Stats and facts


Finances are more often than not a stressing issue for families and individuals alike. Generally even if we have enough, we still want more, and if we don’t have enough we stress about ways to find it.

Personally, as a single person living on my own, I loathe the encroaching moments when things are tight and I struggle to make mortgage payments, student loan payments, utility payments while still try to manage to have money left over for groceries and minimal socializing. The levels of anxiety the feeling of not having enough money causes is frightening. I realize having a job and a mortgage to worry about, let alone affording a social life, should be considered luxuries compared to the lives of many people, but I still don’t know many who don’t wish their salary was higher or that their yearly pay increments were more than 2% at a time.

I don’t take for granted that I have a stable job that pays me enough to survive but it almost seems as though basic survival is definitely a thing of the past, people aren’t interested in only sustaining their needs they additionally look to meet the numerous wants they have. Is it possible to be happy with only the essentials or are we naturally programmed to want more once we’ve meet our basic needs? If we haven’t fulfilled our basic needs do we not yearn for more, or do wants sometimes outweigh necessity? I’ve seen people stapped for cash, $50 short of rent money go buy a pack of smokes and McDonald’s for dinner instead of logically putting that money towards the bigger conern, but what drives us to do these things? Is advertising to blame? Are we more concerned about keeping up with the Jones’ than our own well being? Do we even really want all these “extras” or do we just acquire them because it seems like a good idea?

I often envy friends who live in the ideal “DINK” (Double Income, No Kids) situation where they have essentially double the income, shared expenses, and usually less debt because they have more money to put towards it. The DINK lifestyle additionally in turn comes with more vacations, nicer things, more frequent outings, etc. – who wouldn’t like that? Having someone to share the financial burden and an increased disposable income definitely alleviates a lot of money stress and feeds the desires for material wealth, playing perfectly into the wants based society we all live in. Don’t assume I am bitter though please, I aspire to be a DINK one day too, but until then I do take pride in the fact that I am making a go of things on my own and surviving.

I did recently, however, have my somewhat of a pity party regarding my lonely struggles put into perspective when I read the 2008-2010 stats Canada national income averages. When you learn that someone in your same “category” makes $10-15, 000 less than you do on average, you start to realize that maybe you’re not so bad off. I regularly wonder how I make it through, but I couldn’t even fathom the idea of making even a couple of hundred dollars less, let alone thousands less. The idea of not being able to afford paying the bills I have presently frightens me, what frightens me more though, is that I would almost be willing to give up some of the more essential luxuries I have like cable and an amped up cell phone plan in lieu of giving up my social life and car I rarely use.

What would you be willing to sacrifice in the name of something else more important to you, but still frivolous in the eyes of many?

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As a public servant I have taken to paying far more attention to what is going on in government, which is likely a good thing. Most recently, with the submission of Bill C-38 to parliament, my colleagues and I, as well as much of Canada, are feeling the effects of this rapidly passing new act. I have no better way to describe this latest act than as daunting. Well over 50 pieces of legislation are being “tweaked” in this over 450 page mega document.

I’ve decided to compile a list of observations I have made and encourage Canadians who are unfamiliar with what is going on to do some research:

1. The act is enormous and broad – CON
I see it as somewhat unsettling that the government has bundled so many changes into one document with the expectation that fellow members of parliament are going to be able to fully wrap their head around it and feel comfortable with what they are approving or denying. I realize this is all part of the majority rule advantage but I strongly believe that it should have been divided into a few different bills grouping together similar legislation so that the changes could be debated more closely and thoroughly.

2. The timeline for approval is very condensed – CON
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned point about how large and broad this act is, the fact that the timelines for approval are so condensed is also alarming. Had the act been divided into sections these timelines would seem more reasonable, but it isn’t divided, and the speed at which this document is passing through readings is a little insane. This naturally makes me question how  well it is being reviewed and how fair the whole process is being run.

3. Stricter regulations for obtaining EI – PRO
How can this not be good? I think encouraging people to look for work and providing them with more resources to do so is fantastic. In the same breath, I also think that making the criteria for obtaining EI more specific is equally great in efforts to discourage the abuse of the system. I know EI is needed for many and I have no problem with helping out those who need the temporary help, but I absolutely do not like that it is being used as a regular source of income for many who can’t seem to understand the concept of working consistent jobs to sustain themselves.

4. Environmental well being is being overshadowed by the economic well being – PRO/CON
The amendments being presented in regards to environmental protection and assessments within regulatory processes are quite significant. The changes suggest that the processes are going to be accelerated and the requirements in this realm less stringent. I see this as both good and bad, as fast tracking certain economically beneficial projects can be very good for our nation, but at the expense of the environment? Will these decisions being made sound as good 5 years from now? Will the changes being made in regards to the environment be as detrimental as people are anticipating?

5. Independent regulatory departments are losing independence – CON
It appears as though more, “overriding” type authorities are being given to ministers, executives, etc. in these formerly quite independent departments. Essentially, depending on the government and individuals, higher ups could make their own decisions if they so choose to, despite the fact that it would go against the current system and be undemocratic of them to do so. Ex: an NDP government could kibosh proposed energy projects in the name of the environment or something of the sort, where as Conservative government could accelerate and over-approve them all in the name of the economy.

6. The name of the act is misleading – CON
For the Conservative government looking to get this act to pass quickly it could be very beneficial that they disguised the contents of the act by calling it “Budget Implementation”  but it distracts many Canadians from looking further into what it actually encompasses.

7. The “Budget Implementation Act” is being reviewed by the finance committee – CON
Contrary to the title of the act, there are way more items within it than those that are budget related. I have a hard time imagining what kind of expertise the finance committee is going to have when it comes to pipeline projects, environment and other non-finance related business.

8. Elimination of the role of Inspector General (CSIS) – CON
Considering this position deals with highly sensitive information and national security I don’t think it should be bundled into such a large bill and overlooked because it needs more focus and discussion than is being allotted to it. Not having the extra “check and balance” of the IG potentially means less privacy for the public and more room for error. I believe CSIS is an important agency and this position’s elimination could cause detriment.

9. OAS age of eligibility from 65 to 67 – PRO
I, contrary to many, believe this is a good thing and don’t quite understand the outrage around it. Statistics show clearly that people are living longer, which for government means paying out OAS for a longer period of time which makes it all the more expensive for them. Additionally, if people are living longer they are likely healthier implying they may be able to work longer as well. I am not sure how significantly the small increase by 2 years affects people and it isn’t a new concept as countries all over Europe increased their retirement ages to 67 years ago.

10. Increase in decision appeals – CON
Due to powers being shifted, “strict” decision timelines for projects (ex: applications submitted to the NEB) being implemented, and environmental assessment amendments there is a lot of room for companies and individuals to move to appeal them. Increasing appeals will tire resources and potentially put significant strain on our system.

Don’t ask questions just know that this blog entry is necessary. Home reno and DIY television have started to skew my original idea of an ideal man. Although it may appear as though my standards have slumped, it’s not entirely true — my ability to think practically has just kicked in a little more. I used to be all about educated suit and tie wearing professionals but Carhartts are really starting to win me over.

1. Fireman/Paramedic – They save lives, how can that not be a. handy in case you need some saving or b. sexy? With one of these two around you always either have someone to put out your fire in all the right ways or someone to nurse you while you’re feeling less than optimal. Swooon.

2. Carpenter – They can build and fix things! Everything, anything! Best kind of man to have around the house. If you want a dream walk in closet with shoe storage, etc., etc. he is the man to make your dreams come true. Not to mention, pretty hot covered in soot and saw dust? Yeah! They’re also always the cute ones on the home shows.

3. Police Officer/RCMP/National Defenseman – Not only do they save lives but they also protect the community, the country, the WORLD. Figures of authority bringing bad guys to justice, and, making sure when we finally have children that our kids are safe from speeding cars in the playground zones. They’re the kind of men who make you feel all safe and stuff, ohh yeah. Hot. Do I even need to mention they wear uniforms? Rawr. Navy polyester, camo and bright red wool have never been so appealing.

4. Plumber/Electrician/HVAC/Welder (tradesman) –  Sort of the same idea as the carpenter’s appeal — these guys can be all kinds of handy. They aren’t quite as saucy as carpenters because their jobs are a bit dirtier (poop?) and far more specific so they might not be dream closet kind of handy. It is nice to know that these guys do have handy in them already however and chances are they’re going to be pretty decent at all kinds of other things.

5. Geologist – Something about these rock loving geeks has always got me a little giddy! Part of my adoration may be that I actually quite enjoy geology myself, but I’m not 100%. I guess geologists are attractive because they’re generally pretty smart, educated dudes but the kind that don’t mind getting dirty.

6. Civil, Chemical, Geological, Petroleum, Environmental (pretty much anything that isn’t IT related) Engineer – The academic tradesmen. Hot. Although engineers are infamous for being a “certain breed” (negative connotation if you know what I mean) I’ve met and befriended a lot in my day and I find most of them pretty rad. Something about seeing those pinky rings just really excites me.

7. Teacher – Um they educate the future, that is a pretty big deal. It’s attractive knowing a man enjoys being around kids/youth and will be able to set a good example for your future children together. Also, he obviously knows stuff about stuff. Gym teacher isn’t as awesome though, just saying. My personal favourite would be elementary or social studies, fyi, in case you were wondering.

8. Doctor – I’m not crazy about the idea of all sorts of whacko hours and the on call business, although I guess some of the above could be prone to that too. What I am crazy about though is the fact that these dudes are MEGA educated and can more than nurse your cold, they can overhaul your whole bod! Yay for docs.

9. Academic – Professors and published geniuses kind of academics of course. As long as the dude is making a living out of his academic ways instead of being a life long student waiting tables and living on a slummy couch somewhere — definite difference. I think being uber smart is awesome and living a life of intellectual enlightenment wouldn’t be so awful, plus people would always be so impressed by your husbands suave smartness.

10. Social Worker/Counselor/NGO – Yeah people usually think of it as a woman’s job to be a social worker or a counselor but I think choosing to help others as a career is a pretty noble life choice. I’ve met a few social working, counsel those who need it type men and I must say — impressive. If they go to Africa and hand out care packages to orphans — even more amazing.

Others that could be on the list but aren’t quite up there: Lawyer — I work with them everyday so the dream is no longer as awesome as it once could have been; Archeologist — similar appeal as Geologist; Historian — could be considered an academic; Mechanic — good to know he can keep the cars in tip top shape and use his hands well but just not as handy as others; Chef — man who can cook, kind of hot, but I can cook too…; some type of executive — dollar signs specifically come to mind.

Those that just don’t make the grade: Bicycle Couriers — arguably one of the most vile types of creature roaming the inner city; Garbageman — garbage just isn’t sexy and the smell is penetrating; Rigger/anything that pays obnoxious under educated men way too much money — I don’t have total disgust for this line of work and some of those who work up there are definitely trained professionals and even well educated but there is a giant stigma thanks to a lot of danks that work “up north” making hoards of cashflow that make the whole idea of a 10 on 4 off kind of guy not so hot.

Recently, to the dismay of many Canadians, we had another federal election. Due to the lack of majority government over the last decade we have had trouble getting anything done and have had to frequent the polls a tad too often.

I had high hopes for this election, mainly because I was yearning for a government that could get shit done and a cessation to the overly frequent elections. The election couldn’t have turned out much better than it did, I was really impressed with our voting population up here in Canada. For those of you who have not followed, the Conservative government won a majority, the Liberal party lost upwards of 40 seats down to 33 only, the NDP for the first time ever became the official opposition party, the Bloc Quebecois lost party status along with a whole bunch of seats and the Green party gained their first seat ever!

I would argue the results of this past election as monumental. It is evident to see that Canadians voted strategically and it was great to see the rise of federalism with the fall of the Bloc. I am glad we finally have a majority that will hopefully get a move on but have a significant enough left wing influence to balance them out a little.

With the results of our municipal election last fall as equally monumental due to a significant increase in the youth vote, and now these results, I have hope for the democratic process once again! One thing I did not enjoy about this federal election process though is the fact that people were so desperate to vote against certain parties, rather than specific candidates, that they didn’t pay much mind to the individuals they were giving seats in parliament. There are some questionable newly elected NDP representatives some of whom include a 19 year old first year university student who has never been able to vote before this election, a party hearty young bar manager in a French riding who doesn’t speak French and many other inexperienced students and new comers. Although these individuals will likely bring fresh ideas the NDP has a lot of work ahead of them if they intend on keeping the large number of seats they gained this time around.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 62 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 126 posts. There were 88 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 40mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 25th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was I think I’m breaking down.

 

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, shoutsfromtheabyss.wordpress.com, facebook.com, WordPress Dashboard, and kenziejoy.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for eva peron, evita peron, michaelle jean, marie antoinette, and intriguing words.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

I think I’m breaking down March 2010

2

Why am I here? October 2009
21 comments

3

Get off my hook June 2010
7 comments

4

Calgary Civic Election October 2010
4 comments

5

The tuition debate continues February 2010

For those of you who follow my day to day life (which probably isn’t many) you will already know that I spent some time in Los Angeles this and last week  for a mini getaway and birthday present to myself. My favorite part about this trip was the fact that I not only got to see a friend I met in Costa Rica last year, whom I haven’t seen in a year, but also just the fact that I wasn’t going to be staying there as a “tourist”.

I had a brief stint in LA when I took a road trip through the states to Las Vegas and Disney in 2008 but all we really saw were the shit places you see on a tour: the Hollywood sign, the stars, Universal Studios and all related bullshit. To be honest, my time there 2 years ago left me with the thought of never wanting to go back to that hole. Luckily for me because I happened to have a friend living there I decided to give the place another shot and lo and behold places can actually turn out being more enjoyable when you don’t spent your time in tourist traps and with a bunch of foreigners snapping pictures of useless shit! (man I  said shit a lot)

When most think of LA they think of celebrities and the glamorous lifestyle, they think of what they see in the movies and on The Hills, but in all honesty all that hype really isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Spending my time there I got to know locals, hang out in local spots and actually really enjoy my time and understand what most people living their day to day lives in the area are about. It is quite tragic that people get caught up in all the hoopla and stupid celebrity craze, the LA you get fed images of through the media is overrated and not worth anyone’s time in my opinion and sadly the LA I got to experience is very underrated.

I did fall victim to some of the craze in the sense  that I was expecting a rocking local music scene, mainly on Sunset in West Hollywood, with a picture painted of great musicians and great venues every night, but that didn’t pan out to be everything I had envisioned. The situation worked itself out when I found a hole in the wall bar with some sweet acts a few nights later however, reinforcing the fact that all the pictures people paint aren’t actually going to be the same when you find them. It really pushes me to ponder why people decide to travel when they don’t want to venture anywhere the heart of where they are visiting.

When I had first heard my friend no longer lived in Venice where all the surfer dudes hang and trendy people dwell, I was again sort of disappointed especially when she continued to tell me she moved to the hood — Inglewood; another incident reinforcing why you must personally experience somewhere, something (etc.) before you become trapped by the ideas others have painted in your head. Staying in Inglewood was actually really interesting and a great experience: the area was cleaner, quieter and really had nothing wrong with it although I stuck out like a sore thumb, it was a good place to be.

My conclusions made from my time in LA are the following:
– the people that live in the “hood” have more respect for their surroundings
– driving on the 405 isn’t my idea of a good time
– celebrities aren’t on every street corner and if they are I didn’t notice
– most of the people I met weren’t into becoming famous they were about enjoying life, smoking pot and being good people
– hippies are still alive and well
– convenience is lacking
– pot is extremely socially acceptable
– Hollywood needs a face lift, and some garbage pickup
– the sun is not always shining
– giant Patron margaritas are delicous
– people commute significant distances

Malibu

I tried, but I could not manage to get through the World Cup without blogging about it.

Being a Canadian soccer is not nearly as followed as hockey is, hockey truly is like a religion here. Despite the fact that we do have  a large immigrant and to a lesser extent, non-immigrant, population who do follow soccer quite closely I still feel the appreciation of the sport is lacking in Canada. For some reason the sport has me enthralled and the international  matches even more so. Strangely enough for me, people always seem to ask for my justifications in liking no only the team I cheer for but the sport as a whole.

This my friends is why I enjoy the sport and why I favor Spain:
1. Soccer (futbol, football, etc.) is highly entertaining to watch.
2. The people who play are brilliant atheltes, running around a field non stop for 45 minutes at a time not including extra time is pretty commendable.
3. The sport brings together so many different people, like hockey people of all sorts gather together to support their favorite teams.
4.  David Villa is amazingly talented, he has great precision when  he handles the ball.
5. The team has great passing techniques which makes it even more enjoyable to watch.
6. Iker Casillas is a brilliant goal keeper, his reflexes are superb.
7. Soccer is, just as hockey is, great with beer.
8. I associate Spain and Spanish football with great memories:
– When I was in a little town in Spain called Irun in 2007 stranded at a divvy train station an old news shop man struck up a conversation with me in Spanish because he saw me wearing my Spain jersey, although I didn’t speak very good Spanish he was so proud that I was wearing the jersey he gave me pointers on how to stay warm while waiting for my train and stayed with me the whole time.
– Coming back from Granada one night arriving at the Atocha train station in Madrid we were just getting of the train around 1am and got outside (after realizing the metro lines had stopped running) to see a huge hoard of people just gathered and moving in the streets. There had been a Barcelona vs. Madrid game that night and Madrid had one so it seemed the entire city had gone to the streets to celebrate, it was a really fun moment to be a part of.
9. I feel proud when I watch them.
10. I love the country. Traveling through Spain was one of the most amazing times in my life.
11. Spain is part of my heritage.
12. The men are hot.
13. I just do.

El equipo Espana

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