Early Morning

It’s 4:45 AM.  I’ve been awake for a couple of hours now.   I went to bed around midnight but a weird dream woke me up.  I don’t often remember dreams.  This time I was walking back to my house at night with some teen age kids.  I think I’m a teacher.  We’re coming back from the dock or a shoreline.  I felt something pulling on the sleeve of my hoodie.  I turn around and see my sleeve being pulled back to a gravestone.

It’s at least 100 feet away.  I pull my sleeve back and this girl shows up holding on to my sleeve.  She’s in her teens and doesn’t say anything.  I keep walking and trying to shoo her away.  I think I try to stand between her and the kid I’m walking with.  We start making menacing gestures towards each other.  That’s when I woke up.

It’s still dark outside.  I’m not sure if I want to walk around the park now.  The joggers and dog walkers aren’t out yet.  I think I’ll just slowly get ready for the day.  I know I’ll need a few cups of coffee today.


It’s Not That Bad

I had a chat with someone at the outplacement centre that I go to.  I haven’t seen him in awhile.  He is a positive, upbeat guy.  When the job prospects didn’t look good for him, he decided to go back to school for a Masters degree in business.  He has a part time job and his wife works part time.  They have 2 kids.  He told me he’s juggling bills trying to decide which one to pay and which one to hold off.  They pretty well go month to month.  If his wife gets more hours in that month, they have a better chance of paying their bills.  He lamented that it’s not easy for him to adapt to the academic world now.  He says his mind is not as agile as before.  But he feels he needs the graduate degree to get a better job.

It reminded me of how my dad tried to manage things.  I remember bill collectors hounding my mom, yelling at her over the phone to pay up.  A few times, the oil truck that delivered oil would only show up after some negotiation from my dad.  But we never ran out of oil.  My parents sold off  some of their prized possessions (mom’s jewelry, her paintings, some very nice rugs) to pay the bills.  It was tough.  Eventually my mom got a part time job which led to a full time job.  When we started working, we all chipped in.  They didn’t ask us to do this.  We just did.

I wonder my my parents will think of my situation now.  They are probably chuckling.  “He thinks he’s got problems now?  Doesn’t he remember what we had to deal with?”  Maybe that’s why that guy showed up today to remind me that life is still good for me.


Keep On Trying

Lately a few people that I know have found jobs.  We all go to the same job counseling company and it’s good that they have landed.  Some are from a networking group that meet weekly.  I know how hard they’ve worked and the struggles they’ve gone through.

As for me, I have to continue to stay focus and not get complacent.  It’s so easy to take teh foot off the gas pedal. I just have to continue sharpening my resume, improving my networking, honing my interview skills and be more comfortable marketing myself.

But if any of you want to fork over a few hundred grand (Canadian), I would be okay with that too.

On an unrelated note, I sent a note to a friend of mine who has stomach cancer.  I just wanted to let him know I was still thinking of him.  He replied back and is scheduled for 8 rounds of chemo and surgery afterwards.  A week later, he sent me a photo of him with his bald head.  He’s still smiling with his wife behind him.  He told me it’s all in God’s hands now.  I hope he’ll be able to defy the odds and pull through.

How’s Your Piggy Bank?

The recent turmoil in the stock market has made me nervous.  Ideally I would be taking advantage of this to buy a bunch of solid blue chip stocks that pay dividends or similar ETFs.  I did this years ago when the stock market crashed (just before Obama took office).  I still hold those stocks and they have done very nicely.  One of my largest holdings  are the stocks from my former company.  I purchased them through an employee stock purchase plan.  They haven’t done that well but they are paying dividends in US dollars.  So I’ll keep holding on to them until they reach my target price.   Hopefully the Canadian dollar won’t rise against the US dollar when the stock price goes up.  But there are a couple of stocks I’m keeping an eye on.

I’m not a whiz at picking stocks.  I have mostly Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which tracks an index (e.g. S&P 500).   I do have to monitor my modest retirement savings.  In Canada, we have Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and I have been making contributions to it.  I hold it as a self directed RRSP which means I manage it on my own.  I also have a pension from my former company.  I can’t access the funds until I retire.  I’m going to transfer that to my own account so I’ll manage it.  I’ll probably keep that a bit more conservative.

I don’t invest in any bitcoins or crypto currency.  I don’t own any marijuana stocks or ETFs although I’m keeping an eye on one of them.  I’d rather buy stuff that I understand and I don’t want to spend hours every day monitoring my investments.

I’m fortunate that I’m in a position to do this.  My parents didn’t have much when they retired.  They only had the government pension.  They spent almost every cent on us and looking after the house until we were old enough to work.  I’ve always been paranoid about my financial outlook when I get old.  I don’t have children that will care for me.   But I also know I can’t take my money with me either.  It’s always a balancing act.

I Make Her Laugh

I was chatting with an ex colleague today.  We talked about the challenges at my former workplace, what’s going on in her life and her health.  She thanked me for always being a sympathetic ear, providing good advice and making her laugh.  She was part of my trusted network and we helped each other with a lot of deals.

What’s interesting is that we both didn’t meet each other until I left my company.  We both worked from home.  And when we did have to go into the office, our schedules never meshed.  So we never met but had developed a great working relationship.

I told her today that some people are a bit surprised I develop these types of relationships with people I’ve never met.  She believes we knew each other from a previous life.  I don’t know if that’s true. It’s sort of like the relationship I develop here with fellow bloggers.  I’ve gotten to know some of you very well. I’m always touched when people feel they can trust me and confide in me.

Life is good.

Too Dependent on My Mobile

I’m bringing my iPhone 5s in for service tomorrow.  I got it in fall of 2013. I had the battery replaced in fall 2016 when it kept dying after an iOS upgrade.  The new battery was a bit better.  But I always had to carry a portable charger with me.  I don’t have Bluetooth on, I shut down all my apps when I don’t use it, turned off background refresh etc… It used to last the whole day with moderate use.  But nowadays, if I’m on my phone for about 15 to 20 minutes, the battery can go from 100% to 80%.

It needs the equivalent of a Viagra boost every few hours depending on how often I use it.  Prepping to bring it in for service is a pain. I have to log off some apps like Instagram, Twitter, WordPress on my phone.  I backed everything up and then deleted all my chats and photos.  I just hope no one will text me weird stuff when the phone is in.  The last time I brought it in, they asked for my code to unlock it.  I didn’t realize that when I showed up for my appointment.  The store is an Apple authorized repair shop.  This time, I’m deleting like my mail just to be safe.  I’ll have to add it back in afterwards.

It’s a first world problem.  But I just don’t like it when others have access to my stuff.  I hope I don’t have to get a new phone.  I didn’t budget for that.

“OMG I Hate Reading”

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading with this 7 year old girl at the library.  She asked if she could read with an accent. I said sure – go for it.  She starts to read with this fake English accent.  I decided to do the same thing except my English accent has a bit of a lisp. Oh dear.

Sometimes we play games which is not my forte.  She likes those plastic cups for stacking.  Except she’ll build up a pyramid and knock them all down.  Everyone will then look at us.  She doesn’t care while I’m trying to tell her to keep it down and play on the carpeted floor.

plastic cups

source:  Getty Images

The other one she likes is this tumbling tower game.  The part she likes is when it tumbles down (most of the time, she just “accidentally” knocks it down).  After the dust settles, she’ll turn to me and say “Oh Matthew, you’re so noisy.”  I pretend to be embarrassed which seems to please her.


The experience opened my eyes to children’s books.  I had no idea how well written and illustrated some of them are.  I like asking her questions about the story.  What do you think will happen next?  Or I’ll point to something in the illustration and ask her what it is or how she feels when she sees the illustration.  There was a story where an animal was being picked on by the other animals in the farm.  So I’ll ask her if she knows anyone at school that gets picked on.  I don’t make the session too deep.  If she wants to chat a bit, I’ll let her.

The other day, she told me “OMG I hate reading!”

I give her my arched eyebrow look “Oh?”

She sighs back “Well, not all the time. Sometimes the stories are boring and there are a lot of words.”

I decided not to tell her about university texts.

Overall, it’s been fun.