I have not had time to feed my blog in the last weeks. We moved west. A lot to write. Too little time. Settling in our new place eats most of my time currently. Nevertheless, there are a few thoughts I feel worth sharing.
It is the first time in my life that I have a mortgage on my head. Me! The one who argues against all kinds of consumption credit. The one who believes that real estate property that does not generate rental income is an expense and not an investment. The one who believes in save first, buy later. We could have afforded a smaller place in a different location without incurring debt, but there are enough good reasons to set my principles aside and get a mortgage:
Wake up in the morning, take the elevator down to the indoor pool and swim for half an hour. I know few better ways to start the day. Giving our son private swimming lessons before putting him to bed for the night: priceless! For everything else there is ING Direct. I may find time later to write in more detail why I warmly recommend an unmortgage from ING Direct. For now suffice it to say that I am thankful to ING Direct. Their modus operandi saves me a lot of the headache that comes with traditional lenders or, worse, with mortgage brokers.
Condominium Apartment vs. Suburban Single Family House
We’re swimming against the current. It seems that the majority of young Canadian families like us still aspire to live in a single family house. Most of our new friends do; and those older than us warn us of the coming peer-pressure from our son’s classmates a couple of years down the road. Peer-pressure? We’ll see how many of his friends can invite their peers for a pool party… in January! Besides, we don’t know where we’ll be a few years down the road. While my parents in Switzerland bought their house for life, here in Canada home-owners are more mobile, selling and moving every five years on average.
A few factors played to the choice of a condominium apartment over the more typical suburban family home. I think we get more bang for our bucks. I am too lazy to mow the grass or shovel snow and I like the reduced dependency on cars. I believe that demographics and economics will play in our favor over the next few years and that this kind of condominium unit has more chances to retain value than a suburban home.
Volunteering and Donations
Global: I was mostly absent from the Hugin developments of the last month. The team is doing well. Four Google Summer of Code projects will start in a few days. One less than the previous years – mentoring resources are stretched. My personal contribution to Hugin this spring will be a migration of the code repository from Subversion to Mercurial. Subversion has served the project well in the past, but the benefits of the newer generation of distributed version control systems are too significant to forgo. The current plan is to implement the migration next weekend after a few dry runs and some community testing. In a few weeks it’s Libre Graphics Meeting again. I’ll have to skip it this year.
Local: With the acquisition of the new condo came household appliances that we did not need. They were good and relatively new; the cooking range was vitro-ceramic. But we prefer ours. We donated all of the extra appliances but the fridge to Habitat for Humanity for a good cause. If you’re in the neighborhood, think of them. The fridge? I indulged and turned it into a mini-bar:
The media library gives our age away: VHS, audio tapes, DVDs, CDs, even a few 45 RPM vinyls (I left most of my vinyls behind at my in-laws). And so many books in the (not depicted) library. All of this could fit into a single, well conceived media player, nowadays! What a waste of physical space and energy to move all of these dead trees. I wish I could easily convert everything to digital files.
There are no blu-rays in our collection. Somehow I got fed-up of these “media-upgrades”. Over time I have thrown away plenty of VHS tapes, keeping only those really dear to me (which I should convert to digital files – I already lost the ability to play them because I don’t have a PAL-VHS player here in Canada).
I think it is time for the media companies to recognize that consumers don’t buy media. We buy the right to play the content that is stored on them. The logical consequence is that consumers should have a right to upgrade the content to a different media. Of course if the quality of the content is different (e.g. better resolution), an upgrade fee can be applicable. I’d ditch most of my CDs in exchange for good quality digital audio files. And I’d ditch most of my DVDs in exchange for good quality video files. And most books for PDFs. Warner Bros is timidly making a small step in the right direction. But it’s blu-ray. I am inclined to skip the format and see what’s next.
Now that the blog is fed I can continue unpacking boxes. And install Ubuntu 10.4 on my nettop: the hard disk did not like the Uhaul ride. I did.
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