Oh Say Can You See, the failing of your Country

Brace yourselves US of A. In the next 60 to 120 days…

Commercial mortgages are all coming due because of the 5 year amortization that businesses have (compared to the 25 years of residential) and their property value’s gone down. If you didn’t know, this is what happened to me and my Surrey condo. I bought the place as a presale investment and when October 2008 hit, my value dropped forcing me to make up the difference in value with cash or lose my downpayment and get sued because I didn’t close on my contract with the developer (or claim bankruptcy, which unfortunately is the only option a lot of homeowners in the states have been forced into. Foreclosures due to not being able to refinance their homes). A building that was worth 1million is now worth $750,000 so the companies have to cover the missing $250,000 in cash and if they can’t, they won’t get remortgaged and will either have to relocate or drop value from stocks to make up for the missing cash. 1 million is an example when corporate leases range anywhere between 10 million and 250 million. You can see where the issue comes in with numbers that high and value so low. Companies will either go bankrupt or get bought out; making more investors lose $$ and employees lose jobs.

the-great-depression60-120 days. Remember when President Obama made the US treasury ‘give’ the banks money so they could reloan out to small/medium sized businesses a few months back? But they held onto the money to save their own asses and balance their books instead of loaning it out. Now the contract is coming due and they HAVE to loan out the money now so smaller banks themselves are going to go bankrupt.

It a conspiracy! Guess who owns the US treasury? Not the government. While they say it’s a federal bank, it’s not. It’s privately owned. Eventually JP Morgan Chase is going to own every bank in the states and own all the titles to the commercial mortgages making them the one force that drives all the banking interest rates, dictating mortgage laws and controlling the United States market through their privately owned bank. *Flush* goes the USA as a powerhouse democratic country. Go Canada.


“ZEITGEIST: THE MOVIE” If you haven’t seen this yet, you have to watch it.

You’re Passionate

caveman_1Why do we bother to do anything sometimes? The human peoples, hell, every living thing on the planet is programmed to do as much as they can to survive. Our ancestors (the cavemen, the mountain people, the jungle monkeys and yes, even the hobbits) trekked across dry, sandy desserts battling dehydration. They pushed their way through the thick undergrowth of rainforests, chancing death if bitten by a poisonous snake or giant purple-spotted spider. Risking survival, they hunted for food. It was a catch 22 though, to risk your life for something that sustains it.

But why do we bother now?

Realistically, all we need is a minimum wage paying job that gets us nourished enough to survive and we don’t have to stomp spiders or play in the sandbox to do so. There is no danger to our lives and we don’t have to hunt for our food.

Though, somewhere between then and now came passion. Somebody along the way decided that simply waking up, hunting, eating, and sleeping wasn’t enough and wanted to actually like what they were doing, and enjoy who they were around. I think as great as that sounds, it actually kind of complicates things a bit when you throw emotions into logic.


When I was in university, I had a filmmaking class where we made a documentary. Mine was about female DJ’s and I’d sat up at SFU one night editing my film. It had to be just right, with all the pieces in place in the right order. Feeling a little tired, I looked at the time and it was about 5:30 in the morning. I’d been in the little room for over 8 hours editing but I didn’t feel it because I was so entrenched in the work. I remember thinking ‘I want to find a job like this when I graduate, where I can work non-stop and still want to keep working because I love it so much’. That one thought has haunted me my whole professional tenure and I think unless I start something myself, I’m never going to find a job that I care enough about that there’s not enough hours in the day to spend on it. There’s a lot to be said when you can be doing something and be completely lost in it and time doesn’t exist.

I always think business and relationships play the same card. You can always replace one with the other in theory. Who you spend your time with and how that time passes and what you put in and get out of it share the same game in both. If your boss hovers over you sipping his coffee mug saying “I need you to come in on Saturday mmmkay?” instead of recognizing that you knocked your quota off charts or your bf/gf is so self-absorbed that they only talk about themselves all day and doesn’t support anything you do, you’re underappreciated in both and how can you have passion when you’re not appreciated? On the flip side, how many of you have sat in restaurants with your bf/gf’s and they’ve cleared your dinner plates, cleared your dessert plates, the folder with your bill inside it is sitting on the table and they’ve just said last call to make you realize that you’d sat there for 3 hours talking to each other about everything without a pause in the conversation. You could go on for another 3 hours because it’d only felt like 30 minutes but the restaurant is closing now so you have to go. I’ve experienced both; being up at school for 8 hours and at the table for 3 and in the end, the feeling of contented passion were both there. 

CornerOffice1BigWhere the complication comes in is that now you always want the best out there. The managerial role that comes with the corner office and the high salary. The perfect girl who laughs at all your awesome jokes and takes care of you when you’re sick. ‘Settling’ is a thing of the past and if you settle, you lack passion, straight and simple. The danger in that is that you might always be chasing a dream, never happy in the present because you’re always wanting more, the best, and right now isn’t the best so you’re not content. That’s the risk that we face. While our ancestors risked their existing lives because they needed to survive, we risk our existing happiness for the need of passion. I think the risk is worth facing. Somebody has to do it, why not you? Why not me? That corner office needs somebody to sit in it, so why not you? The business needs to be started, who’s going to do it? That cute girl who has 5 other guys chasing her, she’s not going to be alone for the rest of her life. Why not you? Sure you risk being shot down, but if you’re passionate enough about it, the risk is worth taking and if you’re the perfect person for the role, you’ll get it.

Investing Young


 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

The Higher the Water, The Higher the Boat

I saw a report this weekend that said “50% of N. Americans say they’re dissatisfied with their jobs.” I hear this alot from my friends too (and unfortunately, there are more days than not that I’m a part of the 50%.)

Being unhappy at work has nothing to do with the work available or what you’re doing. It has everything to do with your fear and inability to decide to go after what you want because at the end of the day (literally) your happiness has everything to do with how you’d spent that day. “Economic uncertainty is the perfect opportunity to seize control of your career, why? Because you have little to lose. You know everything you need to know now, but what you don’t have is the ability to make a decision in the face of uncertainty.” stated the report. It’s fear, it’s scary to dive into something unknown or different. But to change is to progress, especially if your unhappy right now. It’s a big challenge.

To have progress, you have to suck first. The single best lesson is that you have to learn that there is no right choice, no right decision, no right path in the beginning. All decisions have opportunities, and all opportunities have a chance of success. Pick the one that seems the most interesting and run with it, make the best of it. Once it opens up and you learn more, you’ll be able to decide if it is the right choice, but without change or action, it’s a 100% failure rate.
Starting over is risky no? Off of your comfort zone, off the familiar path into uncharted territory. Lets look at the risks in your life. Your risk is that you will have to lose what you have, is it all that much? Imagine you shifted your focus on ‘the opportunity that existed’ as opposed to ‘losing what you have’ if you changed your life. Is it possible that the true risk is continuing your life as is? Most people get complacent and end up lowering their life standards due to comfort and contentment. The ambition that they once had to climb the corporate ladder, to innovate new ideas, to start new ventures…those all fade away with the unhappy daily grind that one accepts as a result of the fear of change. What do you risk losing if you do not change? Your energy, your enthusiasm, your dreams. Your greatest risk now, is the status quo, what society looks on as safe is now what you look at as safe. Comfort trumps change, even though the ‘comfort’ you are experiencing now is the dumps.

A new life is calling for you! Don’t be scared of change but welcome it with the happiness that new possibilities are around the corner. When you look at a task with happiness, it turns into something you want to do (as much as you don’t want to do it) and it makes your passage smoother. Something else I’d read: “Difficult situations should be faced with courage and joy, the higher the water, the higher the boat.”

The Dating Game

Soooo…I’m single.

It feels almost blasphemic to say those words. For so long, it was pounded into my head that I was not available, that I was in a committed relationship with someone and thou shalt not lookest at other Godesses. After half a decade of being with one girl, I’d forgotten alot of things about being single. Here’s a list of the things I’d forgotten about The Dating Game:

1) The rules havn’t changed…unlike technology, that changes every 18 months, you’d upgrade your PC or risk not being able to support MSFT’s new blue screen, the rules to dating have not changed at all. there’s still the 2 day rule for calling, the weekday date and you level up to the weeknight date. then if you’re REALLY special, you get a weekend date. There’s still the ‘my friend likes you’ the ‘what are you drinking’ and the ‘hi my name is…’ but now, instead of giving phone numbers, everyone’s exchanging blackberry pin’s.

2) When you date, you’re searching. It’s like 510 Flavors of Gelato. You walk in, do you pick the wasabi green ginger ice cream right away? No. You ask for a taste and they give you one of those little tiny plastic spoons with a chunk of ice cream. You taste it and you decide if you like it or not. I decide that I will pass on wasabi green ginger ice cream today. Can I try some lime lemon sorbet? And so on, until you have the flavor that you like and then you say “Give me more of that. I like that.” So now you walk out of the Gelato place, happy as a clam in high tide with the ice cream of your choice. You’re confident that the choice you made is the right one because you’ve tried the rest, now you’re with the best. Isn’t dating the same? You go on one or two dates, figure out that the guy who you thought was soooOOOooo funny was really just drunk that day or that the girl who you thought was really deep because you philosophised about the meaning of life on the first date just turned out to be really not-smart (PC for dumb) and was really just asking alot of questions for real and not just rhetorically.

3) It sucks when one person likes the other person more. The difference with People-People relationships (vs People-Ice Cream) is that it goes both ways. While you don’t think they are a match for you, they might think they are. I had a chat with a friend over dinner tonight and I’d said to her that her relationship is great because they both cared and liked and obsessed over each other in the same ‘level’. While sometimes one liked the other more, it was never a large gap so all that was done, was appreciated. All good things were seen as good. All positive intentions were seen as for what they were. The problem comes when one person likes the other way more, like on a scale of 1-10, one person likes the other 8 and the other just feels a 3. So now, all that was done, is not appreciated. All good things will be seen as annoying. All positive intentions will be seen negatively. The 20 text messages a day turn from “aw he cares about what i’m doing and can’t stop thinkin about me” to “oh damn she’s totally blowing up my phone and being obsessive.” The hour long phone calls go from “i can’t stop talking to you cuz i love the sound of your voice” to “Oh damn. i got so much to do and this is totally killing my time.” It’s funny how feelings can change perspectives, but perspectives don’t change feelings. (booya that was deep. think on that one for a second.)

4) That the grass is always greener. How many times have you heard this one? When you’re in a relationship, there’s times when you just want your own time, your own things, your own life. You feel like a babysitter, a gaurdian, a driver, a call center help line, a therapist. You feel like you have to think for 2 all the time, that you have no say in your own life. You wish for greener pastures, for the wide open space to run around in and do your own thing whatever it may be. But when you’re single, there are times when you long for someone to care for, to cherish. You want to be a gaurdian, you want someone to call you, to open up to you. The time you have now seems too much. The wide open space is too vast, too empty for one person. I guess the perfect relationship would have a bit of everything and not just too much of one. Your life, my life and our life, all proportioned perfectly to both persons liking. I guess when you want the greener grass on the other side of the fence, it means that you’re in the wrong field to begin with. I’m sure there’s a plot of land out there that’s just green enough for me, and when I find it, there will be no greener grass. (I’m sure my future girlfriend would love to see that I called her a plot of land.)

5) That if you don’t look, they’ll come along in their own time. When you find someone who you’ll willingly give up sleep for, want to hang out with all the time and constantly has you checking your blackberry to see if they’d bbm’d you while you were brushing your teeth…all without having to try to get their attention, that’s the way it should be. The law of natural attraction, instead of forced interest or faking yourself so the other person will notice you.

29 Year Cycle

Beginning at birth, there are successive periods of about seven years in a person’s life, each one a stage of important adjustments to reality. At about 7 years of age, the first quarter of the transiting Saturn cycle, the first crisis of maturity occurs and self-awareness takes form. At about ages 14 or 15, the change from child to adult occurs. About 21-22 years of age brings another adjustment to the demands of society. When Saturn completes its first cycle at about 29 years, people must come to terms with themselves and the society in which they live. This point in the cycle is called the Saturn return. It is almost always a time of important commitments, decisions, and the acceptance of responsibilities and changes of lifestyle.

I don’t remember much about my first Saturnism at age 7. I remember running around alot, doing my Kumon homework and playing the piano. At the second cycle of 14/15, that was the awkward time. I was coming out of my shell, previously sheltered and protected by my parents. All of a sudden I’d discovered girls! (I’d also discovered that they had no interest in me, a chubby, pimple faced Chinaman who didn’t wear the coolest clothes or say the smoothest things.) At age 14 was also when I realized I could be an athlete and so I did and I excelled at it and thus was my identity for 7 years.

21. Ahh, good ol’ 21. In hindsight now, looking back at the stage of the planets and moons and all that jazz, it makes sense. Or rather, it fits into the story nicely. I had not a worry in the world. The minute responsibilities of a recent university graduate who had every option of the world in front of him. I travelled in packs like hunting wolves, with 30 of my closest boys (not kidding…30…) with me everywhere we went. Big Bamboo, Hotshots, Hong Lok Yuen, No. 9, BP, everywhere. We had girls with us and because we were all gentlemen, they loved us. The weekends and weeknights were spent racing down the highways in our garage made rice rockets with the +10hp stickers, going from restaurant to pool hall to kareoke bar, laughing all the way. It was quite the change from my restricted popularity in high school, going from ugly duckling to swan (albiet a ruff gruff manly swan..argh!) We thought ourselves to be complete bad asses. Brotherhood, blood brothers, if one of us got into trouble, the other 29 would be there with a beep of the pager. (Only one of us had a cell phone so his bill was always the highest: hey Gurt, can I borrow your phone?) We were respected by our peers, looked up to by those younger. Guys wanted to hang out with us, girls wanted to get with us. (Or so that was our mentality, I mean, with a pimped out honda civic with stickers on the door and chopped springs so that you’d bottom out on every speed bump, who wouldn’t want to be with us!) We ruled the world. Those were the days when we had no worries (mortgage? bills? what are those things? responsiblities? ugh, kill the word.) We were in the middle, grown out of the childish restraints that society places on teenagers but not quite at adulthood status yet. We were armed with the positive outlook that our futures were still unwritten, that we could become anything we wanted to be and our destinies and fates were like a fresh jar of play-doh, soft and moldable.

7 years later. 29 years old. Commitments, decisions and responsibilites. Over the years my 30 man crew turned into a 4 man entourage. Our consecutive 4 night party days turned into once a month and the weight of adulthood comes crashing down hard onto our shoulders. How easy is it to manage your own life, while simultaneously attempting to balance those of your friends, family and colleagues? To try to make their lives fit into yours and not become a selfish hermit. Never in my 29 years of life have I faced such a daunting task and a more difficult year. I left my secure job of 3+ years due to changes out of my control. I ended a relationship of 5 years with a girl I loved with all my heart, though was no longer in-love. I bought a 2nd Condo before the market crashed and now am down on the investment. And now, my two best friends are moving away, one of them for good, one of them for 2 years. To those who think they’ve been knocked off of their comfort zone, I’ll join you in the parade. Hell, I’ll organize it. Change is good and it is what I need. This past several years, I’ve been too comfortable, too relaxed and my fire has died down a bit. I remember the ambition and drive I had when I was 21, and I felt alive and motivated. I want it back, and I’ll get it back. But for now, I just want to turn 30 in 4 months, and get 29 over with. This ‘Saturn Return’ cycle isn’t all it’s cracked out to be. The Play-doh’s been left out too long, long forgotten by the first hands that started to mold it. It’s become hard and stiff. Four months to go.