Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone. You all are spending time with your families instead of being on a computer. I'm just making a quick post to wish you all a happy holiday season.

For anyone still curious, no, almost nothing in the last week has worked out in my favour. But Christmas gifts have a way of dampening the disappointment of failure. I hope everyone else got what they wanted.

I'm fairly satisfied with what I got.

And then I'm reminded of less than acceptable results.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Technical difficulties

I've been having a few troubles on my end the last week and was hoping that something would get resolved (or go horribly awry) so I could talk about it. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case so I'm kind of left with 3 half stories.

Just when I thought things were kind of going smoothly for me, turns out that they aren't. As to what these things are, we'll find out before the new year. They will have resolved themselves by then, whether I like it or not.

I seem to have a lot of flying bus gifs.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Project Vegas: The Traveller

Once upon a time, a certain special someone mentioned how much she liked Las Vegas. She had only been there once, but had always expressed a desire to go back there. Unfortunately, we were both University students that had accrued a significant amount of debt. But despite all of that, I promised that I'd find a way around it and take her back one day.

Then again, she promised that she'd love me forever. Funny how things change.

Wow, even just rereading some of those break-up posts are making me depressed.

Yes, the purpose of this project was to find a way to take my then-girlfriend (now ex) to Vegas without breaking the bank. Airfare was always a massive barrier, and if there was a way to significantly reduce the cost (or fly for free) it be a huge help. In the end I managed to not only accomplish that, but potentially find ways to get hotel rooms for free too.

I never had the heart to change the name of the project. I don't know why. It was always for her as I have no interest of going back to Vegas. I've been there twice and once to the Asian equivalent, Macau. Maybe some small part of me hoped that she would have had a change of heart by the time I got this project to work and we could have gone together.

Unfortunately, I'm still single. You'd have seen a blog post about it had I gotten back with her.

Ok, I'll stop being depressing now.

Onto how this project works.

It was simple really, potentially abusive but hey, that's not my problem. See, there are lots of credit cards with rewards, but most of these rewards are junk. The amount of points gained per amount spent is worthless, points can't be spent on things that are actually worth anything, you have to spend a ludicrous amount to get anywhere, or get charged a yearly fee for owning the card.

But once you find a card that works, now we can have some fun. Most of the time you're looking for cards that ask you to spend X amount of dollars in Y amount of time to get Z amount of points. And then when you've spent said amount, cancel the card if there's a yearly fee. Reapply or get a new credit card until you can travel around the world as many times as you want.

And honestly, I'm pretty sure most people can spend over $1000 dollars on groceries in the span of 3 months. So it's not like you're going out of your way to spend more. Also, spending $1000 on things you need to get 40,000 airmiles? That's a pretty good deal if you ask me.


That is, if you're an American.

The first project update post I did back in January mentioned that Americans have an edge over Canadians. You Americans are so lucky, I found nearly a dozen credit cards that would have worked with great rewards. I could have flown to Japan twice and back for free with points to spare. So I had to make due with what I had left.

And then we hit the second roadblock. The few cards that remained required that I be making X amount annually to even apply. Great, my limited student income was limiting me in more ways that one. So Project Vegas went on hold for many months.

Until I got a full-time job as a dispatcher.

I saw an opportunity, and I grabbed it. I applied immediately to one of the cards I picked out months ago and the instant I got it in the mail, I started spending. Did you know that video games purchased counted too? It's true!

I regret nothing.

Unfortunately, I got laid off, meaning that I no longer qualify for some of the other cards. The good news is that I still managed to get all those points in time. The card I used is the American Express Gold Rewards card. It's funny because I still had to use an American card to get a significant number of points.

Spend $500 in 3 months to get 25,000 points which convert to 25,000 Aeroplan miles. You still earn 1 point per dollar spent and double points on groceries and travel related things so in the end you'll have at least 25,500. The first year is free and I fully intend to cancel this card sometime in August or September before my free year is up. I hear that some cards will try and plead with you to stay by giving you extra points if you delay cancelling for a week. We'll see if American Express is that desperate to keep me in the future.

So, I have at my disposal nearly 26,000 airmiles, I have no interest in going to Vegas, so what will I be doing? I want to go to Maryland, Baltimore. I'll only spend a fraction of my points, and it's about time I did something nice for myself.

Why you may ask? If you couldn't tell, I like video games. And for the last two years, there was this gaming/music convention that I wanted to go to, and now, I have a way to go. Hopefully I'll be making plans to go to Magfest in January. Last year two of my favorite bands were there and right now, they aren't on the current list of musicians.

I hope that changes.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Despite December just barely starting I'm looking ahead into January and trying to prepare for things. I decided that going back to school was the best course of action simply because the available jobs I could find were fairly terrible. May as well ride out the dead of winter and maybe try again in the Spring.

But things rarely if ever go according to plan. And before we get into that, I'd like to address a few comments on the linked post.

Seriously, comments are like fan mail and it's great.

Firstly, I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology, but I decided that going for a second bachelor's degree in Business would be the next best step. Keith suggested that I go for a master's in Psychology instead simply because it looks much, much better than two bachelor degrees.

And for the most part, I agree. I'm honestly not going into Economics because of interest. So why go the business route then? I'm going in because career and job-wise, it seems a lot safer and viable than Psychology. Grab an internship, get cozy or get connections with the people there, find a job, good to go.

But it's not just that. The Universities in my province have suffered mass budget cuts, I doubt they want to take on more grad students when they're kicking out sessional professors and support staff in the Psychology department. And EVEN if this wasn't an issue, I don't have enough professors to use as references.

I didn't expect Patt to go insane. A reference letter from him would probably hurt my chances of getting into grad school.

The last I heard he's currently in Malaysia or something with his new bride.

But I was missing 2 per-requisites to get into the BCOM (Business of Commerce) program, Economics 101 and 102. And while I easily added myself to the 102 class, the 101 class was completely full. Fine, no problem. The Psychology advisers were very helpful to me in the past, so I booked an appointment with the Business advisers to see if they could do anything for me. The conversation went like this:

"Yeah, tough luck. You and hundreds of other kids are trying to get in. All you can do is sit, wait, and hope a spot opens.".

Well that's just peachy.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised due to the aforementioned budget cuts.

A week passed. An average of one spot for the class opened up each day. And I was never able to grab it on time. I needed a back-up plan, what if I didn't get into Econ 101? There really was no point in just taking Econ 102, and I couldn't take Econ 101 in the Spring or Summer because the deadline to apply for the BCOM program was in March.

So I started job hunting again.

Some you asked why I don't like manual labour. It's simple, I'm lazy. If possible, I'd rather sit on my butt all day and not move from my computer. Almost all my projects are computer or online based, with the exception of Project Jason. I assure you, I don't workout because I like it, I workout because I'm tired of being thin and looking like a malnourished child in the mirror.

Back on topic, my friend Chase, managed to hook me up with an interview with an energy company. It's not the most amazing job, I'd be cold calling, there appears to be a lot of emphasis on making sales, and my pay is directly linked to sales. Still, better than nothing.

Hello sir or madam, please buy stuff from me so I don't lose my job.

And then yesterday a spot opened up and by some miracle I managed to enroll in the course before anyone else.

Wow, that was anticlimactic.

Why couldn't all my problems be resolved in this fashion?

Looks like I'll be heading back to school in January afterall. And with all my classes crammed on Tuesday and Thursday, I get that nice 4 day weekend again. Lovely.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Projects Update

Current debt: $6000

Wow. It's been a long time. I can't believe I've been working on these projects for so long, or that I've managed to stick with them. I mean, my first projects post was all the way back in January. Many projects have come and gone, many ended up no longer being viable and had to be dropped.

Or in the case of something like Project Cold, actually succeeded. Sure it was just a simple marketing job, but I feel that even the small achievements should be celebrated. And today, we have another project that has finally worked in my favour. Let's find out which one.

 It's about time!

Project Derp:

Goal: $$$$

For one month, Project Derp managed to become self-sustaining. Meaning that without any extra work on my part, it was able to pay off it's monthly expenses. Had it managed to maintain this, I would consider Phase 2 of this project a success and begun work on Phase 3.

And then in November it kind of died a bit. If you track the progress of Project Derp since January you'd see that it's a nice upward slope but it's still not enough. I don't feel comfortable kicking it up a notch beyond this.

Project Vegas:

Goal: Travel

So much speculation on this project. Limited by both status and money, this project was also one of the first that I conceived back in January, but unfortunately could not have started working on it until October.

And within 2 months of work I have succeeded.

I fear I've kind of hyped this one up a lot. It's nothing too crazy or amazing but it's one of those things that sound too good to be true. So I wanted to personally verify its efficacy before posting about it. But I'm still slightly giddy that I managed to get it to work. I'll have a post about it in the coming weeks with explanations.

Aw yeah.

Project Pandering:

Goal: Learn and re-learn skills.

This project has become 3 smaller projects that I felt didn't deserve their own names, so I crammed them into one big one because of their similar foundations.

It goes slowly. Especially since I'm further splitting up time dedicated to this project. Based on how things have been going, I expect to have something worthy of showing from at least one of these by February.

Mostly because I'm kind of vain, and I'd be embarrassed to show something subpar or incomplete.

Project Jason:

Goal: Exercise.

The snow has not been kind to us up here in Canada. Leading to both travel and car problems for both my personal trainer Eli and myself. There have been numerous days in which we've had to cancel workouts because 1 or not both of us couldn't make it to the gym for various reasons.

So to compensate, we started doing double workouts. Chest and back on the same day, shoulders and legs on the same day, etc. etc..

You'd think that this would completely destroy me, but the odd thing is, I'm not that sore after workouts anymore. I mean, yes, it's uncomfortable, but I'm no longer the hobbling cripple I was two weeks ago.

I don't think it's because workouts are less intense, I'm still pretty tired after them. Leg day still requires that I take a epsom salt bath and a nap when I get home because I'm so worn out compared to the other workouts.

Also I've gained another 5 pounds. Go me.

So that's it for now. Still chugging away at everything. Progress in anything is good no matter how slow.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ex-Car Hunting

At the beginning of November, my friend Terry and I went out on a little journey. With the influx of money I was getting from my job I decided that it was time that I stopped borrowing the spare car and get one of my own.

The timing couldn't have been better. I would have a few weeks to get used to it before the snow arrived, my Mother wanted to start using the spare car instead, and I was in high hopes that I was going to make probation at my job which would greatly help with car payments.

Though we all know how that went.

I'm still kind of miffed about it.

We had compiled a list of dealerships to go to and wanted to see as many as possible before the day was done. We started off with Nissan, though I'm certain it was Terry who wanted to see the cars more than me.

Immediately, the salesperson was very, very pushy. Maybe he was new, maybe he was just anxious about something, maybe it was the fact that I could see that his suit jacket was slightly too big for him and was slightly stained and I could smell freshly applied cologne on him.

The point is, I didn't like this guy. Nor the fact that he kept pressuring me to buy the first car at the first dealership I entered. And you know what, maybe if the cars I test drove were nice I wouldn't have be so bothered.

Both the sales manager and associate.

I tried the Sentra and the Versa. The first thing Terry and I noticed for both cars was the noise. This kind of rumbling/rattling noise from the engine. It wasn't bad now, but I knew that after an hour of this I'd go mad. I also didn't like how the Sentra controlled. Terry commented that both cars looked kind of like crap with crappy interiors. I'm going to default to his opinion because honestly, all the cars look the same to me.

When we mentioned our concern with the noise, we were assured that all cars in this price range would have this nuisance, it was an inevitability. Note that they also refused to give us a specific price. I smiled politely, and we left.

Next we went to the Mazda dealership, where to my surprise, we found a guy who:

a) Wasn't pushy.
b) Wasn't pushy.

The Mazda 3 also surprisingly didn't have that awful noise, felt great to drive, Terry wouldn't shut up about how nice it looked, and it had heated seats.

Heated seats are the most amazing thing ever. I have no idea how I've managed to go so many Canadian winters without them.

My butt was so warm.

The Mazda salesperson was also the only guy to give me a price on the spot, no pressure, come back when you feel ready. Impressed, we then went to see what Kia had to offer. The Forte was... how do we put this... It felt like a cheaper Mazda 3.

Terry didn't like the interior, sure it had heated seats and handled as well as the Mazda 3, and the salesguy was considering offering it at several thousand cheaper than the Mazda. But something felt off. Something just didn't feel right. Couldn't put my finger on it.

Oh wait, yes I can. Pushy salesguy. Man, I'm a pretty easy guy to satisfy eh? Don't try and push me into a massive investment on day 1 and we'll get along just fine.

Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends. I got laid off, I can't afford a new car at this point in time and I guess I'll just have restricted access to the spare one.

But the entire trip wasn't for naught. At least now I have a better idea of what kind of car I'd be looking for in the future and where to go. Seriously though, heated seats are amazing. God I love heated seats.