Category Archives: Things

Leaky Hunters

leaky-hunters-best-size-2I paid $165 for Hunter rain boots about two years ago. It took me a long time to decide to buy them because I’m good with money and I always think Do I really need this? But I loved them, I saw them everywhere, and I had bought much cheaper boots that had leaked, so I thought SCREW IT! I’m getting Hunters! And it’ll be a great investment because they’ll last a lifetime! After all, their supposed quality is what has plucked them from an old, well-respected brand to the trendy one that has emerged in the last several years.

I wore my Hunters pretty sparingly – realistically about once a month, and not for anything taxing. That is, they endured pretty light use. So imagine my rage when I was out immersing my feet in puddles with my toddler and FELT MY LEFT SOCK GET WET. Hunter, are you kidding me?! Rain boots. Right? RAIN boots. How hard is it to make a boot that completely keeps out water? For more than a few dozen uses? That is their ONLY FUNCTION. So, I posted my irritation on Facebook and several friends commented that their Hunters have also leaked. This is UNACCEPTABLE. It’s basically a shoddy product. It’s not just me and my over-use, scuffling my feet along rocky cliffs and a compulsive habit of kicking holly bushes. It’s routine, mild use. I contacted Hunter and they said that they only honour a one-year warranty.

I’d like to think the next pair would be different, but my small Facebook sampling says otherwise. I’m sick of companies decreasing quality while increasing price. It disgusts me because it once again takes money from the Little Guy and gives it to the Big Guy. You suck, Hunter.

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Vancouver Housing Affordability Complainers

Housing Affordability smallI just read an article in Vancouver Magazine about how BC Liberals have “picked their side – against affordability.” Writer Max Fawcett talks about Liberal MLA Laurie Throness’ recent justification for his party’s obvious stance on the housing crisis (after presenting a budget last week that did as close to nothing about the affordability problem without actually doing nothing) when he said that people who can’t afford to live in Vancouver should just live elsewhere. He also said that companies and the jobs they offer would end up following them. I, like Fawcett, am scratching my head at this. So, who’s going to start this trend? Who’s going to quit their job downtown, buy in Abbotsford, and wait for the exodus of companies from the city to the suburbs? Throness says he, too, couldn’t afford to live in Vancouver so he sucked it up and bought in Abbotsford without complaining. Well, good, Laurie, but you’re the MLA for Chilliwack-Hope, so wouldn’t it make sense for you to live there? Also, most people don’t pick the company they work for, the company picks them. That is, there are not so many oodles of jobs out there that one can afford to be picky and only take work that is within a certain radius of one’s home. How utterly absurd it would be for me or my husband to turn our noses up at a job because it’s not within a short commute. My husband has a one-hour commute to his job downtown. We bought a 35-year-old townhouse that far out because that’s what we could afford. However, buying in Abbotsford would at least double that commute. And that’s if he were lucky enough to be able to take transit, which, of course, from Abbotsford would be ridiculous.

We bought our modest place eight years ago, and units like ours did not go up in value the way detached homes in the rest of the market went. Fine. We were diligent to pay our mortgage and that’s a forced savings, so we have that equity. I don’t begrudge not having increased our equity by 100% because in any other market that would be an unreasonable expectation. And so should it be for any homeowner. Those who have made huge gains in their home equity have simply won the real estate lottery. They did not, as Christy Clark says, “painstakingly” build the equity in their homes. She says that her government is not going to do anything that may compromise the equity homeowners enjoy. I have earned good money for years and “painstakingly” saved, been frugal, been actively and successfully involved in the stock market, been financially diligent…and yet my investment equity is down 30% since last year because of world markets. Who’s going to prop up my RSP so that I don’t lose MY equity? The housing market went up by 20% in Metro Vancouver in the LAST SIX MONTHS. So, even if the government took modest measures and the market corrected by as much, the vast majority of homeowners would not lose any equity that they didn’t receive in an artificial market in an absurdly short period of time. Artificial, because true supply and demand means that average incomes in Metro Vancouver would be adequate to buy an average home. However, residents here have a median income of only around $70K. So, anyone who was lucky enough to have bought at least 15 years ago got a home for fair market value and has seen their equity grow since then at a rate that could not reasonably be expected with any other investment. If the market corrected so that their equity rose only 30% in the last decade instead of 100%, they would still enjoy a solid increase. The problem is that homeowners have stars in their eyes seeing how much their properties are now worth, so anything less than that will somehow feel like “losing”. They are not losing. They just wouldn’t get the great windfall. And it would only be a windfall if they were to sell and move to Sparwood. YOUR BUYING POWER IS NO GREATER JUST BECAUSE YOUR PROPERTY WENT UP IN VALUE. Because who cares if you have ten million dollars’ equity in your home if every other home costs as much? Further, a home is a long-term investment. Anyone who “loses” equity today will be fine a decade (or typically longer) from now when they decide to sell. I don’t take much notice to my investment portfolio that’s down 30% because it’s supposed to be a decades-long investment. Also, it’s the risk you take buying ANY investment.

In addition to moving far out of the city, the government feels that people should just stop whining because it’s not everyone’s God-given right to own a detached house in Vancouver. Well, I guess it’s not my God-given right to own a detached house in North Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, most parts of Surrey, Langley, and much of Abbotsford. I guess it’s only rich people’s God-given right to take that opportunity away from those who for decades were able to buy average homes in most of these areas. I suppose that despite this fraudulent game the rich are playing we should all just be happy to work like assholes our whole lives to put every nickel into an already over-priced condo. That, instead of paying fair market value and having a reasonable commute, enjoying the occasional Starbucks, having room for kids, and saving for retirement.

This government, and idiots like Throness, are deliberately distracting from the actual problem of affordability and fraud. They claim they cannot take any measures that would cool the market down. Yes, of course they can. But they don’t, because when homeowners lose their false equity and get all angry about it because they thought they were rich and now they’re just average they will call for each Liberal’s head. And the federal government does nothing because they know with years of low interest rates, people have racked up personal debt to record levels and would be screwed if interest rates went up. So, government created a terrible situation and now feels forced to keep the party going and leave that disaster for a future date instead of dealing with the disaster now. I cannot believe that even equity-rich homeowners don’t see this for what it is. They SHOULD want the government to intervene. Why? Because this whole situation is based on greed, fraud, and blatantly favouring the rich, and even their children will not be able to buy a decent home here. How do you not see that?

 

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People Are Weird About Talking

TALKING ABOUT SUCKY THINGS2There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s boyfriend breaks up with her on a post-it and she gets angry over the cowardice. She says, “Most women aren’t angry, irrational psychos. We just want an ending to a relationship that is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together.” So very true! How often has a man claimed that a woman is crazy? Women aren’t crazy, we just require communication. And I think men do, too.

Like Carrie said, there is a good way to tell someone something hurtful. Avoiding the situation entirely is just a really bad idea.

A friend once asked me if I wanted people to ask me how I was doing after a particularly difficult time in my life last year. She wondered if it was insensitive to mention the situation at all given that it had surely caused me a lot of pain.

Here’s the thing: when people go through something bad, they need to know that those around them care. This doesn’t mean they will necessarily want to talk about it, nor do they necessarily want pity. What they want is consideration for their hard time and concern for their well-being. No one likes to feel un-cared for, and if everyone just makes like nothing happened it can feel like no one gives a shit about you.

Here’s what you do if you’re unsure: tell the person that you’re thinking of them, or that you’re there for them if they need anything. That’s it. If the person wants to bring you in, they will. If not, they will at least feel loved. They will not resent you just for bringing it up.

What I’m saying is, the worst thing you can do to a person is ignore a bad thing that’s happened to them. It tells them they don’t matter. Don’t let something uncomfortable turn you into an asshole.

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My Book & Show-Offs

I’m not much of a show-offy person. This is something most hold as an endearing trait, and few have much patience for the opposite. Especially in Canada, we kind of feel like nobody should stand out. And if you bring attention to something you do well, you run the risk of rubbing people the wrong way.

I’m not sure why we hate show-offs so much. Maybe it’s linked to not being truly happy for other people’s successes. Because if we’re not happy for someone it means we’re mad we don’t have something ourselves.

When I was in Grade 8 we did a gymnastics rotation in gym. Each girl had to come up with a floor routine. I had done gymnastics for years and although I wasn’t fantastic, I was probably better than everyone in my class. I could do flips and walkovers and I was really bendy. But you know what I did? I performed a lame-ass routine that didn’t showcase any skills at all. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. How pathetic.

A friend of mine is always saying what a disservice it is to not bring attention to your strengths. And he’s right. We don’t have to be arrogant about it, we just have to be appropriately proud of our accomplishments.

I have written a book. It is very hard for me to put it out there for everyone to see like this. Not only does it give readers a glimpse into my mind, but it opens me up to be hugely criticized. Some people will like my book, some people will dislike it. I just hope people understand how much work it takes to finish a book, and how embarrassing it is to put something subjective like this out there.

Enjoy.

To buy the book, click here (for Kindle users) or here (for other ereaders).

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Saying Stupid Things

My sister used to say I need to filter what comes out of my mouth. I don’t take offence to this, as I know I’m prone to voice things in contexts that are not quite appropriate. For example, I am what some would call a religious person and in religious circles, if you say it’s okay to masturbate people will look at you like they want to have a shower. And then they will avoid you. Maybe some topics aren’t for all audiences.

I don’t want to talk about masturbation. My point is that sometimes my tongue gets me into trouble or makes me feel like I’ve failed. Everyone’s heat rises when they feel slighted, patronized or outright treated badly. Mine tends to spike, then I speak, then I think, then I am disappointed. Because even if I’m justified, I feel like I should be more zen or something.

I have learned how much life can suck if you voice every crappy thing that happens. You know what? When things are crappy and you can’t change that they’re crappy, there is only one solution. DON’T THINK ABOUT IT.

You can, and maybe should, talk about things for a time to your favourite  sounding board. I mean, we relate to people by discussing both the good and the bad in life; there is some emotional benefit to doing that. But the old adage that it’s good to get absolutely everything off your chest so you don’t bottle things up and explode later on is just not true. Because the more people you talk to about a crappy thing, the more you’re thinking about that crappy thing, and the more those negative emotions associated with that crappy thing overtake you.

When thoughts of shitty stuff creep into my head I have to just get them out. It’s the only thing that works. Because sometimes circumstances will suck over which I have no control and no amount of positive thinking is going to make them better. It’s not about avoiding anything, or being unrealistic. It’s just about keeping them away until time does its magic.

It’s tempting to go on and on and on about everything we’re feeling and thinking. But it’s idiotic, and I don’t want to be an idiot.

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Of Cars and Men

I got in a minor car accident recently (which was not my fault) and it got me thinking of the ballsiness of men. I mean, I think of this topic fairly often in general, but this incident renewed my interest.

Women like men who are ballsy. No matter the woman, ballsy equals confident and you can never go wrong with that. Now, I know you can’t feign confidence, so if you don’t have it you likely need to read some self-help books. (Seriously! There’s nothing wrong with bettering yourself or going to counselling! We all need it sometimes.) And we all know that when any person affects confidence it’s embarrassing.

Of course, there is at least one circumstance in which it’s endearing for someone to be awkward. See, if a man seems unsure and I can tell he likes me, I think it’s cute. Not that men want to be cute; I have actually heard they would rather be called anything but. However, to me he is cute and I am delighted. I don’t trust a man who is too charming.

The last time I got into a fender bender, I tapped a man’s bumper and we pulled over to the side of the road. The man who got out of the car was about my dad’s age, easily 60. We exchanged information and he said he’d get his car inspected. A few days later he called me to say there was no damage. Then, pausing weirdly, he finally  joked that since I’d put him to all that trouble the least I could do was have dinner with him.

Good for him!

Now, I was 29, but I looked young that day. I had just been skiing and my hair was in pigtails. I could have been 19 for all he knew. So…yeah, questionable. But I was still impressed. 

I have turned down more offers than I have accepted – we all have, I think – but I have never once turned a man down and thought, “Oh, geez, this is embarrassing for him.” I think more of him, like he’s doing what a guy should do. So, yeah, good on him.

And good on that 60-year-old.

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To Boob Job?

My sister and I often say that our hands are 20 years our senior. Like, if someone just saw our hands and not the rest of our bodies they might presume us middle-aged. Both of us suffered from eczema off and on since we were kids, but more than that, our hands are just DRY.

I once had someone say that if they only saw a portrait of my face they would assume the rest of me was chubby. I kind of thought that was funny until I was running in a race in gym class and my classmates told me later that my cheeks move up and down when I run, like someone facing a wind machine.

About a decade ago, a middle-aged woman gasped when she saw my bare legs and asked me what had happened. Had I fallen? I looked down, confused, until I registered that my knees looked bruised because my skin is so mottled.

One person, who shall remain nameless, once asked if I would consider getting a boob job. Not, like, a question of principal, but just whether I wanted bigger boobs.

People always tell me I look very ERECT when I run. Must look ridiculous, but I think I do it to keep all my lanky appendages from flailing, thus making me more aero-dynamic.

I do love my body. I would change a few things, you know, if God was asking. Also, if I got to make everything perfect my sister and I would have considerably less to laugh about . That counts for something, you know?

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