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Major help needed

So... we're looking at buying a car. I've never done that, not even close. My sister's information is years out of date, like 10 or so. Things are different today.

Not sure about used, but we're looking at hybrid - not plug-in or electric, since we're not at a house and there's no way we can ever expect apartment buildings to offer this capability.

Does anyone have recent knowledge to offer as advice, including pitfalls to avoid?
- I'd be the one buying since I have better credit and have been insured for 25 years continuously, both as occasional driver on my sister's car and for a while with Vrtucar's group insurance. My partner is looking at learning with Young Drivers, which will also help on insurance rates.
- No idea what insurance companies are best... how do I even compare rates?
- Do banks check past history of putting money in savings as well as income?
- Do I go to the bank first to see how much of a loan I could get, and base the vehicle price search on that?
- Is there any way to have a clue about actual, final price of cars, with all the hidden or dealer fees? (I don't think we'd go for fancy options)
- obviously I'd prefer Ontario or Canadian knowledge, as some brands aren't even offered here... plus I know that I have to check on how hybrids fare in very cold weather (-25C and below), maybe there's information out there

Augh I know so so little and I can't even figure out how to search...
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One year later

I'm still here, if a bit scattershot. I'm okay - I had a lot of help, not least from my sweetie who helps me smile and comforts me. And in return I help them and get them to smile when I can. There are rough spots, but we weather through. The one-year anniversary (see previous post) went better than expected, I'll meet with my siblings this weekend in the middle of having a small con, so some friendly faces and positive vibes.

New apartment, living together. New part of town to live in. New habits, though some old ones die hard and make it a bit tough - need to clean up and finish unpacking so we can have an apartment-warming party. Life keeps changing.

Though I'm not happy that I've let most of my social activities slide, and the friendships. Will try to reconnect some.
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Monique M., May 1938-November 9, 2015

(I expect to update the title before too long)

This was the diceyness mentioned earlier.

My mother has stage four lung cancer (half left lung collapsed with air pockets - sounds counter-intuitive that it would be bad, but it's not air where air should be - spread to the liver below it and metastasised brain tumours) and is not expected to last the weekend. Might not even make it to the weekend. We're now on death watch.

Ugly medical details insideCollapse )

I have possibly the strongest link of all three children to my mother. I grew up with her for 20 years, and she marked me - mostly in positive ways. Even my sweetie, having met my mother but a few times, saw from those visits and from my talking of my mother how she influenced me in being the person that they fell in love with. We had our differences, but rarely quarelled. She helped me in times I needed it and allowed me to make mistakes, but also to take risks and end up having wonderful memories I would not have been able to have otherwise.

I dearly love my mother, and will miss her terribly. I do not know how I will take this when it happens, which is why I am typing this now. This weekend will be rough, and I don't know how I will feel at the end of it, or further down the line.

I thank you in advance for your kind words. I have some emotional support, and a few arms to hug me. Most people go through this and continue their lives - especially when it's not unexpected.

Bonsoir, mamon. Merci pour tout...
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Home safe

Had a fantastic-y week in Seattle, despite developing what was possibly a throat infection, with fever. It slowed me down, but dammit, it wasn't going to completely destroy my plans. The Thursday downtown/Frement plans to go get chocolates before the con, however, were dashed by a horrific accident that paralysed traffic throughout the city all day. Still, keeping plans flexible with my sweetie meant we still got to see some of the city (and we got to chocolopolis on Monday instead). And just about no rain the entire time!

More later, but I do expect that I will never, ever have a connection home through Toronto ever again. Not only is their signage incoherent, confusing and insufficient, but after we went through customs then through the separate "connections" corridor, all that did was spit us out back in the main terminal at the arrivals level down the corridor from the main arrivals. Meaning we had to get back up to Departures, find the (exceedingly few and incredibly high-placed) departures board to find our gate number, and go through security again. We had 1h20 between flights, and we got to our gate just as it was boarding - thank goodness there was a yummy Mill St sandwhich-to-go counter right there or we'd have boarded very cranky and hungry.

Maybe dagibbs and other frequent travellers can let me know, but are there other airports which treat arriving travellers so poorly, which get connecting passengers OUT of the security corridor and make it a gamble to get to your connecting flight on time? That seemed completely mind-boggling.

Even Vancouver was a better experience, even with its podunk-looking US pre-clearance area that seemed tucked away in a corner through a tiny door in what felt like a forgotten corner of the terminal (after we had walked half the terminal to get there, and felt we walked another half to get to our gate). We were tired from walking, and bemused, but not the nearly angry we were at Pearson.
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Still going, a bit of travelling

I'm still around... still happy in my relationship, which has many discussions, some deep ones, some emotional ones, but never any arguments.

In a week I'll be going to Seattle for a convention for the weekend with said sweetie, seeing friends and spending likely too much, and each of my sweetie and I will show each other parts of the city the other may not have seen before.

(Sadly, this will be a week before the NorthWest Chocolate Festival, a world-renowned extravaganza with tons of American chocolate makers (not just from the US) and a few international ones as well, with classes, seminars, and sooo much samples to taste and bars to buy. It would drain my finances - but deliciously so.)

Other things in my life are dicey, but I'm dealing with them as best I can, and with lots of support. I'll let everyone know at some point.

Otherwise, I'm pretty boring right now... oh, got a new job as my old one was about to disappear, same pay, same group, same office even. It's been a challenge, but a nice one. Good thing I didn't go somewhere else, this group would collapse without me...
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Grenade acquired

Boom. Boom boom boom. BOOM.

Way, way too weak. La Tablette de Miss Choco had half the store being new stuff for me...

I wasn't alone for this year's expedition; my sweetie Nej came with me, and spending the day even as a short trip with someone does help to bring out small traits that can be looked at later for personal review. But overall we had a fantastic time, and it was so fun to share all my favourite spots with them. :) The weather was absolutely splendid, and only when trying to find a spot to eat on St-Denis before our bus back did we get hit by the rain - and waiting it out, we noticed we were next to Sushi 999, so hey, why not. If we hadn't spent a fair amount of time eating chocolates (and macarons!) with a break for lunch, we could have eaten more, but their tempura was top-notch, and the salmon and whitefish sashimi were succulent (the latter accoridng to Nej, I don't like the taste). The baggage-checker at the bus station had a hard time believing all of my tote bag was chocolate... yet it was. :)

Considering how warm it has been, I am really, really happy I have my wine fridge right now. Which has one small bottle of red, one bottle of good port, and the rest is filled with chocolate kept at 18 C.

Now if dagibbs had an event soon, I could have a tasting there. :)
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Upcoming grenade and stuff

So this Saturday I'm going to update my Montreal Chocolate map. And I won't be alone, hee. I don't have a huge budget for personal purchases, but, um, new things must be tried to see if they're good enough for What The Fur's chocolate social, yes? yes? Yes.

Also, I've been happily watching Steven Universe. This animated show is cleverly written, with emotions that slip in for real impact sometimes, not dumbed down at all. It's difficult for me to figure out if this is made for children or for adults - I'm not going to check any article on it until I've finished watching all of season one, but it's nice to see character tidbits peppered throughout that develop each personality, or at least give it some roundness. It's still a cartoon about magical (and semi-magical) entities in a (weird) (semi) urban environment, so suspension of disbelief is quite paramount. And the main character's voice acting is likely to grate on many, but I think it hits the mark just on this side of annoying - because earnest children excited about things can be amazing or annoying, depending on the mood. (Also, this is lampshaded in the show itself. among so so many other things.) And goodness knows I can be annoying sometimes when excited about something. Like, say, chocolate. Or saké. :)
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Beer tasting on Friday April 10

So the best date is April 10, 8pm. List of beers here.

Location is highly likely to be my place - there's my impetus to clean up. I will attempt to make my chili on the Wednesday so that it's ready and in full strength for then. And no beer in it this time. Those who want chili can arrive an hour earlier, but I'll confirm this on the day before.

I've been asked what people can bring... I understand the protocol of bringing a gift for the host, but I've always been uncomfortable doing this for others as I never can guess what others like, and so I am fine with my friends' presence and enjoyment of my selection as all they need to bring.
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news, mostly about beer tasting

I'm trying to get a few photo posts going to share things/places I've seen. Kind of the point of me having this forum, after all.

March has been the usual very busy time for me. Things should be more loose in April, including return to more physical activity, if the cold ever lets up.

April should also see the release of the phone I'm currently eyeing; thank you to arndis for the older phone I have that is keeping me going and making me contactable again.

Thank you to those who enjoyed my saké tasting. My next big saké thing is attending Kampai Toronto at the end of May, including figuring out when to travel and where to stay. I can only afford one night at a hotel though, even shared.

Also, while my apartment is not ready yet, I should start making plans for my dark beer tasting.Collapse )