The Midlife Clean-up

“Plan less, explore more” – Anthony Bourdain

It has been about 25 days since I started my weight loss regimen and I lost 10 pounds, going down to 148 lbs from 158 lbs. I think this is the lowest I have been in the last 20 years and beat the 149 lbs I achieved two years ago. I have about 10 more days before I head to a long vacation and I’m planning to lose another 3 lbs.

The process of cleaning up the junk I have accumulated in the last 20 is a more stressful exercise. I sold some of my stuff through online – the poker set, magic bullet, etc. I cant believe I have wasted money buying all this junk.

I developed a strategy that instead of keeping all this junk and even pay for storage, I would just ship them to PH. The cost of shipping is cheaper than paying for storage. Plus, these stuff would be better received over there if I decide to donate it/give it away. So, from one balikbayan box, it is turning out to be five balikbayan boxes.

I have gone through two or three rounds of cleanup of personal stuff and they are still substantial. I noted all the memorabilia and despite the urge to spend more time with them I decided to just pack them all. And I thought, when do I really have time to spend on these memorabilia? I suppose, it is between very limited time to none at all. I will have to go through another round and perhaps just keep the most most most important memorabilia. Also, I have resolved to refrain from keeping unnecessary items and always live the moment.

I just read an article about the average net worth of Canadians and looking at the table I noted that I was just in the upper 60-70%. Bummer. Yeah, I recall that North Americans get an average of 200,000 in inheritance. So, I have decided to reduce my planned downtime and I should not be idle during this period and intensify my diversification project so I can achieve being in the upper 75%-80%. And, I have to change my style as well and not focus on monetary strategy and employ gimmicks and attitude as well.

 

 

 

Summer of 2016

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”. – Vivian Green, as seen on a poster in a diner at Chemult, OR

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes”. – Jim Carrey, as seen on a WickedCampers van.

In the next two days, the temperature will significantly drop which will mark an end of summer in Calgary (although technically, Summer won’t end till the Autumnal equinox on Sept. 22). After a crazy great hectic Spring, I conclude that the last summer was well spent and I even didn’t have time to write during this period. So, I have learned to kayak and am quite confident with it now after becoming a member of the Calgary Canoe Club. I was at Pemberton Music Festival and there is some truth in its claim of being the “best weekend of your life”. I was able to hike 2 of the 50 Best Hikes in the World –  The Berg Lake Trail (full) and The Sunshine Coast Trail (section).

Song of the Summer – I thought that “Cake By The Ocean” of DNCE would be my song of the summer even though it came out in winter of 2016. But it peaked really early and was out of the airwaves by summer, so the song that brings the memories of 2016 summer would be “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers.

What is next for Fall? I’m currently contemplating the iconic Yosemite hike or the partial PCT hike that has been moved several times. Then perhaps Symbiosis Gathering music festival in Oakdale, California, close to Yosemite.

The trip to Powell River has been enlightening for me. I learned that I am currently thriving in my solo state because in the Calgary urban setting, there are a lot of things to do and several distractions. I was bored at Powell River on Day 1 (but I later enjoyed the forced-to-relax situation). The crowd in the urban setting also sort of hides you while in the less urban setting, you really stand out. So, I will have to scrap my plan of buying land and building a cabin and small farm. Instead, I will go back to my old plan of using a business (hostel + diner) as my entry to my designated places of retirement. Its going to be fun designing my concept of a compact diner+hostel.

 

Oregon again…May 2016

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – anonymous

Just about finished with my trip to PDX, the second in as many months, and I’m going to miss it. Last night’s 80’s Video Attack Dance Party was a memorable “send off” party. It’s the first time I saw some of those videos and it was nostalgic, especially The Cure, Depeche Mode, INXS and Erasure. One thing I noticed is that despite the decade being thirty years back, it seemed more gay progressive with The likes of Culture Club, Pet Shop Boys, Wham, Erasure, Soft Cell, Dead or Alive. And most of the artists look like they are wearing drag outfits. And they all seemed to enjoy it. No big deal. Nowadays, there is only Sam Smith and there is too much noise from the likes of Macklemore.

Looks like the reward of this trip is that my plans have now firmed up and it’s now time to take concrete measures. First off, I will have to cancel that meet-up thingie as it is a worthless distraction. Then I will have to embark on trifecta of sustainable, self-reliant, guilt-free endeavours – Food, Farming and Eco-hostelling.

The first project is the food cart specializing on Thai or Hawaiian Food. This will be the start-up and training for other future food/cooking projects. It’s convenient because it  will be not a big investment and it is mobile. The next iteration which will happen on year 2 or 3 will be a ramen stall that also features boxed Thai food.

The second project will be farming. This will start as gardening in year 1, the expand as urban farming in year 2 and then move on to a farming scale in year 3. Other related concepts will be greenhouse solutions, communal farming and hydroponics.

The third project will be an Eco-hostel in Oregon that will feature a small farm ala Bahay Kubo, “and halaman doon ay sari-sari”. But this won’t start until at least year 3.

And I can still work as accountant and play stocks on the side. My motivation for staying in the accounting profession is to “box out” the undeserving, scheming and nasty politicians masquerading as accountants.

Portland Points-of-View

I thought Denver had the best motto that accentuates its claim as weed capital – “The mile HIGH city”. But Portland beats this. Because just take away the R from the name and it becomes Potland! LOL.

Out of curiosity, I went into Bagdad movie theatre in the Hawthorne district and surprised with the interior that looks like you have entered the Sultan’s chamber. The movie comes with a convenient table and the screen was huge and modern as I watched “The Jungle Book”. I paid only $7.50 which is way below the $12 I pay in commercial theatre chains. This theatre could easily be attraction but I’m wondering why no ads for this.

Portland has a bit of an aversion for the commercial chains as there are only a few of them and more of the small business types. I try to patronize these small shops as they are eclectic, bold and have little chance with the general populace. Rimsky-Korsacoffee?

One other downside for Portland is that it has a lot of activists. I cannot imagine three people trying to get signatures for different kinds of causes in one street corner. Thank goodness I’m not an Oregon voter.

I bought a complete set of hiking gear from Next Adventure. They have the best selection of affordable camping gear. I bought a 50 liter backpack, a sleeping bag, a solo tent, a reflector sleeping pad, a camping pot, freeze dried foods and water purifying tablets.

Everyone is talking about the weather. About the record breaking 30 degree weather in this time of the year. I’m just enjoying it. It’s glorious.

Epic fail in the costume department yet again. Next time I need to really look the part. Grow a moustache, goatee, wear a T-shirt wrist bands, necklaces and most of all, get rid of my corporate bulges, they are so revealing. LOL.

Portland’s Pitch

I made last minute decision and hopped on a train to Portland instead of driving to Denver where they have blizzard like conditions, with tornadoes. The train came half an hour in advance instead of the usual two hour delay. I recall that the delays in the past were caused by trains carrying crude is crowding out the passenger train. So I suppose this is the sign of the times. Still, the Amtrak is still a very good deal at about half the price of Greyhound bus. I’ve read that the government is subsidizing the train.

So, here is Portland’s very convincing pitch:

  1. Powell Books – The grand-daddy of all bookstores. The size of ten bookstores into one. Therefore, the depth of their offerings is ten times that of an average bookstore. The layout reminds me of the British Museum. About a dozen big rooms, color coded as Red room, Gold room etc. After seeing this, I thought I would like to live as long as I can and consume these books and won’t go for the terminal assistance. And that is a very compelling reason.
  2. The Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the World Forestry Center and Arborateum. – why grow and keep a garden when one can just go to these beautiful, relaxing and inspiring gardens.
  3. Best strip clubs – nuff said

And of course Portland is a liberal center and comes with its downside of lots of homeless, crazy and freeloading people. Liberal initiatives are all over the place which is good because it also inspires creativity which makes Portland a foodies paradise and an artist’s haven. And most stuff have a reasonable price tag and much affordable compared to San Francisco, Seattle or Denver.

Moab to Las Vegas

“Each to his own gifts” – Spock, Star Trek: Wrath of Khan

“Smart people want fewer friends…because they have more important things to do”. – according to a study as overheard from the radio.

There are long drives in this trip but no regrets as I have covered a lot of area. But next time hopefully this won’t be this rush.

Moab is very energetic town from the roar of the motorbikes and off-road vehicles. This town looks like a setting for a Mad Max type of adventure. I looked for a campsite and was amazed at the picturesque rock scenery tucked away in the back roads. Went to the farthest campsite and was lucky to get one of two spots left. Will be coming back but I should remember to book in advance.

I had the windiest drive from Moab to the Grand Canyon. I have to go to a crawl in order not to get blown off the road. Was not impressed with Monuments Valley as I am not really a fan of Western-movie type setting anyways.

The Grand Canyon was about 3 or 5 times bigger than I expected. Lots of tourists and the parking lots are overflowing. A young guy was scrutinizing my car plate and shouts Alberta! like my car was a rare find. I liked the diversity of the landscape surrounding the canyon – tall pines, short pines, shrubs, desert. Verdict: Not likely to return.

Trip to Salt Lake City

“I’m not a natural politician” – Hillary Clinton

So I finally arrived at Salt Lake City, the last metropolis in the Western half of the US that I haven’t visited. The last piece of the western half of the puzzle. Before reaching SLC I was able to visit two of the top ski towns in North America – Jackson, Wyoming #3 and Park City, Utah, #6. Both were a study of contrasts. Jackson has the old nostalgic frontier town feel while Park City is very new and modern.

They call Jackson WY as Jackson Hole because of the impression of going into a hole when approaching the town. In short, the road going to Jackson is very steep and scary. Still I like Jackson very much because it is hip and playful and has attracted the young in-crowd. It has a town square with rowdy bars right in the middle of town.

Park City on the other hand has very new condo and commercial structures. There is one ski hill that flows directly into the middle of the Main Street and two others inside city limits. It is very hip and trendy. The downside is that it is susceptible to global warming. You can see that all other mountains around PC has no snow. It could end up looking like Palm Springs in the future.

Salt Lake City is now my new favorite. It has perhaps the most attractive populace in the US so far. The downtown area and the malls are very pretty. It looks like this city was built at a very good pace and it has not peaked yet. The roads are wide, it is located beside the mountains and you could see towering mountains as backdrop.

The Best Four…continued

2014

February – Pinas Trip. Karaoke with RK2. Fairways and Blue Water. Meets Pacheco and Joey.

March – Kings of Leon concert with Jason and Heather.

April – Buys Condo!

May – Meet Evan. Road trip to Saskatchewan and golfing with Evan and Ray.

June – Trip to Sylvan Lake with Evan and Ray. Canada Day fireworks with Evan and Ray and weird French girl.

July – Best Stampede. 50 Cent, Snoop Dog and Iggy Azalea concerts with Evan and Ray. Hot truck episode.

August – Banff capstone for Masters

September – Last course for Masters at Edmonton, graduates. One of the hottest encounters.

September to October – Golf extravaganza with Ray, at least 2 per week at different golf courses.

November – took train to Portland and Eugene. Hot pierced encounter in Eugene. Golfing.

December – 2nd Winter Road Trip – Boise, Reno, Tahoe, Redding, Eugene. Hottest encounter in Eugene. Called back to Calgary for Dinner buffet with Evan.

2015

March – Sta. Monica, Indian Wells Masters and Pot of Gold Music festival.

April – Comic con with Ray

May – Imagine Dragon concert with Ray and two girls. Chicago, Charlottesville and Indy 500.

June – Chambers Bay US Open in Seattle, Hot encounter in Portland, What The festival in Oregon.

July – Hot Stampede encounter.

August – took train to Minneapolis, Summer Set music festival, PGA Championship and Jason Day winning, Hot episode in Green Bay.

September – Barcelona, Clubbing in Ibiza, Milan dinner with RK2

October – Banff trip, Thanksgiving dinner, golf and clubbing with Ray

November – Pinas Trip

December – Third winter trip. Decadence in Denver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Four Years – 2012 to 2015

Just looking at how bleak 2016 is unfolding and how I might have reached my peak, financially, physically and emotionally, I decided to look back and acknowledge what I can say as the best four years of my life. I used to rate all years in a scale of 1 to 10. I rated the year 2011 as 9.5. Then 2012 came and it broke the scale. The stale summary:

2012

January – Celebrated New Year with Jason in Vegas. B.O.B concert at LAX. UFC.

February – Got introduced to Poker. Wins two tournaments. Panorama skiing with Jason and Heather.

March – Launched Hockey pool at work which was well received.

May – One week road trip in British Columbia with Jason. Salmon fishing in Campbell River, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Bon Iver concert at the park

July – Golf tournament, two extraordinary shots in group with Barrett. Carly Rae Jepsen and Dragonette at Stampede.

August – London Olympics!

September – Begins Masters at University of Alberta. Celebrates birthday at Speargrass with Jason and Heather at camping and Vern and Barrett at golf.

October – Back again in London for company meeting. Had an awesome time with Louis, bar hopping, museum trips and Billy Elliot at West End

December – Off to Houston for work meeting. Edmund went and had awesome time at the Blues Bar and the Comedy Club. Ate alligator meat and the cocktail “The Swamp Thing”

2013

February – Superbowl and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Accidentally saw free concert with Frankie Valli and Soul Asylum. Awesome time with Louis watching all the free concerts, Lady Marmalade at Bourbon street, blues acts, Cajun food – Gumbo, Catfish, Jambalaya.

March – CFO conference in Norway. Took the train to Stockholm.

April – Went to San Diego and took a road trip to Palm Springs. Watched Alex Claire’s concert at House of Blues.

May – Went on work trip to Bakersfield, CA. Valet for my car. Road trip to Kern county. Met Ray.

June – Great time at Golf tournament at Boulder Creek.

July – Work meeting in Houston.

October – Halloween party, dressed as “The Joker”, Ray dressed as “Pirate”. Wins prime Hockey tickets and watch it with Ray. Gets hard hat with lights on top.

December – First Winter road trip. Gets unexpected surprising hot episode at Boise.

 

 

 

 

2015 Film Review – The Jaycademy Awards

2015 had a good number of exceptional films. Here are my group of ten. Disclaimer: I did not watch Spotlight and Room as I am not e interested about the subject of the film and didn’t have time to accidentally watch these films.

  1. The Hateful Eight – Outstanding screenplay, musical score, cinematography and acting ensemble.
  2. The Revenant – Dominated by best acting of Leonardo Di Caprio and best cinematography
  3. The Big Short- Original. Engaging. Great acting ensemble. Relevant.
  4. Kingsmen: The Secret Service
  5. Brooklyn
  6. Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. Sicario
  8. Bridge of Spies
  9. Carol
  10. Amy (Documentary)