Holding On

When the ride of life feels as if it’s running on fumes you agonize where it will leave you. A vehicle once filled with sufficient fuel welcomed all passengers and journeys is now stripped to its bare bones leaving the driver to aimlessly navigate in solitude.

Belief is the essential additive that fuels the daily driver through its everyday journey whether to worthy ambitions or blind madness. Like a desperate illusion of a mirage the mind will search for any belief to grasp onto in order to convince you to continue on in a situation which seems past grim.

Most will accept the partially stale gas because it’s better than nothing. It may or may not get you to where you want to go but it’ll keep you going. A little bit of crazy is what is needed to survive what is mostly a long flat road that seemingly degrades over time and ends with you driving over a cliff one way or another.

Phone Culture

If I wasn’t getting a free meal and beer I might have been annoyed with the 3 of them at a pub all staring into their phones. Before smartphones you would have to entertain each other by saying something or doing something, sometimes almost forcibly. The phone appears to be a device to entertain yourself and if entertaining enough you say, “look at this.” After a second of acknowledgement the head comes back down. One was looking at shopping flyers while the other 2 were scrolling through social media or playing a game. If I had to guess though, this is something that happens more so with the younger generation.

I’ve recently been active on Twitter with the 18 people who I follow and my 2 followers. It’s possible half of my followers accidentally touched the follow button. With 18 people there’s more action than I can keep up with. Now it makes sense to me how people can have their faces in their phones all day, liking, tweeting, retweeting, scrolling. Some people follow hundreds of people and have hundreds of followers.

Twitter is just one platform. Many people also have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and maybe a few others. Most of life for some people is lived through their phones. It’s easy and constant entertainment.

Everyone is trying to participate to get some kind of validation with a witty one-liner, meme or a photo that they may or may not have taken themselves. A life fuelled by strangers. Guaranteed you’ll find someone out there to connect with, perhaps enough that you’ll give up doing it the old fashioned way.

 

 

5-Speed Fears

When we were young if you voluntarily chose to buy a car with an automatic transmission because you didn’t want to drive a manual transmission then you were considered a wuss. That’s the PG term. What you were really labelled as was a fucking pussy. Maybe I’m being extreme. Let’s just say you weren’t cool.

One of the worst fears of having to drive stick was the possibility of having your car stall which was directly related to your clutch action. I’m not sure why it was so embarrassing but if you stalled, people would shame you. It’s one of those things that can feel significant at the time but it’s so insignificant that it won’t be documented for future generations to read about. In the year 2178 all that they will know is that we drove our own vehicles at one time.

Another cause for anxiety was the thought of having to successfully get your car moving when stopped on a steep incline. What if you roll into the car behind you? What if you can’t do it? What if the ground is wet? Burnt clutch! Ahhhh!

I had an unease with the idea of learning to drive stick but I figured if small Asian women could do it then I don’t have an excuse. That statement might come off as misogynistic and racist but it was just the way I rationalized it. In those days I would look to take the chicken route in most situations unless if I felt I had no good excuse. If a small Asian woman has more balls than I do then I’m not even worthy enough to be called a pussy.

 

Daily Prompt: Clutch

About a Dog

A dog sitting on your lap is the same as having a naked hairy guy sit on your lap who doesn’t shower or ever wipe his ass. I probably have fecal matter all over my jeans.

The dog has 24/7 access to the yard through a doggy door but has a tendency to hold out until I take her for a walk. I know this because I can see the business almost coming out of her butt while we’re walking to the nearby park. I suspect she gets enjoyment seeing me pick up her mess. When someone is picking up your fresh poo all the time you know who is the boss. At the vet yesterday she decided to unload a hot turd in the middle of the reception area. Luckily, no one was there and it was a healthy turd that didn’t leave marks on the floor.

Over time she’s found ways to optimize her life around me. She probably brainstorms these ideas when she’s lounging in her bed for most of the day. What else does she have to do?

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It’s the bonus they give you when you let them upsell you

 

That Guy

A few years ago I had a envelope to deliver at a Vietnamese pool hall in the afternoon. It was open but not really. It was the type of place that you walk into and a second later walk out of. Aside from the tinted windows the 5 unkept middle-aged to oldish men smoking cigarettes around one pool table made it unwelcoming. They’re probably there almost every day. Don’t they know there’s no smoking allowed under the Health By-law #9535?

I walked out of there thinking that I never wanted to be like those guys. I’m not sure if it’s because I just don’t want to be like one of those guys or if I’m shit scared that it could easily be my future.

There’s always going to be a small percentage of men that end up in that similar situation in life. It’s probably not going to be the ones who come from well-off families or even average familes. The most likely demographic would be the people from the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder who grew up with poor influences.

“That’s us and the guys that we know.”

He agreed. My snooker friend and I last night swore we would never become one of those guys but those guys probably thought the same thing in the previous century. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that him and I were bumming around together after high school and that we’re kind of doing it again 20 years later.

In many aspects I’m already “that guy” but everyone has a different idea of their worst nightmare. Most guys have a section of their life that others dread…broke, disabled, single, nagging wife, screaming kids, shitty job, stressed. We always try to cut those guys slack by saying, “at least he has…….”

I guess it’s one’s choice to bring themselves to a shady pool hall at 1 PM on most weekdays. If one did not want to be one of those guys all that they would have to do is not do that. I kind of doubt that most of them want to be doing what they’re doing but that’s the choice you might make when the other option is solitude.

Illusory Options

If you’re not good at making decisions when you have multiple options then life will narrow it down for you while you can’t decide. Sometimes we think we have options because time is on our side but often it’s just the illusion of freedom to procrastinate.

When you’re quite certain of your goals it makes it easier to get there because you know where you’re going. The quickest route between 2 points is the straightest line. If you’re not sure where you’re going everything becomes a successful distraction.

I should have given more thought to what an old friend said to me many years ago. We were talking about jobs that I could do and I forget what he said exactly but it ended with, “you’ve basically narrowed it down to nothing.” I didn’t disagree but I continued to go against my will without an exit plan. Life kept on making the decisions for me. I just couldn’t dream past a job, or I could but fear made itself an obstacle.

After I quit my job to do “nothing” I came across what I thought to be an opportunity in the stock market. In 2010 I swore off ever getting involved again with any financial paper asset that could lose value. I was convinced the stock market was a scam. Everything can seem like a scam if you expect to succeed greatly without having the knowledge to do so.

After researching, and deliberation with myself I slowly put in 65% of my savings into high risk growth stocks, 15% into growth stocks, 3% into one safe stock and the rest into what I called, money for the year in case nothing happens or if shit hits the fan. A professional financial adviser would have you do the exact opposite but my goal wasn’t to crawl to the finish line in 30 years. Conventional rules will get you conventional results.

Most people who have done what I did end up with a sob story. A few of them end up jumping off of a bridge. If I tell you it won’t happen to me because I’m smarter than them you’ll roll your eyes and whisper a prayer for me or against me.

It sounds crazy and it might be but this is what can happen when you don’t give yourself another option…you either succeed greatly or fail greatly. The rationale was if I didn’t do this then I would be going back to work. If I did it and failed I would be going back to work. However, if I succeed I might not have to go back to undesirable employment. It was almost a choice between die, die or live.

 

Recent Photo Sales

Every once in a while I check out the stock photography website to see if I made any sales. In recent years the sales have dried up because my photos are ageing and the influx of people who became photographers overnight.

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Someone bought the rights to use the above photo a few months ago. I took this one back in 2007 with my new digital SLR. I remember how much I liked the diffused lighting. The caption I used to describe the photo had the word “Indian” which at the time I thought nothing of it. 10 years later I’m like, whoops. If there are some semi-inappropriate terms you like to use you better dig in now because you might not have the chance in a few years.

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This photo was taken in 2004 with a manual SLR using transparency/slide film. A magenta filter was attached to the lens and Photoshop was used to remove the bird shit on the lighthouse.

I got into stock photography from the professional photographer I used to assist. Back in his heyday all stock photographs were catalogued and sent to photo buyers such as magazine publishers. He was making $10,000 USD a month from commissions. And then the internet and digital cameras put a damper on his party. So many conversations will begin with, “Before there was internet….”

The question might be, why don’t I keep taking photos? I don’t want to bother listing off the excuses.

Vancouver Real Estate Options

My old manager once told me the first house he bought in the year 1988 was priced at $88,000(Canadian dollars). In that same year he started working with the company he was earning $9 an hour doing the same job I was doing. Present day, that same job pays double but that same piece of land will cost you close to $1.5 million. To be in line with the price of real estate today the starting wage for the same position would have to be over $100 an hour.

Lesson #1: People needing a place to live is more important than a parcel delivery driver.

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This could be yours for $1,388,000 but it’s not near a waterfront

The lingering feeling was woe is me. With my saving skills I would have a house no problem back in those days. I could probably have had 2 or 3. That’s life though and it doesn’t matter hypothetically what could have been 30 years ago.

Lesson #2: Excuses will make you obsolete.

In 2013, in a suburb 30 minutes away from this 30-year-old transaction, a building of microsuites were going to be built. Not the greatest location and at 313 sq ft not initially very appealling. But for a price tag of $133,000 including taxes it wasn’t too bad considering the options available. Today they’re selling in the low $200,000 range.

Lesson #3: 313 sq ft won’t look so small when compared to a cardboard box.

 

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It could be a lot worse

I think I wimped out back in 2013. I could have made the microsuite dream happen but I talked myself out of it. I said it was too small and located in an undesirable area. If worse came to worse I could have just rented it out or sold it. There was a very big possibility though it would have sold out before I even would have had a chance to pick one up. People line up for these things, sometimes overnight.

Lesson #4: Sometimes it’s riskier to do nothing.

I’m sure there’s more lessons to be had here.

Casino Adventure

The casino is a 24/7 devil’s den that has ruined many who have taken too big of a bite out of the apple. In case you’re only on the fence of licking the sinful fruit it has plenty of alcohol to help push you over.

I went to such a place last night around midnight. The lights, sounds and the gathering of people is an attractive atmosphere.

“I’m going to the washroom,” I told my friend who just started at the roulette table.

When I came back he somehow managed to lose $200. “You lost $200 while I was in the washroom?” He was quite jovial for someone who just lost over a day’s wage in 2 minutes.

Over to the craps table we go. He asks if I know how to play this game. “Something about rolling 7s and double ones,” I reply. Casino games are often like baseball games to me, I’d rather just drink the overpriced beer and be a spectator. He on the other hand likes to drink and play. I think he broke even with his $100.

3 card poker? We’ve never heard of it but it doesn’t stop him. Within the first few games though he found himself unknowingly hitting a 50 to 1 payout. Following games within the next 10 minutes had him hitting other smaller jackpots. Within 15 minutes he’s up $900. The losers beside him aren’t too thrilled.

I encouraged this semi-degenerate gambler to walk away because I know his shitty track record. It’s 2 AM, we look for a cigarette machine across the street in the Poker Room. Nothing. I peeked my head inside and see about 40 men playing poker. I don’t think many of these guys have day jobs.

When you’re at the gas station at 2 AM you were likely to be doing unsaintly activities just previously. One young guy there was holding paper towels to his face. A bunch of guys had just badly vandalized his car.

We had a little chat before we retired for the night. As he smokes his cigarette he tells me he’s a Buddhist. “Get the fuck out of here,” I say. He insists though. I go on to list off the things that happened tonight that discredit his statement including the idea of visiting a hooker. I think the night was a success. He won and I didn’t lose.

Cheap Technology and Being Cheap

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For the past 2 years I would look at this injured piece of technology and tell myself, it still works. Yesterday it stopped working. I’m not a bargaining type of guy but when it comes to used technology devices you’re paying for something that is dying. I found this one through Craigslist which was listed for $160 back in 2013. Since the ad had been listed for 30 days I figured the person would take $20 less, and he did. Him being a 5 minute drive away was another bonus.

Today I used my rebate to buy a newer version for almost the same price. It’s an older model and an open-box. I’m not blown away like I thought I would be. This model is 3 years newer so it should be able to grow wings and fly, right?

They say spoiling your kids is a bad thing but I might disagree. If you give them the finer things in life while they’re growing up you’ll set a standard for them. They won’t settle for working an average job because it won’t even afford them what they’ve been used to. I spent the first few years out of high school working a shitty job because it provided me with all these new experiences like gravy with my french fries and having more than $20 in my pocket. I’m lying, I didn’t start ordering gravy until a few months ago.

I’m cheap to myself. Owners and servers of restaurants hate my type.

“What would you like to drink?”

Water.

“Would you like cheese or bacon on your burger?”

No thanks.

“Gravy?”

Is it free?

I’ll go to a dollar store and think I might be able to find an item cheaper somewhere else.