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Friday, November 18, 2011

The best and worst of Europe.

10 countries, 4 months, one bag, no rules. Here's my best and worst.

Drinking:
Best: Spain - Amazing cheap wine, there's no such thing as a measure of alcohol it's all done by a very lazy eye, and if you pick anywhere in a city there's probably about 20 bars in a 5 minute walking radius.
Worst: Norway - When a beer costs $20 you know you're in the wrong place to drink.

General Promiscuity:
Best: Poland - 4 nights out and 3 propositions...
Worst: Spain - Oh they're all really nice... Offer to take you around then you call them and they pretend like they don't even know who you are.

Value for your money:
Best: Estonia - I was living on about $10 per day, which includes sightseeing, public transportation, sightseeing and drinking. (Note accommodation was free since I was couchsurfing)
Worst: Norway - I'll give you 2 examples. A big mac combo is $15, the bus to get to oslo from the airport cost me more money than the flight to oslo from london!

Museum's/Galleries/History:
Best: England - I could write a list bigger than this article about all the cool stuff in england, but top 5 - National Archieve (Magna Carta), National Museum (Love the egyption section including the rosetta stone), Stone Henge (WOW), The tower of london, Westminster (Do they really live in that?)
Worst: Slovakia - When the 'highlight' traveling exhibition that you pay good money to get into is Van Gogh's doodles of naked fat women you know something's up. (Note: Bratislava has a really beautiful old town, just not much inside)

Nature:
Best: Sweden - Stockholm itself is a collection of islands on the ocean. It's small and easy to get to the country and the countryside is like Algonquin park. Beauty at its best!
Worst: England - There's not much naturewise, they call Brighton a vacation spot and the beach is a bunch of huge rocks with garbage floating in the water.

Weather:
Best: Spain - It's almost December and it was 18 degrees today.. It doesn't rain much... and it's sunny most of the time.
Worst: It's a tie Ireland/Scotland/England - When you show up at the end of July and it's 18 degree's you know something is odd... When your host keeps the window and doors open because of the beautiful weather, you get this feeling that you might have made a mistake coming here... When it hits 25 degree and the metro's speakers are blaring that it's important to stay very hydrated on these HOT summer days and that emergency staff are standing by in case of emergencies you feel like running as fast as possible. lol

Candy:
Best: Sweden - OMG half there stores are filled with candy, it makes one wonder how everyone's in such good shape. The classic swedish candy is hard licorice candy that's sweet and SALTY -ewwww... lol
Worst: Spain - Of course you can buy it, but there's not much around and it's bloody expensive.

People:
Best: Norway - Everyone is so bloody friendly, if you're looking lost in the street they stop to ask if you need directions...
Worst: I can't really answer this one. I've had good and bad experiences everywhere, but there's no where that sticks out.

Hippest City:
Best: This is REALLY REALLY hard but I have to give this to Riga, there's tons of stuff to do, a beautiful old town, a huge river running through the city, a great beach a short train ride away, lots of fun party people. 2nd place goes to Barcelona , 3rd place goes to Tallinn.
Worst: Bratislava - Imagine this beautiful city with nice friendly people and after 3 days of wondering around you have no idea what else to do, when you ask your hosts they say leave and go to Vienna hahahahha

Peace and Love for now!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Canada Pension Plan = Do we have enough money?

When the news says Canada's pensions are in trouble you start to worry about what's in store for you when retirement hits.

A 2 hour Deep Dive into CPP lead to some surprising facts:

  • Canadians contribute 9.9% of their salary into CPP up to $45k in salary!!! (If you work for a company they pay half)
  • The average benefit is just a little over $500 per month.
  • When you 'donate' your contribution part of that money is going to pay for current retirees (Around 9% and rising)
  • The best news is that according to an actuarial report CPP is funded for everyone forever and ever and ever.... Of course the contribution rate used to be 3.6%, I wonder what the actuaries were saying then...

I'm happy to read that the problems there having in America with an underfunded pay as you go system. I don't like to read that I'm paying for everyone retiring now. However that seems to be the way of the world. CPP's will be growing its asset base over time from 3.9% assests/yearly expenditure ratio in 2010 to 5.2% in 2050. So they want more money, 'just in case'?

It's just most upsetting to read about how defined pension's are dissappearing in the private sector because todays seniors syphon off too much money, oh and they're still taking from us kids because they didn't pay enough while they were working.

So the amount of money I really have to spend is.

104.95% my income including the 4.95% my employer has to pay to cpp. Yep they know.
- 9.9% for CPP contribution
- 1.73% for Employment Insurance contribution
- 15.54% for Federal Tax if I made around the Canadian average of $45k per year
- 5.08% for Ontario Tax if I made around the Canadian average of $45k per year
- 5% GST
- 7% PST

= 60.70% or if I made $45k I'm left with $27,315 per year. YIKES

Some info:
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/isp/pub/factsheets/rates.shtml
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/isp/cpp/contribrates.shtml#examA
http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/app/DocRepository/1/eng/oca/reports/CPP/CPP25_e.pdf

Sunday, July 24, 2011

London for the weekend


July 22nd-24th

My journey begins in London Town. I didn't sleep in my overnight flight, but I arrived excited and energized friday morning. The first things that I noticed were everything appeared to be backwards. Besides driving on the wrong side of the street, londoner's walk on the left side of an elevator and wait on the right, which is the opposite of what you expect. Houses and buildings are extremely old, people are quiet and reserved if you dont' know them, but if you stop to ask them a question they'll go above and beyond to help you out.

I met my old friend Ivana for lunch on friday and got a cheap phone. 10 pounds for the cell and another 10 for the card. 4 pence per text and 8 per minute. There's no long distance.

The Metro is pretty easy to understand with some practice, pick yourself up an oyster card that you swipe in and out for the cheapest possible daily fares. I've been topping out around 7 pounds per day.

Most of the museum's are free. The national library was a treat some very old books and documents including Magna Carta! The national musem's Egyption display was incredible, I found the Rosetta stone.

I've been couchsurfing for the weekend with a very experienced london host. We've done a big of drinking and eating. Last night was pub crawl night.

London is pricey. I've been lucky to have an excellent howst that's given me a couple free meals and met a few new friends who have bought me a pint. In 3 days I spent 108.5 pounds plus 15 for the metro on my oyster card.

I'm off to stockholm on the 6am Ryanair flight.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Life Questions

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every
morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my
life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And
whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a
row, I know I need to change something . . . almost everything—
all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment
or failure—these things just fall away in the face of
death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that
you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of
thinking you have something to lose. —STEVE JOBS, college
dropout and CEO of Apple Computer, Stanford University
Commencement, 2005

Early Retirement?

From the 4 hour workweek:

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal
Mexican village on doctor's orders. Unable to sleep after an
urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to
the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had
docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The
American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American asked.
"Only a little while," the Mexican replied in surprisingly good
English.
"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American
then asked.
"I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,"
the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
"But... What do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican looked up and smiled. "I sleep late, fish a little, play
with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the
village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my
amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."
The American laughed and stood tall. "Sir, I'm a Harvard M.B.A.
and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the
proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats
with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing
boats."
He continued, "Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you
would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own
cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution.
You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course,
and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New
York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with
proper management."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, sefior, how long will all this
take?"
To which the American replied, "15-20 years. 25 tops."
"But what then, sefior?"
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the
time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company
stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."
"Millions, senor? Then what?"
"Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village,
where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids,
take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings
where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos ..."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

howtopickmeupoline

Do you think that the girl who everyone agrees on is hot is going to get the most views, the most winks and probably too many emails to reply to you? Well it turns out, so does everyone else...

A recent article written by a well known dating site has reviewed the mathematics of attractiveness online. What its found is that guys go after girls they know everyone won't like... It makes sense after all. I'm always looking for the tatted up, nipples pierced, catholic school girl who learned skills in a special house of ill repute in Beijing... Secretly knowing she's a 9 but figuring other guys will just take her for a freak...

The problem is, the math says alot of other guys are thinking the same thing as me. So... What's the easiest way to win at a game? Play one that 99% of people don't play. You've already beat out most of the competition!

The next time you try and find some eharmony send a message to the girl you know and everyone else knows is hot... Guess what... The math says your odds just got better by 200-300%!!!!!

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-mathematics-of-beauty/

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you see me laughing

I remember laughing with you about Alexis and Bill and how they are going to demand to be healthy this weekend. Like it's such a big deal to eat 'normal food' for a weekend. Even though every other weekend we go out and eat like shit. When there's the expectation to eat normally everyone has to make a big stink about it.

If you see me laughing this weekend you'll know why.