Tuesday, November 30, 2010


D and I are at an interesting crossroad with our mortgage prepayments. Once in a while I will run some amortization tables to see if we are on track or ahead of the game.

Today's tables point out something interestingly tempting.

If we stop doing prepayments on our 2 mortgages, when our 5 yr term ends in Sept/2012 and May 2013, our main house will have owing $35535 and the ski condo will owe $2748.

The remaining ski condo balance will be paid off easily at the time without need for renewal. The main house's amount isn't necessarily large enough to renew. It is about the size of a line of credit in my mind which would be an option.

D's preliminary thoughts are to stop prepayments and save the $23100 yearly I put into the main house yearly instead. He feels now that the numbers have shrunk enough, it is a higher opportunity cost to not save our money.

I haven't made up my mind. However, I have made up next year's spreadsheet and am going to think about it for a while. There are still a few weeks left in 2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Travel Question

Being that I can be long winded, a reader question turned into a post...

***Question... perhaps a tough one to answer; if you were to go back and visit for an extended period (3-6 weeks) which country would you choose and why? The reason I ask is my wife and I just celebrated our 30th and all 3 countries are considered possibilities. We are also considering an overland trip from Cairo to Turkey which of course would take in several countries but not really allow one to 'soak' up the culture and flavour that spending an extended time in one country would permit.

Your thoughts... ***

Hi I'd rather be sailing;

Depending on the level of adventure and stimulation you want for your trip, you could easily spend all 6 weeks in any of the 3 countries I visited.

The most relaxing experience would be Dubrovnik and the next one would be Fira, Santorini though the rest of the island is much more laid back.

Greece would be interesting because you'd end up taking the ferries or hydrofoils to go from island to island.

From the 2 I saw on this jaunt, they were completely different. I didn't care for Corfu myself but I'm glad I was there. You could easily spend all 6 weeks exploring a handful of islands in Greece and not be bored whereas I find the Caribbean after a while, it becomes yet "another paradise island" with beautiful beaches. (no offence meant to Caribbean readers -- you folks have it good!)

In Croatia, it would be train travel to take you all over and from what I hear, the food is quite different depending on the area.

The island of Brac (off Split) is supposed to be gorgeous. D has a friend who is Croatian had recommended it. I never made it up that far on this trip but I would like to another time.

I can imagine finding it really easy to pass time in this country. The people I met were very gentle and not at all impressed that you are a visitor, meaning they don't stare at you because you are obviously so different. In the old town, the restaurants hosts were more vocal trying to get you to eat at their respective spots -- all harmless self promotion.

Turkey was the most "in your face" of all three countries I visited. I haven't written off Istanbul and will be better prepared when I go.

My best memory were the prayer calls. They were so peaceful sounding -- much contrast compared to the day to day market culture. I know I would have toughened up had I spend more time there. I guess I wasn't ready for the level of confrontation, that's all. I didn't at any time feel unsafe nor was I ever pushed or shoved.

If you are into history and ruins, Turkey is a great destination. I had a chance to got to Ephesus. If you happen to love Turkish food like me, you'd be in for a treat.

Turkey is a big country and I think 6 weeks would just barely scratch the surface. I would not call what I saw of this country relaxing though compared to the 2 above.

If you wanted a real adventure where you are on your guard and stimulated, then I would choose Egypt and Turkey.

If you wanted a bit of both, then add in one of the other 2 countries (whichever you could get to logistically easier or whether you like plane, train or ferry) and it would provide some balance and r & r.

What I would choose would depend on my mood. If D was coming with me, I would pick Dubrovnik and Santorini because of their sheer beauty and feel. Both places have a romantic feel. If I was going alone, I would chose Egypt and Turkey and make sure I learned the languages, get a chance to sail down the Nile and take a camel ride through the desert.

I am envious you are taking such a great amount of time. Congratulations on your 30th!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Continued Planning

I didn't have the jetlagged exhaustion for very long after this last trip. I believe it to be because the trip was so restful outside of the getting lost and Turkish bazaar part.

I have been busy trip planning since my return as D informed me when he picked me up at the airport that KLM had a 4 day sale. We have been looking for reasonable flights for next spring when we will be in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam wasn't on the sale list but I got the idea of going somewhere else before AMS so started playing around with their multi destination searches. I lucked out because we are able to fly to Rome and then AMS and home for $300 less than a flight to AMS and back.

Why? I have no idea other than to guess they are considering the jaunt to AMS as a free stopever as it was the flight to Rome that was part of the 4 day sale. Something for everyone out there to consider next time you are trip planning.

So the trip has morphed into Rome for 3 nights, then AMS for a week after. We could have stayed a week in Rome but D will just be coming home from his annual guys ski trip which incidentally is going to cost not too far from our European trip. Whistler is not known to be cheap.

I made contact with a nice appt owner in Rome as I was going to go for a week but in the end we decided to stay in the hotel I stayed at my first time in Rome for old times sake and make our short stay a true city break.

Plus I found out I had enough points after my last trip for a plane ticket anywhere in North America... Which has meant, I've been looking for a warm winter getaway. So that's what I've been working on outside of actually working since getting back.

Incidentally, I finished my ahem, "novel". It clocks in at 50130 words and I've been having a heck of a time getting the site to come up since yesterday so I can upload it. There are probably thousands of people who are trying to do the same thing right now. We have til next Tues.

***update*** It has been uploaded and I have officially met the challenge. (FYI, all participants who made it to the 50000 words are considered "winners". My writing didn't really win anything.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Internet Entrepreneur

I had a somewhat heated discussion the other day regarding the differences between wealth and cash flow. The person I was speaking to was convinced that high cash flow and having cash coming in from multi sources was wealth. I disagreed.

I said that wealth is something that is built. If you put aside some of the monies coming in, you'd be building wealth because you'd have something to show for it. Otherwise spending everything doesn't build wealth, it just means you have lots of money to spend.

One's ability to make money isn't really an asset because you cannot cash yourself in. You can chose to keep producing by working thus making an income or a business which would be considered a tangible asset.

This fellow I was talking to is 39 years old and does not have a penny saved but is extremely motivated to create multiple income sources. I pointed out that having a base income that can be relied upon can be a valuable thing while other business developments are being created.

He disagreed because he is needing ALL of his income from his primary job in order to pursue said opportunities. He is even going to cut back on his primary job in order to spend more time with the businesses he feels more passionate about.

I didn't think that was wise as none of the new businesses are even close to breaking even and cannot be counted upon right now to even pay a utility bill. I told him I would not jeopardise the main income at this point until the others start showing some sort of longer term success.

So I was labeled a non risk taker, which is fine. All I know is that each work day allows me to build wealth and it has already been proven successful. I can show those results numerically. I'm not as concerned about how much I make, rather how much I am able to keep while living an interesting life.

He cannot show me anything other than some minor success and a whole lot of monthly expenses after 3 years of being an "Internet entrepreneur". He has not attained even 20% of his expenses back yet but still continues to spend in hopes of hitting the big time, the day where he manages to tweak the magic Internet formula whereby the world will discover him.

That is why he isn't concerned in the least with having no savings because when he hits it big, he'll be able to catch up so fast, the monies he has spent would be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming in. (I've seen his product and it isn't anything I would spend money on personally)

He didn't believe in building wealth the old fashioned way (ie. like what I'm doing). He feels that I am not making my money work for me. That I've missed out on so many opportunities by being so conservative. If he had access to my money, he'd know exactly what to do with it...

I wished him well as this is obviously the path he has chosen to pursue. He has big plans for the next couple of years. I told him I did too. Maybe we'll meet up then and compare notes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some Trip Photos

First 3 pictures are from Santorini. The switch back road you see is what my Donkey and I traversed to get to the top.

Last 3 pictures from Dubrovnik. Hoping you'll be able to appreciate the steepness of the north part of the Old Town.

Should you find yourself in these areas, I would recommend the Dubravka and Zafora restaurants respectively. Great food and ambiance!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great Trip!

My trip was fantastic. I didn't fall off my donkey in Santorini but I did get "chased" out of the grand bazaar in Turkey by forceful salesmen. You literally cannot even browse without getting somewhat harassed.

I had to remind myself it is cultural differences, that's all. They would do well to understand a bit more about other cultures as allowing people to browse would generate more sales...

Dubrovnik was a surprise. It had such a gentle, laid back feeling. If you've seen the last James Bond movie and remember when the camera spanned across Montenegro, that's what the coast looked like.

I managed to eat at some great restaurants with great views. My lunch in Dubrovnik was extra special as I go lost trying to get to the old town and what was supposed to be a 1/2 walk took me 2hrs.

As the medieval old town was surrounding by a wall, you cannot just walk into it wherever you felt like and man were some of the stairs steep. I'll post a picture once I get them sorted. I can imagine how daunting it would be for soldiers who had to fight or climb their way in.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Contrast of Importance

Being the ever practical person at times, I already have my one must buy Christmas present purchased and I will be handing it over tonight not to be opened until they wish of course.

As it is really breakable and with my schedule being crazy the next month, I didn't want to lug it to our annual Christmas dinner out in Dec.

Because my friend knows I do not place any emphasis on the commercial side of Christmas anymore nor am into the stresses the holiday seem to bring out, she'll chuckle at me and understand.


I'm glad my work day doesn't start til the afternoon because I will be able to reflect on Remembrance Day Tomorrow morning. I am at the age of what parents whose sons went off to the war would have been. I cannot imagine the stresses and sorrow many of them went through.

Many of us are free to do whatever we'd like because of the sacrifices of our veterans. One of the most emotional points I've had in a museum occurred at the National War Museum in Ottawa. I would highly recommend it. We were there on a day where one of the veterans from WWII was present. I couldn't really talk to him because I was so emotional.

We had just come through the trenches and emerged into an area showing how it would have felt like for a veteran to come home to a modern (for the times), freshly done home. The contrasting silence just screamed at you. I know I'm not doing justice with the description so go and see it for yourself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bit of Trouble

Took a quick listen on Livemocha of some basic Croatian, Turkish and Greek and quickly realized I am in trouble. I'll be happy if I can remember hello, thank you, goodbye and how much?

I was fiddling around with changing my seats on my flight and managed to lose my seat completely and could not get it back. Great. Called the travel agent as I used points for this flight and was assured I didn't lose my seat but I'm not convinced.

She also told me I shouldn't be able to pull up stuff like that on a code share flight but I can...I'll have wait until check in to see if I've done any permanent damage.

In the fog that was jet lag a week ago, I made another mistake with my work deposit so I'll be dinged a couple of dollars in penalty fees. Not impressed with myself. I have D double check my counting now.

There appears to be a slow snow season out west so far this year. Last year our resort had quite a bit of snow. Opening day is supposed to be Dec 4th. We were talking about what we'd do if there weren't enough snow by Christmas. Would we still go out?

I'd like to but D would prefer to hold out til the new year. We'll just wait and see. Mid Dec will be here before we know it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Days

Never once in France have we seen anyone at a cafe using a laptop. At home, that seems to be all we see. People aren't people watching like they do in Europe. They are busy using the WIFI at their local coffee shop. It's kinda sad really, peoples' heads are down rather than up.

The last day we were in Nice, we witnessed a wedding in the courtyard below our apartment. The pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the flowers on the really nice car waiting outside of the old church. It's interesting that the guests dress in dark colours. Lots of rice was thrown.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Goals & Glitches

Neat Stat -- just short of 2 years ago, our total mortgage debt (for both places) was $190353. Today, it is $99454. In 2 years we are hoping/expecting it will be close enough to $0.

On days when I wonder if my math is accurate, it is nice to see big pictures numbers from where we've been to help assure we are heading along an accurate path.

The novel (I use the term loosely here) writing is coming along. As I have and will be missing time due to vacations, I started earlier to make up for it. Current word count in the low 20000s. Goal is 50000.

Two and a half weeks really isn't a long time. When I booked this whirlwind trip to Greece and Turkey I thought that 2 works weeks after coming home from France was alright.

Now that I am finishing week 1, I do feel rushed thinking of what I have to do next week before I leave again. I think next time, I'll give myself a month between trips.

I may have encountered another technology glitch with my phone as I think I am missing 7 voice messages.

I will be calling today to find out whether there was a glitch in the system while we were away or voice message unretrieved will get automatically deleted? I wouldn't think so but I'm going to ask anyway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Go

No go on Sweden. Didn't receive a response from the owner of the apartment I would like in time to take advantage of the seat sale. Maybe something else neat will come up.

I'd like to go to London as well. We connected via Heathrow on route to France so I have a bunch of change in pounds sterling left which beckons me to return for a proper trip to England.

D knows of a couple who works for 4 -5 years in a highly technical field making decent amounts of money and then sells everything. They take off and spend a year abroad living in different countries.

The idea intrigues me. What a way to combat attachment in your life. I love it. I think I'd be a good candidate for it. D wouldn't be I think because he likes his stuff and he likes to have a home base. Renting out the main house for a year would be more his style.

The perennial subject of selling the cottage came up again while we were away. I think it is time to let go so that the next cool thing will have room to come in. D would like to keep it for a couple more years.

We have agreed that should I wish to list it on the market in the spring, he would not interfere. Second, he will head up while I'm away next to finish up all the odds and sods so as to be show ready for next year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3 am

It is the 2nd day in a row I've awoken at around 3 am ready to go. Gotta love the time zone changes. Not sure our time change this weekend will help or not. I'm expecting to be fully integrated back by then.

I've gotten to the point where I can forgo sleep on an eastbound transatlantic flight and be pretty functional on arrival. I never sleep on the way home as I look forward to watching 3 in flight movies.

Plane food is hit or miss for me. We've gotten into the habit of eating before we get on a long flight and either forgoing the meal or just taking the dessert. Beats starving because of a particularly bad meal.

I'm tempted this morning because of a 2 day Lufthansa sale. The destination? Stockholm, for my birthday. Lucky for me it is only for 2 days so I'll have minimum time to stew on it.

My first day of work went smoothly with just a minor fluctuation of energy level. I was quite proud of myself for pulling it off well. The rest of the week will get easier. And no, I didn't buckle when I got extra requests beyond my maximum for the day. Small victories!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Way to Work?

Back to work for me today. France was as great as we remembered. We chose to stay at the different location (Old Town) in Nice this time as the apartment in the area we usually stay in (Port) was unavailable.

As neat as it was being amongst all the old buildings (I guess technically they are all really old) it was much noisier than we were used to. After a couple of days, the novelty wears off and the music and young people singing started to get on our nerves.

Despite that, we were really happy to be back and away from work for a small while.

I'm reminded of the concept of enough whenever I go to France. Store keepers for example will sell all they have made that morning (I'm specifically thinking of the lady who I go to for fresh pasta, stew etc) and call it a day.

It is an adventure wondering what we are going to eat each day as there are no hours posted at our favourite butcher. Coming from North America we are used to "service at convenient hours" and lots of choice.

We have concluded shop keepers do close whenever they feel like it and do not feel obligated to tell anyone. Gives us an excuse to try another restaurant for lunch or dinner.

I am working on applying some of this thinking to my business as I know how much business I need to do each week to sustain my life well. Before I left for vacation, I already knew I was there for this week.

So the question is, do I stick to my guns and not add anymore appointments or do I try and do as much as I can? We'll see if I'm strong enough this week to resist.