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Tag Archives: growingup

I’ve been thinking recently that you can measure your life in groups of 6, and that your multiple-of-6 birthdays are significant. I don’t have a good term for them but the ages 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 …? are milestones in the sense that you have “matured” from your previous years.

At age 6, you’ve learned all the basics about being a human. You know, walking, eating, talking. At age 12, you’ve mastered being a kid and going to school. At age 18, you’ve mastered being a teenager which is actually quite a feat. When you’re 24, you should have mastered how to live and take on the world on your own (rather than being sheltered by your parents). At 30, you should be well on your way at making a living, married, and contributing to society. Finally at 36, you should be a capable parent and used to taking care of kids.

Obviously, these metrics are more reflective of me than general society but it is almost uncanny how multiples of 6 years line up with these tiers. At age 42, I can take a look to see what the next 6 years will help me master.

Recently been bemused about how couples or single people without kids wonder why their friends with kids don’t hang out with them anymore. It’s a natural divide that happens and I think a lot of the time the without-kids believe that new parents are just too busy. I guess that’s true part of the time, but I think the reason is a lot simpler than that. Kids just don’t want to do what their parents and their friends used to do!

Most of what our friends used to do tend to do revolve around a couple of things. You can have gatherings where you sit around and talk (at someone’s house, at a bar, at a restaurant). Surprisingly, kids find this super boring. Or you could appreciate some cultural event like a concert, museum, play, movie etc. Kids can’t appreciate the culture and thus finds it super boring.

Maybe you will do some sort of activity like rock climbing, bike riding, or hiking. This one is a twist because kids probably don’t find it boring, but they’re just not capable of doing those activities yet. Maybe you’ll go travelling instead (kids can walk and see sights). Unfortunately, walking around is boring as is sitting around a car/plane/bus to get to your destination (super boring).

Basically everything that an adult might enjoy doing is super boring for kids. And when kids are super bored, they will be super annoying! That’s why we no longer spend a lot of time doing the things that we used to do – we find new activities to do with the kids, and hopefully some of those are not super boring for the adults!

When I was young, I would always be collecting – sports cards, stickers, comics, there would always be something. As I got older, I still continued collecting although the topics were different – all the albums by the Goo Goo Dolls, every book by Malcolm Gladwell, etc. I was not alone of course. Many, many people regardless of age collect things as their hobby. It drives an entire industry and probably generates a lot of revenue every year.

But something happened over the last few years, and I no longer have the compulsion to collect. Maybe it’s something that I grew out of (and I consider it something that you grow out of as a good thing, because in this case you can obsess money and time over whatever you are collecting) or maybe my life/the world has changed now so that there are too many things to collect.

For whatever reason though, I no longer have a need to collect. I reminisce because there is a certain satisfaction when you achieve a complete collection, but this change is for the best. However, it is kind of strange that the compulsion disappeared without my realizing until recently.

My friend posted this link about why Gen Y-ers don’t actually have it that bad. A lot of it is good advice and what not, but here’s the paragraph that really resonated with me:

Finally, I want to call out a bit of laziness. This is hard to swallow, but the people who will get their dream jobs are already doing their dream jobs before they get hired. You wanna be an accountant? Start doing your friends’ taxes. You wanna work in an ad agency? Make spec ads for your friends’ and family’s small businesses. Wanna be a journalist? Start making YouTube videos. Mechanic? Fix some cars. Teacher? Tutor poor kids. Yeah, you gotta make money. So sling coffee. And be darn well passionate about it. Find a coffee shop you love and pitch yourself to them, so you can make a few bucks an hour to support your weekends of doing your dream job for free. That’s how economies work. People do things. Real things in the real world with grease and sweat and moving parts and grit. Your credentials are theory. Familiarize yourself with the concept “necessary but not sufficient.” The suit does not make the (wo)man.

A lot of people attribute my class cohort’s success to the coop program at Waterloo. That may or may not be true; but for me, I know I have been doing what I do in my day job since I was an teenager.

Ever since I have had an access to a computer, I wanted to build and create stuff – whether it’s webpages, or games. Building mobile apps and getting paid for it is just a way to support what I enjoyed doing as a kid.

You may not always be able to end up supporting yourself by doing something you enjoy, but if you start early and build up skills & experience around it, you are more likely to get there.

Most people realize that the music they listen to during their formative years is the type of music they end up listening to for the rest of their lives. That’s why you have people listening to oldies (or now Classic Rock) radio stations. There is probably some physiological science behind this and it is considered gospel.

But I’ve realized that that isn’t true for me. During my teens (late 90s) I listened to Europop/dance and the hits of that time period – Radiohead, Oasis, Mariah Carey etc. I still enjoy listening to the songs I liked from that era; but by no means do I only want to listen to those songs. In fact since that time, I’ve spent considerable time listening to other genres such as trance, indie rock, 80s and now KPop in addition to the Top40 songs that are popular each year. There are always some good songs from those genres and time periods which I like to keep shuffled up; so my music listening habits are certainly not restricted or unduely centered around the late 90s.

I guess the reason behind this is that a lot of people listen to music when they were growing up, but listen to it because “it was there”. Maybe they were at a dance, or went to the mall, or had nothing else to do. But if you enjoy music, you don’t need to restrict yourself to those years and want to explore what else you’ll like – so there is no reason that your enjoyment should be entirely from a 5 year period.

After a couple of years that weren’t so eventful, 2012 was a year that was quite memorable for both good and bad reasons. It was a year of change, evolution and growth with a series of notable and lifetime events.


The year started like any other, on vacation. This time we were completing our trip through Morocco and Spain. Spain was already in an economic crisis, and we took advantage with some cheap shopping. At that time, we knew it would be our last trip in Europe for awhile (we had flown too frequently there in the last few years), and also our last major trip for awhile too.

(Probably the one time I will go to Cleveland airport)

When I came back, I started a new job that’s a little bit closer to home than my previous one. January was spent learning the ropes there. The next big moments in the year came in February. We celebrated because Pauline was pregnant with our first child and I ended up breaking my arm (unrelated). I ended up getting surgery to fix my arm and spent the next two months with a cast on, restricting my ability to function and learning new ways to do what I had to do (with one arm). Not only that, we were getting accustomed to our new pregnant family lifestyle (which isn’t a huge change, but still a change nonetheless).

(Nowhere near Chinatown)

Luckily, my arm & cast didn’t prevent us from taking our annual March Break trip, which was to Boston this year. Since we were done with Europe, only had a week (so couldn’t go to Asia), and wanted to stay closer to home due to the pregnancy; we decided to vacation in the US this year. We chose Boston because the flights were cheap (Porter), we hadn’t been there yet, and had a friend working there.

(Too early for the baseball season, so this is just Fenway Park)

A few weeks after we got back from Boston, we went with a large group of friends to Chicago over Easter long weekend where we shared our baby news. We also went on a trip to Pittsburgh over the Canada Day long weekend. That was the extent of our travelling this year, mainly because we didn’t want to travel late in the pregnancy and because I wanted to save my vacation time until after Apollo was born.

(I’m bigger than the Millenium Bean!)

We knew that we would be in for a lifestyle change once Apollo arrived. We would probably stay indoors for the next half year (also because it would be winter), and there is the associated lost of freedom when you have to take of a baby/child and not just yourselves! Because of this, there was a larger sense of urgency to go to events where you can’t take a crying or fussy baby such as fancy dinners & sport events (Marlies, Raptors, etc). I think I was mentally prepared that this lifestyle shift would happen and expecting it, but even then there is a feeling of loss as you know a stage of your life is coming to an end.

(Meeting the Chef at Chef’s House)

Apollo arrived in October but we were prepared for his arrival by August (in terms of supplies at least). Our lives changed, as expected, but it wasn’t crazy like some people say having a baby was. I took a two weeks off work, and my parents and in-laws were around most days, but we transitioned to a quieter schedule before the end of the month. The weather wasn’t too cold in October and November so Apollo took several trips outside as well too. In the last few months of the year, it was a matter of getting used to how things should be done now and watching Apollo grow physically and mentally.


I had expected that once we had a baby, I would spend more time on some hobbies and less on others. I expected to read more, but that hasn’t quite happened yet. I picked up a new hobby this year, which was to learn Korean and I’ve been working on that on-and-off for over half a year. I made several Android apps this year, both as part of work and at home. But one that thing that has changed is that I can pay more attention to hobbies that can be enjoyed in 5 minute intervals, instead of hourly intervals. Gaming is more bite sized now as well. In a similar vein, I’ve tried to make my “computing” more bite sized by trying to do as much as I can on my phone (i.e., surfing, catching up on social media).


2012 was a big year for change and evolution, and one of the pivotal years in my life much like graduating school or going to university was.

Not only is this a baby, it’s my baby – I’m a dad now! Apollo was born a couple of days ago and I’m adjusting to fatherhood now. That is one reason for sporadic updates recently (although I haven’t had as much enthusiasm or ideas to blog about this year either).

Nowadays, I’m spending most of my hobby time wearing out the shutter on my camera, and posting photos of the first few days of Apollo’s life up on for family and friends. I’ve created a Google+ account for him, which hopefully will be the best mechanism to share his photos.

When I was starting high school, I went on a Chinese duckling tour to the eastern seaboard. One of the stops was in Boston at Harvard University. The entire bus took a photo on the steps of one of the buildings:

Now 15 years later, I was back at Harvard and the building looks the same! I don’t thought.

Bonus question: Can you spot me in the first picture?

As part of cleaning over Family Day weekend, I pulled out a box of old photo albums. Of course, I then proceeded to the task of digitizing them through scanning. It’s a long and tedious process, I scan about 3 photos and then I am fed up with the process.

This is not the first time I’ve done this, I’ve gone through 2 albums in the past and scanned everything. My workflow is usually to put 3 or 4 on a flatbed scanner, scan them, and then crop them into individual pictures. This time I did a bit of research beforehand and there aren’t really many tools to make this easier! The best is to use Photoshop’s capability to “crop & straighten” photos. It sometimes work. Sometimes it doesn’t straighten the photos, sometimes it cuts a photo into two pieces, sometimes it doesn’t detect any photos. It turns out that the function works better if you put your photos crookedly on the scanner, although then if it doesn’t pick up the photos then you’ll have to straighten them and scan them again!

The reason I’m willing to put time into this task is that it is great to see photos from 20 years ago, and it’s especially neat to see photos of my parents before I was born. But now, with digital cameras so prevalent, will our next generation have the same experience? Our lives are recorded and digitized through Facebook and blogs.

On this Family day long weekend, I’ve been helping my parents clean house. One of the things that we chucked is a box of cassette tapes. This was a sad moment for me because it is through these tapes that I learned about enjoying (any type of) music!

Although I played the piano for a several years prior, it was more of a chore than enjoyment. Then I visited my uncle in Calgary (in I think the summer of 1992) and he showed me his music collection. During the trip, we went to the store and bought about 20 high bias tapes and dubbed a great deal of classical and light music to bring back.

At the beginning, I listened to classical music only. From my uncle’s pointers, I listened to the great works of Mozart & Beethoven. On the weekends, I would go with my dad to Sam the Record Man at the local mall and shop through the cassette tapes. Looking back, tapes were ludicrously expensive – I think it was around $20 for a tape.

At the same time, I knew that people my age didn’t listen to classical music so I started listening to popular Chinese & North American music. Chinese music was easier to get (3 for $10 tapes!) but I couldn’t really understand it. Popular music was more expensive and I never really invested a lot before moving to CDs.

From the picture, it may not seem like a lot of tapes compared to the amount of CDs I have today, but there was no music sharing back then and we never knew about used cassette tape stores. It was expensive and difficult to accumulate the collection, but now its outdated and of little value. It’s with a sad heart that I have to say goodbye to these.

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time collecting. Collecting hockey cards, stickers, coins, stamps, CDs, etc etc. Now that I’m older, those things seem trivial (plus it is counterproductive to my 2008 resolution to get rid of stuff which is still ongoing…well better late then never).

But I still have this personality disorder to collect things, so the question is what do I collect now that I’m older. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of reasonable grown up things that I can collect. Cars? nope. Watches? maybe, but I won’t get very many. It’s quite difficult to find something to collect that is both fun to collect and meaningful to have in large quantities…

Fan Expo happened late last month. I didn’t go this year because I figured $35 (Saturday admission was $6 more than the other days) was not really worth it to walk around merchandise booths (where I wouldn’t buy anything), look at former B-list sci-fi actors (i.e., really D-list) from afar and line up for the privilege of doing those things. I did show up to try and hang around to see how people were dressed up, but they changed the layout this year and I was successful. I did end up seeing the Delorean from Back to the Future!

Anyways, perhaps it was the event that sparked me on a sci-fi trip in the last little while. Star Trek and Star Wars are the two big sci-fi franchises, and I think everyone is pretty familiar with them. I have interest in some other smaller ones too, like Babylon 5 and Stargate. But what I have been reading about recently, is Dune.

I first learned about Dune by playing the RTS Dune 2. That was pretty fun! Then I played Dune 1 (which was more of a RPG) and saw the 2000 Sci-Fi channel mini-series remake of Dune (I also bought the DVD somewhere…). Those was pretty good too, but then I never paid too much attention to it afterwards as I’m not a fanatic.

Recently it has captured my attention. While it is classified as science-fiction, I’ve come to realize that it is not the classic science-fiction that I enjoyed when I was younger. In the past, I read sci-fi books because they had all these interesting technology concepts that we don’t have today, but would be cool if we did. There certainly are technological advances in Dune, but there aren’t many; in fact, in the history of the Dune universe, all “thinking machine” level technology (i.e., computers) were eradicated!

What is captivating about Dune is the political struggle and posturing that takes place. Throughout the 15,000 year history, there are about 5 factions at any one time competing for power, and none of them can outright rule because they are all dependent on each other. Whereas Star Trek/Wars might be Axis vs Allies, Dune is very much like the current global-economic relationship.

Unlike our world though, where changes have real-life consequences, and time moves second-by-second. You can quickly move across thousands of years in Dune. You can see how families are merged and alliances are made. It’s like reading the history of Western Europe, except the authors made it interesting!

Maybe this will prompt me to start reading the Dune novels (all 8 of them?), although it is just so much easier to read about them on Wikipedia…

Ever since I had internet access, I would login to my IM (ICQ->MSN->GTalk) and leave it online all the time. It would serve as my “answering machine” for when I’m not at my computer. That’s how I worked for the last 10 years, but now I think it is time for a change.

The feeling that I shouldn’t be on IM all the time started a few years ago, probably because as I got older, it seemed less necessary to be on IM as much. Now it feels positively outdated to sit at the computer and chat; really, do kids do this these days? It’s like sitting around and talking on a landline back when we were young – sure, you might do that in some circumstances, but that’s just not how people do things anymore.

I’m not going to grow up and disappear off of IM though. I’m going to log out from my desktop but I’m moving everything to mobile. People do all their chatting via text nowadays right? Instead of going to my desktop and checking for messages, I’ll just need to grab my phone. Now I just have to make sure my phone is around me at home…

We’re moving out of our condo at the end of the month, although we’re not moving into our new home until mid-September (at the latest, hopefully) so we will really be homeless.

I’m not sad at all about leaving here. One reason is because I’m not particularly fond of Mississauga or this area, but we’ve been here two years and this was our first home together. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved so much over the last decade that where-I-live just feels like a place I can put my stuff. By my count, I’ve lived in 11 different homes over my lifetime:

  • Old house in Scarborough
  • 1st year residence (1A)
  • 1st year residence (1B)
  • 99 Churchill
  • 48 Cardill
  • with my parents at Yonge/Finch
  • That place on Lester
  • 4A workterm in the States
  • Internship in the States
  • Current condo

That’s 10 different places in the last 10 years!

My Fave Songs is going to be a new recurring feature on my blog about the songs which I consider are 5/5 stars. My inaugural post is The Sign by Ace of Base.

The Sign was one of the first songs I liked when I started listening to “popular” music in my early teens. Because I liked The Sign so much, I became a fan of Ace of Base even when though they weren’t mainstream or really popular. I bought all their North American releases (The Sign, The Bridge, Cruel Summer) and scoured on Ebay to get their greatest hits. I even searched and downloaded most of their discography BEFORE the days of Napster.

Even now, I still enjoy The Sign as much as when I first heard it. It has a lot of musical elements which I still prefer; the strong female vocals and dance beat. Because of Ace of Base’s europop influence, I listened to eurodance extensively for five years, and even now when it is out of style. The Sign was one of the songs of my formative years and because of that it had major influence and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.

I was digging through my old stuff on the weekend, and came across my old cellphones. I will probably donate them to Flipswap for environmentally-friendly disposal, but before I do that, let’s take a walk down memory lane!

The Motorola C333 was my second cellphone. It was b/w and no frills, it couldn’t even use Midi ringtones; instead you had to program new rings in by typing in a sequence of notes (mapped to letters). I think I made a site listing ringtone sequences for this phone once-upon-a-time. I also bought new faceplates for this phone, I think a red and a blue one, from Pacific Mall. Eventually I had some battery issues with this phone and had to recharge it constantly.

My third cellphone was the Motorola v66. It was also my first flip phone. I bought this phone when I started my first work term in Seattle for $75USD (including SIM and some air time) from T-Mobile. I called in 2 months later and they gave me the unlock code for the phone so I was able to use it when I moved back to Canada. I liked the form factor of this phone; I think it was thin for its time (much thinner than the v60). It served me well for a long time, until eventually it got a crack in the screen.

Although I was happy with the v66, I kind of wanted a colour phone. So in 2005, when I was back in Seattle, I saw a deal for a Cingular prepaid phone and bought it. The package, including SIM card and Samsung SGH-C207 was only something like $25 USD. I was confident I could unlock it, but it turns out I couldn’t. After trying off-and-on for a few years I eventually bricked the phone!

Trying to sum up an entire decade is a whole different beast than recaping a month or reviewing a year. The years 2000-2009 occupy a third of my entire life, and with this length of time means that consequences from events have been realized and affect how I’ve grown as a person.

2000: my “graduating class” at the formal.

You would think that with several years hindsight, it would be easy to look back and understand what the impact of certain choices are. I started this exercise but ended up erasing a few blogs in the process. It is fun to imagine parallel universes where certain choices were reversed, and fantasize about what could happen; but what is unknown is the probability that these alternate scenarios would actually happen. How do I know I wouldn’t be working at IBM even if I went to University of Toronto for Engineering Science?

2001: My surprise birthday party.

Perhaps a better focus is to consider what were the key events and decisions in the past decade. The 00s still spanned my formative years and that convolutes what would have happened as a process of growing up, and what changed because of environment or choices; I would have still have finished my education, found a job, gotten married, etc. The key decision in the early 00s was probably my choice of University (and whether I would stay in Toronto or not).

2002: The classic student photo!

I had a choice between staying close to home at U of T, moving to Kingston to attend Queens or attending Waterloo, a quick 1.5 hour drive from home along the 401. As it is with most kids, this was a half traumatic/half exciting experience. I was moving away and living beyond my parents’ watchful eye (although they were only a quick drive away if need be) and my newish relationship with Pauline would have to be a long distance one.

2003: Pauline and I on the ferry to Center Island

I ended up spending half of this decade in university, yet at this point I have all but forgotten about my experience there. I met a lot of people, learned and forgot a lot of things and received two pieces of paper for my efforts. I truly do not know if it made a difference that I chose Waterloo over the University of Toronto. The details would be different but my key experiences and decisions could have occurred at both places:

  • Coop vs PEY (I would still have work experience)
  • Working in the US (lots of top-tier U of T student get hired in the US)
  • Coop Rankings vs InternSHARE (opportunity to create a either)
  • Living away from home (I would have had to do it in the US anyways)
  • LDR vs a local one (still got married!)
  • Joining CAS and then working at IBM (again, many follow this path from U of T)

2004: Team WILD and our fourth year design project.

These decisions have affected me of course. My coop experience in Canada and the US have prepared me to excel at IBM and given me an understanding of how I want my career to proceed. School and entrepreneurship has made me into a better organizer and rational thinker, and I’ve had my experience and opportunity to refine myself to be better at things than when I was a teen. But all of these only matter in the particular direction I am following; at the same time there are other parts of life that I haven’t or didn’t experience because of this. What did I miss by not joining others clubs during University, or having to work non-white-collar jobs? Even if I may not be better off, can I say I would be the same person I am if I had those experiences under my belt too?

2004: Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas with various Seattle/California coops

In the middle of the decade, the biggest growth was having the facility to travel. This was initially spurred by working in the US and truly living away from home; where I could spend weekends on travelling if I wanted to. Travelling most importantly meant exposure to different experiences and thought processes then I would have had if i turtled in Toronto.

2005: Climbing Mount Ranier in Seattle

Looking back, I regret that I didn’t take greater advantage of my freedom (in terms of time) as a student to travel; I should have went on a grad trip instead of doing another internship, and tried to publish so I could travel as a graduate student. But I’m satisfied that I’ve gone to many countries this decade and still have some opportunity to travel in the next ones.

2006: My parents and I at the Great Wall of China

2006 felt like a lost year to me; I guess it was a year of transition. In terms of day-to-day work, I spent it in my Masters degree; but because it was a bit directionless I don’t think it changed me. The other big news from the year was that Pauline and I got engaged brings us to the last phase of the decade.

2007: One of the photos from our pre-wedding photography

The end of the 00s was when I became an adult. I started my first full-time job, moved out, got married, and made big purchases with my own money. I wouldn’t say that it was a big change, because I think I was capable of taking on these responsibilities (or had grown properly and enough to take them on).

2008: We had a small ceremony, here’s everyone who was able to fit.

But I think it is a period of growth which I won’t be able to reflect upon for several years (or decades). I started this decade having almost 15 years of experience being in school. It has only been in the past few years where I have had the opportunity to be an adult without excuses; I’m no longer under my parents’ wing nor can I say I’m just a coop/intern. People look at me and now I have to be the mentor, be the leader.

2009: On the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC.

I’m still a baby at that. It will take more trials for me to become comfortable and understand what is involved to be a leader. But that is the great thing about life, you keep growing and getting better and that’s what I plan to do.

While we were waiting in line for the CN Tower climb, there were volunteers asking trivia questions (the prize was pear chips). One of the questions was about how many plastic bags were used in the world per year, and the answer is 500 billion to 1 trillion bags! Plus, each bag is only used for an average of 12 minutes.

That 1 trillion bag number, is huge. I can’t even comprehend that number. I understand 12 minutes though, but I don’t understand how someone can only use a bag to bring their purchases home.

I’ve been brought up to save plastic bags and reuse them. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had bags of bags from buying groceries. My parents still have a couple of boxes of bags from really old stores like Simpsons, and Woolco! I have a bag of bags in the car for cheap groceries, and when those are dead, I use them as garbage bags.

I always re-use my bags at least once, and potentially many more times, probably at least a couple of hours worth. So there must be some people in this world who only use their bags for 1 or 2 minutes! Can you believe that?

I knew this day was going to come eventually – I’ve decided to move my blogging off of my own software. Lately, I’ve been wanting to update my site a bit, some of the static text and links no longer make much sense, and I want to move it in a new direction; but I’ve been too lazy to update the content or the look.

Plus, it’s not as important anymore for me to be able to have a full understanding of the code base, previously it was nice to be able to hack my own code base to create tag clouds or what not, but now it’s not so much high up on my priority list. Instead, I wouldn’t mind having a sandbox area for bits and pieces of future blogs, commenting that actually works (hi Nelson!) and quick/easy integration with future web technologies.

I’ve already started the process of converting my existing database structure and archive to using WordPress. There’s a CSV import plugin out there, but I didn’t find it as flexible as writing my own scripts to populate the database (I want my links and tags to survive to move). I guess I still need to roll my own way.

Although it’s still my site of choice to catch up on NHL news, I’m no longer a big fan of TSN. I might be biased because their brand colours are red and white like another company I don’t enjoy working with, but I think the reason I no longer like TSN is because of their website. They recently redesigned their site to add more live (i.e., video) content (and probably some other mechanisms). I don’t care about the video, but they have a huge drawback in that it makes the page incredibly slow. There is a delay when I click on a link to open it in a new window, and infact I usually end up releasing CTRL before the action has completed, and so it ends up in my curent window.

Speaking of hockey, you know you’re getting old when the players that you grew up watching: Gretzky, Brett Hull, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, Tony Granato, Rick Tocchet, and now Joe Nieuwendyk are on various coaching staff or GM positions.

Last week at the conference I was participating in, I sat in on a talk about communities. In the presentation, there was a statistic thrown out saying that nowadays people will have 10-14 different jobs by the time they’re 38. I looked at that and thought it was incredulous, I’m halfway to 38 and this is my first job! But then I thought about it more wrt myself:

  1. Group piano teacher
  2. Internet tech support
  3. Private tutor
  4. Coop term 1 – Applications Developer
  5. Coop term 2 – General tech support
  6. Coop term 3 – Web developer
  7. Coop term 4 – Software developer
  8. Coop term 5 – Software developer (different place)
  9. Whatever you call my role in DQ
  10. Coop term 6 – SDET
  11. Coop term 7 – PM
  12. Being a grad student – yes this is a job, because you have to manage your academic career
  13. IBM

That’s 13 jobs in different environments. Sure some of the jobs were similar and use transferable skills, but I think they were all situationally different. Even when I was at the same company, such as in coop terms 3 and 4, and 6 and 7; I changed department and job.

Maybe I’m a bit different, having gone to Waterloo, but it’s not hard to rack up a couple of different experiences before you start your full time job. If you don’t have coop terms, you have summers. Although I wish that I had a wider breadth of experiences. Maybe I should have applied for those Coop jobs working in a zoo.

I spent some time this weekend on my new year resolution of divesting myself of stuff. Believe it or not, there are still boxes in the corner of my room that I brought back from Waterloo almost two years ago! So I was able to make some progress by throwing away that junk.

But the bulk of the work involved archiving some of my belongings and preparing (boxing) some other stuff since I am going to move out soon. Just like the clothes I threw out, I have a lot of random knick-knacks with sentimental memories that I keep around. But these things aren’t thrown out, and live packed in boxes which I guess I will pile up in my parents’ attic when I move (although they don’t have an attic).

I archive a lot of stuff in boxes, and blame my anti-pack rat characteristics on my Waterloo days; I only packed the things that I needed in my 4 month stay, so no CDs, and only some clothes etc. I’m still thinking with this suitcase+ mentality and want only move my computer. I have to get into the mindset that everything has to move and that I’m actually leaving the nest for good.

I watched a lot of MuchMusic back in the day (i.e., back when they played continuous music videos) when I first started listening to mainstream/pop music (as opposed to classical). One video I remember is Aerosmith’s Crazy — the one featuring Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler (the daughter of lead singer Steven Tyler) running around doing what was considered “crazy” in the early 90s (although I can’t say for certain since I was too young to know what was really crazy).

When I learned more about who Aerosmith was, I was surprised that they were a band that’s been around for over 20 years! This was a band that my parents could have been listening to (well if they listened to rock), and they were still releasing hit songs. Most of the famous musicians I heard of had either broken up (Beatles), or died (Mozart, Elvis Presley) and even recent groups had split (NKOTB). Aerosmith and other bands like The Rolling Stones really had longevity (and the latter had a magazine named after them wtf).

Nowadays, young impressionable kids have their own version of Aerosmith, although maybe they’ve discovered them through Rock Band rather than MTV. The crazy thing is that these bands, you may know them as Radiohead or Oasis (remember when they were proclaimed the second coming of the Beatles?) were just forming when I started discovering music — 15 years ago! Yes, it has been that long.

February is RRSP month. This is something that I was aware of in the back of my mind when I was younger, but now that I’m older, like April it’s a month that I have to G finances in order and TD. The handy tip while I was in school, but also receiving a handy income from coop, was to save up my RRSP deduction limit until I had a full-time job and need it to lower my tax bracket. Well my deduction limit for 2007 (first year as a full-timer) is over $20k but fortunately (or unfortunately) I don’t need to use it to lower my tax bracket.

Nevertheless, it’s still good practice to invest (and invest early) for retirement, so I will be contributing this month. My current thought is to invest 10% of my income in 2007. Why 10%? well next year, my deduction limit will increase by 18% of my income in 2007, but I’ve already contributed 4% (and IBM matches 4%) to my pension; so if I invest up to 10%, then the deduction amount I use up will be renewed by next year. Plus, I don’t have that much cash on hand anyways.

With that decided, now I have to figure out what to invest in. Thanks to high school math class, I have this idea in my head that mutual funds have a rate of return of 15% per year on average. But that mindset in the current market would be a disaster. While I’m confident that if I were to invest in mutual funds now, that they would eventually rise above water; I will also have to cash in my RRSPs in the short term as part of the RRSP Home Buyers Plan. I need something safe that will at the very least retain value; looking at my bank’s mutual funds offering, I don’t think that’s possible. So I’m now of the opinion that I will invest in a (redeemable) RRSP GIC instead. The rate of return is fairly low (3-4%) but at least it’s not negative.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot of disposable income, and even if I did I would spend it on pursuits such as collectible cards or candy or movies or CDs (glad that I only have one of those vices now). That didn’t leave a lot of money for clothes. Actually I didn’t spend my disposable money on clothes, because I would get them as gifts or I would just go with my mom to buy them.

And of course, my mom (well I don’t either – even now) wouldn’t understand why it was worthwhile to spend $50 on jeans so I usually ended up shopping from the clearance rack and getting clothes that were a size or two too large (that’s OK, because I wanted baggy clothing).

I also have this funny habit of being a packrat, at least with clothes. Yeah, maybe I will wear them someday when I have to take part in a 90s-style fashion show. Or grow really fat. Or have my legs extended a couple of inches. So I accumulated more and more rubbermaid containers filled with old clothes and stacked them in my closet.

Then I had an epiphany, you don’t wear clothes that you can’t see! When I get dressed in the morning, I head to the closet, look through sleepy eyes at my clothes, and grab something for my top and something for my bottom. Hopefully they match. I’m not going to dig through a pile of clothes boxes to find something to wear. And as past experience shows, my packed clothes haven creases from being in boxes too long.

So I threw everything out. Yup, why keep them around if you’re not going to use them. Plus, I keep getting additions to my closet from cross-border shopping and what not. Now I understand what Caucasian people talk about when they have to buy a new wardrobe every season.