Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mammogram in competition at Breast Fest Film Festival

Long before I was an amateur renovator, I was a filmmaker. One of my short films, Mammogram, has been selected for the competition of ReThink Breast Cancer's Breast Fest Film Festival. Starring Megan Dunlop and Mary Margaret O'Hara, the film tells the story of a young woman dealing with the memories of losing her mother to the disease while going for her annual screening appointment.

There are eight great films that you can watch for free and then vote on your favorite three. Online voting ends on Friday, October 15. The third annual Breast Fest Film Festival will be taking place November 19-21, 2010 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

October is national breast cancer awareness month. Don't think that it can't happen to you. Early detection is the key to saving lives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red hot air conditioning troubles

Homeowners often find themselves in desperate situations, at the mercy of contractors and sales people who don't return your calls for help or who baffle you with fact & fiction, leading you to spend outrageous amounts of money in the name of comfort. 

Toronto is experiencing an early summer heatwave with temperatures around 40C with the humidex. While we rarely use our air conditioner, this is the time that we would. We called it into action for some cool relief but instead were assauted by hot air. It was 34C inside, without humidex. Foolishly I called the company who serviced and fixed our furnace last winter (which had broken a few weeks after the warranty expired): Air Quality One Hour. I'm not sure where the name comes from, because they gave us a 4 hour window for their visit and then spent only a small fraction of an hour at the house, telling us that the compressor was shot and would cost $1,300 to fix, but that since the unit is 14 years old, we may want to replace it instead. Then they presented us with a bill for $130, due on the spot. I completed an online request for a sales appointment with the same company as they said that they'd deduct the $130 from the purchase. But I also called a few other companies for comparison.

A nice salesman came to the house at 7 p.m. the same night, and took over our dining room table for 3 hours, where he drew a model of our house, measured all the windows and doors, calculated the square footage, and told us that both our AC and furnace were the wrong size for our house. Interesting. He pointed out many problems with our current system and quoted us $5,000 for a new AC unit. However, they were having a promotion for half price AC if we also replaced our furnace, and since the two work together, it is more efficient to get them at the same time. After more chat and calculations, full reading of all the terms & conditions, along with the warranty information, he unveiled the final price to be $10,540 but with rebates and deducting the money we had "invested" in repairs in the past year, we would only have to pay $8,950. Wow. What a deal. Also, this deal was contingent on us saying YES to do it the next day. They were offering us this special rate because we'd be able to fill an opening in the installation schedule for the next day. As desperate as I was for some cool air in the house, something felt wrong. I called a few friends and found that they paid around $6,000 for both AC and furnace for a larger house and that was BEFORE the rebate. So.... we emailed the guy to say thanks but no thanks. Time for some more quotes. After all, our current furnace is only 7 years old, less than half the normal life of a furnace. Should we really throw the baby out with the bath water? 

The next day I found two other techs who could come to do quotes, however one asked about some sort of booster thing on the phone and I had no idea what he was talking about. But when I returned from work, he was already there and tried installing this device to see if it would work. We flicked some switches and hoped for the best and then... magic. The AC fired up and cool air was blowing around the house again. This mystery repair man asked if the other tech had charged for their visit and I said yes. He shook his head in disgust and asked how much. He looked at our sad old AC and said: "This unit is in good condition. It should run a few more years at least." I like this guy! He charged us $80 and guaranteed the work for a year. So, just when I was losing faith in all technicians, along comes Dan from Revolution Air. He saved us $9,000!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Don't go to Blinds to Go

Trying to do our part to stimulate the economy, we ordered new blinds from Blinds To Go on January 30 and just received them today! Our order was plagued by errors and people demanding more money from us. While their website says: Blinds delivered in 48 hours, they were not able to deliver our order in under 48 days!

Our initial visit started well. I was impressed with the precision and detail taken with care by the design consultant. We went home and remeasured both windows, and called our consultant to let her know that the measurements were correct and to proceed with the order as specified on the paper that I signed. About a week later, we had a call that the blinds were ready. When we went to pick them up, we were told we owed an additional $44. We realized that somebody had changed our order for the 2nd blind from 21 3/4" to 31 3/4".

WHY would somebody change the order from the paper copy that I signed and paid for? Did somebody in the factory think that they were doing us a favour? Shouldn't have called to ask first?

A new order was placed with the dimensions specified on my original signed order form. And we waited. We called a few times and were told they were on back order. And we waited without complaint. Finally we got the call on Thursday April 8 that they were ready. Over three months after ordering and paying for the blinds -- they were ready.

We went to the store today to pick them up and guess what: they still wanted the $44 from us. It took us 30 minutes to sort this out AGAIN that it was the company who changed the order form AFTER we had signed off on the dimensions. We barely got out of the store with the blinds. Now we have to hang them. OMG. After all this, they had better fit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ad Free, since 2010

When I set up the old money pit blog a few years back, I followed the prompt to put Google Ads on my page: what could it hurt. I found it amusing to see how the ads would change based on what I was writing about. Eaves troughs, paint, plumbing... made me feel like a real handy person. But the more time I spend on the internet, the more I feel assaulted by advertising. I think that we could all do with a break. So starting today, this blog is ad free. So enjoy!

By using this icon on my website I am stating...

1. That I am opposed to the use of corporate advertising on blogs.

2. That I feel the use of corporate advertising on blogs devalues the medium.

3. That I do not accept money in return for advertising space on my blog.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Renovator Down

I did not fall from a ladder. I was not injured in the line of duty. I was trying to enjoy winter with some outddor skating at Nathan Phillips Square when an inexperienced skater hit me from behind, knocking my feet were out from under me, and I fell back, landing on my left arm. Snap! This photo is before they knocked me out to pull it back into alignment.

We were only one week into the new year and my chances for any last minute tax credit renovations were canceled, not to mention my chances of enjoying winter.

There is a chance that the bone will shift and I will need surgery. Weekly x-rays will confirm that it is healing properly.

FYI: For you American readers skeptical of Universal Health Care, this unfortunate accident may be slowing down my renos, but I won't have to sell my house to pay for it. I received top medical care and was out of hospital in only 4 hours at a cost of nothing. One week later I was billed $45 for the ambulance ride w/ 2 paramedics who treated me to an IV and some much needed morphine (well worth the $$, although 45 is a flat rate for all). I had 6 x-rays on the night of the accident & many more on my follow-up visits, at no extra charge -- all included with my Canadian citizenship/residency. When I got my 2nd cast, I paid $30 to upgrade to fibreglass from plaster. So if I pay a little more in taxes, I know that it is well worth it! Don't be fooled by health insurance lobbyists -- universal health care is a better alternative!