CBC All in a Day: Housing in Kingston Panelist

Recently, I got to be a panelist on a quick segment of All in a Day with Alan Neal for CBC Ottawa where I was asked to talk about housing in Kingston. I was the lucky panelist out of the three invitees.

I spend a fair bit of time on the Kingston subreddit where I look out for what’s happening in the community I live in and Michelle Allan posted on the subreddit asking for insights into the housing issues here (read that post). I couldn’t help but leave a response and while it didn’t receive many upvotes, they reached out to me to learn more. I ended up having some phone calls with Halima Olajumoke Sogbesan where I realized that they weren’t looking for a text based interview where they’d write an article about my experiences but instead were looking to have me on the radio.

Thankfully, it was part of a panel and there were two others being invited, a long time resident that has struggled with housing, and a post-grad student in Kingston also struggling with affordability. I was going to be the “lucky” one on the panel.

I wanted to make sure it wasn’t presented that way. I didn’t want people to say “well, they did it and are now part of that I got mine group.”

When I got to the Kingston Library, I walked in like I knew what I was doing, and met up with Halima and the other two panelists. We sat together off to the side and watched the event get organized. It was neat seeing behind the curtains. One thing that I didn’t think about much until I was there was the audience. They opened it up to the people of Kingston to come and listen live!

People coming to listen to CBC All in a Day Live at the Kingston Library

By the time, we had to do our segment, the room was standing room only, all of the chairs, save for ours up front that we vacated to do the segment, were full. There was close to one hundred people listening in person and for some reason, I felt more anxious about that than the people that might be listening live on the radio or after the fact on the CBC website or podcasting app.

Sitting at the microphone for CBC All in a Day with two other panelists

Before it was our time to answer questions, they had us sitting at the microphones with headphones and we could hear the live performance through the headphones. It sounded amazing!

Then it was our turn to talk and we all tried to focus on Alan, the host. He asked us each two questions and that was it… we were done. All three of us decided not to stick around and watch the rest of the show live, having felt like we were on display, I think we all felt a certain amount of anxiety or discomfort through exposing our situations, thoughts, and feelings to the world.

I think I did well in how I spoke. I really wanted to make sure I focused on how this wasn’t our dream home, we ran out of places we could afford to move where there was other family, and how many of our family and friends weren’t as lucky as us to get into the market and I hope I was successful in those points, despite the limited talking time.

Listen to the clip here: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-92/clip/15909557

I probably could have talked for half an hour on the subject, quite easily. I am happy to have had the opportunity to share some small amount of my experience and opinions and appreciate that CBC gave me that opportunity.

Who would have guessed that leaving a comment on a reddit thread would lead to being on the radio?

Ioniq 5 Trips

We often make trips of four to eight hours of driving over the course of a day, so with a fully electric vehicle will we constantly be concerned about range? Will we be sitting at chargers for hours on end every day draining our phone batteries wishing we had a hybrid or still using a full gas vehicle? What would life actually be like?

We have put a small, refundable deposit on a 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5. We don’t know when we will get it or if life might get in the way of us actually going through with the whole thing, but we wanted to get our name on a list to get one and have done so. This leads me to wondering what our life will be like driving around with it.

The large battery 2022 Ioniq 5 has a range of around 450 kilometers, which leads me to believe it will have a winter and mid-summer range of around 250 – 300 KM due to the heating and cooling needs of both us and the battery system.

At the lower end with around 250 KM of range, will we be able to visit family and friends or will we be spending hours at chargers wishing we had bought a hybrid or a straight up gas vehicle?

Assuming we stop where we normally stop in either Cobourg or Port Hope, what would our journeys look like?

Note: charge ranges are estimates and were divided in half for summer/winter calculations.

Vehicle Supply Chain Issues

I noticed that Hyundai was selling out of it’s 2022 vehicle models for hybrid and electric vehicles so my wife and I decided to reach out to our local dealership to see about reserving a Hyundai Ioniq 5, but it looks like we won’t be able to get one.

Check out my post Electric SUV Maybe? where we talk about the Ioniq 5.

I went to the Hyundai website and saw the following notice that the Ioniq 5 was on limited inventory and the Kona Electric was sold out. While the model year was announced in the fall of 2021, we are only at the end of January of 2022 and the 2022 line-up of Kona Electric SUVs are all spoken for!

The response I received from our local Hyundai dealer was this: “there has been huge demand for the vehicle and Hyundai have now pre-sold the entire 2022 production. Hyundai have closed orders on it until they release the 2023, they are indicating ordering in June 2022 with delivery May 2023”

So if we want an Ioniq 5, we will have to wait until they announce the 2023 model year in the summer of 2022 and it likely won’t be delivered until the spring of 2023. The whole thing breaks my brain a little. I’m not completely surprised though as the Ioniq 5 is an amazing all-electric mid-sized crossover SUV, and we were ready to wait nearly a year to get it, but now we have to wait about a year and a half to get the vehicle we want, otherwise we would have to look at other options available to us.

Maybe there is a better option? Maybe another manufacturer will have less supply constraints with the type of vehicle we want? I am not sure yet. Thankfully, we are not in a situation where we need to buy a vehicle right this second, but in the back of my mind, I wonder… If our car does break down in a way that isn’t worth it to repair, what will our choices be then?

Maybe we could buy a Hyundai Tucson plug-in hybrid?

Nope. Guess not. Maybe the Santa Fe Hybrid?

I guess we will have to look at another manufacturer to figure out what options are available to us. The downside is that we felt that Hyundai had a good sweet spot of quality to value right now and other manufacturers skew that proposition in different ways. For example, we love what the Nissan Ariya looks like they’ve already delayed the Canadian release until the 2023 model and it is going to be much more expensive than the Ioniq 5 from what I’ve been able to research. The Chevy Bolt EUV might be a cheaper vehicle, but from what I can see, the quality might be a bit more lacking than the Hyundai or Nissan options.

I am hoping we can test drive a VW ID4 at some point soon, and maybe a Toyota bZ4X if they come out in 2022 and don’t have a year long wait to purchase.

I would really like to not buy another gasoline powered vehicle if we can avoid it. I’d prefer a plug-in hybrid or a full-electric vehicle that can fit four adults or two adults, a dog, and a car seat (if surrogacy works out) without me feeling crammed in there like I do in our current car.

Unfortunately, all the best planning in the world doesn’t matter when there is a manufacturing and supply shortage.

BetterHelp – Online Therapy

I have been using BetterHelp (affiliate link) for a couple months this time and have found it to be very helpful, but like most things, it really depends on a few key factors: how much effort I put in and picking the right person to help me.

I had tried BetterHelp before and went and selected a therapist and it didn’t go well, so I switched to someone else and while it went better, I wasn’t in a position to spend around $400 per month at the time to continue it, so I stopped.

It is now even more expensive at $420 Canadian dollars per month. Can I justify that cost? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was difficult. It’s a lot of money and feels like I’m spending it on a very selfish thing, but I want my mental health to not continually be a burden on me or my family. I want to be better armed to take on my Darker Mind and not just survive, but thrive!

The counsellor I’m working with has been amazing. She is a licensed Professional Counselor in the USA that typically works with children, teens and young adults. She specializes in depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, autism, impulsive behaviors, anger, and suicidal ideation. She notes that her therapy style is caring, open minded and interactive, and that her approach combines CBT, trauma focused care, and person center therapy.

When I was going through profiles, it took me a bit to find one that seemed to appeal to me. I liked that she was focused on a number of things I struggle with, and while I’m probably not her typical client being that I’m almost a middle aged man, I feel like we have quickly built a good rapport and understanding.

What Do I Get?

Each week we get together and do a live video talk therapy session. Sessions are typically around 30 minutes, but my counsellor has extended mine to be 45 minutes (I am not sure how she handles others, nor do I know how others therapists handle their BetterHelp engagements).

I have gone through nine sessions with my counsellor which means I’m spending around $105 per session per month if I complete four video sessions. We did have five sessions in a month during my second month on the platform, but I don’t just get video sessions.

My counsellor gives me homework sometimes to complete. Worksheets, readings, and more are often attached to my profile for me to complete through the platform. My answers, updates, and insights are sent back to my counsellor for us to review in session.

She also takes the time to read and respond to messages where I provide context or clarity on how I’m feeling, what’s new in my life and some background on how I feel like I got to where I am today. I put the effort in to really provide a clear and honest picture of who I am so I can be helped and she takes the time to let me know she’s reviewed what I’ve written.

I also submit journals a couple of times per week, which she also reviews.

In the end, I probably take up two hours or so a week of her time, or around eight hours a month, for an hourly rate of around $52.50 Canadian. Not too bad for all of the expert help I’m receiving!

Do I Recommend It?

Would I recommend BetterHelp (affiliate link) to others? Yes, with a caveat. If you have benefits through your work then you’d be better served by going through your benefits and getting a local therapist to help you, but if you don’t have benefits like me, and want the safety net of knowing you can easily change therapists if you don’t jive with the one you’ve found, then it might be worthwhile.

Also, I feel like I’m getting a ton of value from my interactions thus far and worry a bit about burning out my counsellor by putting too much information and time into my notes, messages, journals, responses to homework and more… She’s told me to let her worry about that, though.

I have another session tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know where the conversation will go, but I know that the 45 minutes will be over too soon.

And overall, I don’t know yet where therapy will take me, but I am hoping to get to the point where I can reduce the impact of my constant negative thoughts, improve my general mood, and feel proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. My ultimate goal would be to be able to look in the mirror and be able to say that I love who I am.

Crypto Bot Trading: Part 2

If you haven’t seen part 1, please check out that first. Note, I am not a financial expert, these are just all my opinions, please do your own research.

Signals

One of the things you’ll see when setting up a bot is the Deal Start Condition. This is the signal that tells the bot to buy into your deal. There are a ton of signals and they are different depending on which exchange you are using. Binance, for example, has RSI or Relative Strength Index where Bittrex does not. 

If you use too many of these signals or configure them in certain ways, then you will often create a bot that very rarely opens any deals. You have to weigh the risk to reward, just like with any signal we are going to talk about.

Crypto Bot Trading: Part 1

Using the crypto market to make money is just like playing in the stock market but the volatility is higher, the risks are greater and the whole thing is currently fairly unregulated. The good news is that instead of waiting a month for a stock or ETF to move one percent, you can see the same kind of movement in an hour in crypto. 

Of course this happens both ways, both up and down, but it’s the expectation that as crypto becomes more well known and trusted, more people will enter the market, increasing the value of the crypto assets and allowing money to be made.

Someone asked me once “when do you think it will end?” My answer now is the same as when I was asked… I thought that this would have ended years ago. The fact that the opportunity still exists today is somewhat surprising to me. This whole rodeo could end at any time, so I’m hoping to make a few dollars before it does.

If that sounds okay to you, then using some bots to buy and sell cryptocurrencies might be a risk worth taking.

Note, I am not a financial expert, these are just all my opinions, please do your own research.

Electric SUV Maybe?

So it’s been about half a year since I last wrote about the next vehicle we might get in a post called SUV Maybe? and I wanted to revisit the topic now that we’ve finally paid off our car!

That’s right, I’m living the no car loans life right now, but with our current vehicle being a Kia Forte, I don’t know how much longer the seven year old car will live. It’s not that it’s falling apart, but it creaks and groans more than it used to, more and more expensive parts are needing replacement, and we are both tired of driving something that feels like a leaf on the wind during winter highway driving to visit family.

In my last post, I strayed away from electric vehicles because they were all too expensive. I gave the win to the Nissan Ariya, but coming in at around $75,000 for a decent set of options, it is just too much money. But we recently test drove a $55,000 Hyundai Ioniq 5 and let me tell you about that experience!

Federal Election: Does Anyone Deserve Your Vote?

We are currently in the midst of likely the shortest election campaign timeline the Federal government can run, and I am hearing the odd soundbite that makes me perk my ears up, but is there really anything to get excited about?

Using BNN Bloomberg’s write-up about where each party stands so far, I wanted to give my own two cents on them. It’ll be easier to read through the promises on the Bloomberg site than here, but I provide colourful commentary!

Corporate Taxes

The Conservatives want to make companies pay three percent of their gross revenue in a digital service tax if they don’t pay corporate income tax here.

That seems pretty weak to me for a political organization that says it wants companies to pay a “fair share of taxes”, but maybe I’m missing more details here.

The Liberals want to raise corporate income tax on the largest banks and insurers from 15% to 18% on all earnings over $1 billion dollars. They seem to think that this will raise $2.5 billion dollars over the next four years for the federal coffers.

Again, this seems very weak to me. What about doing this to all corporations with revenues over a billion dollars? What about getting to a corporate tax rate of 20% on all earnings over $2 billion dollars? Make it more progressive where those organizations that are the most successful, pay a bit more? There are a lot of countries that tax corporations more than Canada does.

The NDP also wants to do a 3% increase on corporate tax rates but doesn’t seem to have all the additional stipulations of being for banks only or for profits above a billion dollars. They also note that they want to create a temporary tax on large companies that enjoyed a windfall due to the pandemic.

That seems like a weirdly selective tax, and I’m not a fan of those. We also know that it’s rare for taxes to be temporary in nature, even if that’s the original intent. Lastly, they’ve said they want to make internet giants “pay their fair share”, the language is so soft that it’s almost not worth mentioning. I expect numbers and details and not catchphrases.

Low Cost Canadian Cell Phone Plans are Garbage

The requirements the CRTC has given the cell phone service providers to create low cost plans look like something written up from 2012, with features and prices that just don’t make sense for modern times. It looks like the big-three will continue to make huge amounts of money, even off these “discount” plans.

Proposed requirements for low-cost cell phone plans

Minutes

They have made it so that the actually inexpensive plans, the prepaid occasional use and the postpaid occasional use plans have such restrictive amounts of minutes that it’ll be unlikely you’ll want to use your phone at all.

One hundred minutes is just over an hour and a half per month, and four hundred minutes for the year means no more than thirty-three minutes per month. A job interview on the phone could easily burn through that time. A tele-medicine call could use up more than another thirty minutes.

I get that the phone portion of the cellular network might not be the least expensive component of their offerings, but a bit more common sense and value could have been found here.

Text Messages

I don’t see why unlimited text messages wasn’t fought for at every plan level. A combined availability of 400 text messages for a year and then $0.50 per message above that doesn’t fit the world we live in. I receive text messages for two-factor authentication sometimes. I receive text-messages for package delivery notices. I receive text-message reminders for dental appointments. It’s not just communicating with family or friends, text-messaging has become part of how I interact with the wider world of services and it’s such a small amount of digital data that it is outrageous that it isn’t included with every plan level.

If they absolutely had to have a limit to avoid abuse, something in the few thousand range seems much more fair to me.

Data

For the monthly plan, three gigabytes seems relatively fair, though I think the price for the plan is a bit high in my opinion, at every other plan option, I think they weren’t thinking about how data is used and useful to consumers today and how low-cost it has become over the last decade.

Each of the plans should include a minimum of one gigabyte of data and none of them should include overages for going over. Instead, the plans should require the vendors to throttle data to 3g speeds to reduce how much data can be consumed without the potential for overages in costs. The only added this overage safety in the postpaid occasional use plan.

Bring Your Own Device

The cellular companies know that most people don’t bring their own device when getting set-up on a cell phone plan. Phones are fairly disposable, so most people looking at these plans might have to pass on them and pay more per month because they can’t afford to spend around one hundred to two hundred dollars to purchase a budget phone.

Also, what isn’t mentioned is that most of the cell phone providers in Canada typically offer some small discount if you bring your own device, though that language is often buried these days because they don’t want you to bring your own device as you can then easily move to another network when they have a better offer. They want you locked in for two years on their network and they do that through phone subsidies.

I think at least the monthly plan should have the option to have a device included, especially the lower cost options that exist in the market.

What the CRTC Should Have Mandated

Here’s what my mandate might look like if I were able to move the CRTC towards something better for low-cost plan requirements. Is it perfect? No. I just tried to adjust the few line-items that they currently have to create plans that are a bit more fair and reasonably priced.

With my own diagram, I set the initial low-cost plan at what I consider to be a low-cost at only $25 per month and provided the requirement for sub-$500 devices be available to this plan as a zero-cost way of getting a reasonable phone. This makes a ton of sense to me and would likely see adoption by many users. The profit on this plan might be low, especially since I tried to reduce the amount of opportunities for companies to get more money from people through punitive overages, but I think it’s overall a fair and useful plan for most users looking for a lower-cost plan.

I kept the other two plans the same price as they were, but I changed some numbers and features around. I think the biggest change is data, where I quadrupled the postpaid occasional-use plan from 250 MB to 1GB of data minimum required and went from zero data to 4GB of data for the year on the prepaid occasional-use plan. I also think that my changes to texting are much more useful and reasonable.

The other big change I would want to see is overages cost less. Even on plans that exist today, most of the overage prices are out of line with reason and reality and are heavily punitive. They are often set-up in such a way to make you move up a plan level so that the communications companies can consistently make more money from a user.

Canada is one of the worst when it comes to pricing and we have to push our elected officials to convince the CRTC to force the giant corporations to do better. Corporations are focused on making as much money as they can, and it’s only through government intervention that we, the people, get any opportunity to push back, especially when there are no reasonable competitors in the market.

Update: It shouldn’t have to be said, but the data on these plans should be at full LTE speeds until they have used up their allotment. The practice of selling these CRTC mandated plans at 3G speeds is another punitive decision that is horrible! If I buy a 250MB data plan, it should be the latest connection and speed that my provider offers. I am so angry right now that they went ahead and made the data on these plans 3G speeds.