Video: Canada the Land

A great NFB short for a Long Weekend with no Name to enjoy the amazing thing that is Canada.

An amazing thing our country, let’s remember that this long weekend.

Filmed for the most part from a low-flying aircraft, this documentary short presents a breath-taking view of Canada from coast to coast. Showing the varied terrain, from craggy coast to towering glacier, the film illustrates Canada’s pristine wilderness as well as today’s industrial and urban realities.

Canada the Land was specially commissioned for the Canada Pavilion at the Osaka World Fair in 1970.

These shorts are a part of my childhood, since they were usually played in classes when my teachers didn’t feel like teaching (OK, maybe they were trying to educate us too).

Not enough you say, to celebrate a country this big we need more? OK, here is Canada by Helicopter.


Random Thoughts: Long Weekend Ahead

Here Comes a Long Weekend

Here in Ontario it is The Long Weekend with No Name coming up, so we are all celebrating in our own private ways. Only in Ontario could you have such a Milk Toast response to a holiday weekend, we may be boring, but it is only overshadowed by our complete dullness.

This week was a lot of fun for me, because I didn’t really have to work very hard on the blog, I hosted the Best of Money Carnival #61, wrote about how the CPI Back to 1.0%, and then ranted about things, which always makes me happy (the cathartic part of writing your own blog cannot be discounted). I was sad that no one told me whether my Good Wine was actually any good, my parents think it should have been good.

What was new this week, in the land of Finance for Home and Personal use? Some stuff to really make you scratch your head and wonder what is going on:

You get the feeling someone told bloggers that Top N lists are popular with readers?!? I can give you 3 reasons why that doesn’t work, but that can wait for my own post (I am such a snarky bugger when I want to be).

Weekly Reminders

Remember that I also micro-blog on Twitter, where you can see a whole plethora of good articles and pithy comments by me as well. twitter feed where I retweet many great articles by some of my featured writers (and make the occasional odd or off colour commentary on life (in 140 characters or less)).

Also remember my RSS feed is available too, for those who enjoy reading without looking at my archaic page lay out, and I have added an RSS Comment Feed as well.

Finally remember that this site is iPhone Friendly (and iPod Touch Friendly), enjoy it on the go, in a readable format for the device.


PC Mastercard and Changes

On July 1st, I got up early to catch up on my Home Finances, which had been neglected due to a very busy home schedule. I managed to get most things balanced up, until I ran into a brick wall, which was my PC Financial Mastercard.

I had been receiving e-mails about how things were going to change with my card and such, but I hadn’t really realized what this actually meant, because the e-mails I received were at best cryptic and at worst unreadable.

I brought up the PC on line web interface and was greeted with a completely different interface, which caused my breakfast to move up my esophagus a fair distance. I attempted to get around the page by using my previous login information, which failed miserably. I even changed tried different passwords hoping it was just me forgetting, but no dice, I was not allowed in using the existing credentials that I had.  Obscenity strewn rant #1 followed, which I won’t elaborate on.

My memory seemed to recollect a comment from the Rosetta Stone-like e-mails saying that I would need to recreate my user id, and the bottom of this page seemed to imply I should do this, so I then put in my credit card number and name to attempt to start creating a new user id. This failed 3 times, and you guessed it: Obscenity strewn rant #2 followed.

The “error” message implied I should call the PC help line (on Canada Day morning, no less), so I dutifully got the cordless phone (which you should not use if you are inputting any banking info, but I forgot that important security point), and was asked my Credit Card info after navigating a few menus. The system said the information I had input was incorrect, and I should wait for an operator, and then it said my wait would be over 10 minutes, correct again: Obscenity strewn rant #3 & #4 followed.

At this point I went away, got another coffee, and came back and was still on hold, but decided that maybe I should try to recreate my userid one more time. This time when I typed in the exact same information, I moved onto the next page: Obscenity strewn rant #5 followed. I then was able to recreate my user id, and I was heartened to think I could complete my task for the morning.

I noted all this new info on paper (very insecure) and then was given a chance to log in using my brand spanking new login information. To my surprise the interface looked very different, and it took me a few minutes to figure out how this new interface worked (no I kept a civil tongue at this point). I finally figured out how to download from the web site to my Quicken account, and pressed the button.

The data file was created, however, when I attempted to import the data file (as usual) into Quicken, I got a message from Quicken that this was a new account, and said it was an RBC Mastercard.  The light went on then, because previously the PC Financial stuff was all CIBC based, and I guess that PC-Financial is now going to use RBC as their banking back end.

OK, this means I had to disconnect my Mastercard account in Quicken from CIBC and then allow it to connect to the new RBC description, which worked fine (I had stopped swearing, because now I was full of pride in my figuring this out, but wait, there is more).

I then looked at my Quicken account, and on line at my banking accounts and found that there is a week “gap” in place where at least 8 transactions are missing. Obscenity strewn rant #6  followed, because one of those transactions is a sizable payment to PC Mastercard.

I had to go back over the paper statement I received and found most of the missing transactions (they are missing on the “on line” statement which is supposed to reflect the printed statement (which it doesn’t)).

PC Mastercard

PC Mastercard


So, I seem to have on line banking access, which is OK, but I still have these missing payments, which is worrying.

All of this happened on Canada Day morning, wonder what might have happened if I had gotten through to someone on the phone? I suppose that might have been Obscenity strewn rant #7!

I have also noticed now that every time I log in I am asked a “Security Question” no matter what, which is very annoying as well!


The Good Wine: A Personal Finance Parable

I used to travel a great deal for my previous job, and on a couple of occasions I was lucky enough to travel to France. During one of these trips, we had enough spare time that one of our hosts brought us to a local wine shop, and there we acted like dumb Canadians and asked which wines should we buy that we most likely couldn’t get in Canada. The shopkeeper was very nice and accommodating, and he helped us all pick up a few bottles of some excellent French wine.

This trip took place about 12 years ago (if my recollection is correct), and when I returned my wife was very happy to see that I had picked up this wine and we both decided that we should save this wine for a special occasion, and we put the wine away in our wine cupboard (no we don’t have a wine cellar or anything as fancy as that).

The Good Wine

This is a picture of the bottle of wine, for those wine enthusiasts, who think this is yet another story that I have spun out of whole cloth.

This wine sat in our wine cabinet for years, and many special occasions passed in our lives: The first new year, then another, then the Millennium, birth of our son, my finding a new job, and countless birthdays and anniversaries, yet we either forgot about the wine, or figured it was not the right time to uncork this special wine.

On Saturday this past week, my wife was in dire need of some wine for cooking, and we finally decided maybe it was time to try this wine (after all it was over 12 years since we had purchased it). I argued for a minute about wasting this wine for cooking, but decided we could drink the rest of it that evening, so I finally relented.

When my wife opened the bottle, it smelled very off, so she called me in to the kitchen to smell it. It did indeed smell very vinegary (if that is a word), so we decided to pour it on the steak we were marinating and the colour of the wine alone suggested it was very OFF.

So I had tried to get my wife a nice gift, in a hard to find French Wine, we had saved it away for a special occasion, but because we never followed through, when we finally did open it, the wine was horrible.

Financial Angle?

Is there a financial angle to this story, or is this just me telling another long winded story (no comments about that specific point please)?

Are you saving for a special occasion, or for your retirement? Sometimes it is important to remember why you are saving and complete your savings plan by getting what you were saving for, or you may feel cheated (which I did with that wine).

Make sure that you are able to enjoy that retirement or special occasion, or your saving may well go “off” and you will not be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour?

There are countless stories of people who worked themselves very hard during their working years and didn’t take care of themselves, and ended up dieing before they retired, or they were in such a bad state health-wise, they couldn’t enjoy their retirement.

What are you saving for? Remember your plan, and make sure you don’t cheat yourself.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me if this was actually a good bottle of wine, or whether I was sold a tourist special, please feel free to comment.


CPI Back to 1.0%

With all the excitement on Friday, you may not have noticed by the Inflation Rate (i.e. CPI) from Stats Canada was announced and it is back down to 1.0%, which suggests any retaliatory Interest Rate increases may be put on hold (for fear of creating deflation?).

Energy prices rose 1.3% between June 2009 and June 2010, after increasing 6.2% over the 12 months ending in May. Excluding energy, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) advanced 0.9% in June, following a 1.0% increase in May.

The price of gasoline decreased 2.9% in June compared with the same month a year earlier, after rising 6.9% in May. This was the first year-over-year drop in prices at the pump since October 2009.

Energy prices continue to be the big issue these days in terms of prices, and with Ontario slapping the PST/HST onto Gas that just adds more fuel to the fire.

CPI Graph for a While

CPI For the Past Little While

12-month change in the Bank of Canada’s core index

The Bank of Canada’s core index advanced 1.7% in the 12 months to June, following a 1.8% rise in May. Price increases were recorded for the purchase of passenger vehicles, passenger vehicle insurance premiums, homeowner’s replacement costs, electricity and telephone services.

This means there is less reasons to increase interest rates in the near future, from this point of view at least (from the slowing down borrowing side of things, I think the jury is still out on that one).

The Really Big Table

And here is my favorite part the big table, where you can see which of your favorite components took the biggest bite out of you. Luckily, alcohol and tobacco only went up a little bit this month.

Consumer Price Index and major components, Canada
Relative import June 2009 May 2010 June 2010 May to June 2010 June
2009 to June 2010
Not seasonally adjusted
(2002=100) % change
All-items 100.002 115.1 116.3 116.2 -0.1 1.0
Food 17.04 122.2 122.9 123.0 0.1 0.7
Shelter 26.62 121.3 123.0 123.3 0.2 1.6
Household operations, furnishings and equipment 11.10 107.3 108.6 108.6 0.0 1.2
Clothing and footwear 5.36 91.3 92.7 89.7 -3.2 -1.8
Transportation 19.88 116.1 118.1 117.3 -0.7 1.0
Health and personal care 4.73 112.8 114.6 114.7 0.1 1.7
Recreation, education and reading 12.20 103.8 103.6 104.2 0.6 0.4
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products 3.07 131.6 132.1 132.2 0.1 0.5
Special aggregates
Core CPI3 82.71 113.7 115.7 115.6 -0.1 1.7
All-items excluding energy 90.62 113.6 114.6 114.6 0.0 0.9
Energy 9.38 133.9 137.4 135.7 -1.2 1.3
Gasoline 4.92 147.0 147.1 142.8 -2.9 -2.9
All-items excluding food and energy 73.57 111.7 112.8 112.7 -0.1 0.9
Goods 48.78 108.6 109.4 108.7 -0.6 0.1
Services 51.22 121.5 123.2 123.6 0.3 1.7

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