Tag Archives: Money

Under a buck

Over the past few days the current oil glut, which looks like it’s going to go on for a while, has seen local gas prices plunge to levels we haven’t seen since our first trip through Ontario back in 2003.  See this screen grab below from the Gasbuddy web site this morning.

Gas Price Victoria Jan 2016

I’m almost tempted to fill ‘er up and head up Island just for the simple, inexpensive joy of doing so.  We’re also planning a serious road trip during April and May down into the good old southern US of A down through Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, then back via Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Idaho before heading for home.

That’s GBP0.48 per litre.  48p. Forty eight pence or GBP2.18 per Imperial Gallon at current exchange rate.  US$0.68 per litre.  Sixty eight cents.  About US$2.57 per US Gallon.  Down in the USA, I’ve seen prices as low as US$1.91, or CAD$2.77 (US Gallon).

Hang on.  Oklahoma City reports US$1.29.  Blood and sand.

From one ‘wassock’ to another

Investors showcase tonight, where people who call themselves ‘financial experts’ will be making a bid to increase our capital. Not that they will, I’ve seen these guys come and go (normally with your cash lining their pockets) over the years, and can’t help but think it’ll be a wasted evening. I’m only going for the freebies. When it comes to signing on the dotted, we Stickers have a limpet like hold on our resources and will no doubt come away from the event slightly bemused and waiting for the cold light of day to help us sort the real from the faecal cow residue.

In the meantime, I made time between coursework, work and cooking to have a look at the fuss over this Trump fellow. He certainly has polarised people hasn’t he? Out of the mouths etcetera.

My goodness, he hasn’t even won a nomination or even a primary, and a bunch of spineless gimps have already got their undergarments all rucked up.  If you believe what’s in most of the left leaning lamestream media, the floppy haired Barbarian is at the gates and we’re all dooomed if he so much as sets an ignorant, stupid foot within ten miles of elected office.  Stefan Molyneux on the other hand, no matter what you think of his sometimes apocryphal style, does one of his excellent dissections of what the lamestream get completely one hundred and eighty degrees from reality.

What the lamestream and their owners are all frightened about are that the Barbarian is complaining about the real barbarians who indulge in such things as, oo lemme see, rape attacks and sexual assaults and celebrating notorious terrorist attacks, which threatens the blatant gerrymandering and vote buying commonplace in the west. The real barbarians are not already inside the gates, but are messing up the living room, hogging the couch and Xbox with their booted feet up on the coffee table demanding more Nachos and playing grab-ass with every comely young female within reach. What’s worse is that these racist, sexist, hostile slimeballs can’t be kicked out because mainstream politicians need their fresh votes. Even worse is that many of the bad guys are second generation. Born and bred. Not simply ‘immigrants’.

As fans of the X-files will attest, the truth is most certainly out there, (but lies are definitely in your head) and as Stefan ably demonstrates, easily found courtesy of the jolly old Interweb. All you have to do is go to the source data, which is far more easily accessed if you’re prepared to do a little digging on your own account.

Like it or not, I’m tempted to believe my a strong suspicion that we’re at a cultural nexus, the kind that brings down civilisations. Such a collapse probably won’t happen in my lifetime (Despite rumours to the contrary – the people in charge have too far to fall), but if we carry on doing the same old thing, ducking the issues, subsidising, importing, pandering to and protecting a hostile culture, perhaps the western way of life and the prosperity it brings will be a fading memory by the end of the century. Some of the more philosophically short sighted out there might be tempted to think that this might be a good thing. I would disagree. Classical civilisation, for all it’s faults produced great art (A lot of which was defaced by zealous early Christians) and great literature (Which also fell victim to zealous early Christians). The arts and sciences fell into disarray for centuries afterwards. Anyone else see the parallel?

Which may be a comfort to our great grandchildren. Or not. Clinton’s the next US President anyway, she’s Wall Street and the lamestreams preferred candidate. Despite his wealth, I think Trump won’t even get a mention, but I wouldn’t be totally displeased if he won. Just to hear the outraged wailing and gnashing of teeth of sore losers.

Sex and the thingle Igor

Thorry for the lakthity in pothting, but itth been hell down here. Igor hath caught a nathty computer virus, Igor is on a thtake out, and young Irog ith indithpothed with a bad cathe of dythlekthia. Dethpite all thethe perthonnel problemth, we at the Bill Thticker inthtitue for Irony and Thatire have notithed the reathonth behind all thethe nathty terrorith attacks and people lothing their headth to the Daeth. The prethident of Turkey hath been buying their oil, the Various Gulf thateth thent them money, and the United Thtateth ith thending them gunth.

Nonetheleth; over the weekend, the ladth fell to talking about that old perrennial, thex. You know, bonking, boinking, beatht with two backth, humping, shagging, fukcing and fornicathion, and how whole magathineth theem so fixthated by what ith, after all, a natural human functhion. Which ith, if one thinkth about it logically, ith rather like having magathineth dedicated to going to the toilet, although at thith point we recalled the experimetth of Great Uncle Igor, who briefly potheththed two penitheth. “Double the pleathure, double the fun.” Ath he wath moved to thay at the time. Great Aunt Igorina, a broad minded woman by all accountth, got thick of him fainting every time he and the were in the mood, tho he went back to jutht the one, tho they lived happily ever after.

Thith being the cathe, and after much discuthion, we thent young Igor out to find out what he could.

He found thith;

Which rather contradicth all thethe claimth of North American and European collegeth camputh ‘Rape’ culture, which ith, according to one of the nativeth ladieth, more of an African phenomenon. Thee her TED talk below.

Thith tendth to confirm Young Igorth experienth of Englith Colleges, where it wath not tho much ‘rape’ ath waking up in acute embarathment with the wrong Igorina after a heavy night on the embalming fluid. Thtorm, teacup. Ath marthter William ith wont to obtherve; “Nothing to see here folks. Move along.” Thame ath the whole ‘Thlutwalk’ protethth being originally bathed on one Ontario Politheman’th public pronounthement. It’th jutht activitth posing with their pet peeveth. Maybe if they had better thexth they’d be happier? Probably not.

The Marthter hath popped in on hith way home and pointed out that both hith thtepdaughterth went to two theparate Univerthities, and while they had thteady and not tho thteady boyfriendth during thothe timeth, neither young lady ever complained of anything untoward.   No young gentlemen of their acquaintanth ended up with their trthticleth for tonthilth either.  Ath would have happened if unwelcome advanceth had occurred.   Youngetht kickboxeth and Eldetht doeth Karate and Krav Maga tho we are told…….

Nothing new under the sun

Life trundles on with no big deals apart from several ongoing sagas over legacies and banks. I won’t bore you with the details. That’s for my lawyers (Lye, Cheetham and Runne). Suffice it to say, someone was trying to dip into my cookie jar and I’ve cried ‘havoc’ and set the dogs of law onto them.

Nice display of Sundogs in the late afternoon a couple of days ago. Nothing unusual for August. Although they do presage a change to cooler, rainy weather which will have everyone crying for the return of unremitting sunshine after three days. Mrs S and I are now both getting back into the swing of work before relatives descend upon us in the latter half of September. ‘Les Girls’ (Wife and sisters) are off to Seattle while I play host to Youngest, which will give me a fine excuse to go see all the movies and go a few places Mrs S doesn’t much care for. The Imax beckons.

The only thing of any note is attending various lectures at UVIC, oh and Neil McCollum over at Forgotten Weapons has uncovered this little gem (See video below). A Gyrojet carbine? Well I never.

As he says. No flying cars or jet packs, but a rocket rifle? What fun.

Seriously, I’m quite a fan of Neils videos because unlike so many firearms blogs he brings a thoughtful and considered approach to studying antique and not so antique firearms, often field stripping them on camera so you can see the innovation that made the gun either ground breaking or prematurely obsolescent.

Greek out?

Just saw this little snippet begin to spread across the Forex world;

Due to the possible exit of Greece from the European Union, we would like to inform you that from 29th June, 2015, instruments may be temporarily set to Close Only mode.

While I’m not exactly sure what ‘Close only’ mode entails, this does not bode well. Such measures are only put in place when there’s a sign saying “Crisis – this way up – do not bend” above the Foreign Exchange markets.

My own currency brokers are closed over the weekend, but I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of fallout over the next 72 hours. Looks like it’s one of those financial ‘Hang tough’ moments. So that’s what I’ll do. Take a step back and let the markets oscillate a bit.

Greek ruins Parthenon and EuroFor most people, shifting money across borders is the province of those so-called ‘rich’ buggers. For me (I’m ‘modestly well off’ not ‘rich’) it’s a case of necessity. I have assets to buy, money to shift, taxes to pay, but if the landfill has hit the wind turbine, while the Greek tragedy plays itself out I shall put my Fedora on and go soak up some sunshine, stick me rod in my hand and go stand on some rocks to see if the fish are biting. We’ll see what doom and gloom, if any, that Monday brings.

Will the powers that be let Greece fail? We shall see who blinks first.

P.S. Watch this Twitter feed
Update: Also this breaking news feed on the Eurozone.
And just to throw more fuel on the fire, we hear the State Governor say that Puerto Rico can’t pay its debts.

While the rest of North America seems to be going to see Gay Pride parades, What’s that creaking noise?

Double standards

I’ve just had a stressful morning trying to pay a bill online, spending valuable vacation time on the phone to my bank in Canada. All safe and sorted now (I hope, but you can never tell with banks) and way more expensive than I wanted. I lost out on charges and exchange rate differentials. When I tried to pay the bill you’d think I was staging a smash and grab on a diamond deposit the way these guys carry on. You tell your local branch you’re going away (“Have an awesome time!” With a big happy smiley face). Use your secure ID to transfer funds between your accounts, all the while on the phone (International call, telling them who and where you are) to Bank tech support. Yay! Easy peasy. Try to transfer via the banks byzantine international money transfer? “Sorree. Security flagged it up as unusual activity and cancelled your transfer.” Which has led to much grinding of teeth and tugging of what little hair I have left. FFS! Whose fucking money is it? My bank are quite content to accept funds from my Brokers, yet ask them to pay exactly the same company so I can do a quick, efficient, less than 24 hour transfer? You got it – no fcuking way. When I get home my banks customer service department will be getting an ear bashing. My money has to work, to move, to breed, and they’re getting in the way.

Large companies use currency brokers all the time. I know because I used to run tech support on the applications side. Transfers of millions went through every day and the banks never blinked. Try that as a private citizen. Even after double confirming your identity and bank details. Go on. Clucking bell. The big guys use third party money transfers all the time, yet can I do so as a private individual? No. I run headlong into the brick wall of ‘money laundering’ restrictions, even when I’ve already jumped through all the hoops of account verification, exemption forms and the like. Then I have to pay the banks extortionate charges and loaded exchange rates, which can lose me up to a hundred bucks a transaction. I can buy a lot of wine with that. Especially here.

To make matters worse, we’ve run out of wine to lower my blood pressure, so I’m off out in a few moments to replenish supplies. At this rate I’ll be making a serious dent in the much-vaunted EU ‘Wine lake’. Well, at 2-5 Euro’s for a half way decent bottle I can do that. A lot. To add insult to injury, I haven’t smoked for over thirty five years, but I’m eyeing the displays of cigarillo’s right now with fond nostalgia.

Maybe I need a better bank.

Yes, I’m evil, so sue me….

Firstly a small declaration of interest; I am a landlord. An owner of property in the UK which is rented out to others. A ‘parasite’ in the words of those whose grasp of economics is considerably lower than that of a heavily sedated slug. A ‘blood sucking vampire’ whose untimely passing shall be rejoiced at by all the lefties doing X-talentless dance challenges on his grave. If they can drag themselves from in front of their taxpayer-subsidised video games to be bothered. Please be advised; dancing on my grave may prove difficult, as my will stipulates that my ashes be scattered outside territorial waters. But chaps, don’t let that stop you trying.

Okay, that’s that out of the way. I’m out of the closet. Yes I’m an evil landlord, so sue me (Good luck with that). Now to the meat of the subject. In the run up to the UK general election there’s a lot of talk about ‘Mansion’ taxes on wicked and predatory ‘buy to let’ landlords. As prophesied many times in this blog and elsewhere across various forums and comment threads of the jolly old Interweb, this is a mark of the mainstream politicians desperation. They’ve spent all your money, and your grandchildren’s money buying votes, now they’re coming for private property. The public cupboard is bare and the pollies* are desperate, and anyone with any assets at all (unless they can afford really good tax accountants) is in their short sighted target area.

The reason behind this post is me getting into a minor comment thread spat in the Tellytubbygraph with one of the ‘Entitled’**. In a mildly robust exchange of views I posed the question; Does anyone remember the late 1970’s and early 80’s before people could buy their council houses so readily?

I do. I have clear and vivid memories of vandalised and derelict council housing throughout the industrially declining UK West Midlands. Whole streets of them. Whole council estates even. A little like a genteel version of modern day Detroit. Post WW2 semi-detached properties (for a North American equivalent – think ‘Duplex’) boarded up like wall eyed ghost towns. Broken side doors where unruly kids, copper thieves and the down and outs had broken in to leave devastation, illiterate graffiti, human faeces, decay and piles of syringes in their passing. In short, places where no one cared now made uninhabitable through lack of maintenance. There are still instances of houses, especially in Liverpool and similar, where whole streets are in this condition. And the equation is simple; Economic stagnation = few or no jobs = fewer people with less money = Lots of unwanted housing.

Throw left-wing, ideologically stifled bureaucracies into the mix and there you have it. ‘Managed decline’. The default position of big government. Empty houses in economically stagnant districts with no-one who can afford to live in or maintain the existing properties. Which might as well be bulldozed and the whole site left to turn into unproductive scrubland and swamp, thence woodland, followed in a century or two by the Greens favourite; ‘Ancient Forest’ full of Bambi and friends, but very few humans. Hooray! Or rather not. As a side note; putative Bambi’s should take note that ‘Ancient Forests’ are not full of pixies, elves, gnomes and pretty ickle flutterbies like in those cute animated Hollywood movies but rather home to Mr B B Wolf and friends, whose name for Bambi translates loosely as ‘Lunch’.

So what’s the answer? Government subsidies and plane loads of immigrants to provide a future tax base and spend their money on improving the housing stock? Which won’t do much good if said migrants don’t have the skills or motivation to build a better or economically active society. Or whose imported culture means they spend their disposable income on new religious buildings. Ending up dependent upon handouts from an ever more cash strapped country where the cupboard has been bare for quite some time. Because no-one is actually innovating, trading or making things. So more migrants will be needed. Who will bring their own baggage. And not much money. So the slow spiral of decline will continue. Until some far sighted politician (Unlikely to be elected, never happen) decides to take the wheels off said cycle, or the whole lot burns to the ground. BTW: The riot and burning strategy was tried in UK city centre riots of the early 1980’s (Which didn’t work – see the economic ‘broken window’ fallacy).

In these blighted areas, where councils can’t or won’t maintain and rent out the properties in question, the buy to let landlord becomes a tool of regeneration. They will put money into vital property maintenance and indulge in the necessary day to day negotiations and arguments with tenants. Where there is a market. It’s how we Evil Landlords make a living off our investment. If there are people with jobs and money, they need places to live. That is what we provide. A ready base of operations, especially for a highly mobile workforce.

To call someone who actually spends money on a building to make it fit for habitation a ‘parasite’ is rather ungracious to say the least. The tenants did not wish to invest time, effort, and twenty (possibly thirty!) years or so in their own bricks and mortar, but are happy for others to risk doing so, no problem. For property investment is a risk, one of the largest anyone will ever make. A hint about renting; treat it as a business arrangement, and all will be well. Mess things up then bleat like an entitled sheep about how ‘unfair’ it is that you have to actually pay for the roof over your head, then the Gods of decay and desolation will never be far from both your and your landlords door. I’ve heard it said that houses are not built as slums, they are made slums by the very people who live in and own them.

At this point I would like to introduce my reader to some useful Evil Landlord rules.

Rule 1: Never rent to male students, people on benefits or those with extensive skin art.
Rule 2: Insist on direct debit for rent. Avoid anyone who wants to pay by cheque or cash.
Rule 3: Never get involved in anything longer than a 6 month ‘Shorthold Assured‘ tenancy.
Rule 4: Keep in touch with your tenant on a monthly basis and make any non tenant incurred repairs promptly. Agree regular maintenance schedules in the tenancy agreement and stick to them.
Rule 5: Avoid entanglement with Social Services or any Local Authority body as much as possible.
Rule 6: Trust nobody and use lawyers.

Of all the above, please note that Rule 6 is the most important. Keep it brisk and businesslike. Anything else invites disaster.

*Pollies; Lamestream politician. So called because of their characteristic repetitive parrot like squawking.
** Entitled; someone who thinks they should be given a free ride off the backs of others, in short, a parasite.

Now, gods…….

Shakespeare had it; why bastard, wherefore base? Indeed. History is liberally seasoned with those of us of (Cough) uncertain (cough, cough) parentage who have made good against the odds. Some would even say that condition can act as a spur for success. As far as I’ve been concerned it’s always been used as a sideways ‘shut up or we’ll tell everyone, slaphead’ or ‘Bill, don’t embarass your poor old Mum’.

As an aside to that topic, today I have found myself dancing a careful conversational Gavotte with UK lawyers and tax advisers. Dipping my toes in turgid legal waters to map out a fiscal path from A to Z. Not that this is a Machiavellian ploy on my part to asset strip another family member, more a sidestep to avoid being asset stripped. Both by family and ultimately, HMRC. The closest metaphor I can come up with is it’s like tapdancing through a minefield wearing outsize divers boots. Every leaden step becomes future threatening. Every decision must be taken only after consulting at least three sources.

When I’ve told friends and acquaintances of my difficulties, it’s interesting how quickly the old chestnut ‘blood is thicker than water’ is trotted out. In other words “Oo, you can’t call him out as a lying, cheating whoreson ‘cos you share some familial DNA.” Sorry chums but that’s just emotional blackmail, in effect saying that you can’t claim your rightful and legal due because you might hurt someone’s feelings and they’ll never talk to you again? Hmm. Now there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. What do I choose? Modest wealth and security for myself and my little clan of wife and stepkids who I have come to love as dearly as life itself? Or do I let my originating family, with whom I have little real emotional attachment actively prevent me from managing my own assets and leave me with a massive UK tax bill? No contest really. Hell, I’ve even emigrated.

‘Coming out’ to being a public bastard rapidly opens your eyes to the faults of others, especially when you suspect they think you’re some kind of total eejit, simply through the lottery of birth. Particularly when you think they’re going to screw you over. It’s also amazing how complex apparently simple matters can become. Especially when there’s a glint of gold in the air. So here I am. Do I, in thinking that there are financial and legal shenanigans afoot, cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of law? Or do I continue to solicit, beg, cajole, play nice and gently persuade the offending party, who has so far ignored requests to deal with matters to my satisfaction?

There’s the rub. Now if the letters speed, and my intention thrive………..We shall see.