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?

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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…

 

 

Of Old Age and Relevance

“After youre 70, you have no interest in being sexy” – Gloria Steinem

“After 45, I have no interest in how i look” – Jay

Still riding the greyhound bus to Calgary from Edmonton and thinking mortality.

The prime reason i gave up on my farming dreams is due to my old age. Because of my supraventricular tachycardia it is hard for me to get down on a bowing planting position as i lose my breathing. And because of my plantar fascitis, it is painful for me to do short walking rounds. I wont be able to create something even by sheer hard work and determination due to the physical constraint.

And im planning to go back to the rat race, not because of the love for materiality but in order to stay relevant. There are lots of threat lurking in society that the average person has to build a war chest almost in perpetuity.

And the best way one can help others is from giving of resources acquired from your talents.

As the reality of old age has finally struck me, what are the things I should have done at a younger age? And more importantly, what will I do in perhaps the next relevant five to ten years?

My current pause in life is giving me a preview of retirement and i am not liking it. Its boring stiff. I think i will die working. I also think I am not meant to build tangible things and connections. Im here as a wanderer.

And while watching “The Lost City of Z” yesterday at an indie theatre in Edmonton, it struck me how these explorers will risk their life, their family, their youth, in search of adventure. Perhaps this is now my time. I have not much to lose.

Perhaps there is a reason why Im in Calgary after all. Northern Canada has vast barely explored territories. Or perhaps its the UFO’s in Nevada that i should dig into. Humanda sila. Lol.

So it is imperative that my next 10 years will have to be lived largely, with purpose and with zest. Stay tuned.

Edmonton Musings (Apr’17)

“Choose happiness. Unless you feel you have a calling. A real calling.” – Thomas Wayne letter to Bruce Wayne/Batman, GOTHAM.

I rode the bus to Edmonton and read online news that UFC 216 will be in Edmonton on my birthday. Got excited but undecided if this will be my bday bash.

I rode city transit bus to West Edmonton Mall and was surprised that almost all the people in the packed bus were visible minorities, mostly Oriental.

I was dissapointed that the salt water aquarium was not there anymore and the lagoon is bare. I took the wrong bus going downtown which got me pissed and decided to cancel my tire pounding mission.

I was further dissapointed that the eclectic and bohemian Whyte Avenue is now very orderly and with the typical franchise stores. Small shops are gone. Artsy vibe is gone.

What was once rowdy, big deal, celebrations of Oilers hockey playoff games is now a whimper. A lot of police patrolling Whyte avenue. Few revellers. No troublemakers.

The greyhound bus depot downtown was transferred to the remote and less accessible Via Rail station. Another big inconvenience due to corporate cost cutting.

Im not happy at the trend that Canadian society is headed. Its turning into a country with few good ideas and putting more emphasis on irrelevant climate and gender issues. To create employment, it expands government and the empowered bureaucrats, in turn, try to mold society to their own liking. A restrictive boring society.

At best, Canada will be able to sustain this sick situation by incurring more debt and delaying the negative outcome.

And im not liking Albertans anymore. They are bad during the good times and even worse during down times, like some kind of money addiction.

Green Rat Race

“Farming as a business is a wonderful lifestyle; farming as a lifestyle is a horrible business” – Anonymous

It has been a month since I started being a “deplorable” and I have come up with the following alternatives for moving on until retirement.

Alternative 1 – Active green entrepreneurship

Alternative 2 – Start small while holding a job

Alternative 3 – Get back into the rat race for 5 to 10 more years

Alternative 4 – Hibernate in PH for good

After doing a feasibility study of commercial greenhouse production, one of the green venture options, I can say that the first alternative is now down the drain. The three main obstacles are:

  1. It is capital intensive (a huge no)
  2. It is heavily regulated (you need to tell the government what is in the water you feed your plants)
  3. You have to beg the government to give you an allocation to produce. (whaaaaat?)

I have also been scanning the farming community and it looks like this industry is already saturated. I tried looking for Crown Land to rent but there weren’t any more good spots. And the bureaucrats managing the Crown Land system weren’t very receptive despite the very nice, democratic, user friendly website that they created.

There were also no small private land for lease, only huge ones for more than 100 acres. There are a lot of land for sale and the numbers dwarf the number of land for lease by a ratio of 100:1. It seems like everyone is just looking for a fast buck and real estate sale is the way to go and not farming.

So yeah, I would call it – “The Green Rat Race”. And the reason this is worse than the office rat race is because the pay-out/benefit is far less. No wonder very few people are going into farming. A lot of millennials are engaging in it and make it look hip but that is probably because they still have the physical ability and they don’t have much to lose.

So, I am left with Alternative 2 – Start small while holding a job & Alternative 3 – Get back to the office rat race for 5 to 10 more years.

Alternative 4 – Hibernating to PH, is still pretty much in the mix because I just found out that doing nothing in PH feels a lot better than doing nothing in Calgary. And it is a lot cheaper too. And even a lot safer as well, because in PH, if people attack you, it is for a reason and they do it frontal. In Calgary, some people could attack you in the most subtle and underhanded way for the simple reason that you look different.

Peace out.

 

Spring, Spirituality and Green Thinking

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” – Thomas Edison

Yehey. It is spring and the coming two weeks would be above seasonal and warmer. So I joined a tour of the urban farm of Grow Calgary with the Science Club members. I was impressed with the Earthship project that they were building. They were basically creating a structure that consumes little or no electricity or gas through the use of recyclable materials and positioning the structure facing south so it takes in a lot of sun and consequently, warmth or heat. The structure has an outer room that regulates the temperature of the inner room where the temperature is supposed to be stable and where you can grow plants. I will likely use this concept in one of my sites.

After touring the hydroponic tour, I had serious doubts on the feasibility of a small farm concept. Primarily because of the amount of time and effort and capital that you have to put into it. Secondly, because of the cheap low prices offered by the competition. The big commercial farms have economies of scale. The technologists have now constructed and selling a state of the art container-type structure that could produce the equivalent of a 2-acre farm. And Bill gates and Co. are also coming up with revolutionary technology to further enhance agriculture. My critique on this trend is that the food grown by science does not look natural at all. Many of them are genetically modified and the plants themselves look like mutants.

To make a small farm feasible, you have to use and harness the power and resources of nature intelligently. It takes a hundreds of gallons of water to produce a kg of apple. You need to let nature do most of the farming for you and so you need to position yourself to where the resources are available. You should not invest much in technology and efforts to amend your situation. If it does not look right in the first place, then it is not right.

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And I also went to a meetup for “Spirituality and Nature” and it is a moment I would rather forget and gave me another reality check that people going to meetups are the deplorable fringe-types who have a bad personalities that they don’t have their own social circles and go to meetups so they can chat with other people. The reason I thought the meeting was really bad is because here is a group of people chatting about spirituality but they have injected racial aspect into it suggesting that there are also racial groupings in the spirit world because they only honored the spirit of their white ancestors (their cultural grouping) and the ancestries of people they probably thought are “cuter” like the Italians, Druids. Etc.

First of all, these people strike me as the liberal politically-correct types. They spoke of openness and even put a positive light on their Persian (why not Iranian?) neighbors’ muslim culture. Then I burst their bubble when I threw in the concept of reincarnation. That was when they showed their true colors, with some going ballistic and some leaving the meeting earlier. They cannot accept that they could have lived as a non-white in an earlier life. They also contradicted themselves and their so called openness. They were in praise of the myths of the Wicans and the Druids and then went full science-based on the concept of reincarnation. And this reinforced my notion that all the political correctness is fake.

I started to do regular Sunday Mass at St. Cecilia, the least I could offer on my spiritual side. The community I live in is not an immigrant community but I noticed that majority of the people going to this church are Filipinos. Which leads me to believe that one reason Christianity might be hollowing out in the Western world is because the white people don’t want to share the same religion with other races and now turning into pop-culture beliefs and science-based types.

For now, I will just focus on technical type meetups and bring my A game to my little B project.

Winter moods in Calgary (2016 Rewind)

“Mistakes are the penalty we pay for living a full life” – Anon

“Nothing feeds the soul like working with your hands” – Anon

Winter 2016/2017 has been one of the coldest winters I experienced. But I am back to writing in my journal. Its weird that I thought I would spend more time writing after I got laid off and the opposite happened. Anyways, first things first and I need to wrap up things I left out from 2016.

My Jammy awards soundtrack for 2016:

Side A:

“Sorry” – Justin Bieber

“Don’t Let Me Down” – Chainsmokers”

“Cake By the Ocean” – DNCE

“I Took A Pill in Ibiza” – Mike Posner

“This is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

“Into You” – Ariana Grande

Side B:

“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber

“Me, Myself & I” – G-eazy

“Stressed Out” – 21 Pilots

“Work From Home” – Fifth Harmony

“I Need Never Get Old” – Nathaniel Rateliff

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – Emma Stone

 

And the Jaycademy Movies of 2016 are:

  1. Deadpool
  2. X-Men: Apocalypse
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. La La Land
  5. Hacksaw Ridge
  6. Arrival
  7. Sing Street
  8. Manchester By The Sea
  9. Captain Fantastic
  10. Passengers

 

…And I will be writing a blog that I will call S.M.I.L.E.E. or Smilee. Each of the letters is an adjective that describe me and is the basis for my causes and advocacies for which I will write and make commentaries.

 

 

Pinas Mood Swings (PMS) Oct 2016 & GK Enchanted Farm

“You become responsible, forever, for those you have tamed.” Antoine De St. Exupery, The Little Prince.

“Don’t be afraid of a gun. Be afraid of who is holding the gun” – Laureana movie

“First know the person you are cooking for. Then cook.” – The secret to good cooking as per movie.

Today is my two week anniversary in Manila and so far this is my evaluation of the places I have been to:

Makati CBD – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Greenbelt & Glorietta is the prettiest urban spot in PH and you will have difficult access to this treasure if you are outside Makati CBD. Negative: Overbuilding around the area would reduce market value in the near future.

Metro Manila outside Makati CBD – “Hard Sell” – Positive: You taste the food of all the different PH regions in Manila. The prettier people in PH have migrated to Manila. Negative: Hellish traffic. Hellish air quality. Hellish slums and dirt. Lots of pregnant women holding several children in the slums – population is exploding in the wrong parts.

Iloilo – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still has some small town feel and friendliness. Negative: Cooking is bad and they have been guilty several times of putting the reject parts of meat and seafood. The Smallville complex is trying-hard hedonism that is not appealing. I got billed for charging my cellphone.

Boracay – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still pretty although some of the “island feel” is being replaced by concrete jungle. It is getting more orderly and cleaner. Negative: It is a small island waiting for an environmental catastrophe. Too many Asian tourists and very few westerners.

Kalibo – “Buy” – Positive: Still has the small town feel, the food is very cheap and the food preparation is good. Unlimited rice every time for everyone? Negative: No decent shopping option but is reasonably close to Boracay and Iloilo.

Next up? Palawan

I have visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat Bulacan via commute on Friday, October 21. It took me close to three hours to get there first by riding the jeep to the MRT, then using the MRT I went to the SM North EDSA bus station. I took an aircon bus to Walter Mart in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Then I walked to Sta. Maria to take a jeep to Enkanto Elementary school then from there took tricycle to Enchanted Farms.

The location for the Enchanted farm is not-so-great, being tucked in a sort of remote location but with a lot of impoverished people. You see a lot of housing for the poor. I don’t approve of this low cost housing strategy seeing a lot of tiny dwellings cramped up in a highly dense community.

I had a very good first impression going into the Enchanted farms. It looks pretty with lots of artistic building structures and gardens donated by the big corporations. Wait a minute…big corporations? I kept my fingers crossed. I settled at their very nice looking restaurant and there were about 6 young French people who were working with their laptops. I later learned that they were French practicum students. The French have been a big help in building the Enchanted Farms and its other initiatives. One of their initiatives was to create a business with Carabao milk and they lent their expertise in making cheese and created a brand called Caramoo. I was impressed.

I paid for a guided tour with lunch for PHP 570. The lunch was excellent and it featured some good Pinoy cooking of goat calderetta and string bean vegetable, okra soup, pinapple and turon dessert. I went for a guided tour and Billy was the tour guide. He was a graduate of Ateneo and instead of working in the corporate world (which he says he is not naturally inclined) he decided to work for Gawad Kalinga. I was impressed with his sacrifice, and considering he looks conyo Atenista. This should have been a work for hipsters in UP Diliman.

I was throwing Billy with a barrage of questions mainly on the practical application of the farm. I have noticed that the pretty structures donated by the big corporations lay empty and are turning into a destitute place. Despite the presence of a lot of poor people just milling around doing nothing or just playing, I see lot of empty garden plots that are not tended. My impression, there are generals and soldiers but no lieutenants. I think the poor Pinoys need to be coaxed or forced to take initiative to do farming, otherwise, they will just choose to play basketball, be tricycle drivers or just loiter around or worse go into petty crime. This venture is a really big challenge. The Enchanted Farm is turning more into a theme park and their ways of getting income is to get tours with companies or get sponsorships. It has turned away from its goal of lifting people out of poverty by giving them credible livelihoods. My advise to Billy when we got to talk in private:

  1. Develop a pilot project of how a parcel of land (acre/hectare) could give livelihood to a family or small group through permaculture farming.
  2. Add Permaculture certification into their farming school.
  3. Make Farming fashionable.

 

 

Random Pinas Musings (RPM) Oct 2016

Seeing a lot of impoverished people in Manila & Boracay makes me feel depressed because of the sheer number & their fast mobility. If i was dropped in a remote PH town of 1000 it would have been different as it wont give you an overwhelming sense of helplessness and it gives you hope that you could make a difference.

I share DU30’s repudiation of the US and EU. I can compare the situation to someone in a mansion (US &EU) and someone living in a small hut. The rich ones cant promote procreation to the poor one just because they have more room. Likewise, it is insulting for the rich ones to give their leftovers to the poor one to try to control their destiny. The improper application of high standards makes the rich ones arrogant and hypocrates and this is also reflected in the situations of the homeless and the ghettoes.

I just saw the ad on a PH television variety show for a grand finals for “Gwapulis”. Take that DU30!

A semi-retired person can justify the air-fare cost of going to PH for a month.

  1. Food ($400 vs $150) Savings of $250
  2. Medical & Dental ($1000 vs $500) Savings of $500
  3. 2 Massage + 1 Manipedi ($200 vs $30) Savings of $170
  4. Accomodation ($1000 vs $500) Savings of $500
  5. Haircut ($50 vs $10) Savings of $40
  6. 4 Movies ($50 vs $20) Savings of $30

Total savings is $1500 that would justify a ticket of same price. Caveat: You dont pay mortgage or rent at the other end.

Making this calculation has actually gave me an idea how to market PH.

This is also a wake-up call for me who would be semi-retired soon that prperties that require fixed payments should be liquidated as soon as possible and just keep a tiny house on a farm and then rent on a place that would give me employment.

 

Big in Japan. Small in PH.

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money”. – Ron Finley

Japan looked very clean and orderly and seemed like any other western country except that there are asians in it.

Japanese is perhaps the most comical language in the world. Being in Tokyo seemed like you are in an anime movie. The Japanese talk a lot and they sound exactly like in the movies with their unique inflections.

Something in Japan and the Japanese that makes me want to go on a samurai rampage and i mean that in a good way, sort of like creating your own Japanese action drama.

At the Tokyo airport, I saw a beauty queen wearing a gown, complete with sash and tiara casually strolling around. Onlookers sounded like they were saying “Who is this lukaret?”. And as expected, she is from PH.

Have been in PH for three days. Was surprised that SM food court was reorganized and the small time vendors are now replaced with the franchises.

I was fortunate to see two separate trade shows for Central Luzon and Panay and i may have to conclude that despite the big improvements in packaging, very few items are exportable.

The marketing of PH products are geared to the PH population and looked very foreign, even to me.

I think the pivot away from US and EU is practical because PH is a very Asian economy with little exposure to Western trade. I passed by Makati Golf club and there were only three restaurants outside – Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Is PH the ghetto of Asia?

PH is like a virtual sauna. Very hot and humid and it looks like you are perpetually perspiring and feel oily.

Finally, I see some western tourists at the domestic airport and they are all heading to either Palawan or Boracay.

The only good experience is when I did a random haircut which was very cheap and the skilled barber gave me a good scalp massage which according to him is to stimulate my dying hair follicles. It was very good.

I was lucky to find a time window and the airfares were cheaper than they were in my prior searches. Flew from Manila to Kalibo but landed in Iloilo due to inclement weather. I was one of only 3 people who decided to disembark in Iloilo. Such is the weird behaviour coming from someone on hiatus. You can just decide where to go at will and unscheduled.