2012 Predictions

It's that time of year again where we all reflect back on the year gone by and make bold outrageous predictions of the incoming new year... Reading my twitter feed and various financial gurus with their infinite wisdom predicting where markets will be in 2012, it seems either the world will be ending or everything will be fixed and we will all be rich and geniuses again... 

Reflecting back on 2011, I'd like to punch fucking calendars in the cocksucker when I think back of all the successes I've squandered and the missed opportunities because I let the noise from the asshats on CNBC or other fucktards in main stream media dictate my emotions and judgment erring on numerous occasions on the side of diligence and safety instead of pure greed like I should...

But these are troubled times and markets just aren't right at the moment...during a financial crisis like the one we are facing now, logic and fundamentals do not exist and moronic volatility reigns supreme hence panic selling and buying.

90% of the stock market is controlled by institutions and professionals working for the world's largest investment firms and banks. They are deeply committed and vastly well prepared. They hire the smartest people in the world that work their asses off all day long; It doesn’t matter where these traders work – they may be on banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, or HFT shops – they employ an array of professional staff and technological tools to give themselves a significant edge. With billions at risk, they deploy anything that gives them even a slight advantage.

Guys like me are armed only with an outdated PC, an internet connection, and CNBC muted in the background; we as investors face daunting odds. We are at a tactical disadvantage, outmanned and outgunned in every which way compared to the pros... And when they panic, we had better pay fucking attention. We go way the fuck down then way the fuck up. Rinse and repeat. It is truly Armageddon for small time retail traders like myself...

I don't expect anyone to have the mental capacity to understand the bullets I dodge everyday, Matrix style... but understand this: I absolutely refuse to live within this Alberta bubble... I cannot bring myself to stand idly by like everyone else and think my line of credit IS my emergency fund and any available credit is counted as part of my net worth; I cannot dump every penny into a home ignorant to declare real estate here will go UP forever just because "we're different here" as compared to everywhere else in the whole fucking world...

My prediction for 2012?

The world will NOT end in 2012. You'll only wish it would. Especially those of you that are highly leveraged, in debt, and have no clue of what I rant about on a daily basis...


For 4 decades I completely missed the point of Remembrance Day.... It was the Dutch that provoked me to say "Thanks"

Remembrance Day was always something I never really got as a kid...what I did get was 'School was cancelled...YAY!!'

I'd see the parades and ceremonies at City Hall on TV... we would do ceremonies at school...two minutes silences at 11:00 on the 11 day... 11 month... that's when WW1 ended...the time Armistice was signed in 1918..learned that in social studies right?

We do it to remember those who have fought and fallen... well...My ancestors had a different history... they never fought... they ran from the Japanese..they ran from Communists...they starved on their own farms... Chinese immigrants celebrate "Ching Ming".. we get pastries and BBQ pork and have a picnic at the graveyard... but on Remembrance Day I get the day off!!!

May 2010, I was particularly intrigued hearing that the Netherlands have more Canadian flags waving in one town than all of Canada... I figured just coming off the 2010 Winter Olympics and the Dutch must be quite the hockey fans or something... Indeed they are.. but for other reasons.

Watching news clip after news clip, I saw 100's of thousands of Dutch people cheering, crying, mobbing and honouring Canadian Veterans... mothers of small children, teenagers, people in their 20's who never knew WW2 first hand..they were all running up to these slobbery old guys just to get a kiss or a touch. They interviewed these people... they said they wanted their children to know they touched a person who liberated their country 65 years ago.

Flags and banners waved.. " Thank You Canada- we will never forget"; "Thank You for our Liberation Canada"... Memorial burial places in the Netherlands were gathered by literally 100's of 1000's placing flowers and candles on Canadian soldiers' graves and stones... "they never let a whipper snipper touch the headstones..they hand cut the grass with scissors" said an old Canadian Vet in an interview....

It dawned on me then.."They do remember.." The Dutch deliberately keep in sharp focus what it meant to be hunted, starved, and killed during the war. They forget neither those crushed under Nazi occupation at home, nor those who went off to their deaths in battle. The memory is kept alive by public policy and personal conviction. These people realize what it meant to lose their freedom... and remember what it took to get it back...

"To show their appreciation to the pilots who dropped food from the air, many Dutch people painted, "Thank you, Canadians!" on their rooftops. In honour of their gift of freedom Dutch people have donated 10,000 tulip bulbs to Canada for the National Capital Region, annually since the war's end. For 1995, the Netherlands donated an additional 5,000 bulbs for Parliament Hill, 1,000 for each provincial and territorial capital and 1,000 for Ste. Anne's hospital in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que. (the only remaining federal hospital in Canada, administered by Veterans Affairs Canada) "

It's tempting to feel the Canadian pride...but then I realized also ...the Dutch challenged my thoughtlessness that day. I am embarrassed about my delinquency as an adult... what the Dutch said that day is true.."It is our duty to remember and to teach future generations what it means to be free..."

How true... I never really got it... but it's not too late to remember..So today, I will reflect on the real price paid for my lifetime of peace, freedom, and opportunity.

Today I set aside my x-rated prose about Wall Street's inner workings; I will hold back my cynicism about politics and the current global economic outlook; and instead nurture memory and appreciation. I will acknowledge the price being extracted today from Canadians serving in far off conflicts.

Today I pray for those who gave everything, and for those being now asked for their all...

Lest we forget....
"Many Thanks" spelt out in tulips...


New Diet..

Starts today... Timestomp this bitches..

4-hour Body by Timothy Ferriss... more like the Costanza diet— everything I've ever known or ever learned about dieting and eating properly officially thrown out the window...


No More Hockey Dad...

Tristan (5 years old): I don't want to play hockey Dad...

Me: well your brothers both play hockey... what are you going to do all winter then if you don't play hockey?

T: I'll just stay at home and make weapons..


My Pricebook: Edmonton Grocery Prices Comparison- May 15, 2011

It's been a busy past few weeks at work and on the markets but I did manage to finish this month's Edmonton grocery price comparison... and surprise surprise this month..for the first time since I started this monthly comparison in February, Superstore has claimed the title for the cheapest grocery cart this month. What was more surprising this month is our cart for both Costco and Superstore cost LESS than it did last month! Hurray!

Our grocery cart at Costco cost $256.28 this month compared to last month's $258.73; $2.45 cheaper than a month ago..doesn't seem like much but it is still 1% drop. Superstore's cart cost $248.85 as compared to last month's $263.12; a $14.29 differential or 5.5% drop!! WOW!!!

But before we get carried away with thinking food prices are finally dropping, we must take into account seasonal spring savings that occur every year of some products such as beef and pork. So, Superstore as well as other grocery chains are able to put on some great sales like they do every spring. Sobey's and Safeway's meat prices were comparable this month also with the great sales they had in the last few weeks. Keep in mind Superstore's prices may include items which have a limit of one or two ie. eggs (limit of one for that price of $2.24) and on the other side of the coin, at Costco one must buy 5 dozen eggs to get the price of $2.28 per dozen.

Seeing gasoline prices and oil prices soar in the last few weeks, one should be aware this will eventually affect food prices in the near future. And seeing, those items that did increase this month are those items that need to be boxed or packaged items such as crackers and juice boxes. Seasonal type items were the ones that decreased in price such as strawberries and steaks.

Keep in mind these prices are for the given date and include all current sales, coupons, and membership pricing programs. All items were priced at Sherwood Park near Baseline road locations and pricing may vary between chain-store locations. I've left last month's prices on the chart below for comparison. Items in green have increased in price from the previous month and items in red decreased in price.

Food Prices Comparison May 15, 2011


My Pricebook: Edmonton Grocery Prices Comparison- April 17, 2011- Food has gone up again!

Well folks, here we go again! We knew food and groceries were going to go up and they did... inflation levels according to main stream media were as high as they were during the oil boom before the recession...and looking around the Costco this weekend, groceries were noticeably higher.

In this month's comparison, I've only included a Costco vs. Superstore comparison but also added last month's prices to see how much both stores have went up compared to each other.

For a comparison of Superstore, the usual clear cut winner when not compared with the bulk buying of Costco, to other grocery stores take a look at this month's CTV Grocery comparison in Calgary by Sylvia Kong here.

This month our cart at Costco cost us $258.73; that's $10.29 more than it cost last month but still managed to beat out Superstore's prices by $4.39. Superstore prices cost us $10.45 more than it did last month. Both Costco and Superstore prices had total percentage increase of 4% over last month's cart prices.

Some prices did come down though... at Costco only 4 items came down in price while 11 items came down in price at Superstore. But, Costco only had 8 items go up in price compared to Superstore's 18 items...

Keep in mind these prices are for the given date and include all current sales, coupons, and membership pricing programs. All items were priced at Edmonton west-end locations and pricing may vary between chain-store locations. Prices in the second column are for April 17th, 2011 and prices in GREEN indicate a price INCREASE and prices in RED indicate a price DECREASE from March 18th.

Food Prices Comparison April 17, 2011

Not a big deal? It's only $10! What's 4%??? Remember all items have been adjusted to per unit sizing for comparison sake; so that 4% increase means my weekly $400 Costco tab cost me $16 more; $64 more this month than last which adds up to another $768 annually IF things don't go up anymore this year which is unlikely. Also, I buy my groceries and pay my bills with after tax monies...I don't recall my net wages increasing 4% lately...

With such drastic increases to our grocery bills as of late along with fuel and utilities going up also, we're already feeling the pinch. It's no wonder reality shows like Extreme Couponing have made clipping coupons across Canada an instant phenomenon. Watching those Americans buy $600 worth of groceries and only paying $4 has inspired many like my wife to watch for online and newspaper coupons much more diligently in the past month... It will be interesting if this trend continues to pick up momentum in Canada..hopefully better deals will offset some of these rising costs of food in the coming months..we will see...


Extreme Couponing... INSANE!

Finally caught my first episode of TLC's Extreme Couponing after hearing all the hoopla about the show.....

I would have to say wow.... I'm still blown away by the show a day after....never did I expect that much could be saved using coupons... seriously I found myself standing yelling and cussing at the TV and my wife.. "WTF???" "Oh Come on!!" " There's no way!!"

The above video shows a woman getting $280.38 worth of groceries and pays only $6.92 after all the coupons! Another lady on the next episode racks up over $1900 in groceries and only pays $101 after her coupons!!! Another carts $680 worth of goods and pays $6.86 in 18 different transactions! Another got $550 of groceries for $6...a 98% savings!!! Crazy.

I mean I've pulled the multiple transactions scam before at the local IGA... sirloin steaks go on sale..$2.99 per kg warehouse packs...great deal but limit of 2 per household....I grab my 2 packs and go home; I come back with the wife and we grab 4 packs at 2 different cashiers...go back in for more at different cashiers... voila.... who hasn't tried that?

But this extreme couponing? The closest I've ever come to those savings was when I loaded up the cart at Superstore and made a run for the doors! I mean I understand the concept..in the US, many of their grocers let people stack their coupons...the stores even have double and triple coupon days... stack them with manufacturer coupons and in-store sales...

Very much like how I stack Airmiles savings... I get so many airmiles for shopping at Safeway; use a in-store coupon for 5 times the airmiles; then use my airmiles reward American Express credit card for even more miles!

The most extreme I've heard was a man went to numerous Safeways for a special promotion on airmiles when you bought cans of Campbell's soup... ie. 100 bonus miles for 1 can, etc. He did the math: bought enough cans of soup to earn the airmiles needed to fly him and his family on a trip around the world... with the airmiles deal, it cost the man less than half the amount it would of if he just paid for the trip outright... It was in all the local newspapers a few years ago and probably got most of us hooked on collecting them and other loyalty points in the first place... he ended up donating the cans of soup to charity and flew his family around the world.

But is this extreme couponing possible in Canada? My wife and I are fairly frugal...we scour our flyers weekly and try to get the best deals we can; we compare prices across most of the major stores, even drive to 2-3 of them weekly...heck I'm proud of the points we rack up with the Costco Executive membership...it is now free plus I get cash back every year and more airmiles with the points stacking! But this stacking of coupons while so seemingly farfetched, is just not available at any grocers in Western Canada like it is in the United States... most stores here restrict the number of promotions you can have on any one item in Canada.. in fact upon some further research only London Drugs from what I have found can you stack coupons... the only rule is the coupons must have different scan codes so they must be from different sources.

I may want to give it a shot at London Drugs in the near future if I can find the right deals but there only so many items that I would want to buy there anyways... do I really need that much moisturizer or bags of chips? So Canadians, it looks as if we're SOL...

Thing is, if we could stack coupons like in the USA, I can understand buying 10 packs of hotdogs..my kids live and breathe hot dogs.. In my part of Canada we are pretty much borderline hoarders with such long winters..most of us buy bulk and freeze everything anyways hence why there's so many of the warehouse type grocers in western provinces.. But, what are you supposed to do with 35 bottles of Maalox anyways..or 40 bottles of mustard... 7 pounds of cheese... if you don't use the items purchased, isn't it a waste anyways regardless of the deal you got on them? Little wonder why "Hoarding: Buried Alive" is aired next on TLC. .

And these "Coupon Divas"? They're like Lex Luthors.... with coupons... Imagine if they were to put their minds to serve the greater good?..."What deficit? And as for Japan... we can clean up and rebuild the whole island for a grand total of.. $5.98!" "Oh wait, we didn't use plastic bags...Japan owes us 39 cents..."


Whammo!.. Here comes Spring...here comes a spike to your power bill...

It's already April... and April Fool's Day is behind us... Facebook walls were disappointingly quiet this year though 24 people wished me a happy birthday on Friday (yes...my birthday is in September for the 3 people who did remember) and most enjoyed my "perverted lamp" profile pic... And, I did enjoy another friend's AF's Day comments on moving to Vancouver for work, voting Liberal, loving the Calgary Flames, and Nickelback, best band ever... anybody who has met him will realize how ridiculous those comments were on Fool's Day...

Anyways, springtime is here and we're feeling confident again! Snow is finally melting with the weather turning around with exception to the snowstorm in Calgary; the Edmonton spring Real Estate market has begun and sales are picking up again; the stock market has been on fire as of late with earnings continuing to show improvement in the economy and remains to look bullish despite slight recent corrections from the Japanese and Libyan events; future job growth looks optimistic after a relatively dismally slow winter with Oilsands activity looking to pick up after announcing several billion dollars ready to be spent on new projects throughout Alberta in the next 5 years.

But amid the good news comes the bad... grocery and food retailers such as Loblaws and Tim Horton's and George Weston have already announced price increases coming as soon as last month due to increased costs in transportation and commodity prices increasing.

Now energy and utility prices are set to rise sharply over the next few months and some suggest for the next few years due to wholesale power prices spiking.

In fact Epcor's floating rates have already been set... announcing electricity rates to increase to 11.763 cents per kWh in April 2011 from 7.093 cents/ kWh in March 2011; a 65.8% INCREASE!!! So looking at my previous electricity bill for March usage.. using 1020kWh of electricity in March; at a rate of $0.07/kWh totalling $71.40 in usage alone. The rate increase would constitute a $119.98 tab if the same amount of power is used for April; hence, a $48.58 jump in my bill!! Suddenly, people probably wished they would have participated in Earth Hour this year a little more diligently (Edmonton power usage rose for 2011 Earth Hour)... well maybe not... turning off the Edmonton-Calgary hockey game in HD and Facebook obviously is a lot harder to do than originally thought despite ambitions to save the world...

Is it time for a contract? Going over Epcor's energy rate archives, I averaged out what the rates were over the past 13 months: power rates only averaged 6.9185 cents per kWh with only 6 of those months going over the 7 cents per kWh I am paying with a contract with Enmax! Estimated savings going with Epcor's floating rate for the last 13 months would have only saved me around $10 but nonetheless it was on average cheaper to keep a floating rate.

But, the new increases are a different story now. Since the beginning of 2011, monthly floater rates have been over the set Enmax rate of 7 cents and with rates jumping 66% and more over the next few months, a contract may not seem like a bad idea now, especially considering most provinces are considering going with time-of-day pricing like that of our US counterparts. Couple that with their ridiculous rider rates and admin fees, we're in for a world of hurt this summer. Here are the current fixed plan electricity pricing for Edmonton area:

Disclaimer: Contract prices may change periodically. Please contact the retailer to verify current pricing.

Fixed price plans



Electricity ¢/kWh

Gas $/GJ


One Year

Direct Energy competitive offers

Effective until April 28, 2011

Dual Fuel8.49¢/kWh$6.59/GJCancel
with 30 days notice. No early exit fees.

Admin fee
$4.50 for each electricity or gas site(or meter) for dual fuel plan.

Direct Energy competitive offers

Effective until April 28, 2011

Fixed Single9.99¢/kWh$6.59/GJCancel
with 30 days notice. No early exit fees.

Admin fee
$9.00/month for single fuel

Spot Power competitive offers

Effective June 4, 2010

Fixed Electricity6.5¢/kWh Cancel
with 15 days notice. No early exit fees.

Two Years

Direct Energy competitive offers

Effective until April 28, 2011

Super Flex Dual Fuel 8.99¢/kWhFlex-Through Price plus $1.50/GJCancel
with 30 days notice. No early exit fees.

Admin fee
$4.50/month for each electricity or gas site (or meter) for dual fuel plan.

Spot Power competitive offers

Effective June 4, 2010

Fixed Electricity6.8¢/kWh Cancel
with 15 days notice. No early exit fees.

Three Years

Direct Energy competitive offers

Effective until April 28, 2011

Simple Three Dual Fuel9.99¢/kWh$6.99/GJCancel
with 30 days notice. No early exit fees.

Admin fee
$4.50/month for each electricity or gas site (or meter) for dual fuel plan.

Just Energy Alberta competitive offers

Effective until further notice

Flat single or dual energy7.79¢/kWh$5.79/GJEarly exit
fee of $75 for each electricity or gas site(or meter) may apply for each year left in the contract term.

Admin fee
$6.90/month for 1site; $9.85/month for 2 sites plus $2.95/month for more than 2.

Five Years

Enmax Energy Corporation competitive offers

Effective until
April 30, 2011

Fixed Bundle (dual energy)8.0¢/kWh
without penalty with one month’s notice, and if our electricity rate drops, switch to the lower rate at any time.

Admin fee
Same as charged by your RRO provider. If less, then $5.90/month.
Fixed Electricity8.0¢/kWh

without penalty with one month’s notice, and if our electricity rate drops, switch to the lower rate at any time

Admin fee
Same as charged by your RRO provider. If less, then $5.90/month.

Just Energy Alberta competitive offers

Effective until further notice

Flat single or dual energy7.99¢/kWh$5.99/GJEarly exit
fee of $75 per site for each electricity or gas site (or meter) may apply for each year left in the contract term.

Admin fee
$6.90/month for 1site; $9.85/mo for 2sites plus $2.95/month for more than 2.

Floating price plans



Electricity ¢/kWh

Gas $/GJ


Enmax Energy Corporation competitive offers

Effective until
April 30, 2011

Floating Dual Energy PlanPrice matches regulated rate in your areaFlow-through price plus $0.47/GJ**

without penalty with one month’s notice, and if our electricity rate drops, switch to the lower rate at any time

Admin fee
Same as charged by your RRO provider. If less, then $5.90/month.

Floating Electricity PlanPrice matches regulated rate in your area

without penalty with one month’s notice, and if our electricity rate drops, switch to the lower rate at any time

Admin fee
Same as charged by your RRO provider. If less, then $5.90/month.

Spot Power competitive offers

Effective June 4, 2010
Basic Plan: Floating Energy PriceFlow-through price plus 1¢/kWh*

with 15 days notice. No early exit fees.

Admin fee

*Flow-through prices for electricity are based on hourly Alberta Pool prices with additional charges to reflect line losses and unaccounted for energy, load shaping and administrative fees.

**Flow-through prices for gas are based on daily wholesale market prices in Alberta with additional charges to reflect transportation charges and administrative fees.

Expect these contracts to end soon with wholesale electricity prices spiking like they have. Beware of scammer door to door sales of these services also. Just Energy, formerly Alberta Energy Savings, were recently investigated for their salespeople signing fraudulent contracts that homeowners did not approve of; so read your contract carefully and don't agree to anything without doing your own DUE DILIGENCE first!!!

Other alternatives? Back during the natural gas deregulation days and spikes up to $13/GJ rates circa 2003, I countered energy price spikes by buying energy and royalty trusts that paid me monthly dividends directly to me or into my trading accounts. But, doing that now, with the new royalty trust rules in Canada since January 2011 is not as lucrative as it once was as the distributions are much more heavily taxed now and distributions are less because of that.

But, as rates increased so did the payouts as utility companies were collecting more, they paid out more to its unit holders. And, holding the power and utility companies such as TransAlta, Capital Power, and Canadian Utilities may not be such a bad idea as most pay a 5-8% yield at current price; Canaccord believes with the demand growth for electricity, they expect utility company yields to also rise with electricity pricing increases. So, an investment of $12,950 for 500 shares of Capital Power (CPX-T) at Friday's closing price of $25.90 per share will bring in a gross $157.50 every 3 months (or $52.50 per month) plus some capital gains; it would counter the increase in your electricity bill if you don't include the dividend taxes and transaction costs.

Or you can install solar panels for your home that supply the electricity you need and feed extra unused energy back into the grid giving you some extra revenue dependent on your electricity provider. But, expect to pay out an initial cost of $20K- $80K for the installation. A fellow I talked to recently, installed solar panels on his acreage lot 7 years ago for about $45,000 CDN cost; he says this year his solar panel system will be paid off via the rebate cheques he has received from TransAlta Utilities and electricity savings. A seven year 100% return on investment is a pretty good deal; that's like getting a 10% yield compounded annually on a GIC held in your TFSA! But, I do doubt a residential solar option is hardly feasible with its high installation costs compared to its small output size for a residential home and its longevity has yet to be seen though Home Depot has 20 year warranties on their solar panels they sell, I could imagine the boys putting a hockey through one; though it is worth looking into to save a few bucks long term and perhaps do our part in saving the world...

How to look at these increases in almost everything? Well... it hurts..this year in particular I have noticed it is much harder to save money than ever before!

In the grand scheme of things...if a loaf of bread dropped to 89 cents per loaf, is that cheap enough for you? How about gas at the pump being 49.9 cents per litre instead of the 110.9 we see now? Average home price in Edmonton $124,094.00? It would be great no?

Well, you still couldn't afford those at those prices if you weren't working.... That's what they were during Alberta's dip in the economy circa 1996...

My tax return filed for 1996 reported 9 different companies all over Alberta and BC that I had worked for that year and still included $8399.00 in UI benefits paid out (about 20 weeks of unemployment cheques) totalling $33,914.45 BEFORE tax income for that year!! The wife's income (fiancee at the time) was $23,882.36 before taxes working full-time for an entire year! Together as a household we would have pulled in only $57,796.81 BEFORE taxes and were looking to purchase a home and save up for our wedding the following year..... The Canadian dollar averaged $0.73033USD... meaning our household income in 1996 was comparable to those earning $42,210 in the United States! And considering we pay our expenses with after tax money, we didn't have much back then... and, we were better off than most of our peers too!

Yeah, I think I'd still much rather have the situation we have now... utilities going up..bring it on!

Unless of course, I lose my current job... then uh-oh....it may seem though that Ft. McMurray may be in my near future if the bills keep rising like this.... and why did it seem we had so much more disposable income back in 1996???


Happy April Fool's Day everyone!!

Yeah... the ol' "wife's pregnant again" and "RIP Jackie Chan" was getting old....

And for my Facebook friends: not that I'm disappointed that you all need facebook to tell ya when my real birthday is but did everyone forget today is April Fool's Day too?? What a sorry exhibition our Facebook walls were today....Where's all the good pranks???

Well...cat's outta the bag..and before noon as per official AF's Day rules... I'm glad you all liked my "perverted lamp" profile pic at least....


Minor Hockey Playoffs 2011 continued... Novice...

Whew! What a weekend for most hockey parents in Edmonton... in Canada for that matter... minor hockey playoffs continues.. I like to take these videos to track my own kids' progress in hockey and to save as mementos... but it makes it all worthwhile when that one kid comes up to me and says..."did you see that shot I blocked?" or "did you catch that goal I scored?" "can you put it on YouTube?"

Disclaimer: this commentary and related videos are entirely biased toward my son's hockey team, the NW330 Whitemud West Warriors....it was made for him and for his team mates' enjoyment and for entertainment purposes only. Comments made here is of the opinion of the author and any offense taken to anything written here is purely coincidental and unintentional and does not reflect the opinions or sentiments of the coaches, Whitemud West Hockey Assn. or the NW330 Warriors or any other team mentioned here.

Novice Williams Division: NW330 WMW Warriors vs. SW643 SWAT Bullets

It was a fairly close game going in tied 2-2 into the third period, but the Bullets stepped up their game and our boys couldn't come up with the scoring to keep it close... 6-3 loss for the Warriors.

1) Curtis #8; assist to Alex #12
2) Alexander #13; assist to Cale #15
3) Alex #12, unassisted.

Novice Williams Division: NW330 WMW Warriors vs. SE466 North Seera Lightning Bolts

Another close game but our boys found their scoring touch in the third period to win the game 3-1 against the Bolts!

1) Stuart #1; Assist to Curtis #8.
2) Cale #15; assists to Alexander #13 and Stuart #1
3) Josh #2; assist to Parker #10

Novice Williams Division Finals: NW330 Warriors vs. EG690 Ice Breakers

A nail-biter of a game where our boys broke out to an early 3-1 lead but our goalie Clark #4 slammed the door shut ensuring our boys would put on some gold medals at the end of the game!! 3-1 Victory!


1) Stuart #1, unassisted.
2) Stuart #1, assist to Evan #14
3) Alex #12, assists to Jack #6 and Evan #14

A special thanks goes out to Coach Jay, Asst. Coach Chris, Asst. Coach Steve, Asst. Coach Chad for volunteering their valuable time, effort, and patience to coach and teach our boys why hockey is our favourite national pastime!


Pricebook 2011: Edmonton Food Prices...going up...

So it has begun... economists and main stream media have been announcing since the New Year, food prices across the board will be increasing... from Loblaw's to Tim Horton's to George Weston; all have announced price increases due to world commodity and food prices increasing.... By next year, Canadians will be paying 5-7% more for their groceries.

Don't know if anyone has noticed but prices at all the grocery stores in Edmonton has been creeping up as of late including those at Costco and Superstore especially meat, bread, and milk. for instance, top sirloin steaks on my Feb. 21st Pricebook was $8.99/kg at Costco, now it is $10.99/kg; Striploin NY cut steaks at Costco were $15.99/kg, now $16.99/ kg; Superstore has increased their Old Mill bread 2 cents per loaf; and, lean ground beef at Superstore increased 49 cents per kg.

For this month's Pricebook grocery comparison, I only looked at 3 stores: Superstore was always the runaway winner in Max's Food Basket and CTV's Calgary Grocery Comparison; so, a head-to-head battle with Costco, our last month's winner. Sobey's is included in the list to give an idea where the rest of the other stores such as Safeway and Save-On Foods and Walmart should be as their prices are comparable to Sobey's.

All items were adjusted accordingly to the same per unit sizing as indicated on the chart. Items were selected to be the same brand in each store to the best of my ability or the cheapest warehouse package pricing I could find at the time. Keep in mind these prices are for the given date and include all sales, coupons, and membership pricing programs. All items were priced at Edmonton west-end locations and prices may vary between chain-store locations.

So, once again our clear cut winner is Costco, where the total cart amounted to $248.44.
The same items at Superstore cost $252.67 and at Sobey's they were $286.88.

Best deals of the weekend: Sobey's has striploin NY cut steaks for $21.14/kg but they are selling them buy one, get one free this weekend (1.5kg trays). Sobey's has great deals on chicken drumsticks and thighs with skin are $4.39/kg and strawberries (2lb) are $2.99 each and banana are $0.49 per lb.
Costco has bacon 4x500g packs for $11.29. Most everything else is their regular pricing.
Superstore has a great promotion on bathroom tissue: Royale 24 double rolls for $8.97; cereal are $5.98 for jumbo sized boxes; and the best deal on pork sausages at $5.18/kg.

Ed's Pricebook; Edmonton grocery price Comparison March 18, 2011

This month I've taken items such as Claritin, Tylenol, and Advil off the list; and added more food items such as striploin steaks, salmon fillets, lean ground pork, Tropicana orange juice, chicken wings, etc.; just for the fact most people would be more apt to buy those food items on a weekly basis than they would over the counter medicine; plus Costco's bulk drugs blew all other competitors away hence skewing our comparison.

In the coming months I hope to track increasing food prices the same way; with a head-to-head comparison between Costco and Superstore and throw one of Safeway, Save-On Foods, Walmart, or Sobey's in the mix. Also, I will attempt to add more dry goods items such as peanut butter, ketchup, etc.

Now that's better...

One simple phone call is all it took.... just got my telephone bill from Telus... credit of $25.90... wow how about that?

Back in February, I was taken aback seeing how much our fucking household monthly bills were... I looked into it further and had to make a few 'austerity measures' on a few certain items we weren't using but was paying for anyways...

I remembered a tip I got from one of those computer geeks at Memory Express: he told me I should check my home internet speed; Telus and Shaw may throttle your speed down and won't tell you about it; fucking you in the process... in fact, most ISPs will continue to charge you certain older rates for your internet service but will also offer cheaper rates for higher speeds; and/or have your service run at slower speeds and though they are paying for the higher speed and bandwidth as most clients are asshats and are oblivious to it. Most will just pay their bill every month like the fucktards that they are... So I checked it out, like the psychopath that I am....

I went to Speedtest.net and found I was paying for 6Mbps download speed (Telus highest speed back circa 2001) but getting only 3Mbps download speed; AND, the price I was paying to Telus was $5.00 more per month than the 15Mbps service they were offering without a contract.

So, with no questions asked the asshat at customer service at Telus upped me to the 15Mbps service for $10.00 LESS than what I paying per month before. Fuck me running sideways with a 1200 baud modem up my ass but I could've easily just went for the usual 6Mbps for less money but internet usage is huge in my household.

This time, I needed to fix my phone bill... we had an old phone bundle that wasn't offered anymore: included call display, call waiting, voice mail, and 200 minutes of long distance free per month... with high speed internet (15Mbps), the bill per month was $86.87!

We decided call waiting was too fucking annoying; it always beeped on a call and when you answered it usually was a degenerate phone solicitor anyways. The voice mail was always full of these vagrant 2-bit huckster bankers wanting to sell you their insurance. And we rarely used long distance. But, call display was a necessity.., the only feature we really used anyways. You never know when work is gonna call and they always do and want ya to come into work on a long weekend, when you've been pounding back the Pabst Blue Ribbon by the case... call display. Necessity.

One call to Telus to cut off some features and they automatically offered me to keep my existing package and they would give me 15% off per month! Nope... cut it down bitch-- to basic phone and one feature I told the rep... well fuck me running sideways again with that ancient modem, call display is FREE now!! Long distance is only 4cents per minute! Phone package is only $26.00 minus $5 bundle savings; total monthly bill with high speed internet would come to I expect $64.63!

A monthly savings of $22.24! Annual savings of $266.88!! With just one phone call..... Thing is, those goat fuckers at Telus should at least tell you..nope.

Minor Hockey Playoffs 2011 continued...

Disclaimer: this commentary and related videos are entirely biased toward my eldest son's team, The NW348 Whitemud West Bulldogs....it was made for him and for his team mates' enjoyment and for entertainment purposes only. Comments made here is of the opinion of the author and any offense taken to anything written here is purely coincidental and unintentional and does not reflect the opinions or sentiments of Whitemud West Hockey Assn. or the NW348 Bulldogs or any other team mentioned below.

Atom Flyers Division: NW348 WMW Bulldogs vs. NE194 Garrison Warriors

Apologies to the friends, fans, and families of the NW348 Bulldogs as I missed quite the Game 2 on Tuesday, March 15th, as we faced off against our club and divisional rivals, the NW346 Knights.

Piecing together what I've heard from both teams' parents, it was quite the game: going into the 5th OT period one-on-one with EC #4 potting the game winning goal to give our boys the victory and a pass into the quarters! And, from what I hear some of the officiating was questionable again including the tying goal and the winning goal.. heard we could've used some video replay but... whether the goal was controversial or not, the refs made the official call and finally after a full season of receiving the short end of the stick from the refs, we finally got a call going our way... I like to think of it as Karma... for this one earlier this season: against the same team; what should've been the game winning goal which called back by the refs ....

Anyways .. Game 3... quarter finals matchup versus the NE194 Garrison Warriors...winner gets a bye into the 2011 Playoff finals..

Starting the game a bit lethargic, our boys found themselves doing more watching than skating in the first few shifts; Garrison took advantage and a 2-0 lead by the fourth shift of the first period. But from that point on, Parker #1 shut the door in net and the D found their game again giving the Bulldogs a chance to mount their comeback....our boys actually out-chanced the chippy Garrison team throughout the game but could only come within one goal.... 2-1 LOSS for our boys... a good effort regardless Bulldogs!

Goal: Matthew #11; Assist to Jayden #16

Player of the game: Matthew #11
Honourable Mention: Justin #12, Michael #6

Next up: Semi finals.... Terwillegar A.. 6:15PM, Monday, March 21st...


CTV's Grocery Prices Comparison..Calgary

Here is CTV's grocery price comparison for March 2011 for Calgary stores... And yet, again , Calgary like Edmonton prices, has Superstore winning the lot with the lowest prices again. Expect much of the same prices on average for Edmonton; some items may be more expensive here and some in Calgary.... but on average very much the same results... Superstore= cheapest.

CTV grocery price comparison for March - CTV News, Shows and Sports -- Canadian Television

Stay tuned for my own March 2011 comparison for Edmonton grocery stores soon... been busy with the boys' minor hockey playoffs all week..


More Hockey!! WooHoo!! Minor Hockey Playoffs 2011

Minor Hockey Playoffs: Novice Williams Division: Game 1: NW330 WMW Warriors versus SW569 Confederation Sharks

Early 8AM game; clocks move forward one hour ahead for daylight saving; so really like a 7AM game... what a way to start the playoffs for our Warriors... and the time change didn't help as our boys in darks togs fell behind 3-ZIP early in the first period... But our goalie Clark #4 made some outstanding saves to keep it close so our boys could mount a comeback...

Alex #13 started it off slamming one in for his first goal taking a feed from behind the goal line from Evan #14 before the end of the first period. Stuart #1 went coast to coast twice for a couple: once in the second frame and another late in the third to come within one but a fluke goal early in the third solidified the win for the Sharks; our boys ran out of time before they could send it into extra time. Good try boys! 4-3 LOSS.

Goal 1) Alex #13; assist to Evan #14 and Stuart #1
Goal 2) Stuart #1; assist to Josh #2
Goal 3) Stuart #1, unassisted.

So who conjured up the idea of setting our clocks forwards anyways?? At least we can blame all our gaffs and mistakes for the next 3 days on the time change...."late again! darn time change!!" Next year I vote to move clocks forward on a work day... like Monday....around 3-4PM... "oh wow... It's time to go home already?? Yeah!"

Next up: We face the 2011 Minor Hockey Week Williams Division champs, the SW643 SWAT Bullets at Crestwood at 7:30PM this Friday, March 18th...

For the Minor Hockey Week 2011 NW330 Warriors videos..click here.


Let the 2011 Minor Hockey Playoffs Begin!!!

The news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan the last couple of days really puts things in perspective doesn't it? Prayers go out to the people of Japan and anyone here that has relatives or friends there now.... It makes us all realize how lucky we really are to be here on this side of the world. No matter how much you money make, how well you can save for retirement, or how well you can pick stocks, it is all for nothing if we don't have our personal lives....our families...So time out now with all the personal finance rambling I've been doing as of late on this blog... let us enjoy the reason why we work so hard, scrimp and save our pennies, rack our brains out to make it all work... so we can enjoy the finer things in life like hockey time with our boys!

In Canada they say hockey is life... the rest is details... in times like these, I tend to agree...

Let the 2011 Minor Hockey Playoffs begin!!

I haven't written a commentary on a hockey game in a while; not since I volunteered to be my son's hockey team's webmaster last season so please excuse the spelling mistakes and foul language...
Disclaimer: this commentary and related videos are entirely biased toward my eldest son's team, The NW348 Whitemud West Bulldogs....it was made for him and for his team mates' enjoyment and for entertainment purposes only. Comments made here is of the opinion of the author and any offense taken to anything written here is purely coincidental and unintentional and does not reflect the opinions or sentiments of Whitemud West Hockey Assn. or the NW348 Bulldogs or any other team mentioned below.

Game 1: Atom Flyers Division: NW348 WMW Bulldogs vs. SW582 Confederation Kraken....
Whew! What a way to start the playoffs!!! Yeah...when a goalie flashes the leather and snags a wicked one out of mid air.... at this level, isn't that like the greatest save ever!!

Our boys (in white) started the first period a bit sluggish and the aggressive play by the Confed Kraken limited our boys to only 2 shots in the first period. Our goalie Parker #1 was peppered throughout the first period by Confed but he was an absolute wall today and gave the Bulldogs the chance-to-win that they needed; down 2-0 midway through the second period, our boys started their comeback potting 4 unanswered goals to take the lead going into the third!

Some questionable non-calls by the refs along with some gritty work by the Kraken enabled them to tie the game up 4-all with 1:43 left in the game. Starting the first overtime period short-handed, our D held the line with some outstanding blocks from Isaac #15 and Jesse #10; while Parker stood on his head making save after save... finally in the 4th OT period playing 2-on-2, Matthew #11 broke out alone off the face-off and put it home for the hat and for the win!! 5-4 Bulldogs WIN!! Good job boys!!

Highlights Reel:
Goals: 1) Matthew #11; assist from Jesse #10
2) Jody #7, unassisted
3) EC #4; assist from Ryan #5
4)Matthew #11, assists from Justin #12 and Isaac #15
5) Matthew #11, unassisted.

Player of the game: Parker #1- outstanding performance in net and kept the boys in it throughout!; honourable mention to Jesse #10 and Isaac #15 with some fine defensive prowess on the blue-line. Player of the game today deserves his own video:

Next up: our home club and division rivals..the NW346 WMW Knights! Tuesday night..7:30PM Confederation Arena! See you there!

For other Nw348 Bulldogs regular season games please click on the link here.


Grocery Pricebook: Deals of the week...

With gas prices on the rise, I am determined to save more money.... Here are the deals for this weekend... all items and prices were taken from this weekend's weekly flyers... I want to take each store's best deals and see if it is really a good deal or not...

Safeway: Top Sirloin $8.80/kg ($3.99/lb)- compared to Costco's regular pricing at $9.99 per kg, that's a great deal! Stock up on the steaks..BBQ season is around the corner... ; 2 Litre Pepsi- 4 for $5; Pepsi-24 cube $6.99; Striploin "New York" steaks- $15.41/kg (%6.99/lb) cheaper than Costco's $15.99 per kg...

Superstore: It's buy $250 of groceries and get a $25 gift card (10% off); Pork Spare ribs- 4.37/kg; chicken breasts and fresh drumsticks for $15.19/kg and $5.49/kg respectively- it's a better deal at Costco for chicken breasts- $13.49/kg & drumsticks at $4.89/kg! The Real Canadian Wholesale has drumsticks for $4.37/kg and chicken breasts for $14.18/kg.

Sobey's/ IGA: Outside or Inside round roast -$4.39/kg; lean ground beef- $6.59/kg- cheaper at Costco for $5.19/kg; ribeye steaks- $17.61/kg- good deal here; chicken breasts-$13.21/kg- better deal here than at Costco for $13.49/kg; lean ground pork- $5.05/kg ($2.29/lb)- cheaper at Costco for $4.59/kg; whole chickens- $5.49/kg- better price at Costco $4.99/kg; Purex bathroom issue, 24 roll or 12 dbl roll- $4.99- best deal here at $0.21 per roll.

Save-On Foods- Navel oranges, 10lb box- $4.99ea- that's better than Costco's 13lb box, 24count for $10.99 even with the $2.50 off coupon last week; Campbell's tomato soup, 12 x 284mL- $4.99 ea; Russet potatoes- 20lb for $4.99; onions, 10lb- $3.99 best deal for taters and onions here.

Walmart- Delissio frozen pizzas, various- $4.99 ea.- better than $5.99 per pizza at Shopper's last week.

Costco- Huggies pull-ups, various sizes- $29.99 per box; Bounty towels- $4 off; Hampton House dry garlic ribs- $4 off; laminate flooring, 3 colours- $7 off per box...

Shopper's Drug Mart: spend %50 or more and get $10 gift card; Coke or Pepsi, 12 pack- 3 for $9.99; Clover Leaf Flake light tuna cans, 170g- 5 for $5- usually anything a buck or under per can is the best deal for tuna; Scott mega paper rolls, 6 count- $4.99..

NoFrills: Chicken Drumsticks- $4.12/kg; split chicken wings- $7.69/kg; Royale bathroom tissue, 30 count- $4.77 each. What's neat about No Frills is they will match all competitors' lowest prices if you bring in the flyer... but watch out for the crazy people who shop there...

Still..lowest price for gasoline is Costco.. 105.9 per Litre; Domo has similar prices; average Edmonton price is 110.9 /L.


Just What the Fuck Am I Paying For??? An In-Depth Look at our Monthly Utility Bills...

So in the last few weeks, I have attempted to take a closer look at our monthly household expenditures and see where our money was going in hopes of discovering where we can cut back.

A few posts ago, I did a comparison of our monthly costs from 1997 and how much more we are paying now. I did find our monthly bills took a hike on average almost 300% to what we were paying in 1997; in fact, our mortgage payments we had back then are now fully absorbed into our monthly bills now- meaning the cost of our utilities and other monthly necessities excluding food and gas has increased so much since 1997, that we are paying more per month now being mortgage free than we were in 1997 with a 5.25 % mortgage!

Remember when every summer your heating bill was like $10? I never see those kind of bills anymore..do they even go down anymore?.... what happened? Are we using that much in utilities now? In this post, I want to take a closer look at our utility bills per se and see if our consumption is that much higher than it was in 1997. We have 3 children now and my wife stays at home; so it is expected we should be consuming more heat, electricity, and water than we did when it was just the two of us in the same home and both of us had full time day jobs.

But, we have also taken other measures to save on consumption costs over the years: we switched all our incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescent ones (they're supposed to last longer and pay for themselves in energy savings though more expensive to buy); we changed out our top load washer and dryer to front load Energy Star washer and dryer with bigger capacities; we replaced our old aluminum frame windows to triple pane gas-filled PVC frames throughout our home; we added a higher R-value styrofoam insulation and vinyl siding on top of our once wood sided exterior of our home; added central air conditioning and got rid of the dozens of little electric fans; installed a digital programmable thermostat; changed out the dip tube in our hot water tank; changed our toilets to the dual flush, low water consumption variety; we changed out our dishwasher and range to more energy efficient Energy Star rated appliances; our television sets and computer screens are all LCD or plasma which is supposed to be much more energy efficient compared to the old CRT or tube displays.

I again reiterate the reason why I use the year 1997 as my benchmark for my comparison is because, it was in 1997, we bought our home and based our standard of living to affording all those monthly payments as if I was unemployed collecting UI or the wife affording all monthly payments by herself with her retail job. And, since we were able to do that back then, the test is to see if we are able to live that way now in 2011.

First, heating...

As you can see above in Nov.24 to Dec 23 (29 day period), we used 17.98 GJ of natural gas at a cost of 3.09789/GJ. Energy cost totalling $55.70 and total bill with added fees and GST is $83.26. Average temperatures in December 1997 ranged from −12C to +14C; most of the month sat in the +5C area and with the exception of the first week, temperatures were above freezing.

In the same time period of 29days (Nov24-Dec22) in 2010, we used 18.79GJ of natural gas at an average cost of $3.74773/GJ; energy cost totalling $70.26.

As you can see our consumption of heat is only 0.81GJ more (same home and same furnace) and the cost of natural gas is only $0.6498 difference between now and in 1997. A difference in energy costs of only $14.56, but if we had the same energy rates as in 1997 as now, or the same consumption levels, you will see the difference in consumption and actual costs is pretty much nil; it is closely the same now as it was in 1997. BUT... total bill in Dec 2010 is $158.45!!! Almost double the amount we have to pay per month due to fixed fees, administration fees, transmission fees, and service charges!!

In December 2010, it was a much colder month than it was in 1997; temperatures ranged from −20C to −2C and remained below −10C for most of the month!

Since gas consumption levels were pretty much the same in Dec 1997 compared to Dec 2010, but 2010 was on average about 15C to 20C COLDER than it was in 1997, this tells me all of our attempts to save on energy costs such as new windows and insulation must be working! Yay!

How about electricity?

In 1997 for the month of November (Dec 3rd meter reading), we used 622kWh of electricity at a cost of $0.0668 per kilowatt per hour; total energy cost of $41.55; bill totalling $53.36 with GST.

In the same month in 2010 (Dec. 1st meter reading), we used 973kWh at an energy cost of $0.070 per kWh; the total energy cost of $68.11.

As you can see, electricity rates are very close but consumption is up 50% in November 2010. But, comparably if consumption was the same in 2010 as it was in 1997, the cost of actual energy per se would be pretty much the same. But, the total bill including those new transmission fees, administration fees, etc is $119.03 with GST! More than double in 2010 than in 1997 subtracting the higher consumption from the equation!! Additional consumption would only add an extra $24.57 to our bill; the rest of the increases come from the gouging by Enmax with their ridiculous transmission fees and administration and distribution charges!!

Water, drainage and waste management...

In November 1997 (meter reading on Dec 3rd), we used 7.0 cubic metres of water at a cost of 164.57 cents per cubic metre; total energy cost was $11.52. Drainages cost $10.15 based on our consumption. Waste Management or garbage disposal cost a fee of $5.00 in 1997.

In the same month in 2010 (meter reading on Dec 1st), we used 10.0 cubic metres of water at a cost of 158.7 cents per cubic metre; total energy cost of $21.60. Drainage cost $23.85 and waste management cost $29.85. Total bill for November 2010 including all fees was $75.39!!

We can see actual water rates have actually dropped since 1997 but our consumption was up 50% also; 3 more cubic metres of water used in 2010 than 1997 equalling 659.91 gallons more water usage! But if we had the same consumption level now as in 1997, we can see we would only save $10 in water and $10 in drainage totalling only $20 off our current bill; so the increased consumption really doesn't add up to very much considering again there are more people in our household now and the upgrade to a front load washer possibly helps keep our water usage down. But, our 2010 water bill minus the $20 in consumption savings would still be more than double what we paid in 1997...

Hence, in this look at 1997 versus 2010 consumption of utilities, we can see actual usage has went up for water and power by 50% for each; adding 3 children ages 10, 7, and 4 attributed a large part in that increase in consumption; and the fact one adult stays at home more hours of the day than she did in 1997. Adding energy conservation items such as fluorescent lighting and Energy Star appliances may or may not have reduced our water and power usage and it remains to be proven in another study perhaps in the near future just really how much those energy efficient upgrades are saving us each month if they are actually at all. Yes, granted, we probably can do a much better job in our energy conservation by turning off more lights and trying to use less water but, in reality the 50% hike in consumption only adds $20 to our bill for water and $26 for power.

Natural gas rates and consumption, is mostly the same since 1997; there was a spike in natural gas prices circa 2003-2005 where we all saw huge increases in our gas bills in Alberta; but those floating commodity prices has fallen since the recession and currently sit close to 1997 levels now; and for some reason our bills have not dropped relative to falling commodity prices. We also see in our example above that December 2010 was much colder than December of 1997; and our natural gas usage remained constant hence our efforts to save money back when natural gas prices spiked to record highs to $11- $13/GJ by installing new windows and insulation and other energy saving tactics was not in vain.

But, as with all the utilities, it was also shown most of the increases came in the form of new or extra service or administration fees that were non-existent in 1997.

It seems that energy deregulation in Alberta really hasn't affected actual energy user rates by making them cheaper with more competition among providers or more expensive for that matter; but what it has done is let these service providers rake us through the coals by letting them charge whatever they want for fees and charges that have nothing to do with the generation, transmission and distribution of the product.

Perhaps the people in Alberta should look at their bills a little closer and ask the government why our utilities has increased so much in 13 years... As most of us including myself, have been guilty of just getting our monthly bills and obliviously paying them off each and every month without inquiry. The utility companies have blamed rising commodity prices in gas and electricity and today's greater consumption needs with the advent of high speed internet, greater use of electronic goods, etc.; and we ignorantly believe them. While in this analysis, I have found our greater consumption of utilities has increased with the increase in people in the household and more electronic goods in use BUT because of the addition of more energy efficient appliances, the increase in energy usage is actually quite nominal compared to the providers' added surcharges and administration fees. C'mon! A "Municipal Franchise Fee"?? And what the heck is a "Balancing Pool Allocation" fee or these "rider" fees??

That's like if I opened a coffee shop to sell coffee..but you will be charged a service charge for using clean towels to wipe up spilt coffee.. WTF?? And yeah, the Government permits it to happen! It is little wonder why Egypt and Libya are up in arms these days...perhaps we need a revolt or a "Day of Rage" of our own...