Friday, March 16, 2007

Retiring Early

Historically, I haven't been very good with money. I frivolously spent what little money I had, I did a really poor job of tracking my finances and the words "RRSP" and "investing" likely never entered my vocabulary. Consequently, I became a really easy target for theft. And it cost me.

Now you'd think having gone through something like that would have motivated me to get a handle on my finances and start changing some bad practices into wiser, financial choices. But no. I really didn't change much. I was quite willing to live pay cheque to pay cheque and continue poor spending habits as long as when I hit OK on that debit keypad, it came back saying "Approved."

It really wasn't until this guy named Graham came into my life that I actually started to realize that I needed to make some changes. Making some small changes was by no means easy. It was hard to start distributing my money around into different accounts without feeling like i'd somehow lost some. i liked the feeling of seeing that lump sum all in one account. And of course, i'm pretty risk averse so the mere mention of some potential loss through investing scared me to death. I'm by no means an expert, nor am I anywhere close to a perfectly set financial future but I think the most important thing is that I'm thinking about it and trying to learn. I started an RRSP, I'm attending a Basic Retirement and Savings investment Course through work and I am much more dilligent about tracking my money through online banking.

I recently read this article in BusinessWeek about a couple who were able to retire in their late 30's after several years of smart saving and investing. Although this is rather unusual, its definitley been inspirational. Before i really cared about money, I thought that thinking about retirement when you're 23 was an utterly ludicrous idea. When Graham asked me where I saw myself in 30 years, I nearly burst out laughing. I have a hard time deciding what to wear in the morning let alone what my life might look like at 50. Anyways, turns out thinking about retirement in your early twenties really isn't a stupid idea at all. It's actually quite smart.

So when I'm a rich old lady, floating around on my yacht off the coast of some idyllic setting and sipping vintage wine out of fancy glasses, writing my memoirs, I'll remember to thank Graham. Without him, my financial future future might be in shambles. I'd likely need to hire some financial advisor and waste more money rather than saving any. At least Graham's advice comes for free ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I've often said that bed time is my favourite time of day. Bed time, nap time, they're both great times... But lately, I haven't been getting very much sleep. Not by choice, just for various reasons of having to get up early and go places or for the simple fact that I just stay up too late. So last night, being the ultra cool person that I am, I decided to go to bed at 10:00 pm because I had nothing better to do and I figured a solid 9 hours would be good for me. So much for that theory. This afternoon, I feel more tired than I have in a long time. I just caught myself staring blankly at this complicaetd spreadsheet I'm creating. I'm attempting Graham's tried-and-true time wasting strategy of pretending to work while you're really just sleeping with your eyes open. The trick is to appear like you're really struggling to analyze the data in a spreadsheet, when in reality, you're really spacing out or pretty much alseep.

I mentioned my drowsiness to a coworker and she said that it's possible to actually be "over-slept." Apparently having too much sleep is just as bad as not enough. Go figure. What a fickle, silly thing sleep is. Ironically, I also heard on the radio on my commute to work this morning that a lack of sleep is cited as one of the major contributing causes in such disasters as Chernobyl and the Hubble space shuttle disaster. I heard this while driving on the 401 struggling to keep my eyes open... wishing I had a coffee.


In other news, it's my dear cat Harley's 4th birthday today. I bought her some decadent cat food and some new treats and I made her a little birthday sign for above her cat bowls. I realize she neither notices nor cares and that this looks like the beginnings of insane-cat-lady-syndrome, but she's a cool cat and her birthday deserves to be recognized. I'm hoping Graham will come over later and sing "Happy Birthday" to her. :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Moral Dilemma

Usually I like to limit the posts in this blog to my cheerful musings on my life or just light, fluffy writing about nothing in particular. When I was in the writer's club in high school, I used to roll my eyes at those girls that wrote nothing but angst-y, heart-wrenching poems about heartbreak and sadness. Arguably though, expressing these sadder emotions through writing is cathartic; an effective form of therapy I suppose. Often, these more intense emotions are the motivation to write.

So with that as an introduction, I feel compelled to write about my current moral dilemma.

My grandmother is sick. Well, sick is an understatement. She's dieing. She's in the hospital in the palliative care ward being treated for heart problems. Problems, they say, she will not recover from without an invasive surgery to install a pacemaker. The nurses actually told my mom that the humane thing to do is to "let her go." My first reaction upon hearing this news was to go home and see her at the first opportunity. However, my mom insists that I "don't bother." My grandmother has symptoms of a more advanced stage of Alzheimer's (or some form of dementia) and likely wouldn't recognize me or if she did, even remember that I had been there at all. I insisted that this isn't really the point. If I know she's dieing and I make no effort to go see her, what sort of human being am I? Yes, it's inconvenient to go all the way there and know that my effort won't even be recognized but does that matter?

My mom has an unusually callous attitude about the whole thing. The way she talks about the approaching death of her mother is so nonchalant, it's creepy. I realize that their relationship has never been good and in terms of love, there's not a lot there but again, I'm not sure this is the point.

So I'm torn.

But I'll need to make a decision soon because this is a seriously time sensitive issue. The thought of her dieing alone and confused in the hospital is awfully sad. It's hard to follow your gut and do what you think is right when your parents, the people you've looked to for guidance and advice all your life, are telling you to do the opposite. Ultimately, this isn't something I'd be doing for my grandmother, it's something I'd be doing for me

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Random funnies from the Dominican...

We met some interesting characters in the Dominican, most notably, our friend from the market who seemed to think he was some ultra trendy hip-hop fan. He was hard to miss, with his oversized Eminem tshirt and his sideways black hat with enormous sequined letters on it. As we approached him, we noticed something odd about his attire. My cousin approached him and asked:

"Hey, what does your hat say?"

"Rrrrap-eh," he said proudly and began immitating some drum beats and dancing.

We tried to suppress our laughter as we looked at his hat that clearly said RAPE in huge sparkly letters.

"No," my cousin said. "Your hat says 'rape.' Do you know what that means?" She then explains that his hat is actually an English word that means forcing someone to have sex with you. I chuckle in the background the entire time.

Unphased, he continues his sales pitches to various tourists as they hurry past his booth. Evidently, his English was not all that great. We saw him the next day wearing the same hat. Hilarious.


At the resort we stayed at, some of the staff would routinely bring around exotic animals for tourists to hold and have their pictures taken with. Later you were to seek out your photo and purchase it for some outrageous price. There were parrots and iguanas and a snake but most exciting was a tiny monkey! So naturally, when the monkey came around, my cousins and I decided we needed our photos taken. Being mature and patient, we let the little cousins go first - Shevonne who's 5 and Christianne, 10. Shevonne holds out her hands and they place the monkey in her arms. Adorable. The monkey looks as if it's nuzzling up to her face when, all of a sudden, it lashes out angrily and bites her near her eye! They grab the monkey out of her hands and apologize as she tries not to cry.

We should have known to stop there but Christianne steps up.

They place the monkey in her arms and same thing. The monkey bites her in the ear. They grab the monkey out of her arms claiming the monkey is "loco crazy, needs rest." We immediatley assume it has rabies.

Okay, we should have been concerned over our cousins saftey but it was utterly hilarious. Maybe it was the rum. Maybe you had to be there. I still chuckle about it when I think of the rabid monkey bites.

Needless to say, I never held the monkey

A blog post about... blogs

Between moving to Toronto and starting a new job, I somehow lost interest in this blog, as I'm sure anyone who ever read it also has. Maybe I've been too busy. Maybe I just don't have anything interesting to say.

At work lately, I've been doing a lot of blog tracking as a form of media analysis. Apparently blogs are much more influential in mainstream media than I give them credit for. We had a training session the other day on how PR can work with bloggers and it was evident that working with bloggers is becoming as important as working with reporters. However, one common thread running through all this was that it seems that both reporters and bloggers need to be spoon-fed a packaged story complete with quotes, pictures and all the information they need to start writing. They don't want to have to follow-up or confirm information. They don't want to have to call you or dig for the news element in a story. They want a one-stop shop or they're not interested. Their time, they say, is far too valuable to be wasted on pursuing vague story pitches or clarifying incomplete information.

Whatever happened to chasing the story? There seems to have been a serious shift in media since my days as a reporter. You have to give reporters the whole story, complete with catchy headline and hard-hitting quotes or they won't even bother.

While I'm on the topic of blogs, the main reason I was inspired to write anything at all today was because I came across an interesting quote in one of the more prominent blogs we monitor. The blogger was commenting on the new blog written by the CTO and was chastising him for not posting more regularly. Being a sporadic blogger myself, the following quote stuck with me:

"You can’t be afraid of making a commitment when you launch a blog. You’ve got to nurture it, tend to it, give it some love and attention and, most important, write on a fairly regular basis. Otherwise, it loses some of its energy and people will stop visiting. So, let’s get writing."

To be honest though, I didn't create this blog with the intention that it would have profound influence on the masses. I don't even really care if anyone ever reads it. I created it as a motivation for me to write. So far, I guess it hasn't been that successful. Apparently, in one month, the only thing I'm capable of producing is a blog post about...blogs.