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I'm starting to come to the opinion that it's time to walk away from Scrabble. Or at the very least take a VERY long sabbatical.

Over the last month or so, just before the qualifying tournament for the CNSC, I started experiencing Scrabble burnout again.

Scrabble just isn't any fun anymore. I said to some people at the Mississauga Scrabble Club many months ago (well before Christmas 2010) that I didn't have fun playing Scrabble unless I won. And given that I win only about 40-50% of the games I play, I just don't have fun. Poor sport? Maybe, but I figure I deserve to win more than 40%-50% of my games. And I'm really being serious. If I don't win, I don't have any fun.

I easily spend two to three (if not four or five) hours a day studying flashcards. I don't even enjoy doing it anymore. My commute to work. My lunch hour. My commute home. And another hour or two every evening.

My diet is lousy. Junk and fast food. My sleep schedule is off. My back and neck aches. My condo is a mess. Scrabble is all I do.

Ever since I moved to Mississauga (May 23) and started taking the GO train to work and back, there are times that I look at my flash cards and think, "I don’t even want to do this anymore."

It's no fun anymore.

And then there’s this...

In the last couple months, as a small handful of people know, there has been some nastiness on the part of a southern Ontario Scrabble player toward me. This person is well-known and well-liked by many people but this person has been consistently rude, demeaning, and belittling to me. I don't know why this person has such a superiority complex when it comes to me, but that's the way it is. And since there are no rules being broken, there's nothing I can do about it. And this has been going on for at least three or four years with this person. And I've had it.

But it's just got to the point where it's absolutely toxic for me to be in the same room as this person. And given that this person plays in most southern Ontario Scrabble tournaments, I either have to suck it up, or not go to a tournament that this person attends. I've recently opted for the latter.

Scrabble has stopped being fun. I just don't even care anymore. The Scrabble burnout that I had a few years ago is back. I keep thinking to myself, "How can someone know all the fours, all the fives, bingos out the wazoo, and still barely cling to a 1300 rating?" I've said to a few of you (Sorry, Andy, I know you don’t like me saying this) "I'm just too stupid to play Scrabble." And I don’t even care.

Why bother?

And then, to top it all off, this past Saturday I was at a Farmer's Market, and had brought some flashcards (about 1,000 of them -- that's about how many I study every day) with me to study. And somewhere in my journey, I lost about 60 or 70 flashcards (three sets – cardboxes 2, 3, and 4, each with a rubber band around them). And I would have absolutely no way of tracking what those cards were. They could have been four-, five-, seven-, or eight-letter words. A mix of all of those. No clue.

Great... just what I needed.

So there's where I sit. I'm just ready to walk away. I don’t enjoy Scrabble anymore. I don’t enjoy going to club. I’m just plain burnt out. And I don't even care.

I'm ready to pack it in. Take THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND flashcards and just throw them away. I don't even care.

Thoughts? And uh... please be respectful, folks.
19th-Feb-2011 10:13 pm - Gonna buy me a condo...
Well, it's official. I'm a home-owner.

I signed all the paperwork last night. The only remaining hurdle (which really isn't one) is the paperwork from the condo corporation, to make sure they are in good standing.

I bought a one-bedroom plus den plus solarium. The "den" is 10' x 10' so plenty big enough for a second bedroom. The solarium is a decent size too.

I was hoping for two bathrooms (a two-piece and a four-piece) but I only got one bathroom. The kitchen is HUGE. Fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. The laundry room has some shelves for storage, and the closet in the bedroom has shelves and other stuff. Lots of storage.

Storage locker in the basement, huge fitness room/gym. Sauna (but no pool).

And... location, location, location. I'm a TWO-MINUTE WALK from the Cooksville GO train (the commuter suburban train in Toronto) station.

I'll be practically neighbours with wrongradical.

I take posession the weekend of May 7-8.

So begins a new adventure!
6th-Feb-2011 06:59 pm - Condo shopping...
So... in the past week, I've seen 12 condos. Two of them are townhouses and the rest are in highrises.

I've only seen TWO that I liked... and today I saw one I want to put an offer on. I'm doing it tomorrow (Monday) morning. It's about an 8-min walk to Cooksville GO station in Mississauga, just off Hurontario, south of Burhamthorpe. Walking distance to Square One mall... and about a 15-min drive to the Mississauga Scrabble Club.

Two bedrooms, two full baths, huge living room, separate dining room (not just "open concept" with the living room, solarium, full kitchen, separate laundry room... Indoor pool and fitness centre. Really nice place. Maintenance fees include all utilities (including cable -- mind you I don't have a TV).

Here's hoping. I really like it.
1st-Jan-2011 09:35 pm - Happy New Year
A new year. A new decade.

My New Year's resolution is to keep track of EVERY PENNY I spend. Right down to -- if I buy a can of pop and and a bag of chips, I'll ask for my receipt and keep track.

I got a major promotion at work in November so I plan to save as much as I can in the next few months. I'm planning to buy a condo in 2011 and I'll need to save up to make the downpayment.That'll be my big adventure of 2011!
11th-Nov-2010 09:52 am - Scrabble Flash
I won a copy of the new "Scrabble Flash" game at a tournament recently.

Five electronic cubes. You have to make 3, 4, and 5-letter words from them.

It's fun enough but I've noted a few discrepancies.

1. It must use the OSPD and not the OWL because "poo" words like POM and ABO are not acceptable.

2. I'm guessing it uses the OSPD3 and not the updated OSPD4 because words like ONO, RAI, and AGS are not acceptable either... which is a bit frustrating.

I typically play "Game 1" where you have to find all the short words in the five letters they give you. I usually get at least 90% of all the words. Sometimes I get them all. I wish it would tell you which ones you missed.

Still it's good practise.
4th-Oct-2010 07:56 pm - Bye bye Bell!
OK, now I am sure it's official.

I got no bill nor any correspondence from Bell in September.

I believe I am finally rid of them!
So I got a bill in the mail from Bell today.... for $0.00.

So here's hoping this is the last I hear from them.

I laugh because every week or so I get a postcard or a letter in the mail saying "We want you back" and offering some sort of deal to woo me back. Even got a phone call from Bell one evening (from someone in India, no doubt).

I didn't let them get too far in their speech before I interrupted her: "Look, I left Bell. I am never coming back to Bell. You could offer me totally free long distance and internet for ten years and I still wouldn't come back to Bell. Thank you. Good bye." And hung up.

I'm also going to start putting "Return to Sender" on all mail correspondence I get from them. I just want nothing to do with Bell ever again.
20th-Jul-2010 10:18 am - The Saga with Bell still not over...
So I got another bell from Bell Canada today. A bill for $100.00 (less a $14.00 credit) as a cancellation fee.

However, I signed up with Bell Internet in January of 2008. I had a two-year contract. That ended in January 2010. Therefore, I should not have been charged this $100.00 fee.

The first thing I did when I called Bell was to press “2” for “French” service. At least then I would get a Quebecois person and not someone in India or wherever. I still don’t think I got someone in Canada though!

Anyway, we went through every bill all the way back to 2008 and what Bell did to my internet service.

She tried to give me a song and dance that my service changed in November 2009. I looked at my bill and we went through it. I tried hard not to become irate. I disagreed with everything she told me. I started internet with Bell (sympatico) in January 2008. I had not authorized any changes in two years.

In the end, she agreed that I had fulfilled my two-year contract and that I should not have been charged this $100.00 cancellation fee.

I got the customer service representative’s name and employee number, a confirmation number, and she sent me an e-mail with a bill balance of zero.

I still don’t believe for one moment though that this is over. They’ll try to screw me again, I’m sure.

So, it’s still not over. I got a bill in the mail from Bell yesterday – charging me for internet service from May 20 to May 30.

My internet service was terminated on May 6. My previous bill I had received a credit from May 6 to May 20 (the 20th was my normal cycle billing date each month with Bell).

As previously reported, I cancelled my internet service with Bell on April 30. I was told that I had to give Bell 30 business days. That was fine. But then when I switched my home phone to Primus on May 6, Bell cut my internet off too. So I got a credit for that time, May 6 to May 20… and now I get a bill for the time period for May 20 to May 30.

Fortunately, I had a copy of a bill sent to me by internet complete with a tracking number and a employee identification number that PROVED I got this credit.

I spoke to “Fred” (at least that’s what he said his name was, but with a heavy Indian accent) this morning. It took almost 30 minutes on the phone with him, but he confirmed that this bill was in error and that the full amount would be reversed. He gave me his employee (agent) number, and a confirmation number, and sent me a confirmation e-mail stating the same.

Do I dare believe that I’ve now heard the last from Bell? I don’t. I’m sure they’ll still find other ways to screw up again. I just want to be rid of them.
15th-Jun-2010 07:43 pm - SECTILE day (Part Three)
In my study system, once you get to “A” then “B” then “C” and so on, each time the flashcard moves forward it moves by half as many days forward. For example, at “D” level, I would next see a flashcard 193 days later. Half of 193 is 97 (rounded up). 193 + 97 = 290. So, at “E” level, I would next see a flashcard 290 (actually I made it 291) days later.

But now the rules are changing. (Andy, don’t sit there and tell me I’m not allowed to do that; it’s my study system, damn it, and I’ll do what I like).

At “F” level, I would next see a card 437 days later. Moving CEEILST to “G” would mean not seeing that card for another 645 days, or almost two years.

I decided some time ago that I would just keep it at 437 days.

That means that if I were to put a “G” at the bottom of CEEILST, I would be seeing “F” cards at the same time.

And I’m perfectly fine with that. So… SECTILE will NOT have a “G” at the bottom. It’ll still have an “F” and always will. That means I’ll always have 16 card boxes (0-9 and A-F).

That means come August 2011, SECTILE won’t be alone as the only “F” card I see. But it’ll still be the FIRST “F” card I see, quite likely. It’ll still be SECTILE day.

See you all in August 2011.
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