circa 2000

Without the Bitter, There is no Sweet.

Without the knowledge that there is more to life

        Than what you know, there is no Hope.

Without the thought that ‘Somebody’s gotta do it’,

                      There is no drive.

If a person lived their life only for the moment,

         Is that bad?

All we have is the moment…

                What lies ahead is only a dream,

           And behind, only a memory.

This moment that we have is what makes the memories,

        And the moments that we live, dictate our Dreams.

With all the bad we endure,

          There is always good.

With all the good that we appreciate,

            There will always be a down.

Life is Fair and Life is not,

        Life is simply what we make of it ourselves.

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Investing Young

               piggybank 

 There’s a lot more to investing than tying up major funds in order to one day purchase a home or be able to live out your retirement scuba diving in Aruba and eating lobster as a daily staple. It may not seem like it, but you make investment decisions every day. Buying a designer bag — investment decision. Leaving your meager savings in a checking account rather than a high yield savings account — investment decision. Spending $200 on Saturday nights at the club — investment decision (an enjoyable one, though by Sunday you wonder what happened last night). Truth be told, everything you do with your money is an investment decision—some just have the potential to bring you much larger returns, monetary and/or intangibles.

 “Why should I invest?” It seems like a valid question. What’s the fun in stashing away your hard-earned money in an RRSP when you could be downing Grey Goose shots dancing to “I’m in Vancouver Bitch!”, strutting in True Religion jeans, or riding down the highway on your motorcycle or convertible with the wind in your face and not a care in the world? We’ve lived like peasants, crammed in little dorm rooms and eating Shin Ramyun for four years while in school in order to land jobs. Once the paychecks start rolling in, it’s our right to spend our hard and well earned money as we please.

Then again, “Why should I wear a helmet on my motorcycle?” and “Why should I wear pants to work?” could all also be considered valid questions.20090625_walmartgreeter_2 The answer to the investment query—as with the other two—is not complicated. Although it may not be fun now, investing even small amounts while you’re young affords you the opportunity to one day own a home, live debt free, and guarantee that you won’t be greeting customers at Wal-Mart well into your seventies (though they do a fine job.)

Not that all investing is about retirement. These days, leaving all your cash in a simple checking or savings account doesn’t make any sense. Online savings and trading accounts will earn you two to five times as much interest. It’s all about making your money work for you—so whether saving up for a laptop, BMW 3-Series, wedding, or early retirement, the same rules apply—start early, take advantage of compound interest, and maximize those returns.

It’s tempting not to worry about retirement at your tender young age. I always applied this same logic to my English papers, and they turned out okay. Unfortunately, with Social Security’s seemingly imminent demise and the disappearance of pension-offering jobs, you should consider it your responsibility to foot your retirement bill. Once retired, you’ll need about 75 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain a similar standard of living. This means that if you are making $150,000, retire at age 60, and live to be 90, you’ll need to have saved over $3,000,000. That probably seems like a lot, but you have the most important element of retirement savings on our side—youth.

The sooner you start investing the better. If you invest $2,000 every year, starting right now at age 23, and earn an annual rate of return of 10 percent, by age 65 your $86,000 in investments will be worth over $1.5 million. If you wait until age 36 to start investing the same annual amount, your $60,000 will have turned into a paltry by comparison $360,000.

“Do I really have money to invest?

 Irony of ironies—just at the time when investing benefits you the most, it’s the most difficult. Although you have graduated from University, you’re not exactly living like a king. Rent, car payments, and the multitude of fun you allow yourself on the weekends is hitting your bank account hard. And unlike student loan, credit card, and utility bill payments, transferring funds to an investment account is optional, and thus the first thing you tend to ignore.

mocha-coco-frappuccinoIt may seem difficult, but the truth is, you do have money to invest. If you’re able to contribute as little as $100 a month to an investment account, you’ll have a sizable portfolio in no time. Coming up with $100 a month is as easy as skipping the daily latte, buying regular gasoline instead of premium, and smoking less cannabis.

Most of you probably don’t like the idea of skimping on life’s luxuries, but just hear me out. That $3.50 Mochachino probably doesn’t seem like a big expenditure, but it adds up. Skipping this daily treat would pocket you an extra $105 every month. Ten years of investing this amount in a brokerage account, earning an annual rate of return of 10 percent, will leave you with $21,000 to spend however you please. That’s one expensive beverage.

The thing to remember here is that we probably all have at least a little cash in various savings accounts, savings bonds from grandma, and retirement accounts at work. Taking the time to maximize the returns from these investment vehicles (or switching to more lucrative options) may involve investing a little time, but surely solidifying your financial future is worth it. If you plan well ahead, your future financial dreams will come true and dining on Atlantic lobster claws anytime you wish could just become a Wednesday night norm.

Nerds are Cool

I was standing in line this morning at Starbucks for my antidote for grumpiness (aka Grande Americano) and there was a guy in front of me with his girlfriend. They were in their own world, quietly conversing with each other, smiling and sweet. When it came time for them to order, he turned to the barista and ordered a tall dark and a tall tea misto. The funny thing was that his voice changed from soft and caring to deep and commanding, confident and professional. His stance changed and even his facial expression hardened as he turned his interaction from his girlfriend to a stranger. Same guy, two hats.
People have many faces, and I don’t say this in neither a negative or positive connotation. One could potentially say that “She’s evil to her brother, but amazing to her husband.” Or “He treats his girlfriend like she’s his bitch but he such a momma’s boy.” Fact is, that all people are many things. You’re a brother, a son, a boss. You’re a granddaughter, a friend, a student. In every situation people act differently to different people. While your core is still the same, your intentions and actions and true heart will never change, but the way you act will. Whether all of your faces are kind, happy and genuine, or evil and spiteful, or a mixture of both, everybody presents different faces to each person. Think about the minor or major differences in the way you interact with your family members and to your best friend. With your significant other or with a police officer who just pulled you over for pulling a U turn on Lougheed Highway. The secrets you tell them, the politeness or lack of, the tone of voice you use. The way you treat each person is both dependent on their relationship to you and the current present situation. Does this mean that there really is no such thing as “just being yourself” because there is no ‘yourself’ as a singular situational context?

Recently I was going through my old photo albums with a friend. I saw the changes that I’d gone through in my short lifetime so far. I’d experienced everything from racism and being constantly picked on as a elementary schooler, to being MVD* on my high school football team. I was all stereotypes, from nerd, to jock, to thug, to student and now a professional. Unpopular to popular and back again. I’d lived each of those lives and felt the difference in the way people treat you in all of those lives. Within each picture in my album, there was a story, a memory whether good or bad. I’d felt the pain of being ridiculed, I’d felt the pride of winning at sports, I’d felt the belonging when being with friends. Looking at the pictures only presented a snapshot of the physical moment and some of those snapshots were pretty funny looking back at how I used to be. (My friends cheeks and stomach ended up hurting because she was laughing so hard at some of the old pictures.) But because I was all stereotypes, I really was none of them. If you look through your old photo albums or jpeg files, I’m sure you’ll find the same. (Unless you were the same person all throughout, then I apologize my friend, you’ve lived a sheltered and unfortunately uneventful life.)

 
If we were to use an anology, I would use travel as one, because the changes in lifestyle and that of destinations are similar in experiences. Say a person grew up in, say, Edmonton. They were born and raised there and had never traveled anywhere further than 2 hours away. They’d shopped for groceries at the Safeway around the block for 20 years, and went to Stan’s Video Store for the latest rentals, until Blockbuster built a store right next door, causing Stan to go bankrupt and eventually losing his home to foreclosure. Then there was a person who was also born in Edmonton, but had snorkeled the Great Barrier Reefs of Sydney. They’d built houses in Africa, walked through the slums and shanty towns of Brazil. They’d made friends with this girl who was from Germany and this guy from Amsterdam and they shared amazing stories while traveling together. They’d camel-backed across the Saharan desert, silhouetted by the setting sun and stood at the base of the Victoria Falls in Zambia and felt the ancient mist wet them through to the soul.** Who would be a more interesting person? Who would you rather have dinner and share a drink with? To hear their stories and to vicariously live through them by the excitement in their eyes as they retell their tales. While it doesn’t take a $2000 plane ticket and plenty of vacation time to be interesting, it does take stories. It also takes experience to make interesting stories, whether your stories are about world travel or about the many lifestyle changes that you’ve gone through in your life.

I think the many faces that you have are dependent on your experiences that you’ve gone through as those many roles. The more changes you’ve gone through, the better you are in many different situations and the more socially adept you are. Being a chameleon when you were younger makes you a deeper adult and a stronger and more independent person as you’ve already gone through the soul-searching and trying to ‘figure out who you are’ stage and now, who you are, is the pick of your choice, the best of the experiences. You may have gone through the nerd stage onto experience the popular stage. Then onto the rebellion stage and perhaps even lived in the Emo world for a year. Who you are at the end is who you’ve chosen to be because you realize that while you’ve gone through many different experiences, this is the one that suits you the best and the lifestyle is one that you are happy to live in. If you’ve only ever experienced one type of lifestyle, how are you to know that this is the best? In life there are many choices, from flavors of ice cream (which I continue to refer back to because I’m a huge ice cream advocate) to the different colors of shirts that you could buy. You are constantly bombarded with choice and generally, once somebody has been presented with multitudes of choice and experienced them all, they return to the one that best pressed their happy button. The most stable person is one who’s gone through instability, who’s experienced the extremities of life and have now found a niche for themselves out of their wide gamut of lifestyles. These are the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

This is not to say that once you’ve found your stability you won’t change anymore or acquire new ‘faces’. While I’ve experienced a lot in my first 3 decades of life, there are many more hats that I will be wearing in the future. What kind of boss will I be? Will I be a caring father or a strict one, or both? Will I be a good husband or a great one? Those are all experiences that still face me and you have many experiences that still face you. Don’t be scared of change and definitely don’t be scared to acquire new experiences. The more you have, the deeper of a person you will be and the more interesting of a life you will live. After all, you only have one, so make it as amazing as you can.


*Most Valuable Defenceman

** My sister has done all of these things and she is one of the most interesting people I know

25 Random Facts

25. I drive a right hand drive import from japan and now when I piss people off, they think it’s my passenger that did it and people glare at them instead of me. I have random people talking to me about being on the wrong side of the car…to which I reply “no i’m on the RIGHT side of the car.”

24. I’m a clean/neat nazi. Everything at home has a place where it should be and it should be there. My dvd’s are all in alphabetical order, organized by genre.

23. When I was 5 and my sister was 3, I saved her from drowning in a kiddie pool. And now, she’s a better swimmer than I am.

22. I like swords. I have a 2 handed longsword in my coffee table. When I was 6 my parents and I went to a ceramics store in chinatown. I played with an intricately carved ivory (yes ivory) sword and broke it. They fixed it, but my dad had to buy it, and it’s been on display at my parents house for the last 20+ years. (He was NOT happy with me for about 4 months)

21. My parents put me in hockey, baseball (T-Ball!), soccer, kung fu and I quit them all after a couple weeks. For some reason, I stuck with piano for 15 years. I am a master pianist. (but I havn’t played since I moved out of my parents house, so I’m a rusty pianist now)

20. I can play any song on rockband/guitar hero first time through in expert. (piano fingers help)

19. I want to be a published author. Everybody has ONE amazing story to tell (some people more, but everybody has at least one) I’m 1/3 done telling my one story so far.

18. I miss my dog Momo

17. I think Kid Carson and Nira Aurora talk about really dumb things sometimes like…who cares about kids date last night and whether or not nira had sex with her husband???? Benjamin rocks though. Amy’s cool too. (and yes, I am a P1 listener lol)

16. I have 2 sisters and 7 brothers from another mother who I can count on 100%: CL (who is this white guy singing Chinese??) SF (he wants to fight me) JW (bandana over the eyes and tank top at high school caf) TL (I’m luvaboy, wanna drink?) CS (futureshop!) CL (shoots a firecracker at me) JH (the token whiteboy) GF (I’m a doctor!!!)

15. I read a lot about everything. I like to learn new things. VALUE! I’m glad my sister is an English teacher because she recommends some awesome books.

14. the majority of my family is in Malaysia and I try to go back every 4 years. I love mee goring and roti canai and chili crab and laksa and bor bor cha cha and…

13. I think I would make a great life coach but sometimes I have trouble taking my own advice.

12. I’m deathly scared of heights. One time I rode “the Revelation” at playland and I shat my pants. My buddy was like “I know the guy who runs it! He’s gonna let us ride for extra long!” and I was thinking “aw fk, get me offfffff…” when I got down my arms were sore cuz I was holding on so tight and my face was white. Never again…I never thought I would die, but at that moment, I seriously thought I would die.

11. if I could, I’d live on the beach and wear only shorts all day long, sit on the sand everynight and drink.

10. I have really bad eating habits. Sometimes I eat once a day, sometimes I eat 5 times after 10pm, I eat whatever’s in my fridge (the bachelor life). I’m a decent cook though, and I love cooking (it’s relaxing) but it sucks to cook for one person.

9. I knew my multiplication table up to 12×12 by the time I was in kindergarten. It took me until grade 3 to learn English though after 3 years of ESL. I was a lonely child.

8. I like to make things happen. I like to organize things, plan things and do things. I’m never really just sitting around doing nothing.

7. Coke (cocacola to clarify!) gives me a killer sugar high. My friends can always tell “you’ve had coke haven’t you?” “Ok time to quarantine Pi.”

6. I grew up in coquitlam and would drive out to Richmond everyday with JW, SF, DY and TC to meet up with everyone at hotshots. Then one day, all the boys came to coquitlam to visit me. ONE DAY out of 8 years. The Paseo had 250,000km on it when I sold it.

5. I have little patience for inconsiderate people. when people are ass’s to other people for no reason.

4. Random strangers come up and chat with me on the streets a lot. In stores, while I’m waiting for someone, outside a change room, crossing the street, in restaurants. There are some interesting people out there (and some not so much…some are just friggin weird)

3. my 2 things that bug me the most are people who are late, and people who sell out last second. I mean…come on!! It’s not like I didn’t tell you what time to meet up 5 days ago.

2. Trevor Linden is my hero cuz he’s a huge giver to our community AND he is captain canuck. But now, I vote kesler for captain. Lu can’t do sh*t from the goal to motivate the team.

1. I wanted to grow up a ninja when I was a kid. I had this shirt with a ninja on it and I wore it for my Grade 4, 5 and 6 class picture. My mom finally caught on and hid it when my gr 6 picture date came. I love ninjas.

Dirty Thirty

There’s never really been anything I won’t try out once and since 2009 started, I’ve been a ‘yes’ man to anything new. It’s been quite the journey so far with marathons, world trips, and I even upgraded my motorcycle to a 750cc. I went for a foot massage this weekend with a friend after a long day. I’ve had back massages, neck massages and the most memorable to date was the Spicy Grandma in China that murdered my neck and made me a parapalegic for 4 hours, but never foot massages before. We walked into the reflexology place and was greeted by two China grandmas. ‘OMG I’m going to die again’ was the first thought that crossed my mind, but then again, we were in Canada, and governed by actual laws so if I was paralyzed, I could sue this time. So I relaxed a bit and we started chatting in Mandarin and Cantonese. My friend couldn’t speak much so she sat quietly, nervously smiling, enjoying her massage.

The conversation somehow veered towards what we did, whether we were in school or working, to which I replied that we were both working. My massage Grandma asked me how old I was and I answered. She suddenly stopped mid press, her gnarly knuckles still embedded in my heel and her jaw literally dropped. It was as if I’d told her I’d set her house on fire and punted her dog into the flames. “Nooooo, you’re not 30. You’re… lying.” She said in slow whispered tones.

Since last week, I’ve gotten quite a few of those. From the guy at the liquor store when I was buying my regular 24 case of MGD’s to the 7-11 guy who I bought a lotto 649 from. Regular disbelief that I was really 30 years old. My friend who was with me at the massage, who is almost 23 (but looks 12 herself) also finds it hard to believe that I’m so *gasp* old. I feel young though, I think young and I act young. I’m definitely no where near the ‘act my age’ of my
cousin, who is only 7 months older than I. He’s married and looks his age.

Funny thing is on the card it says “Think Young” when I was still young. I didn’t get a “Think Old” card this year.

I could pass for 23.5 and am actually probably healthier than most 19 year olds. My very active lifestyle also doesn’t reflect that of a 30 year old, although I’d say it’s about half half. I still laugh at everything like a 10 year old; loud and quick to smile. I like to talk about everything from aliens in outer space to how to properly invest your money in today’s sputtering economy. I like to hang out with the boys and play video games drinking beer and I like to go to live jazz shows sipping on Reisling. I party until 5am, until I can’t remember much of the night before on weekends and I fall asleep reading English literature on weekdays. There’s nothing really wrong with this though. I love the balance I have in my life. I may act like a 20 year old most of the time, but my assets, education and career are that of a 40 year old, so 30 is a good happy medium, the best of both worlds.

There is one ‘issue’, however, that I’ve been told of recently by a great friend of mine.

I’ve heard quite frequently that age is just a number, that you are only as old as you feel, that you’re only as young as you act. I’ve been told that while my lifestyle is fine as a single guy, that I will have trouble finding a partner to keep up with me, or rather, one that I find interesting enough to take along with me on my life journey. I’d thought about this for a while, and it’s kind of true. My partner would have to be one that would be able to act a child with me, accepting of my dorky ways and immaturity. She’d have to be able to accept that while I am 30, I’m still 23.5 at heart and all of the pros and cons that come with it. On the flip side, she’d have to be able to keep up to my ambition, my experience and be able to keep me intrigued through constant conversation of both deep philosophical debates and simple ‘how was your day’s of mature adults. I’m not sure what my friend was eluding to, whether she meant I’ll never find someone like that, or whether she meant that I should change my lifestyle. She didn’t say when I asked her, she only said that I had to find out for myself.

I guess being 30 has it’s own new set of pros and cons. Gone are the insecurities of the teens, in the early 20’s every person struggles to find themselves and their identity in the world and in the late 20’s you get comfortable with who you are and really grow into being a strong individual as opposed to the conformity and social acceptance that we all strived for in our early 20’s. Individuality is sexy, independence is amazing. What’s 30 hold for us?

I’m looking forward to finding out.