New York, Nyungooork

“Eight million stories out there in the naked
City it’s a pity half of y’all won’t make it” – Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z

OMG. Why would I pay premium on a place I’d rather not stay?

Hordes of selfie-taking tourists from all over the world. Crowded to the extreme. Im not interested and would rather stay indoors.
I arrived in New York via La Guardia Airport. Typical metropolis scenery going to Manhattan. Reminds me of Sydney. Passed by Harlem going to Manhattan and it looks ghetto with about 90% of people in the streets are black. Hostel was a bit pricey but OK considering it is NYC. Took the subway and im not impressed with its old structure.

Reached Times Square and it reminds me of Vegas but with compact tall buildings. The fast food shops either doesnt have a bathroom or you have to line up for 10 to 30 minutes. I ate my mcdonalds meal while in line for the bathroom.

I strolled further into the financial district and i got sick of the monotony of big concrete buildings. Just looking at all the vertical space that is inaccessible makes me feel left out. At least in London, the buildings are mostly only 3 to 8 stories.

While inside World Trade Center, I looked at my cellphone for no reason and the time was 9:11. Creepy.

Miss Saigon on Broadway was a treat. I wasnt impressed with the guy playing the engineer as he doesnt act the pimp role naturally. I looked around for authentic Italian spaghetti but couldnt fine one. I did find  and bought some nuts being sold in the sidewalk, reminiscent of Manila.

I thought about how disadvantaged Filipino immigrants are. Compared to the Italians who have both the looks and the reputation and they can set up shop easily anywhere. The Arabs and Chinese and even Vietnamese have their distinct cuisine and can open an eatery.

I couldnt find the glamour in NYC that im imagining. Its mostly the horrendous hip-hop and Florida casual. Winter would be New Yorks fashion saviour I presume. Jersey City was no better. I thought I saw its scenery before, somewhere in some forgettable American city.

The biggest disappointment for me is Central Park. Its dirty, dusty and I feel sorry for the wilting trees and plants. I stepped on dog poop and there were lots of dog poop smudge in the street from people cleaning it out of their shoes. The lingering smell is horse poop from the carriages.

A park needing care and a makeover and a dilapidated subway amid super structures is an obvious proof of selfish capitalism.

Im not dazzled with just the bright lights. Who would want to be identified with this hollow and stone cold city of greed and inequality other than perhaps megalomanics like Donald & Hillary?

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Work Indiscriminately and Save Hard to Exit Soon (W.I.S.H.E.S.)

“Dont cry because its over. Smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss

Im riding the bus to NYC from Montreal while writing this.

First off, Im glad I bought a small folding chair as souvenir instead of a cap or a shirt at the President’s Cup. Very useful when riding Greyhound because you can use it while lining up. And because of it, I was able to sleep for 3 hours in the bus because it gives additional leg support.

Because of the unseasonal warm weather, the peak season of fall colors has been delayed by two weeks. The red colors were fewer. To catch the magnificent fall colors, one needs to visit upstate New York around middle of October.

Upon reflection, these are some of the activities and occupation I will be indulging at retirement age 60 and over.

1. Binge watch Netflix
2. Grow plants and animals at a little farm.
3. People watching at the subway, at the university and downtown.
4. Occasionally indulge in the nightlife.
5. Watch movies and other shows at the theatre.
6. Write
7. Paint
8. Work at a shop or cafe that i will be opening.

I have also signed 3 monarchial decrees:

1. Moratorium on purchases of assets and tangible investments that have no relation to my retirement scenario.

2. Make money out of every asset and liquidate non-performing assets. Downsize to what is only needed.

3. Most of my time will be spent on earning income, including a dual income stream, as my time previously spent on “discovering” will now be eliminated. Previous “conservative” strategy will now only used as a reference as it will now be replaced by an aggressive “push” strategy that will render it moot and academic.

Other stuff:

Do – Retire in a small detached house or cottage but with big land. With the wide open space you can take up farming or gardening and keep nosy neighbors at a distance.
Owning your own small property will keep maintenance and insurance and property managers away and your costs low.

Dont – Retire in a condo. You are like to deal with retired psychopaths or others with mental health or emotional issues. Lots of rules and lots of chances for maintenance, insurance and legal pests to wiggle their way into your life and milk your retirement money.

Poutine On The Ritz. A Hot Serving of Montreal? Oui! Sil Vous Plait.

“When a flower doesnt bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Anonymous

Im now certainly considering retiring in Montreal. Just when I was contented in Calgary comes Montreal where the amount of beauty was nothing I imagined and expected.

 

Getting off the bus I headed straight to the stadium for the World Gymnastics without any intent of indulging too much with the sights of Montreal. Then while at the impressive Metro Subway train I thought “Am I seeing this? Lots of gorgeous people wearing creative fashion”. I later found out that this episode was not a freak accident, but the norm.

 

The botanical garden of Montreal was conveniently situated next to the stadium and on one long break from gymnastic competition, checked it out. The garden was huge and comparable to the best gardens in the world. It has a biosphere, Japanese, Chinese, Alpine and Rose gardens. What sets it apart is the practical side. It also has a vegetable and fruit garden and greenhouse. Absolutely magnificent.

 

Then I strolled at the very walkable streets and found out there is an almost infinite length of interesting streets with cafes, restaurants and places of interest – Rue Sherbrook, Rue St Laurent, Rue St Dennis, Rue St Catherine etc etc.

 

One morning I decided to go people watching at McGill University (World Top 20 educational institution). I struck a yoga pose (kuno) at the entrance while indulging looking at the beautiful people going in and out. To get myself to move on to another activity I decided that if i dont see another gorgeous being for two minutes, I will leave. It didnt work so I reduced it to 1 minute and then 30 seconds until I gave up and decided on a fixed time to leave.

 

With this oversupply of beauty, nightlife is obviously wild and long and excessive and accessible. Sus, ginoo.

 

I think the French language barrier is a good thing. Money motivated English speakers will stay away, leaving it a niche market for El Creepo. Frankly, I see little or no competition compared to Calgary which has more creepzillas. Lol.

No BS Retirement Financial Planning for the Middle-aged Single

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Its my second day at Banff and have been bored in general. I have seen this scenery several times already, the beautiful mountains and the huge throng of tourists.

This visit further strenghtened my belief that secluded natural setting however beautiful is not my preferred home base. This started in Powell River where I thought that once you see beautiful natural scenery, then thats it, and it gets boring the next day. You can repeat it two or five times more but the appreciation greatly diminishes over time.

What i think is essential for a home base would be convenience, coupled by affordability and dynamism. A quiet little square box in a funky metropolis is my choice.

The good thing I got out of this trip (and for most trips) is the ability to instantly unclog your brain. Some things become clearer and some new ideas come to mind.

Specifically, I have developed this retirement financial strategy for the middle-aged single person.

Step 1. Find your D-day.
This assumes you can determine your D-day as supported by assisted D law or you can DIY by eating loads of roasted pork and ice cream or just take that ‘thing’ thats currently in fashion. For this exercise lets assume it is 75.

Step 2. Determine the amount required on D-day.
That would include clean-up costs, a bit of leftover and a bit of insurance. For this exercise lets assume it is $120K

Step 3. Determine your annual spending on retirement.
This would include health costs and consider whether you are spending retirement on a developed or emerging economy. For this exercise lets assume, emerging economy at $20K annual spending.

Step 4. Determine your annual pension on retirement and consider whether you are taking early retirement.
For this exercise, lets assume annual pension of $8K after early retirement is taken at the age of 61.

Step 5. Calculate the amount needed at the start of retirement.
This will be the amount in Step 3 minus Step 4 multiplied by number of years from start of retirement till D-day plus the amount in Step 2. ($20K – $8K X 15 years + $120K = $300K).
The resulting amount is $300K and not the $1M or at least $500K that financial institutions are encouraging so you will have to work yourself to death, miss out on enjoying life and give your money to someone other than yourself when that time comes.

Step 6. Calculate the amount needed if you take an even earlier retirement without affecting the required pension credits.
For this exercise lets assume early-early retirement at the age of 56. This will be the amount in Step 3 multiplied by number of years from early-early retirement age to retirement age plus amount in Step 5. (5 years X $20K + $300K = $400K)
The resulting amount is $400K if one would like to take the leisure of an early-early retirement at 56.

Step 7. Calculate what age you can quit the rat  race.
For this exercise assuming your age is 46 and have saved $20K since you started saving at age 26 and you have now accumulated $400K, the amount needed at age 56. When can you quit the rat race assuming you are still saving at a rate of $20K annually. This can be solved by determining the age where the cumulative additional annual savings equal the cumulative additional spending. For this exercise, one can quit the rat race at 51. This is the age where the cumulative additional annual savings of $100K ($20K X 5 years) would equal the cumulative additional spending of -$100K ($-20K X 5 years). It is assumed that the cumulative additional savings of $100K will be invested in a small business where one can work and still contribute to pension. If this amount ($100K) is preserved or increased, then this will just be an icing on the cake when one takes early-early retirement at age 56.

The Time (Off)

“It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such a shape that when or if the opportunities come, he is ready.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President

I am approaching my 1st Anniversary of my time “off” and i have to list the pros and cons of this “event” and other things ive learned.

Positives.

1. It seemed to have stopped or even slightly reversed my then fast deteriorating health. The way im feeling now, especially in the heart health, it seems ive recovered at least 2 years of my lifespan. I can attribute this to less stress and adequate sleep.

2. Getting prepared for retirement. I have learned to adjust to limited resources by utilizing coupons, deals, tax breaks and sticking to budget and also finding creative ways and efficiency. Moving forward, this thrifty attitude could help me save more even in good days.

3. You get to experience and discover your locale more. I used to live a stones throw away from the mall but seldom go there while i was working. Now, i live a bit further but i relish going to the mall and hangout in it. You are also able to feel the pulse and trends in the locality for market research purposes.

4. You get to affirm and reject certain plans you have in the past. Such as, getting green card and living in the US is now rejected. That living in Canada, at least from April to October will be target from hereon. The need to start diversification as one enters old age (50s and up).

5. Get to enjoy the laid-back life like never before especially during Spring-Summer.

 

Negative

Its all about the money. Lost income opportunity for not working. Getting rusty and less attractive to employers, which again is about the money. Feeling of uncertainty. Less money gets you constricted and not likely to indulge in expensive stuff.

Other things ive learned is:

Reality is warped. Reality is different if you consider other dimensions such as time, location and scale. For example, if you look at the greater scheme of things, one issue that could have inflamed or distressed anyone is actually quite petty. It probably would take just one alien ship to unite all earthlings (which is probably the reason why aliens are hiding).

There is so much to do. Although I did went into a “mourning phase” where i thought I had nothing else to do. That is until things start to unfold and multiply when you tinker on stuff. Even if one is retired, there are many options of spending one’s time, whether its the expensive or ultra thrifty type. Long live! Viva life!

Diversification to entrepreneurship should be done while employed because doing it while on government assistance means reduction of  your benefits or worse, disqualification. Whereas, venturing to business or training while employed means you get all the income on top of your employment salary.

Ideas change a lot, or crop up all of a sudden, or that overlooked perspectives suddenly become clear.

While Im writing this, my new gameplan is to get another shot of a 5-10 year full time gig. Then transition to a half½ working as accounting consultant from Oct to Mar and as farmer entrepreneur from Apr to Sep.

And since life is short and i have now covered many geographical locations, i will now turn to experience life in different perspectives and will be transitioning to achieve this. Oh my!

Afterthoughts on June 2017 trip

“American woman, get away from me. Dont come hangin around my door. Dont wanna see your face no more. I dont need your war machines. I dont need your ghetto scenes.” – from American Woman, song by Canadian band The Guess Who

Bonnaroo has been quite a good experience. Contrary to expectations, the kids at Bonnaroo have been nice and less rowdy than west coast kids. No hateful or rude episodes whatsoever.

While taking my selfies a lot would offer to take my picture. How sweet. (Or maybe, theyre not aware of selfies?)

I also realized that I cannot go toe-to-toe with the younger people anymore in terms of endurance and enthusiasm. My plans of becoming a caffeine induced zombie did not work & I short circuited at 1:00 AM instead of my planned 4:00 AM

I am planning to return to Bonnaroo but for next year, my sights are on Austin City Limits. I also enjoyed Nashville. This led me to conclude that if travelling to Eastern US, one should go to a touristy spot or an event where the majority are millenials. And this is due to the life-changing negativity i experienced in the American heartland.

Some things have been clearer on my trip from Nashville to Milwaukee.
There is real structural discrimination going on in the US. (Worst in the eastern half) .Though its mostly racial, it is also happening to white people and veterans who have fallen to the cracks. The older generation are the main perpetrators but this is also evident in some of the younger generation, perhaps at a lesser degree, on average. The melodrama of Hollywood movies do not depict the subtleties of these oppression and inequality.

Its now hard to erase from memory, the hateful looks directed at me by older white people. Seems like they assume that all racial minorities are there to settle and immigrate in their communities and need to “shoot” them without checking. If they think this is OK  then what other evil things are they capable of doing.

When, i was checking in at the plush hotel in downtown St. Louis, the receptionist kept asking about my car as if she cant believe someone without a car would check into the hotel.

In went to watch the movie “My Cousin Rachel” in St. Louis. I asked the attendant if its OK to go in the theatre with a backpack. Then he replies: “Not unless you are carrying a five-course meal”. He proceeds to guard me like im going to shoplift or something. When the movie was over he spots me carrying my popcorn trash and asks “Where are you taking that”. I replied, “To the garbage, we clean after ourselves.”

Then of course there was that spat i had with the car rental employee in Milwaukee. She disrespected the latina and the black guy who went ahead of me. When she vetted me, worse than the border guard, i let her have it and let her know her behaviour is unacceptable and it doesnt matter for me if i get a car or not. A really forgettable experience.

Singin the Blues in St. Louis

“She was invited but she was not welcome” – from poster of newly released movie Beatriz At Dinner

First off, i hope not to ride greyhound in the US ever. It is a mess, and people who ride it are destitute, mostly black. And rental cars are expensive. And unlike Western US, people in the east look at hikers with backpacks like homeless or destitute people and look at them with extreme suspicion.The next time i travel to eastern US, i will bring a car and endure the long long drive.

There are a lot of similarities between St. Louis and Nashville. They both have professional hockey teams and they are wide and sprawling.

And both have obvious segregation of blacks. St. Louis has a metro train but those who ride it are all blacks. It is infuriating that a lot of black thugs are loitering the train stations. In the events i go to from Bonnaroo to the St. Louis concerts it looked like i was the only oriental. And Which oriental in his right mind will immigrate to these cities coz if one starts from the bottom, one will have to deal with the unsafe company of marginalized and angry blacks?

I went to the Whitaker jazz festival and the sheakespeare at the park in St. Louis and amazed at how almost everyone is white.

It is really really sad as well as frustrating to see this social, economic and racial inequality – the tensions, the ignorance and the stereotyping.

I think i realize why there are a lot of obese people in the US. Its coz food is cheap from oversupply and coz of cheap mexican and black labor. And food is delicious and unhealthy in the South.

St. Louis was the third biggest city in the Us at the turn of the century (1900) after NY and Chicago. But it looks like the investments just went to SF and LA and bypassed the gateway to the west (St. Louis). Even the title of “the gateway to the west” has now moved to Denver.

St. Louis’ illustrious past explains its wide and sprawling landscape and its old monumental buildings. But the density typical of other metropolis is not there. Huge old buildings stand alone.

Even its entertainment structures is old world – operas, theatres with musicals and jazz festivals. This makes this city more out of touch with modern tastes, unlike Nashville which able to sell Country music to mainstream america and is reaping from its popularity.

Unlike lethargic St. Louis, Nashville is bustling with construction and events and one could feel its mojo. Hotel prices in Nashville is outrageous while hotel prices in st louis is a bargain as such i was able to splurge at the city center hotel with huge rooms with living rooms and bubble bath tub at the price of a motel.

To illustrate, bunk bed space in Nashville hostel during events rises up to $80 but i got my huge cozy hotel in St. Louis for $72.

Three other good points for St. Louis is the botanical garden which is filled with diverse lush plants and the forest park which is huge and surrounded by huge beautiful colonial mansions.

I watched the movie “My Cousin Rachel” at St Louis’ oldest movie theatre- hipointe (one screen only). Saw the trailer for “Beatriz At Dinner” starring Salma Hayek. I commend the writer and director of this project. This is like a very important concept in my head that was able to be brought into the screen.

Oh hell yeah. Nashville/Nash Vegas/Nastyville

“This song is about that great sin. No, its not about drugs or infidelity. Its about letting life pass you by.” – Ann Wilson on the song Fool No More.

At Chicago customs, the US officer asks me if i was with the other Calgarians headed for Nashville and i said no. He then tells the other officer “a lot of people from Alberta heading to Nashville and they are not even with each other”.

The motley crew of Albertans has turned the Nashville bound plane to perhaps the noisiest flight ive been coz of the getting-to-know-you chats and Albertans acting like Kiwis or worse. Im glad the pudgy american steward did not lose his cool despite the juvenile taunts.

At the Nashville airport, I took the public bus (the only passenger to do so) and got a nasty introduction to racial segregation. The bus came and left 10 minutes before the schedule (no respect for time). All the riders were black! The white driver did not accept my $2 fare and he headed straight to the scary central bus station that is full of vagrants and not bothering passing through the bus stops. After stopping at the station, he rudely motions everyone to get out. Shocking.

The fringes of downtown Nashville are scary with lots of black hobos so i headed to broadway avenue. I tried to enter Mcdonald’s only to know that it is not 24 hours as advertised and  there is a sign everywhere saying anyone with a hiker’s backpack is not allowed inside. Shocking.

Soon enough my misconceptions about Nashville were disproved:
1. That Honky-tonk central is wide and sprawling.
It is actually compact, with iconic bars attached side-by-side each other and the additional spaces added are going vertical.
2. That Honky-tonk central is beside open farm-like spaces.
It is actually in a modern cosmopolitan urban jungle of high rise buildings and paved concrete roads that reminds me of Chicago, Portland and Vancouver. No farm-like scenery within a 10 mile radius from downtown.

I loitered around Broadway St from midnight to 4am. Bars are bustling till 3AM. I went to a 24 hour diner and ordered a burrito only to find out it is 3 times the size i imagined.

Downtown Nashville is one big bachelorette party with lots of lumba-lumbas letting loose. Their behavior is downright disgusting and i didnt make any attempt to get inside a live country music bar after watching them. But apparently the door ushers are focusing on them. I hope the fat bozos drain the $ out of those b1tche$.

But im glad that tourists are glued to Honky-tonk central. Those b1tche$ can take downtown. I will have midtown with its collegiate atmosphere and Southern fare. My diet went out the window as i gorged on Nashville’s original hot chicken. The chicken liver bam bam became a favorite and i also tried the jim beam lacquered chicken lollipops. And i could barely walk after taking a cup of the boozy peach traditional smoothie. I have not tried the many other original dishes of the two restos i went to – Hattie Bs and Party Fowl. I missed trying the fried green tomatoes at Arnolds as they just closed when i arrived.

The weather in Nashville is very hot and so are the other “attractions” in midtown.

If one wants to experience a real country feel, one should go to places like Jackson, Wyoming. Nashville is a typical American urban center but with some “country” glitter.

 

 

Jay of All Trades, Master of None

“Encourage inspiration by making yourself a fertile ground for an idea. This usually means living life well, make sure your sensibilities are stimulated by new experiences.” – Rikky Rooksby

After a brief introspection at the mall, I think I found the reason why I never excelled or become famous. Its because I am both a perfectionist and a generalist (who is also insecure).

Going back to my growing years in elementary, high school and college, my normal behavior would be to go out of the classroom during class hours and go to the library. Its because I was interested in general knowledge in many field of study, current events, history, etc. The teachings in the classroom bored me.

I am also happy at visiting new places and trying new things and is fickle in many ways. Although inherently loyal and even clannish, it is my perfectionist, discriminating self that has prevented me from manifesting this nature.

So my life has been a terrible cycle of mediocrity. My generalist self trying everything and my perfectionist self discarding everything, knowing I wont stick around and try another thing tomorrow.

I think it was just the lucky breaks that helped me reach the level I am at now. Passing the Philippine CPA exam was one, and I only did it because I imagined each subject as a competitive gymnastic routine (Auditing = Balance Beam). Getting highly irritated if I don’t get a perfect 10 in the self-exams has propelled me from being a listless C accounting student to a board-passer in a matter of a few months. How weird is that.

I think it is high time I should just stick to a thing or two that I should master and consequently be substantive and relevant. I have already laid the foundation of an accounting career that would help me get through life and finance the projects that I would like to get involved.

I have the next three or so months to find out which areas I would be good at. I would be scheduling my time to discover writing/literature, music and painting, product development, technology, entrepreneurship, and other creative work. Then I will just focus on the thing/s I could excel in.

Jay gets old. Been working all ‘summer’

“Take your time. Think a lot. Think of everything you got. Cause you may still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not.” – Cat Stevens, Father & Son.

“…You may still be here tomorrow, but your hair may not” – Jay

Still thinking about old age and one thing i have noticed about getting old is how fragile your physical faculties are becoming. If you take too much of something a part of your body breaks down.

A few weeks back, I have been experiencing headaches/migraines and after analyzing, I thought it was caffeine that was causing it and i was right. I started to drink decaf coffee and my headaches went away.

After this success, I turned to my loose bladder that wakes me up at night. I thought, cut back on salt. I did, and it was also a success. Now im thinking, what is sugar doing to my body?

******

Ive been thinking, what if one compares ones life to the seasons in a year. For Westerners whose life expectancy is 80 years – age 1-20 is Spring, 21-40 is Summer, 41-60 is fall and 61-80 is winter.

I thought my life expectancy is 72, so my spring is 1-18, summer is 19-36, fall is 37-54 and winter is 55-72.  Wow. I have been working all summer. I was lucky to get ‘enlightened’ and utilize my early fall years.

At this point in time, i should pass mid-fall in a few more months. And to be more specific, i should in the Halloween, Oct. 31 of my life. What is scary is that I will only have colder, darker, bleaker November left so i will really have to use this time.

Oh. And i should be putting my snow tires already as snow could be falling any day…