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Medical questionnaires vary in their level of clarity

Some medical questionnaires have questions and definitions that can present ambiguities

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Thinking of robbing the bank? Forget it. Canadian banks really are safe!

Our banks are indeed safe – not only will they not let other people have your money; they don’t really want you to have it either. I just paid a visit to a bank which I will not name, but which has the same initials as the Father of Medicare in Canada.

The charming Nadia greeted me warmly,” What can I do for you today, sir?”“I would like to make a withdrawal.”“Not a problem. How much would you like?” “$7000”

Suddenly we had a problem.“Wow, that’s a big sum – going on a holiday?”

Thinking it really wasn’t HER concern about what I was going to do with MY money, I replied, “Well, recreational drugs aren’t cheap these days.”

“Well, sir, I can prepare a bank draft for that amount and it will only cost you $7.50.”

“What, you want to charge me $7.50 to give me back my own money?”

“I could give you the money in cash but it’s rather dangerous to be carrying that amount of cash around.”

“I don’t think it is all that dangerous. Only you and I know about this and I know where you work. Besides my dealer will only deal in cash.”

“Fine, I will order you the cash and it will be here in two business days.”

“What do you mean, order it? This is a bank – you are supposed to have a vault with bundles of cash in it, including mine. You read in the newspapers all the time about robbers getting away with lots of cash – far more than $7000.”

Nadia’s initial warmth was rapidly dissipating.

“We have a limited amount of cash here for security reasons and, besides, if we gave you $7000, we might not have enough to give out to other customers.”

That sounded somewhat reasonable so I offered to come back just before closing to see if they had enough cash left over for me.

“No, sir, two business days.”

This looked like the only route open to me so I graciously acquiesced. Today being Thursday, the cash should be available on Saturday.

“No, sir, the cash will be available on Tuesday.”

“But the sign on the door says you are open seven days a week for business. What kind of business do you do on the weekend – just take in money?”

Nadia and warmth could no longer be related.

“What denominations would you like your money in, sir?”

“Oh, let’s keep it simple. Seven thousand-dollar bills will be fine.”

“Sir, you can have it in 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s or 100s.”

“Let’s make it 100s – should I bring my own brown paper bag?”

If you hear about a white-haired gentleman carrying a brown paper bag getting mugged on Tuesday, please direct the authorities’ attention to the aforementioned Nadia.

Will the baby boomers change the concept of snowbirds?

Baby boomers may change the meaning of snowbirds

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Keeping magpies at bay

Understanding the enemy is the key to his downfall!

The magpies were driving me crazy. Pets on either side; tall pine trees for roosting. It seemed like I was the chosen one.

Some said try a fake owl, but they might get used to it and ignore it - probably because they are intelligent birds.

Owl

Others said hang reflecting objects in trees. That disturbs them and they won't land. Then I thought - why not combine both!

Canadian Tire had a really mean looking owl for about twenty bucks. A CD hung on 4lb leader line and...BINGO!

Their intelligence works against them. When they can't figure it out they clear off. That's my theory anyway.

It's been two years now and they really steer clear. Try this and you'll only hear the song birds when you wake in the morning.

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Helping your budget

Excessive wear in cotton slacks means buying more pairs!

Is anyone else dismayed at how quickly the trouser hems on 100% cotton slacks wear out?

These cotton trousers come in several colors and light cream or beige are a summer favorite for golfing and other casual pastimes.

They soon begin to fray into unsightly loose strands, particularly at the back where the hem rubs constantly against the back of the shoe.

The cloth is generally good quality but the garment becomes un-usable because of this rapid fraying.

Unfortunately, there's not an effective way (that I know of) to repair the damage. They can be cut into shorts or Capri pants but then you'll just need more slacks.

Several years ago I noticed some that were 60% cotton and 40% polyester mix.

I was intrigued because I suspected that the polyester would provide enough reinforcement to reduce or eliminate this annoying wear pattern.

I bought two pairs and my reasoning proved to be sound. After five years they show absolutely no wear at the trouser leg bottoms. I recently retired them because they had begun to lose their crisp looking shape and had shrunk slightly over time.

Nowadays I only buy the 60-40 cotton - poly mix slacks. They are becoming more available now than they were five years ago. They are not the stretchy type of material and they are as clean cut and crisp looking as 100% cotton slacks. They do not shrink as much as cotton and boy! - do they last!

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TFSA Contributions

Nifty deals these Tax Free savings Accounts. Anything that allows you to shelter the growth of your money from taxation has got to be a winner.

But you have to play by the Government's rules. You can contribute up to $5000 and you can withdraw as much as you like again but you have to wait until the next calendar year to replace that withdrawal.

Say you contributed $5000 in January of 2011. In May 2011, you withdrew $4000 to go on a cruise. In September of 2011, you got a bonus and returned the $4000 to your TFSA. Your balance is once again at $5000 so all should be OK. Problem is, the CRA's flag goes up and says you've over-contributed by $4000 in 2011.

To make things worse, you'll now be subject to a 1% of $4000 penalty per month until either the excess contributions are withdrawn again or additional contribution room becomes available in the next calendar year. But there's good news - if you've forgotten about the rules, when 2012 rolls around the penalty on the $4000 stops.

So watch out for those over-contributions and don't get penalized.

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