Friday, 18 November 2011

A warping mind

(old post)

Ive always been raised in the mindset that police, government, security...all of it, was put into place for our best interest.  I remember when I was a little kid, I would see the RCMP in their old Ford Taurus cars, ALWAYS rocking the conservative mustache working the street.  It seemed to me they did the job for one reason....respect; definitely not for the money by the looks of it lol.

I remember in my elementary school years, my dad had dabbled in the policing industry as a conservation officer for 20 years, so I did have a very small inside perspective when it came to officiating.  I remember the pay being horrible (senior officer getting under $40,000/year).  I remembered the countless times we had to move (every 3 years!)  It was especially hard in grade 8, moving from Humboldt to Moose Jaw....just before high school.  The point to make here is, we had to abide by the law to a T...and what I mean here is, when we hunted, we properly stored our guns, we followed every no trespassing sign, we asked farmers for access, we dressed fully in orange, we looked for a wounded deer to sun down if need be, and so on....practice what you preach.

Later on in my years (oh...about 12ish?), I began to rebel a bit.  I was caught stealing a golf ball from Sears...definitely not one of my proudest moments.  What I DO remember well though was the respect given by both parties.  I was raised to address the officer and security guard as sir.  When I sat down in the small room waiting for them to escort me to my parents restaurant, I remembered the nice conversation I had with the RCMP and security guard.  They spoke quite aloof, but in a respectful way.  They new I learned my lesson, and offered me tips on how I could best manage this situation.  This was a first and last offense by me...Why, because I didn't want to be embarrassed like that again...to my folks, to the officers, to anyone.

You may now see I'm actually getting somewhere here lol

1) I'm going to do what I do best and generalize a bit here with respects to our current "Occupy" movement.  Lets be honest, the majority of protesters in these camps are edging on the hippy end.  I also suspect the majority don't approve of our politics either.  I'm even going to wander out on a ledge and suggest many dislike our police service (and yes, this is almost a fact as I've first hand heard the shouts with my own ears).  Slogans such as "military state", "facetious",  "pigs", "corrupt"... Ive heard them all.  It should be no secret that I disapprove protesting in general...and I'm sure the majority of my friends (not the really close ones) disagree with me on this.  Like seriously, if you are within several blocks of ANY riot, you SHOULD expect the full extent of the law on you.  Its not like they don't warn you.  Despite what you may think, they are doing their job!  They are putting themselves into harms way because its for the greater good of the city.  I am sooooo tired of people claiming too much force was used at a riot, or they were pushed to the ground when they spat at an officer.  Personally, not once have I felt my rights were abused....probably because I'm not always testing the extent to which they were written to.  Don't get me wrong, you are free to exhibit your charter of rights and preach your crap, but when its done on public land (Occupy)...and its slowly destroying the parks...and safety is becoming an issue (with fires in tents, drug overdoses, cold temperatures, and and and)...get the fu%k out of there...and if not, be moved by means of the full force of the law. 

The above perspective is how I see our Police force in general....for the greater good!  Below is a hypocritical side note haha (don't get confused though, this is a completely different side issue)...

2) a) You may or may not have heard that I have personally had 2 Toyota Tacoma's stolen in front of my house in the past 6 months.  Insurance was a bitch...a long process that was never made easy (TD Meloche, just throwing that out there).  The first one was a shock.  I filed a police report.  I never heard back till it was found AFTER my claim had gone through.  My $41,000 newly bought truck lasted 2 months!  Again, stolen in front of my house, no broken glass, no skid marks, nothing.  This one currently still has not been found.  Now, Jen and I feel we have been targeted, or someone is scoping the area out.  Unfortunately, we have not received any advice, news, anything with these 2 bizarre thefts from the police.  We are hesitant to park any vehicle in front now. 
b) Last month, I had gone to a house warming trip up in Edmonton over the weekend.  That Saturday night around 2am (after several beers), I was missing dozens of calls being made by Jen.  She was alone in our new house with Nakita.  I guess late at night, Jen heard voices along the house.  She then heard someone trying to get into the front door.  Understandably, she was quite scared.  Once they started to pound on the door, it was the final straw.  She called 911 and told them what was happening.  In the morning, Jen talked to the neighbors and learned they had their garage broken into.  The only reason ours wasn't was because our handle on our gate door was broken (dumb luck).  Jen never did hear back from the police.  So much for 911 priority. 
c) Literally several days after the 911 incident, I was driving Jen and I to the rental store to pick up a rental due to my stolen truck.  Wouldn't you know it, a police officer caught us speeding down a hill.  He gave us the ticket...no discounts.  He asked if I wanted the payment details explained because he had to get back to catching more people.  Jen was PISSED...and let him know it lol.  Not only did we feel we were caught right in an unfair speed zone change, but the way the officer was in a hurry to catch someone else after basically taking $125 out of our pocket did not sit well with us.  They were so quick to take our money with no compassion, but could not come by our house during a possible break and enter. 

This gets me to my final point....finally....

Respect on both sides are lacking.  I was very polite to the police officer; unfortunately it seemed he was more concerned in racking up fine totals instead of doing what was intended, keeping the area safe, letting the "culprit" know we are on the same side, but to make a point at the same time.  If he would of taken several km off the ticket, those measly few dollars would of made the world to me...ahhh but alas.  I received a speeding ticket 8 months ago (I know, seems like I speed a lot lol, but  first 2 in 4 years).  The officer had chew in his mouth while taking $115 out of my pocket...disrespectful.  What ever happened to the tall and stiff older mustache men stopping us, feeling bad for us, and either warning us or rounding the ticket down. 


The respect is down and it almost makes me begin to consider "hatting" the police...BUT....I'm at least intelligent enough to understand that at least I know my own well being and safety is good....great, especially compared to the majority of the places in the world.  Its a job that is still lowering the murder rates, cleaning up the streets, and so forth.  They just need to understand that the smaller simpler details are being missed.  

Ah, gotta love my conflicting blogs...Ive been quite pissed off at the police lately, but I still don't hate them, don't think they are corrupt, and feel they should use all the force needed....when needed, they just need manners lol.

Tough to take anyone seriously looking like that.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Dividends

First, take a look at this website...


http://www.topyields.nl/Top-dividend-yields-of-TSX60.php



I love dividends!  Why... because no matter how bad the market does (well, for the most part), the stock will pay you a % every 4 months.  For instance, I bought TransAlta because like many large dividend stocks, they're a leader in their sector....so Im quite confident in 50 years, they should at LEAST still be kicking around.  They also pay me 5% quarterly!  So basically any time I see the market dip...I buy more at a discount.  Unfortunately at the moment (and this will sound funny), the stock has been hovering around $1 higher then when I bought it.  Solution, sit on it!  Take your money every 4 months till either it drops to a new 52 week low (buy more), or when it increases to a new 1-2 year high...sell.  On top of this...all is done in my TFSA....SO NO TAX!  Easy peasy:)

Now banks would be an obvious safe haven to collect high dividends.  Canadian banks are some of the most stable banks in the world.  The only problem with this is...they are soooo expensive; like $60 per share.  So as a result, these stocks will be contributed to slowly , every time the market dips, you buy 10 or so, then plan for 20-30 years or so of holding this.

Now some will say they don't jump into dividend stocks right away because these stocks tend to not grow as aggressively...based primarily on their investment to their shareholders....in dividends.  Is some cases,this can be true, BUT, if you wait long enough and keep your wits in check, this should not be the case IN THE LONG HAUL.  For example, the 2009 great recession, everyone was selling their stocks because they thought the sky was falling, when in reality, some of the biggest profits were made as a result by anyone who was buying.  Like the cliche says, buy low, sell high;)

When looking at dividend stocks, I have only a hand full of rules I follow before I buy.

  • It needs to earn more then 2%
  • It needs to be a company I know, and understand at least "slightly"
  • I need to at least want to use the product at some point if the opportunity arose.  
  • and not let myself buy when they are high.  Wait for an obvious blimp in the 52 week trend.
  • Has to be Canadian
For example, Shoppers Drug Mart.  This stock is my top one, WHY?... because they give me 2.5%, they are building ferociously in trendy neighborhoods, and they are sub-developing a separate cosmetic store in malls (Jen loves these).  Not only that, I bought when the stock was crashing based around the prescription mess in Ontario.  I will only sell this when the stock hits $38-40/share.  Its currently at 34:)

Don't get me wrong, I don't just buy based on dividends.  The earthquake in Japan ROCKED uranium stocks; the economy wasn't confident in its future stability.  I disagree.  The stock went from $40 to $28 in literally 1 week. I bought it at $25.  It later dropped further after several hick-ups to $18!  I bought a bit more averaging my total around $23/share.  It is currently at $20.  Personally, I hope it drops a bit more so when I buy next year, I can buy a large sum...because I believe uranium is not done, and should be at least worth $30/share, where I plan to sell it.  My last point on this subject...I bought Cameco...the leader in the uranium sector.  This makes it a bit more stable and long term.  I can hold it longer till I see the trends I want.  

I also use and bought Aeroplan.  They pay 5% dividend...and Im up on this, but lately I've been using them less, my interest is dropping, so I will sell when I get the percent I want...no timeline here.

Last, Suncor has been good to me.  Good dividend payer, and a leader in the oilsands.  I sold half of my stocks when it was at $41...I bought it at $30...not bad:)  Unfortunately, this is not a long hold for me, so when it hits the 40s again (give it a year?)...I will sell and move on.






Numbers...they are a fun thing haha.  Im sure the 2-3 people reading this are bored out of their mind...as I have said, my friends tend to not be interested in this sort of thing.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hotel standards and public services

Jen and I just got back from the Rimrock this weekend after celebrating her successful completion of the GI exam in Ottawa.  I chose this place because normally we would go to the Banff springs for a random nighter, but I always had heard Rimrock was comparable, less prestigious, but larger rooms, with all the frills you'd expect at the Fairmont Louise or Springs.  Id just like to note that we usually only go to these expensive hotels if we wanted to just experience the hotel, the dining options, and enjoy drinks with a wonderful feel and view.  After experiencing all the 5 star resorts in the Banff area, half a dozen mid level hotels in the area, and several budget hotels in the area, I had one of those clarifying moments with respects to hotels and the services they provide.

BUDGET:  This was the majority in my early years as a ski bum, and sometimes still in Revelstoke or Golden.  These are your typical motels, where you are able to park in front of your door for free, where sometimes you'd have the fumes waft inside your room.  The offices are usually attached to the owners living room, and the keys are the old fashion style with a big hanger on them.

  • PROS - Cheap!  Like under $100/night cheap.  You can pile people in with no questions asked....heck throw a dog in as well.  They are usually near downtown for easy access.  They have a party atmosphere.  Internet is free, parking is free.  They even offer discounted lift passes.  Lots of pros for being at the bottom of the heap eh?
  • NEGS - Well, first, cleanliness is not ideal.  Usually you will find a minimum of 1 long hair in the shower from the previous occupant.  You always double check the sheets, making sure all is good.  Everything is stuck in the 80's...the flower print sheets, yellow curtains, old tub with a bit of rust near the drain, and of course, a 15 inch tube TV.  The hot tub is usually 10% spilled beer, with less then ideal water quality conditions.  Early in the morning its noisy, people packing up for skiing before 7am, big trucks idling with many yelling to each other to hurry up.  There are no amenities such as a spa, restaurant, bar, etc.  Hot tub is usually the big attraction here.  Basically, what you see is what you get.


MID RANGE: These places are usually newer, or recently updated.  They are roughly 3-5 stories, and compete near other hotel chains.  They are fiercely in battle with their rivals.  These chains are usually very well known, and found right across the country.  Examples include Holiday Inn, Ramada, Super 8, Quality Inn, Travelodge, Best Western, and some Hiltons (some border 5 star).  Cost range from $110-$180 on average.

  • PROS - You know what your expecting before even entering the building.  If you've seen one, the rest will be very similar...they basically all have new duvet sheets, small LCD TV's, good shampoo and coffee options, and good showers (which is a big deal to me).  The parking is 99% of the time free.  There is usually a complimentary continental breakfast.  Internet is free.  They usually have a small pool and hot tub, and a small gym.  There are rarely any hidden fees.  Deals can be found using search engines.  Best bang for the buck!
  • NEGS - Location is average, usually not ideal.  The restaurant is also average....maybe a Perkins or Humpty's.  Kids are usually wrecking the mood in the hot tub...which is usually full.  The feel in these hotels is average... basically get in, enjoy, get out.  The elevators are slower than most (ok ok, Im reaching lol).  I honestly cannot think of any others.




5 STAR:  These hotels are usually large, stores within stores.  You'll have your convenience store, jewelry store, bars, more then one restaurant, spas, and more.  The location is usually somewhere with significance.  These places can be old with lasting appeal, or glamorous like many of the vegas resorts.  They are found at tourist attractions, or downtown within metropolitan cities.  Costs can range from $200-10000/night.

  • PROS - What can I say, luxury.  You will have your up to date trendy shampoos, the latest starbucks coffee.  Counters in the bathroom will obviously be granite.  The TV will be a minimum of 42 inches.  They will offer many options for restaurants (high budget to mid budget), several bars, spas which are connected to a full service pool area.  They offer valet and room service.  Like Jen and I in Banff this week, you really don't need to leave the hotel if you don't want to.  The food should be excellent.  Service SHOULD BE top notch...after all, you are paying double for what a mid range is.   The view from the room should be at least decent...either high up, looking into the city, looking over a mountain valley, or down any famous "strip".  Room service should be meticulous, and 50% of the time, "turn down service" should be provided.  
  • NEGS - There is a slight chance service will not meet expectations, which in turn, will suck even more because you now just blew hundreds per night just to basically sleep.  Status sometimes trumps service...if you look young, or not filthy rich, you may not get that table near the window, or be serviced in that first minute.  The cost of food, tipping, not to mention internet, parking, etc can add up FAST...like seriously, you pay all this money, and that does not include internet or parking.  Do they not know I can just use my iphone for internet instead of paying $20/night, or park down the street instead of the $25/night they offer.  Dogs are rarely allowed.  Basically, it doesn't take much at all for the cost to be a big waste of money if just one little thing goes wrong.  


In Summary, best bang for buck is the MID RANGE!  They fight for your service, everything is new, and they are accountable for their shortcomings.

Worst bang for buck CAN be the 5 star, but not always.  I personally find they feel like they can charge what ever they want because they know the egos of their customers wont dispute it, but if everything goes as planned, then it can be a night to remember!

Our recent 1 random night at the Rimrock...
Looking out into the valley

4th round of drinks? Jen tried a few Martini's

Big dessert, pretty good!

Our French waiter rocked!!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Hippies

Ohhh Hippies.  Why oh why do hippies get under my skin.  It perplexes me.  I understand they mean well in this world; they have "good intentions", but still, something is off.  Now... me even talking about this subject is risky because a large portion of my friends fit partially in this group;  some because my background education evolves around the environment, and some because my outdoor hobbies are hot spots for your quintessential granola lover.  Hiking, skiing, camping...well basically anything outdoors tends to be shared with someone with hemp.  So back to the big question...why does this bother me?

Well I guess the first thing is...they mean well, but their "good intentions" block all sensible facts.

Example 1)  Oil sands are bad, use wind and solar.  
Ok, um, lets look into this with a rational 360 view.  Oil is not ideal, this is obvious even to the big wigs working in the towers in downtown Calgary, BUT several things come into play here.  Oil upgrading is advancing at a staggering rate.  I know, I've seen and studied this with my own eyes.  Tailing ponds once were thought to exist for centuries....a few years ago it was decades...now its years!  This is positive movement.  Even after saying this, I still want to look at anything that would suggest progress.

 The hippies throw out the term renewable energy...such as wind, solar, and so forth.  If they look deep into all the little intricacies, and I mean deeper then looking at the green grass and pretty fans twirling, they will see several issues.  Wind power has been in the news alot lately.  Not only is it known to kill song birds, and messing up the local bat population, it is now making the local human population sick....hmmm.  The cost for 1 generator is high, and powers 200 households give or take.  You start piling up these wind farms, we will see new issues....not to mention the chemicals used to construct 1 blade is not ideal.   Don't get me wrong, I'm not writing wind off, its a positive moral for many and does contribute to the grid, but come on, we will never live off wind and sun alone for a loooong time.  Last and Im sure least on the hippy radar... it takes ideal locations, ideal government, and large companies to make a decent income off this.  Look at any renewable based stock....I personally have because I once thought this was the next boom.  Well, the reality is profit is tough to be had here, and many of these stocks are not good buys.

HIPPIES MAY KNOW FACTS ON ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS, BUT UNTIL THEY START LOOKING AT IT FROM ALL PERSPECTIVES, THEY WONT HAVE A STRONG UNDERSTANDING OF IT.
HOW DO YOU THINK BIO-FUEL CAME ABOUT.  HOWS THE PUBLIC OPINION ON THAT NOW!??

Hmmm, I seemed to have rambled a bit longer then planned on wind.  I wont get into the details with regards to sun, hydro, geo, etc, but I have points on each.  Hydro floods, sun is not efficient and the photocells have their issues, geo is expensive, and so on and so forth.

I guess hippies like to make you aware what your doing wrong as well.  They may not like the meat your eating because its not ethical, or not like golf because of the water used, or dislike Alberta because we like money, or making money period because its a wasted foot print, or or or.   I've heard it all.  Again, it all sounds good, but I'll take any recommendations from a well educated well rounded individual working their ass off looking at all perspectives, not a 20-30 something hippy yet to see any sort of consequences sitting out in the park protesting against the rich like the occupy movement.  Have you seen photos of these bums?  Mec equipment, hemp and dreaded everything, drums, bongos, all that hippy shit.  Ugh, how can anyone take them serious!

Wow, sidetracked again lol.

My final words...renewable energy, ethical foods, low impact living all are commendable, and at some miniscule level, is making progress, but working within the system and seeing all options presently available is the only way your voice will and should be heard.   Don't judge people who live lavishly.  Those same people may have contributed 100x more to a "green" organization compared to your bush lifestyle contribution.  Its hard to make a REAL difference when your "living off the land" in the sticks.  Don't hate oil, but in the same breath, know that there is a process in progress in reducing emissions, and increasing efficiently.

Again, I apologize on the rambling.  I'm writing this late, my opinion is crazy strong with respects to this,  and Im sure some of my points are not fully explained or completed.


We are living in the future now.