Watching train wrecks

Admit it. Everyone – including you – has a morbid fascination with some type of (perhaps metaphorical) train wreck. Personally, I like the financial kind. Whether it’s someone spending half a month’s salary on a wallet chain, or a $100 billion dollar hedge fund going up in smoke, I’m so there.

So along these lines, a recent theme that has caught my attention is the purported epidemic of male inferiority complex when it comes to making less money than their girlfriend/fiancée/wife. For example:

  1. A recent article in Jasmine magazine (it’s not my subscription, I swear!) deals with this very subject. Since they don’t post articles online, here’s a transcribed copy.
  2. Back when my employer was just a bunch of guys in a lab at the university, there was a gap between two rounds of funding. As a result, they had to cut our paycheques for a while. One of the guys panicked and quickly calculated whether he was still making more money than his girlfriend. Much to his relief, he was.
  3. Sufu lamented last year that as a doctor in training, her pool of eligible bachelors was much smaller than others; it would be limited to other professionals and those secure enough in their masculinity to not be intimidated by her job.
  4. A (supposed) non-fiction book I’m reading, Belle de Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl is written in diary-like format, and has this entry on the subject. Out of all things for the boyfriend of a whore to be jealous about, it’s the money. Really, no joke.

My take on all of this is that I have a simple “acid test”. It’ll work as long as both parties in the relationship are significantly ahead of the game together versus on their own. It doesn’t have to be all monetary contribution, but any intangibles have to be clearly recognized and valued similarly by both parties. If one person would be roughly the same or even better off by themselves, then the other person is really just a leech, and no one wants (or wants to be) that.

Randoms

Long time no update. Let’s see, what’s new?

  • Last weekend we went to the Interior Design Show at the CNE. Overall it probably wasn’t worth the price of admission, but we did get a few good ideas for our new loft. The one I like the best is the concept of a “dressing room”; here’s an example picture:

    Example Dressing Room

    They say it’s an ideal conversion for a large walk-in closet or a spare room. Unfortunately we have neither. I was hoping we could convert the area taken up by the existing closets, but after looking at our floorplan again, I don’t think there’s enough room. If we gave up the terrace and enlarged the master bedroom there’d be plenty of space (we’d probably never use the terrace anyway), but exterior modifications aren’t allowed. Sigh, so much for that.

  • In truth I probably got more excited over the peripheral food-related things at the design show. One booth that was hawking floor tiles was luring people in with free samples of parmigiano reggiano. They had a whole wheel of the stuff, the ones that sell at Pusateri’s for a few thousand dollars each. There was also a stand selling fresh lemonade; half a smashed lemon (with its juice) in a cup, and the rest filled with sugar water. It looked good, but it was merely tolerable.

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New Home (Condo) Owners

The rumours are true, we’ve gone and done it. We’re now the proud owners of a unit at the Bauer Lofts, specifically the "P" suite.

Although I spent five years at UW and have been working full-time in Waterloo for over 2 years, I still feel very much a visitor to the city. When I hear the word "home" I picture Bayview & Steeles, not Victoria & Park; the entry in my cell phonebook reads "Home Waterloo", not "Home". So it should come as no surprise that I approached this purchase more as an investment rather than the establishment of some kind of firm roots (probably much to Bonnie’s chagrin).

Denoting something as an investment purchase removes the emotion (at least in theory), and discounts the qualitative, intangible factors (e.g. "I must have this place regardless of price because it’s a good, stable place to settle down and raise a family").

In the past few years, I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) that one of the cardinal rules of good investing is to never make a move unless the odds have been tipped in your favour[1]. If you don’t have some kind of edge, don’t try to force it. Sit on your hands and wait; lost opportunity is easier to make up than a "real", material loss.

In the case of the Bauer Lofts, there are several possible catalysts for rapid price appreciation in the coming years. The local Waterloo and Kitchener governments are injecting so much money into the area that the "scales have definitely been tipped" in our favour (though at the expense of the other local taxpayers I suppose). Here are the more cognizant of the arguments we’ve either heard or come up with:

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The things that are important to 12-year olds these days.

A story that a customer told Bonnie at the pharmacy:

A mother driving her daughters to school…

12-year old daughter: Mommy, were you a virgin when you married daddy?

The mother almost spits out her coffee. Then, without making eye contact, cautiously replies:

Mother: Yes.

A brief pause for dramatic effect, then a voice from the back seat…

5-year old daughter: Mommy, what’s a virgin?

The second of what is slowly becoming a series…

Having a relationship with someone that works in a supermarket doesn’t come with the perks you might think. Check out this excerpt from our credit card transactions this month:

Credit card transaction excerpt

I think this is what people mean when they refer to “death by a thousand paper cuts”, or more accurately for this case, bankruptcy by a thousand small grocery purchases.