Monthly Archives: May 2007

of all the “toys” to play with together…

I suppose every parent goes through this at some point, but this is a first for us. Last night we were out in front of our house while I was installing a new sceen door. Isaac – not even yet 3 – decided that he wanted to play with some rocks. That’s fine, mostly. We made sure he didn’t want to throw the rocks, especially at our still new-ish minivan. We did catch him, however, trying to drop rocks down inside the wheels of said minivan. We stopped that game in a hurry.

Sadly, not soon enough. Jannette went to drive somewhere today, and was greeted with a horrible screeching sound. Our guess? Isaac snuck a rock between the brake pad and the rotor before we stopped him. ARGH. (This guess was later confirmed by the dealership.) So everyone (save for me) got to sit at home and wait for the tow truck to arrive. Thankfully, there was no damage and did not warrant a new rotor or pad. Of course, labour is not free, but we’re still getting off pretty cheap.

So the question here is: what is the attraction putting rocks down small cracks, and what toy can we provide to him that will utterly and completely satisfy that urge?

I guess I’ll be thankful that it was rocks and brakes, and not watches/jewelry and toilets.

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what, you mean the job qualifications are necessary?

After receiving the job posting, which was e-mailed directly to me, I responded back to the manager of the program, letting her know that I will be applying. Her response, while helpful, made me doubt how far I’d go in the process. Mentioned in the job qualifications is knowledge about buildings and building science. I have zero formal training in that, but I’m a homeowner, and I’m interested in green building. That should be enough, right?
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keeping lottery pools civil and fair

Do you remember about a year or two back there was a lot of media attention around a group of A&W employees out on the West coast? So far as I remember it (I wasn’t following the story by any means, I was subjected to it by the major media outlets) the group regularily played one of the major lotteries together, but in one instance a few people did not play (for whatever reason). That happened to be the time that the group won the jackpot. Suddenly the people that didn’t play that week wanted their cut, the people that won said they had no cut, and then the lawyers got involved. Ugly. I don’t even know how it ended (and am not curious enough to bother Googling it to find out).

About the same time, my extended family and I entered into a lottery pool. I eventually took over the administration of it (a job I’m still doing well over a year later) and wondered if there was some way to avoid what happened to those A&W employees. With family it could either be a lot less messy, or a lot more messy if the same situation happened. I decided to come up with an equitable way of playing as a group that would not exclude someone simply because they couldn’t cough up $2 one week.

The way most lottery pools that I’ve been involved with work is simple: everyone pays in a certain dollar amount, and any winnings are either re-invested into more tickets or split equally among the people who have bought in. It works well enough until you get a situation like the one above. The problem with that system is that it ignores the history of the group; people may have been playing for years together, but if they ever miss a week, they’re SOL if the group wins.

The method I’m now using fully tracks the history of the group, and uses the accumulated information to determine how to split any winnings. Instead of just splitting winnings based on if you’ve paid in or not, winnings are split based on the historical total contribution you’ve made to the group, based on the historical total contribution of the entire group.

There’s no getting around doing some math to show an example, so let’s dive in. Three people, each paying $2 per week, play for 3 weeks. Each person has paid $2 x 3 = $6, making the total contribution $18. Say in the next week one of those people is recovering from the Bacardi flu and can’t play, so only $2 x 2 = $4 is added tot the total historical contribution for $22. They win that week! Two of the people have contributed $2 x 4 = $8, and one has contributed $2 x 3 = $6. So the winning will be divided based on 8/22 (36.4%) for the two people and 6/22 (27.2%) for the one that missed a week. The one who missed a week gets less, but still gets something.

This also allows for some flexibility; if you don’t WANT to play one week (because the jackpot is a paltry $2.5M, and you can’t retire off your split of that), you don’t have to. Your split ratio will go down some, but not much. Heck, you could even work it such that each group member pays in as much or as little as they want, and tickets are purchased with whatever the group contributes each week. You can even participate in multiple lotteries at the same time, and track them individually or all together. It’s fair, and fairly flexible!

In my case it’s relatively complex: We’re playing two different lotteries (6/49 and Super7), and the group only starts playing with jackpots at or above $10M, save for one of us that plays starting at a $15M threshhold. I also allow everyone to make “deposits” into their “lottery account” so I don’t have to chase them every week (which I can’t do because we live so far from each other); I just pay for all the tickets, knowing I’ve been pre-paid for them. Thus I track not only split ratios but how much everyone has in the “bank”.

So far the most we’ve ever won is $20 plus a few free tickets, so there hasn’t been any squabbling. If we ever do win the jackpot, however, the only squabbling going on will be over how many decimal places we calculate our split ratios to. (I say 3 decimal places or one percentage decimal place [.364 versus 36.4%], and rounding goes in favour of the one keeping track of it all!)

another opportunity for instant career change

I wish stuff like this happened more often – it would make jobsearching so much easier.

I opened up my e-mail today to find an e-mail from the director of a local energy efficiency program. I had e-mailed her back many months ago to congratulate the program on what was essentially its resurrection from death, and to mention my passion for the subject matter they deal in. I also mentioned my willingness to do either volunteer or paid work for them. Of course they had none at that point, and they’re still trying to figure out liability issues with volunteers, but at least I had connected.

The e-mail that was sent today was an announcement that this program is hiring for a Certified Energy Advisor; someone that will test and inspect your home and tell you where you’re losing efficiency, and how to best go about retrofitting your home for improved efficiency. While perhaps not the exact dream job I’ve been looking for (and all but given up on finding in the short-term), it is an excellent, huge step in that direction. Knowledge gained and networking accomplished working in that position would make for a slam-dunk transition into sustainable building consulting – within months if I could do it on the side.

Downsides? “Near full-time.” Not exactly sure what that means, but it might equate to “lower pay than you’d expect”. “Seasonal deman fluctuations.” So, does that mean I’m paid on a piecework basis and not salary? More information needed. “Available for some evening and weekend appointments.” It would take some adaptation, but that’s not a show stopper. Heck, it might mean I’m actually available during the day for other things.

The upsides? I’d finally be working locally – their office is downtown, right on a bus route. I could even bike there, with some practice. It’s the industry I want to eventually be in. The pay is in the right ballpark, and as it’s local, I’d possibly be able to get rid of our second vehicle altogether for additional savings.

The opening is pretty short – applications are only being accepted up to next Friday. I have my resume just about done, so now I need to craft a cover letter. I will know very shortly whether I get the position (or even just the interview), as the person who gets the position goes for training in early June. Yeah – zip, bang, zoom! I guess all I can do is get on that cover letter and see what happens. Stay tuned, peeps!

…and out of left field…

So there I was, minding my own business at work. I was heading towards the washroom to drain the main vein, when suddenly my brain pipes up with:

“I just shat out a kidney stone.”

Huh?

you can call me…

…Batman! No, kidding.

I don’t know where this idea came from, but I came up with the perfect handle/moniker/nickname/alter ego for myself the other day. For those that haven’t met me (or seen my Facebook pictures), I am stone cold bald. I have so few folicles on the top of my scalp that I’m actually now actively trying to remain hairless. Thus any “dome” moniker is more than appropriate.

Additionally, you’ll know (if you don’t live under a rock, or have only just started reading Not From Toronto this very second) that I am an “idea hamster”; I come up with ideas all the time – good, bad, silly, and everything in between.

Thus, my new nickname: IdeaDome.

Where will I use it? I have no frickin’ idea.

Oh, the irony…

insert incredulous Facebook post here

Yes, I finally decided to join the masses on Facebook.com. I joined not to see how many friends I could get (or have) but to allow others to find me. Specifically, those that might want to hire me in the future. Just as much as having a lewd MySpace profile can sink a job prospect (I’ve read of exactly that happening), having a “normal” Facebook profile might help.

At first, it was kind of neat. I found some friends, some old friends, even a couple of ex-girlfriends. People from all aspects of my life, past and present, started turning up. It was really nifty.

Then it got a bit weird. Someone I knew from residence showed up, which was neat – I hadn’t heard from him in years. Usually when someone adds me as a friend the first thing I do is look through their friend list to see if there’s anyone else I know to add. But in this case, I wondered what the hell he’d gotten up to! Out of a list of 60-some-odd friends, about a THIRD of them were bodybuilding women. I am talking muscles on muscles that would shame Gov. Arnie. Oxford’s dictionary doens’t have that much definition. Truly, I wondered what the hell happened. (Turns out he got into photography, and started shooting female bodybuilders.)

That was positively tame compared to what showed up the other night. First, it was someone I hadn’t seen since highschool. Second, it’s someone I actually used to be best friends with in elementary school. But what really took the cake was when his profile revealed that he is a producer of amateur pornography, a club promoter, and co-owns a “pan-sexual” nightclub in Toronto. To top it all off, he is “in an open relationship”. HUH?!?

Jannette finds it weird to find friends from highschool that now have kids. I think I’ve got her out-weirded.