August 10, 2006

Setting up financial details

August 10, 2006 - Categories: finance

Von Totanes and I are at the TD Canada Trust
at Bay and Bloor to set up accounts. I’ve decided to finally go for
the secured credit card so that I can establish a credit history,
which will be handy later on.

I’m going for the CAD 1000 limit credit card because I find myself
occasionally needing to book a flight. It’s still not going to be
enough to book a flight home, but that’s okay: we need to start
somewhere. Two options:

  1. Open a checking account and maintain a minimum daily balance of CAD 1500 in order to avoid monthly fees of CAD 3.45.
  2. Secure the deposit with CAD 1000 in a 1-year GIC with 3.75% interest, freeing up CAD 500 to put into, say, my 4% savings account. Open the checking account and pay monthly fees of CAD 3.45, but avoid keeping a minimum balance. EARN: 57.50 SPEND: 41.40 NET: +16.10

Approach 2 earns me CAD 16 extra per year, compared to the opportunity
cost of tying up CAD 1500 in a non-interest-bearing account. For the
purposes of simplifying my life, however, I don’t mind giving that up
for now. If I were here for longer, I might’ve secured it with a
longer-term GIC, maybe even get up to 4%.

To simplify matters, I’ll probably also do most of my banking at TD.
The savings account offers 3% interest with a minimum balance of CAD
5000.

The savings account has a maximum of two transactions per month, so I
can’t do the kind of financial juggling I’m doing with PCFinancial,
but I guess it’ll work out better in the long run. The account’s
actually a better deal than my previous PCFinancial savings account,
but I’m on the 4% savings account at PCFinancial now, so I’ll need to
think about that for a bit.

I think I’ll start off by just using the checking account at TD for a
while, using it to autopay my credit card and transferring more money
into it once in a while. It’s handy because it’s another way I can get
cash; their daily withdrawal limit is higher. I’m going to need to be
more careful managing my accounts and making sure I’m keeping track of
everything.

I’ll close my Scotiabank USD account, at least. I’ll keep the
PCFinancial savings account for the extra 1% (which is still quite an
amount), move most of my current account to TD, and keep a checking
account at PCFinancial for bill payments, checking, and the occasional
debit transaction. I can use the TD account to pay rent every month in
order to make sure the account is active, and I’ll use scheduled
transfers to make sure the money is there each month. I’ll also top it
up right after I charge something, treating it as a charge card.

An alien experience

August 10, 2006 - Categories: communication, speaking

I’ve been in Canada for a year, and from time to time I still feel
very alien. Last night, I mispronounced “adolescence”. In moments of
inattention, I often forget how to pronounce words I already know,
because I just “read” them in my mind. Sometimes I try to use a word
I’ve never even heard someone else say. When this is brought to my
attention, I accept and remember the correction—but it’s difficult
for me to squelch that sudden feeling of insecurity, of feeling
different.

My accent grows thicker the longer I stay here—or is it just that I
notice it more? I pause more, gesture more, stumble over words more
than I remember doing. And yes, from time to time, I say things that
people don’t understand until I repeat myself or spell things out. It
distracts them from what I’m trying to say. (Although it does show
that they’re paying attention! =) )

One way to deal with this is to learn the phonetic alphabet and read
the dictionary. Computer-based dictionaries tend to not have
pronunciation guides. Web-based ones don’t let me flip through them
for random words, although I think I should scale back on that a bit
and focus more on great combinations of words. I sound too bookish
already.

The best thing to do, I suppose, is to listen. I need to listen to
more things. I need to listen to people with wide vocabularies and
well-expressed thoughts. I really should format that iPod or do some
other magic so that I can connect it to my laptop and make the most of
it.

I need to be exposed to the sound of other people’s voices. My media
diet is almost entirely print and web. I don’t watch television, and I
hardly listen to the radio. I should fix that at least with audiobooks
and podcasts.

And maybe I can pay more attention to the experience created by
sound… It takes a certain skill to form sentences that sound good. I
should learn that. It’ll be fun. =) Right, there’s something I need to
work on.

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Sharing the link love

August 10, 2006 - Categories: emacs, planner

People who visit my blog instead of reading
it on an RSS aggregator get a couple of nifty extras, including my
task list and a list of e-mail messages sent. It’s a personal
experiment I’ve been running for a while now with unexpectedly
positive results. People have helped me with things on my task list,
and my sent mail list resulted in reminders from two people who
noticed that they hadn’t received some messages listed as sent—the
messages had gotten stuck in my mail queue.

These things are easy for me to track because I use
Planner, an
insanely customizable personal information manager for the Emacs text
editor. Today I realized that my list of sent e-mail is a good way to
share the link love and direct you to the websites of the people I
talk to, so I added a bit of code to my config.

On my computer, “E-mail to” is hyperlinked to the actual e-mail, and
names are hyperlinked to their contact records. On the Web, “E-mail
to” is not a hyperlink, and names are hyperlinked to people’s blogs or
websites.

It’s a little tweak, but who knows what it’ll lead to? If you end up
discovering an interesting person through this, way cool. And hey, it
gives people whom I write extra Google juice… =)

I might do the same for the tasks, although that requires a teensy bit
more coding. Hmm.

I’m thinking of listing the subject header again. It’ll give people
more of an idea of what other people talk to me about.
Dan Howard was concerned about privacy. I
occasionally delete subjects if I think they’re sensitive. Do you
think I might get away with a mostly opt-out system?

Anyway, check out my actual blog every now and then! =)

Emacs Lisp code:

(defun sacha/planner-gnus-track-sent ()
  "Add this to `message-sent-hook' to keep track of messages sent on your daily page.
Result: Adds it to * E-mail sent."
  ;; Grab the header
  (let ((mail-link
         (concat "gnus://" gnus-newsgroup-name "/"
                 (planner-gnus-get-message-id)))
        (addresses
         (split-string (planner-gnus-get-address "To") ", *"))
        text)
    (setq text
          (concat
           (planner-make-link mail-link "E-mail to")
           " "
           (mapconcat
            (lambda (address)
              (let (rec)
                ;; Look up record
                (setq addr (mail-extract-address-components address))
                (setq rec (apply 'bbdb-search-simple addr))
                (if rec
                    (planner-make-link
                     (concat "bbdb://"
                             (planner-replace-regexp-in-string
                              " " "."
                              (bbdb-record-name
                               rec)))
                     (bbdb-record-name rec))
                  (or (car address) (cadr address)))))
            addresses
            ",")))
          ;;            ": "
          ;;           (message-fetch-field "Subject"))))
    (save-window-excursion
      (save-excursion
        (planner-goto-today)
        (planner-seek-to-first "E-mail sent")
        (insert " 1. " text "\n"))))
  nil)

(add-hook 'message-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (add-hook 'message-sent-hook 'sacha/planner-gnus-track-sent)))

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