Wedding Website

For those that haven’t seen it yet, Annie and I are slowly working away on our wedding website:

We’ve put up details about where the wedding is being held, reception location, hotels in the area, and more.

While we’ve been hoping to add more to it than we have, there are dozens of projects for our wedding that we feel the same way about and the website is primarily just an informational tool. So if you have questions about where things are being held, check out the site.

Let me know what you think of it.

Gearing Up for My Twentieth Move

So, at the end of this month, I’m moving again. This time, I’ll be moving from my bachelor apartment above a convenience store to renting a house from a friend of Annie’s family. It will mean that things are going to be even tighter when it comes to money, but it will be a healthier environment for me to get work done and live my life.

I am slowly packing up all of my stuff in preparation for the move. While Annie is really excited about moving into the new place, and starting our lives together as husband and wife in a real house, I’m both tired of moving, and nervous about what our finances are going to look like.

With work keeping me busy, a second draft of Second Class Supers still a long way away, and a wedding come up in two months, adding moving to the list has definitely been a stressful addition to the list of things that needs to be done.

I can’t wait until it is all over and I’m in the new place. It is currently being renovated, and looks like it will be an amazing place to live. With a better kitchen, a dishwasher, and more, I’m hoping it will help me work towards losing more weight. It’ll also help that the nearest convenience store is at least a five or ten minute walk away and near a Subway and other options that aren’t chips, chocolate bars and pop. Living above a convenience store is just not something my limited willpower can handle.

Packing has also given me an excuse to get rid of things that I don’t need as I go through some of my still packed boxes from my move last year to see if there are things I don’t need. I picked up a few pieces of furniture while living in this apartment that will make moving out a bit more difficult than it was to move in.

So that’s the big news in my life right now. I hope to have some pictures of the new place in a week or two.

Not Feeling the Blogging Vibe

I go through periods where I just don’t feel like blogging, and I’m in that state right now. Even this post was hard to create.

There are unfortunately some really great moments in my life that I didn’t record in a post, and I’m sad about that because my memory can be so horrible sometimes. Lately, I just haven’t felt like blogging. I’m not sure what is going on, or why I haven’t felt like it. There are things happening, things I’m sure to forget. I guess sometimes, I just don’t see the point.

Singing in Choir

Last night, I sang at Annie’s Catholic church. I don’t have a good singing voice and I don’t like singing in front of people. So why did it I do it?

Annie and her other choir attendees asked me to sit with them this week since they were low on numbers. I decided to do it, and throw myself into it because I wanted to help.

I didn’t really enjoy myself, but it wasn’t horrible either. It definitely made church go quickly. Will I do it again sometime? Probably. I won’t be joining the choir though as it feels strange to me, especially being someone that isn’t Catholic.

I had never thought of myself as someone that could or would sing at a church choir, so it was an interesting experience, and one I can now cross of that imaginary list of things that people should try.

Goals for 2014

Here is my post for 2013, and as you may or may not know, I didn’t complete all of my goals, but I did better than I thought when I wrote them. I continued to review them through the year, and it seemed to help make a difference in my life.

This year, I have a few tiny goals: lose weight, get married, pay down debts, pay whatever I owe the government, go on a honeymoon, edit Second Class Supers, and increase my income.

Of course, I’d also like to write another one hundred blog posts on this blog, and continue to find more avenues to write and be creative. I’d especially like to write in a way that increases my income this year. I am not sure if that is writing for other blogs, building my own and trying to monetize it or what, but I’d really like to bring in grocery money each month by the end of 2014 through my writing.

As for losing weight, I didn’t do a good job in 2013, and I know I have to do better in 2014. Instead of going down as I intended, I floundered about and during the Christmas season, I definitely went up. I really want to get to 260 pounds. I think, at that weight, I would be able to fit into size 40 pants, and an XL shirt. Ideally, I’d like to get to a 38 pants, so I could buy clothing from any store, but small goals can sometimes be the easiest to achieve and maintain.

In April, Annie and I will be married. Currently, I’m concerned about our finance for the wedding. We are far behind where we need to be. I would hate to have to downsize our guest list, but that is a possibility that Annie and I may have to discuss in the coming weeks.

My credit card is still sitting with a much higher amount on it than I’d like. I made some financial mistakes that have continued to haunt me. While they are going to get taken care of at some point, saving up for a wedding definitely slowed my progress on paying it down. I hope to make a bigger dent on my credit card this year and pay off at least one half of what I have owing on it.

In July, Annie and I are planning on having a honeymoon. It will be a trip to Florida where we will go to Universal Studios while staying in the condo that Annie’s mom owns. I am hoping to have my driver’s license again before this point so that I can help with going from Ontario to Florida and back in Annie’s car.

The first draft of Second Class Supers is done. We are slowly working on the editing process for the second draft. I am hoping Annie and I can find a way to kick it into high gear so we can complete the second draft before our wedding. I’d like to see this book in print, in my hands before the end of 2014.

This upcoming year is going to be a big one, with lots going on, and with money tight, I’m trying not to be too stressed out. Here’s hoping 2014 works out well for everyone! Thanks again to all my readers. I really appreciate your support.

Quick Christmas Rundown

So Annie and I made it through both my family and her family Christmas celebrations. Getting to Kingston was a total nightmare. Poor Annie white knuckled the drive the entire way from Georgetown to Kingston. The roads were icy, and people in Toronto are stupid about driving in such conditions. Many vehicles passed us as Annie continued to drive slow, safe and steady through the slush and increasingly heavy ice.

There were a few times in our trip where I had to get out of the car and clear off the windshield wipers so that Annie could see. They were both making loud noises, and becoming decreasingly effective at removing the build up in our view. At the last major gas station exit before Kingston, every vehicle around us exited off the highway. Annie and I traded looks, and Annie confided in me later that she wondered if they knew something we didn’t. As the rain pelted down and froze, we both constantly considered pulling off and staying somewhere for the night, but the reports were that it was only going to get worse over the next day or so, and we saw signs showing that we were getting ever closer.

The three and a half hour drive took us six hours to complete. Arriving in Kingston, I was exhausted, so I can only imagine how tired Annie was.

As a family, we all went to see the second Hobbit movie. Mark, Carly and my grandma were definitely missed, but it was probably the largest showing of my family at a movie that I’ve ever gone to. On Sunday we had a nice family gathering at my Aunt Nancy’s place, where we got to meet her new boyfriend, eat some food, play some card games, and take it easy. It was really nice, and I enjoyed it. After a few more days at my aunt’s, hanging out with Kyle and Serina, it was time to go. Using over half an hour of effort, it took the Kyle, Annie and I to get her car out of the driveway.

Coming back from Kingston wasn’t so bad, but to avoid some of the crazy traffic mess, we decided to go on highway 7, which is a bit slower and longer, but I think Annie and I had a good time taking that way back. We noticed as we approached Georgetown, that there were still many people with power out due to the ice storm. Thankfully, my apartment had its power back before we arrived home.

We then had the Christmas celebration with Annie’s family, and it was amazing as well. Lots of food, company, conversation. It was really nice. One special thing that Annie’s family does is a Secret Santa draw, since there are so many people in her family. I got one of Annie’s nieces, and gave her a huge make-up brush set as she had asked for in her wish list. Somehow, Annie’s brother got me for the second year in a row, and purchased something outside of the allowed budget: a lighting kit. Three stands, three lights, two umbrellas and a bag to carry it all.

Annie went back to my apartment, picked up my camera, and I did an impromptu photo booth at her sister’s place. It was a lot of fun. I took some shots of whomever wanted to sit in front of the camera and giggled like a child as I tried to figure out how to use my new equipment. I am super grateful for all the time and gifts I received, but this one really played into my passions and lifted my spirits. Buying a lighting kit was something that I expected to slowly piece together over the next two years or so, and to have it all at once, ready to use, it was really exhilarating.

I had an amazing Christmas. I am so grateful for the wonderful job I have, the family, my fiancee and my friends. I am looking forward to 2014, and I feel so blessed.

Bronchitis: The Plague

So, I’m still not fully healed, but I spent nearly three weeks fighting a rough bout of bronchitis. I had to take some time off work, and I was pretty much useless otherwise as well. I am glad that things got better without antibiotics, and that it didn’t become pneumonia. The endless coughing, the fits late at night, and the feeling of bruising in my chest were not fun. The phlegm, headache and exhaustion were also fairly brutal.

Unfortunately, Annie now has something quite similar. Thankfully, having gone through it myself, I know the things that helped, but she is less inclined to take medication than I. I am hoping because of her otherwise wonderful immune system that she’ll bounce back faster than I did, and while very uncomfortable, she doesn’t seem to be as phlegmy as I was.

Hopefully, this was our one big cold of the winter season, and we will spend the rest of the winter being nice and healthy.

Visiting the Mothership

Annie and I just got back the other night from visiting the headquarters of rocketgenius, the company I work for. We went to Virginia on Sunday, and had a great time. The company party on Monday night was amazing, the weather, while rainy, was warmer than here, and I came back with a ton of schwag emblazoned with the rocketgenius logo.

I got to hang out with the dozen people I work with and their significant others. Annie finally got to meet my co-workers, who I’ve talked about for over a year with her.

We stayed in the Aloft Chesapeake, and while it was interesting, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was tucked out of the way, which meant that if you were walking, you couldn’t go see or do anything. The hotel itself was a bit odd, with a young, hip, urban/industrial feel.

Chris Lema and Clay Griffiths ‏were there for our Christmas party, and it was really interesting to hang out with them as well.

Annie had to head back early to go to work, but I got to stay until Thursday. My co-workers organized a go-karting event which was fun, and I hung out with Dave and his wife, Laura, at their place afterwards eating Chinese food and watching an inappropriate movie. I had some great conversations about the economy, minimum wage, and education with Dave as usual.

It was hard to come back home. I missed Annie, but it was nice to feel like a small part of the family that is rocketgenius. I was able to play with a Nexus 5, talk to Carl about upcoming Gravity Forms stuff, hear Alex plan his next trip to Brazil, listen to Rob wondering if Dana would enjoy her lunch, and take a ride in Kevin’s sweet car.

I remember a great deal from my visit last year, and I have a feeling, I’ll have strong memories of this visit as well. I work for a really amazing company.

Being Sick

I don’t do well being sick. I find it hard to focus on getting better. I find it hard to give myself permission to focus on getting better. I want to be productive, and I’m hard on myself when I’m not. The discomfort is annoying, and I can’t wait to get better. Sometimes though, because I’m so bad at focusing on my needs, I am sicker longer than I need to be. The last few days, I’ve been sick, but today is the first day that I’ve focused on getting better. Not because I want to, but because I have to. When I take meds, I pass out. When I don’t, I cough all kinds of disgusting materials from my throat and lungs. What a fun couple of days…


Guaranteed Income Program

I recently found a very interesting discussion on Reddit about welfare programs. Someone asked if the US would save or spend more money if they cut all the current programs and changed to a flat-rate, guaranteed minimum income system, click here to read the full Reddit post.

A user, by the name of imkharn, responded and has received over 2241 points over the last seven days. His words really hit a chord with me. I will admit that I’m not smart enough in this area to have all the answers, so I’ll try just to present information that is coloured with a few of my own personal experiences.

Not all money given to the poor counts as welfare. The government has a much more restrictive definition allowing a much lower cost quote. If you include earned income credit and housing assistance, spending on the poor is 1.03 trillion a year. Keep in mind this may be a little high because not all welfare money goes to the poor.

According to the Census Bureau, there are 46.5 million Americans living in poverty, with the poverty level defined as $23,021 for a family of four

This means it would be cheaper for the US government to simply cut a $22,000 check to every adult in poverty each year than keeping the current 80+ program welfare system.

A more efficient use of that 22K is to give it out in graduated amounts. Ensure no one makes less than 22K a year, but if they make more than 22K a year, for every 2 dollars of additional income they make, remove 1 dollar of subsidy check. This smooth transition doesn’t remove incentive to get a job and was proposed by Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman who despite being a libertarian supports a minimum guaranteed income.

Here is a cool spreadsheet image showing what different systems would look like using a similar model and comparing the current costs mentioned in the links in imkharn’s comment.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 11.26.13 AM

The need for such a system, at least in my mind, really drives home the issue with our economy, but much like minimum wage, I think this idea’s time has definitely come, and a more simplistic, standardized system could be beneficial, easier to maintain and while it would suffer from people gaming the system or outright lying, we have those issues in our current social assistance programs.

I would love to see how the numbers would stack up in Canada. I don’t know if $22,000 is the right amount, but currently if someone in Canada worked a minimum wage job ($10.25/hr) for 40 hours per week, for an average of 48 weeks per year, they’d have $19,680 pre-taxes or probably around $15,000 per year after taxes which means surviving on $1250 per month. I couldn’t make that work here in Georgetown. My rent alone would take two thirds of that amount, and I live in a worn down, low quality bachelor apartment.

Under such a system, that same person, would have nearly $30,000 guaranteed. They would have around $2500 per month to spend on an apartment, clothing, food, services, and could thrive in a much more normal way. The money they would spend on goods and services would help the economy, and the government would save money from not having to manage such a complex system, and get a piece of the action back in sales taxes from purchases.

There are a great number of awesome comments within the post, and it is definitely a must-read if you have any interest in this topic. My hope is that more people can start trying to develop systems to help society get back on track. Unfortunately this system, like nearly any single idea, won’t help the income disparity between the highest and lowest earners in the economy, but as one person said, a system like this could mean the difference between surviving on a minimum wage job, or thriving.

We definitely don’t live in the world that my parents or grandparents lived in when it comes to wages versus expenses. I am super fortunate to have a pretty darn good job for an amazing company, but I still struggle sometimes thanks to financial mistakes made earlier on in my career.