Christmas Wishlist 2014

I’m starting to get Christmas stuff organized, and as such, I’ve been thinking about my wishlist. Annie’s family is using Wishlistr, and so I’ve posted my details there.

Check out my Wishlistr List.

You’ll see a variety of products at different prices. I’d also love to get gift cards for Cineplex, Chapters, and Mark’s.

Annie and I are tight for space, so being able to go to the movies or other experience style things is ideal.

I haven’t been doing as much photography this year, so I’m not skewing my gifts in that direction, though I’d always love receiving photography stuff.

If you have time, please sign-up for Wishlistr and create your own list, as I don’t have a ton of ideas for what to give people, and I’d like to find things that people really want or need.

Christmas is coming up fast!

Daily Life

So I don’t have much that I feel like blogging about right now. I feel like I’ve sorta fell into a bit of a routine as I work away, eat and sleep as the days fly by. I haven’t put much time into anything fun or hobby related lately, and that bugs me. I feel like as the winter rolls in, I’m ready to hibernate. The lack of sun in the apartment is definitely having a negative effect on me. I haven’t been a very good friend either, so I’ve just been isolated in the little apartment, working away, until Annie comes home.

Thanks to the anti-depressants I’m on, I definitely don’t feel depressed, but I don’t feel happy either. I’m just treading water, keeping my head above the surface, with no energy to really move in any specific direction.

We live above a convenience store again, and too far from a grocery store for me to easily walk to get things that are healthier for me. Add to that the horrible kitchen in our apartment, and I don’t feel like cooking. Usually, I enjoy cooking, but I think I’ve only used the oven three times since we moved here over a month ago.

I do feel like I’m doing well at my job though, so there is some small saving grace in that. My boss continues to tell me that I’m doing a good job, and I feel like she is not the type to blow smoke up people’s behinds.

I was hoping to participate in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) this month, but haven’t felt the drive to do it. I even already had a concept I wanted to work on and a few employees at 10up are taking part and discussing what they are up to.

I’ve been without my cell phone for about a week and a half now as Annie is getting repaired. I gave up mine because she needs it when driving to work and back as I don’t ever want her to be stranded. I’ve realized that when my cell phone contract is up, I won’t be getting another flagship phone, as I don’t need one.

That’s pretty much all that’s new with me. What’s new with you? I’d love to hear from people, and I’m sorry again that I haven’t been up for reaching out.

Working at 10Up

This is my first time as a Web Producer, and it has been an interesting learning curve for me. I am not used to delegating and supporting without access to just fix issues as they come up. It is an interesting experience, and I’m trying to learn quickly.

I am definitely feeling a great fit at 10Up as I continue to work and support my team. My SWS has been direct and forthright with her opinions and needs, and that has made my job much easier. She also continually gives me opportunities to run meetings, projects and even the entire team when needed.

Each day for me is different. One day, I’m going through and auditing all of the hours we spent on a project, and the next, I’m running a meeting with our clients regarding their project. Sometimes I am working through the team’s time sheets to make sure everything is billed correctly and other times I’m writing a blog post for the internal blog about our recent successes. This isn’t a role that I ever saw myself filling, but so far, I seem to be doing okay at it.

The whole thing is extremely exciting, and I am looking forward to my continued career development within this organization. My goal is to lead a small team of my own in the next six months to a year, and help continue to provide 10Up level support to even more clients.

Not Getting a House

So Annie and I were hoping to be moving into a house around now, but it didn’t work out that way. With my new position at 10up, I’m seen by the banks as running my own business in Canada, so they couldn’t use my income to qualify for a mortgage. Annie’s mom stepped in to try to help, but the amount of paperwork needed that was stored in boxes in three different places made it impossible to organize in an efficient timeline.

We are probably going to end up staying here, in this apartment, for six months to a year, so we are trying to make the most of it. The whole situation has been hugely depressing. The only good news is that we’ve definitely seen some great houses in Guelph, for prices that we could make work in our budget. We even made offers on two different houses.

I am hopeful that in 2015 that Annie and I will be able to buy our own place. Thankfully, our apartment is owned by our real estate agent, meaning that he is willing to break our lease if he sells us a house.

I am hopeful that prices don’t increase as aggressively over the next year as it has in the past.

Saving For a House

In the GTA, house prices have been going up by between 3% and 13% per year. An average home in the GTA is now $380,453.

Annie and I would love to buy a house, but we don’t currently have any savings, and are actually in a bit of debt. With our income being how it is currently, we could afford to pay a mortgage on a house around $300,000. In our careers, our income isn’t going to rise much above where it is today, and could go down if we have a child, as Annie takes maternity leave.

We would love to save for a house, but there seems to be a logic issue with doing so: we’d lose money by saving. Let me break down my thoughts, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Say we are interested in buying a $300,000 house. We decide to save up for a year, putting away $1000 per month and at the end of the year, we have $12,000. The house that was $300,000 is now between, $309,000 (3% increase) and $339,000 (13% increase). Let’s go with a lower figure of only a 5% increase in value, or $315,000. We’ve lost $3000 in market access/value by taking a year to save. To save $1000 per month is pretty aggressive as well, and so this divide only grows if the amount put away each month is anything less. And of course, we’d have to save this on top of paying rent on our apartment which is going to be $950 + utilities + storage unit. The value of our rent is approximately $190,000 worth or mortgage value.

If we were able to find a way to get into a house today, then in a year we will potentially be ahead of the game because we would be putting that money into the mortgage, and building equity, in part, through market value increases in the house.

This is an overly simplistic model, I know, but if houses continue to appreciate in value more than three percent, then I don’t know how we will ever save enough to compensate.

Second Class Supers Kickstarter Success

So, by now you have all hopefully seen that the Kickstarter that Annie and I ran for Second Class Supers was successful. We were basically (I’ll explain that later) able to raise our $2750 minimum. As such, we will be able to afford the resources needed to complete our novel around this Christmas.

We haven’t received our funding from Kickstarter yet, as it hasn’t been the full two weeks of business days yet, but as soon as we do, we will go full tilt on the project and complete it. We have a long road ahead of us to get it done on time, but I am still confident that it can be done.

For those interested in stats, ten backers made up half of the funds needed for the project. We received sixty-four backers for our project. We had two dropped backers due to Amazon not being able to process their credit cards. Not sure why, but that’s how it worked out. The drops were fairly large, and actually will put us under our goal, but still in the realm of affordability.

There were some people that missed the window with backing the Kickstarter, but those that have reached out have been told that they will be able to buy a copy from us when the book is ready. Of course this means they won’t get any backer rewards, but that’s not why most people backed anyways, right?

We are probably a third of the way through our second edit, and we have a long way to go on that, but with Annie and I both working on it, I know we can crush it pretty quick. Our first draft was fairly clean, especially later in the story as we got our groove and figured things out. We have beta readers giving us feedback on things, and I’m very excited about getting this book done, and potentially starting a second with my wife.

Thank you again to everyone that supported our Kickstarter. I’ll keep you in the loop about how things are going, and I’ll be developing more soon so that we have a central place for all book news and developments!

My New Job: Web Producer at 10up

So, I recently started a new job, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about it. I am the new web producer at 10up, one of the largest WordPress focused agencies that I know of.

I am working for one of the largest teams, and my role is to support the senior web strategist on my team. It is a role that I’ve never taken on before, but one that I hope I’m sufficiently prepared for. Recently, I came across some advice that companies should hire people for roles that they are only seventy percent ready for, so that they have room to grow, and while I’ve taken on roles with more responsibilities, I’m enjoying the challenges with my new position at 10up.

I look forward to discussing my position more, and I hope that this job fits me well and I’m there for a long time. I’m definitely tired of floating around, unsure of where I belong. Wish me luck!

Moving Again

Before October 1st, Annie and I need to move again. We’ve only been in the house we’ve been renting since March, and feel like we just finished unpacking, only to have to pack again. When we rented the place, we knew there was a possibility this could happen, but we hoped we would be able to stay longer.

Unfortunately, the fall isn’t the greatest time to be moving in Georgetown. There are few options, and even fewer that will meet our needs in terms of price or space. Annie and I have had heated discussions about our options and what we are going to do next. This will be my twenty-first move, a few more and I feel like I deserve some kind of metal.

I don’t know what is going to happen for Annie and I, but we are exploring our options as fast as we can. Here’s hoping…

Second Class Supers Kickstarter Update

A huge thank you to everyone that has taken the time to support the Second Class Supers Kickstarter. There are 18 days to go as of this post, and we are at 54% of the way to our goal. We need to raise less than $1300 more until we reach our goal of $2750 and can afford to get our novel edited and published. I am very excited about this opportunity, and can’t explain how much I appreciate the support Annie and I have received.

KickTraq, a service I’m using to monitor how the campaign is going, says we need to bring in $70 per day to succeed at this point. It is a lofty goal, but I hope it can be met.

Second Class Supers -- Kicktraq Mini

Most of the funds contributed have been through family and friends, with only a small bit coming from the rest of the Kickstarter community. Most of what I’ve read has said that there will be a small upswell of support again near the end, and I’m hopeful that’ll be the case. I’m continuing to try to find time to promote the Kickstarter without being too annoying. While I don’t have the social capital that I used to have, I still feel confident that this goal is attainable.

Thank you again to everyone that has supported us, and those that plan on supporting us. We really appreciate it!

Reddit Writing Prompts – Quick Short Stories

So, recently on Reddit, I responded to some quick prompts and created some short stories. Here they are for your enjoyment/amusement.

[WP] The US in the year 2050. Every citizen (except the rich) must serve a mandatory month in prison, in order to recompense for crimes they must’ve committed but that Police failed to discover.

My mom had told me about the Gate when I was a child. The Gate is a ten story tall building, almost a city block wide and mounted on multiple huge tank treads. Constantly protected and watched by dozens of armed guards, it moves outwards at the end of each month. And as it moves, it is connected to an ever widening wall.

She never explained to me why the wall exists, or why, each month, the Gate moves outwards from the center of the city, expanding Det, where I was born, by a few city blocks, but today, it is scheduled to move again, and I am going to escape.

I had heard from various others that the world outside Det was beautiful, filled with trees, machines that give out food, and streets not covered in garbage. I had also heard that it was safe. Unlike Det, it was a place where parents weren’t killed for a few batteries and a small package of beef jerky.

I figured that I could slip between the cracks before the new wall was locked in place. I had been planning for months, timing the guards and their reactions. A few others had tried to escape, but all of them were caught, shot on sight. I had the advantage of being younger than anyone else that I had seen so far, and I hoped the guards wouldn’t notice a child.

The entire city trembled as the Gate cycled up its engines. Slowly, I moved into position and tried to stay out of their sight-lines. The guards stood ready, but as the Gate moved, the only thing that could be heard was the squeaking of the metal treads as they moved.

Dust kicked up as the machines started to move the wall into place, and I sprinted towards the small slit that I knew existed. It was going to be gone in a moment, but I knew that if I didn’t slow down, I could make it through.

My arm slammed against the Gate, tearing my already patchwork shirt to pieces, and slicing into my skin. Covering the wound, I stumbled forward, passing through the last of the dust cloud, I looked out into the world beyond the wall.

A long street, filled on either side with buildings, much like those in Det, stretched along down a hill. At the bottom of the hill was something I instantly recognized. I had seen it all my life. It was another Gate, attached to another wall, spanning outwards as far as I could see. It surrounded another city that looked very similar to my own.

[WP] The year is 2075. Google is an integral part of every facet of life. One morning, nothing turns on.

I knew there was something wrong before I even moved. The normal hum, resonating through my apartment was absent. My mind still foggy, I tried to recall when I last experienced a power outage. Out of habit, I tried to queue up the information, but nothing came back. The Google Overlay wasn’t active.

Sitting up in my bed, I looked around. Light was leaking around the blackout blinds, coverings that were supposed to automatically open an hour before I was to get ready for work. “Google. Open the blinds.” I knew nothing was going to happen, and the deafening silence confirmed it. Rising to manually open the blinds myself, I saw that the streets below were still.

A loud banging echoed through my apartment. It caught me off guard, but as I walked out of my bedroom, I realized it was coming from my front door. “Yes?” I shouted, my voice rough, not lubricated yet by my morning coffee.

A female voice, muffled by the near soundproof door, responded, “I don’t know what to do. Nothing is working!”

I could hear how scared she was, but I didn’t share her concern. Looking around my apartment, there weren’t any advertisements, no extra information, and best of all, no noise. “I am sure it will be resolved soon. Just go back to your apartment and wait it out.” It was though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. A feeling of euphoria started growing as I realized that I was free.

“Do you know what’s going on?” The female voice whispered loudly through the door.

Her question startled me, but the desperation in her voice required an answer, though I really didn’t care why nothing was working. “No, I don’t have any more information than you.”

“Okay,” she squeaked, her voice trailing off as she likely walked back to her apartment.

Taking a seat in my recliner, I tried to fight the worry that any second, it would all come pouring back. The endless notifications related to new e-mails and text messages, a timer in the corner of my vision as each piece of my schedule ticked by, and the constant watchful eye from Google as I took each step in my life. I felt like I could finally think for myself. But what does being free from technology really mean? I wished I could search Google to find out.