off the table.

we played the second game double or nothing and i didn't sink a single ball until he was down to 2. i slowly caught up until we were both trying for the black, and missing it horribly. after about 8 or 9 tries between us, levi finally ended the night when he made an easy shot into the side pocket, leaving us even steven for the night.

section divider

a day of feasting and jousting

Saturday, 17SEP2005:

my sealift order was delivered today. it only took an hour to store everything on the shelves and in the sealift room. there was an error in the shipment, but it was in my favour (and the most expensive item to boot !), so i'm not going to rock the boat :)

behind new courthouse building
went for a hike out behind the new courthouse and the arctic college residences. a friend had suggested that the hills back there were prime berry-picking territory. i had doubts that there would be any berries left since it was so close to town (and since we got a dusting of frost last night), but i was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of blueberries and blackberries.

a whole mess of blackberries the black ones weren't too flavourful, but they definitely had the advantage of numbers. however, that just made it easier for the bright blue bulbs of bursting goodness to stand out and i grazed contentedly. a couple of times, i was even able to lie down sideways on the mossy tundra, leisurely feasting on all the berries within arm's reach. i could feel the warmth of the air 6 inches above the ground, a large contrast with the windchilled air experienced while standing vertically.

blueberry closeup
now, obviously the berries weren't as big as the ones bought in your local supermarket, but they were just as tasty. the best were the plump ones that promptly fell off of the bush as your fingers brushed them - *so* sweet! even better was when they had the scent of heather still upon them, making for some very sensuous moments. it felt good to be able to feed myself with food fresh off the ground and i can understand why there was a lot of concern that the new ridge development shouldn't encroach on the realm of the berries.

went home for a short nap before heading to lanie's to attend anton's farewell party. there was a monty python dressup theme in effect and we had folks costumed as the virgin, the witch, sir galahad the chaste, and the black knight, all topped off with anton as king arthur. the highlight was the kids' performance of a scene from 'the holy grail'. after sir max defeated me in a joust, i slunk away to the francophone association where the ruffians wouldn't be as tough. there, i prepared to fulfill my committment to act as the late-shift bouncer for the party that celebrated the 6-month anniversary of iqaluit's own infamous indie music radio show 'audio missile defence'.

after we kicked everyone out, a bunch of us headed up to the storehouse. there i found todd and patrick at the pool tables and signed up for a match. we all ended up even as i beat todd, patrick beat me and then todd beat patrick. i had done well against patrick, but i had hooked myself on the black by misplaying the leave of the cue ball.

when the lights came on at the storehouse, todd suggested a 3-way card game, so we went downhill to patrick's place. todd busted out first, leaving patrick and i to face off. patrick had the upper hand at first, betting strong and taking the pots when i refused to play out weaker hands. then it went back and forth until the plastic deck wore itself out and a star wars ringer deck had to be subbed in. with a slight lead in chips, i started to call all-in's and finally dragged patrick in on the 3d one. he had 2 pair topped by pocket rockets, but ran into the full house that i hadn't made until the river.

i got a few tips from him about playing poker online and will think about giving it a try once i get high-speed. this poker mania won't last forever and i will have to get in soon if i want to glean anything substantial from it.

First Post (27FEB2005)       Previous Week      Next Week      comments       Most Recent Post