Hey , i’m a 20 young man , and i begin in life.
Any wise advices about studies , money ,fashion, well-being, girls?
I don’t want to screw up , thanks.

- Achraf

May 5th, 2010

These are all excellent questions in their own right.  Please feel free to ask for additional clarification on any of them (one at a time, of course).  What I will do in this reply is give you a few statements for each of them — an overview, if you will.

Studies: Life is short.  It may not seem like it to you yet because you’re still young.  But it’s short and it can end with little or no notice.  So, find something you love to do and do it.  As Leonard Cohen (famous Canadian poet) put it: “I don’t want to work for pay, but I want to be paid for my work”.  If you can possibly earn a living while doing something you love, it’s like getting an extra life.  Seriously: you’re asleep 1/3 of the time and at work 1/3 of the time and your time is your own the other 1/3 of the time.  So if you love your work then the last two merge into a satisfying and healthy lifestyle.

Money:  In short, the rule is: never get on the wrong side of compound interest.  In other words, if you want to buy something, save up some money and then buy it.  If you wave cash in front of the vendor, they’ll usually give you a few dollars off.  In addition, you will receive interest (aka free money) on that money you’re saving up.  Many times, those who buy things on credit end up paying double or more.  Here’s an appropriate Albert Einstein “quote” (which he never actually said, but it’s pretty accurate, so many people wish he had): “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest”.

Fashion: Always go classic.  When you get married, wear a nice suit — not the baby-blue velour that’s in fashion for a year or two (believe me, you’ll be embarrassed the rest of your life when your wedding pictures are viewed!).  What seems appropriate and new (jump suits, very short shorts, ruffled shirts, etcetera) don’t last.  Probably the best thing to do is look over the past 15 years or so and see what’s been common clothing throughout that time.  Same thing goes for haircuts, jewelry, etc.  If I had to make a simple rule it would be: don’t try to stick out; don’t be a peacock.

Well-Being: This is of paramount importance.  Right now, you’re young.  You can eat fatty, crappy food and it won’t appear to make a difference.  But I think it does — I think it’s filling up spaces inside your body, and when those tiny empty spaces are all full you start getting fat.  So: eat right and exercise by doing activities you enjoy (go on a walk instead of being on a treadmill).  All things in moderation (including alcohol, of course).  Avoid drugs and smoking like the plague; my feeling on drugs is that some of the modern synthetic ones are particularly dangerous as they directly kill brain cells and/or do genetic damage.  Finally, learn to cook!  It’s fun, you’ll save a LOT of money (you can eat filet mignon for the price of a McDonald’s meal – did you know that?) you’ll eat better (restaurants like fatty food because fat tastes good (that’s a genetic thing with humans because fat is high energy and food wasn’t always available) and fat is cheap).  Oh, and women love a man that can cook.

Girls: are interesting.  Avoid them until you’re about 28 or so.  There are good reasons for this and I’ve covered it in depth in previous entries.  It boils down to this: males mature (mentally) fairly slowly and you won’t be fully hatched until about age 28.  Without getting tied down, you will be able to concentrate on your studies, well-being and money; these are all good things to have concentrated on because by age 28 you’ll have a good career, will be physically in top condition and will have cash.  Cash is the ultimate aphrodisiac but when you look good and have a great career on top of that, you will have your pick of women.  One more thing: if you want to know what they’ll be like in 20 or 25 years, be sure to meet their mother.  I’m probably going to get roasted by women for this answer…

Anyway, I hope this helps.  If there are things you would like more information on, JustAskOldGuy.

No questions for awhile, so I thought I’d ask myself one: how do the events controlling society REALLY work?

April 25th, 2010

Some people think I find “conspiracy theories” interesting.  I do, mostly because things really don’t add up when you look into it.

But if “they” are really out to get you, you’re not being paranoid…

It’s about 2 hours long; I dare you to watch it.

How can we stop wars? I ask because the US is spending billions on creating new military facilities in my island home – Guam. I keep thinking someone is going to say, that’s enough. Lets scale back the military – war isn’t helping anything. But they keep spending, building and train for war. Of course then they have to justify all that spending – by fighting.

- Shannon

April 22nd, 2010

Uh… I think you’ve answered your own question!

But that’s a gut reaction, based on my natural pessimism.  Do me a favour and give this a read: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

There’s some pretty good evidence that as the standard of living and the average life span have increased, we’ve become more peaceful.  This does make one wonder about the high levels of military spending, though.  And that “wonder” forces me to follow the standard investigative procedure for finding the truth: follow the money.  You don’t have to look far to realize that some people, companies and even countries are becoming very rich as a result of either arms sales or as a result of the power it gives them over valuable resources such as… oil.

Therefore, I reluctantly conclude that we cannot stop war because the “military industrial complex” is one of the many ways that money is funnelled from the pockets of the poor (via taxes) into the pockets of the powerful.

Organized crime likes to run something they call a protection racket (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protection_racket ).  If you think of the government as being the mafia, their Army is a key component to their protection racket — it is here to protect us from all the bad guys out here and every once-in-awhile they need to fight to prove that the threat is real.

There is, though, something larger than countries: religion.  With the mafia or government, their ultimate threat is that you will die.  Many religions wield an even scarier stick: their ultimate threat is that after you die you will spend eternity in Hell… and eternity is a very, very long time.

We may be past the era of large country wars, and just entering another era of religious wars.  Some people will become very, very rich and powerful in this kind of war.

I hope I’m wrong.

Wise things to say to a heart broken friend?

- maϊa

April 21st, 2010

Your question is a little bit vague, so I may well be missing some critical piece of information (the more background information I have on questions of this nature, the better).  For example:

  • Your friend may be an emo and just slightly heartbroken; it looks worse than it is.
  • Your friend may be macho and if they appear heartbroken even a tiny bit then they may be suicidal!
  • Is your friend male or female?  What about the object of their affection?
  • Are they young?  Really young?
  • Are they old enough that this may have been their last realistic chance to find a mate?
  • Fifty percent of people never get over their first boyfriend or girlfriend, so are they heartbroken over their “first love”?
  • How messy was the breakup?  Was it your friend’s fault or the other person’s fault?  It makes a difference.
  • What is the marital status of your friend’s parents?  What is their home life like?
  • Is your friend usually mentally strong?
  • Does your friend like to be the center of attention?

So, as you can see, without some additional background information it’s going to be hard to come up with the correct answer to your question.

Of course, that won’t stop me from providing advice…

I deduce from your login name, the fact that the question itself is not a complete sentence and from your email address that you are a youngish teenage female.  Probably 13 or 14.  So your friend is probably about the same age since girls at that age tend to travel in packs; they can’t even go to a public restroom without their BFFL tagging along.  And, they’re chock full of hormones; bundles of emotions if you will.  Plus, they’re just developing, uh, let’s call them “super powers”.  Yeah, I like that term.  Super Powers. I hope that they never get used for evil; an early and painful breakup can result in a long period of evil use of Super Powers. At this age, the breakup was probably with a boy, perhaps a year or two older, as most boys the same age as her would have been confused to the point of panic.  Most likely the boy broke up with your friend as opposed to the her breaking up with him (if she’d broken up with him, she wouldn’t be heart broken).

That’s my guess, and that’s the scenario I will answer.

Here are the wise things to tell your friend:  Nothing.  Just listen.  Listen hard.

You see, you can’t say that she did anything wrong (even though it was obvious to you that this good-looking jock was more interested in getting his hands on her super powers than anything else).  “I knew it”, “I was expecting it”, and similar phrases all imply that your friend was too dumb to see the truth.  It is all too easy to accidentally say something like “He didn’t deserve you” (then if I was more than he deserved, why would he leave for that cow-faced Becky Jones?) or “I hope he gets hit by frozen turds that fall off of a passing airplane” (but he’s going to come back to me, why do you hate him, what kind of friend are you?).  In other words, in your friend’s emotional state almost anything you say can be twisted by her warped logic into being a personal attack from you.

So just listen.  Use phrases like “Do you want to talk about it” (the answer will be NO!, followed a minute later by an emotional rant) or “Is there anything I can do to help?  Would you like some chocolate? (chocolate may not help, but it will keep her mouth full and she can’t blubber on with a full mouth) or “Uh huh” followed by a slight shake of your head.

Do NOT compare her to Sandra Bullock or Erin Nordegren.  Just be sad with her for awhile.

I will give you one other useful piece of advice.  Pay close attention to this one.  If this is a particularly painful (and probably first or close to it) breakup, your friend’s emotional state can best be described as being one of extreme grief.  As it turns out, there are 7 stages of grief that she will go through.  Know what they are (and the probable order) will help you keep your sanity, because you will have some idea how many more stages she has to go through.  You may want to do a Google search for “stages of grief” to learn more:

  1. shock/disbelief
  2. denial
  3. bargaining
  4. guilt
  5. anger
  6. depression
  7. acceptance and hope

What’s the meaning of life again…? Anyway, my real Q is: is the human ego more in place nowadays, or is a sense of community spreading out like a disease?

- Chewabacca

April 12th, 2010

Please feel free to ask the “What is the meaning of life” question after you read the answer to your real question (which is a new question, so I will answer it right now!)

A: One thing I know for sure is that humanity is spreading out like a disease – but that’s something entirely different that I imagine I will have a chance to talk about eventually.  The gist of your question is really this: The world has gone through some interesting crises lately, and these crises seem to be coming at an increasingly rapid rate.  Has this made people change their behaviour for the better or not?  Are we still a greedy species or are new (smaller) communities forming; indicating a loss in faith in regards to government and big business, and more dependence upon personal relationships?

At least, I think that’s what you’re asking.  So that’s the question I’m going to answer.

Let’s start by making this concrete.  Examples are good.

  • Here, in British Columbia, the provincial government decided to hold an election a year or so early – May 2009 instead of 2010.  Why would they do that?  Well, we spent a few extra billion dollars on the 2010 Olympics, which had the effect of hiding the economic crisis from most people here (everyone was employed building Olympic things and fixing the roads).  That’s bad enough, since one of their platform points had previously been to have fixed election dates.  So in this new election, they make big noise about NOT bringing in HST (HST is PST (provincial sales tax) plus GST (federal goods and services tax)).  PST is 7%, GST is 5% and HST was proposed to be 12%  So what, you say?  7 + 5 = 12 so no change, right?  Wrong.  HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) will be applied to all kinds of things that did not apply to PST previously.  It’s a huge tax grab that they are now planning on implementing in the spring/summer of 2010.  In other words: they lied.
  • Another British Columbia example from the same election.  Kash Heed wins a seat in a riding by 748 votes.  He goes on to become cabinet minister in charge of law and order.  So how did Kash win?  A few days before the election, his team sent out flyers claiming the opposition wanted to legalize heroin and cocaine, would legalize prostitution, would implement a “death tax” (where the government takes a percentage of what you own when you die, before it is left to relatives), and would force senior citizens to live in slums.  It spooked enough people for him to win, as there was no time for the truth to come out (note: Kash Heed resigned a few days ago in early April 2009).
  • An American example: claims by anti-public-healthcare groups in the USA that if the USA implemented public health care then there would be “death squads” trying to kill off old people early.  Perhaps they got this idea from the BC election described in the previous point!
  • Another example: the myth that we’re fighting a war in the Middle East and that it has nothing to do with oil.
  • Another example: we’ll bail out the banks, because they’ve learned their lesson and will quit being greedy.  This will help the common people.
  • Okay, one more: the former governor of Illinois, Blagojevich.  Heck, even Tiger Woods and Jesse James.  Apparently anyone in a position of power or with money is a Lying Bastard™.

I could go on, but you already know all this: we’re being lied to on a continual and consistent basis by the people in power.

And then there’s the Tea Party – supposed rebels, naming themselves after a seminal event in American History, the Boston Tea Party.  People generally believe that the Boston Tea Party incident happened because the British decided to raise taxes on tea.  Actually, what happened was that the British had set taxes earlier and consequently a flourishing smuggling industry began (bringing in cheaper Dutch tea sans tax).  The British decided to give a rebate to the East India Company, which allowed the East India Company to bring in the British tea and sell it (even with the tax still there) at a price that was lower than the smuggled Dutch tea!  The smugglers didn’t like this, so they caused a bit of a kerfuffle and threw the British tea overboard.  To quote Wikipedia on the subject:

The protest movement that culminated with the Boston Tea Party was not a dispute about high taxes. The price of legally imported tea was actually reduced by the Tea Act of 1773. Colonial merchants, some of them smugglers, played a significant role in the protests. Because the Tea Act made legally imported tea cheaper, it threatened to put smugglers of Dutch tea out of business.

Heck, if the Tea Party was really being true to their roots I’d have to conclude they probably have drug smugglers actively working behind the scenes.  They’d want to fight the existing government, which is making their lives difficult.  To be fair, that’s probably not true – the Tea Party is probably just people who don’t read much history but who can see the the obvious advantages the people in power enjoy.  And they want said power and privileges for themselves.  Politics corrupts!

Ah, the advantages the people with power enjoy (and money is power; Wall Street is always taken care of)… it made me want to compose a Wall Street Love Song (so off on a tangent I go…):

Wall Street Love Song
Intro and Chorus
Heaven (heaven) heaven (heaven baby)
Have I ever told you?
Have I ever told you how I feel?
Baby, let me tell you one more time…
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a banker (nice bottom line girl)
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a banker
in the Fort Knox vault, hope they throw the key
’cause I never wanna leave ya — keep me here
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a CEO (inflate my options)
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a CEO
no exit strategy don’t really need one
lovely golden handcuffs — keep me here.
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a financier (no hidden assets)
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like a financier
like those bubbles, up and down and all around
the rollercoaster ride — it keeps me here
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like the Fed Reserve (you raise my interest rate)
Oh, yeah, (babe), baby I love you like the fed reserve
I could fill your deficit, with a large deposit
the taste of my inflation — keeps you here

Anyway, back to answering your question: Generally, I’d say that human greed is still here (well, here and in Mexico!  Can you say “drug wars”?).  The last year or so has shown this is true because the behaviour of the money people has not changed one iota.  But an increasingly large number of people are deciding that since they can’t play that game, it’s time for them to play a different game.  I like to think that more people are realizing that chasing after money and material possessions is not what life should be about.  This growing group is, I think, dropping out of the consumption contest that’s been going on since the end of World War II.  And as they/we give up on consumption for consumption’s sake — and start going after less “stuff” but of better quality, it is scaring those in power (who can we sell our crap to, they ask).

An awakening has begun, I think, but it is still nascent.

If you counted 2010 Olympic medals by how many medals were given out rather than by how many events were won, what would the standings look like?

- Allen

March 15th, 2010

As requested, here is the medal count, using this algorithm:

  1. actual medals handed out (e.g. 5 for curling, 4 for 4-man bobsled, etc.)
  2. there were 2 team events where winning teams had different numbers of participants.  In these cases, I used the least number of medals given to any of the gold/silver/bronze winning teams
  3. for “Points”, I used 3 points for gold, 2 points for silver and 1 point for bronze.  Because, face it: Gold is better than Silver.

What was your favourite Winter Olympics 2010 moment?

- Kate

March 14th, 2010

There were many great moments:

  • the giant electric bear in the opening ceremonies; as a person whose first ever paying job was doing theatre lighting, I must say that the opening ceremony lighting was fantastic.
  • being in the crowd downtown one evening.
  • the crowd singing “Oh Canada!” so well so many times.  It really is the best anthem of all.
  • when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dancing pairs gold medal; that lift with Tessa kneeling on Scott’s back was amazing.
  • when Joannie Rochette won the women’s figure skating bronze medal.  Actually, watching her short program was the best part of this part.
  • the best of all was, after all, the men’s hockey game.  After all, just winning that one means we won the winter Olympics, right?  For the record, I believe that when you’re counting who won the most medals, you should count actual medals.  So pairs figure skating counts as two medals, 4-man bobsled counts as 4 medals, etc.  Under my modified (but most logical) system, Canada kicked ass on everyone.

Still, there was one even better moment.  It was when I received this graph, which explains so much about Canada:

What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?

- Karen

March 13th, 2010

Ah, the key to a happy marriage… I’ll give you a couple of options to choose from.  One of them is true.

  1. the key to a happy marriage is for the male to realize that it is impossible to understand the female, while simultaneously realizing that things just go smoother if he just does what he’s told.  The validity of this possible answer is supported by businesses, for example:
  2. the key to a happy marriage is most dependent (statistically) on birth order.  A first born should never marry a first born; the very best is for a first born female to marry a last born male whose older siblings are all female.  Would I lie to you about this?  No, because it’s a scientific study and you cannot argue with science!  The uptight firstborn needs somebody to show them how to relax and enjoy life.  Meanwhile, that same overachieving female will dote upon the male, who has been brought up being doted upon.  Do the research if you don’t believe me.
  3. the key to a happy marriage is lots and lots of money to enable acquisition of lots of distractions.
  4. the key to a happy marriage is for the male to have a workshop to which to escape from time to time.  If he can come back with useful items he’s built, so much the better as it justifies the time away.
  5. the key to a happy marriage is to make it through the rough times without killing one another.  As the Brits said during WWII: “Keep calm and carry on.”
  6. the key to a happy marriage was best described by Winston Churchill (who wasn’t talking about marriage when he said it): “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.
  7. the key to a happy marriage is age.  Men mature quite late (in their late twenties or early thirties), while women mature much earlier.  I can’t remember the exact timing without some research, but I recall that women are designed to have babies in their late teens or early twenties (physically).  So you really need a bit of an age difference.
  8. this answer is similar to the previous point, but very slightly different.  A good marriage depends on both parties actually being ready to get married (which is quite different than them thinking that they’re ready to get married, but I digress).  As it turns out, statistics from matchmaking services indicate that when two people are both ready to get married, they will have a successful union regardless of how well they actually know each other.  This may (or may not) partially explain why arranged marriages have a higher success rate than you might expect.
  9. just kidding about that last Churchill quote… actually, the key to a happy marriage is best described by a different Winston Churchill quote: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  In essence, you can choose to be happy or you can choose to be unhappy and discontent.  Your reaction to events is a choice you can (and must) make.  This is not only the key to a happy marriage, but to a happy life in general.
  10. I had you going there, didn’t I?  The real relevant Churchill quote is actually: “Never, never, never give up.”
  11. you will notice that I have not mentioned “love”.  That’s because statistically, arranged marriages are slightly more successful than marriages based on love (if such a thing really exists).  Cynics believe that a good marriage is more of a business relationship; or as it was put to me once long ago: “women give sex for friendship, men give friendship for sex.”  Something to think about.
  12. the key to a happy marriage is for the male to very occasionally come up with irrefutable logic showing that he is correct while simultaneously making the female happy.  This has only happened to me once in my lifetime, and was one of the most euphoric moments of my brief existence thus far:
  • me: <gives an opinion involving a matter of taste>
  • her: <gives a contractory opinion>
  • me: “You’re wrong.  I’m right.  I have better taste than you.” <– this is a potentially fatal statement.
  • her: “You do not!!!!!” <– moving quietly towards the knife block in the kitchen.
  • me:  “Yes I do.  After all, I married you… but you married me.”
  • Game, Set, Match.

There you go.  Though each of these possible answers at least tangentially touch on the truth, one of them is the exact full truth.  Let the discussions begin.

What do you think of having your own website? Is it everything you dreamed it would be?

- Allen Pike

March 8th, 2010

Very nice, indeed.  A forum in which to pontificate (which is illegal in certain States; making it even more satisfying).

I just hope people find it, because I have a LOT of answers saved up!

What was the most interesting thing you saw on your cruise through the Panama Canal?

- Kate

July 18th, 2009

Four things I really remember:

  1. when, in the airport in Vancouver, my father’s pants fell down.  Ask me about that one some time!
  2. the locks themselves. It’s pretty cool being on a ship that is only a couple of feet from the side of the locks. And although I am totally aware of how the locks work, it’s an experience actually being on a ship and seeing it happen.
  3. tankers full of goods from China in the Panama Canal.  Lots of them.
  4. an unexpected explosion in the distance — they are making the canal deeper and wider but I was expecting only dredging, not the use of dynamite to do so!

BUT — the most interesting thing that I heard was when my 82 year old father told me a never-before-told story.  He had been through the canal 6 times (3 each way) while in the Canadian Navy.  On each trip, they spent a couple of weeks in Magdalena Bay (which is on the Pacific coast of Mexico.  One day, him and another fellow took a boat from the the HMCS Ontario and went to shore.  Once there, they stripped naked and ran down the beach.

Never heard that one before, and I must confess that I can’t quite picture him as a 22-year-old.

It was as disturbing as the day a child figures out that his or her parents must have had sex at least once… or more than once if the child has siblings.