Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 year in Review

So I promised to do a wrap up of 2007 and that's what I am going to do. I will start with the best things that happened to me. Then the worst things and then a short review of the resolutions I had made going into 2007. I will save the resolutions for 2008 for next weeks post.

Best Things

1) Getting Engaged

Well the obvious best thing that happened to me in 2007 is the progression of my relationship to the point that I am now engaged. In about 8.5 months I will be a married man, which really is an amazing thing. Things with my future wife progressed very quickly. With out getting overly dramatic I knew from our first date that we had chemistry. I am not saying that we have never had an argument but since they have never even lasted an entire day I say that's a good sign. We always laugh at them after. And truthfully I know could not stay mad at her even if I wanted to and she can't stay mad at me either so it is better to just resolve it and get it over with. It is that fact as much as anything that really made me want to propose.

2) Leaving the Country

I don't get out of Canada very often. To be truthful I don't get out of Toronto very often. However, I had two occasions to leave the city this year. The first and best occasion was the trip I made to St Lucia in August to meet my future in-laws. My parents are from Antigua but I haven't been to the Caribbean since I was 12 years old. Since I am now 27 that is a span of 15 years. It is a very different environment but it was good. If nothing else it was enjoyable to see a lot of people who look like me. Also, I thankfully got along very well with my future in laws so that made the trip enjoyable as well.

My second trip was the my second business trip of my life. I went to Dearborn Michigan for on-sight training at Ford. It was a lot of fun. While I don't think I would ever want a job where I would have to travel constantly, taking the occasional business trip can be enjoyable. Also, since the company didn't give me a budget I took full advantage.

Worst Things

I have been doing some thinking about this an aspect and I am having a difficult time deciding the worst thing that has happened to me. Basically because nothing bad has really happened to me. At the time I thought that being transferred out of Microsoft was absolutely terrible. I saw it as the first real failure of my career. However, in the months since I have come to think that it was the best possible thing that could have happened to me. I have learned a lot since then and I have been exposed to things I don't think I would have otherwise been exposed to. So I guess I have no worse thing.

Resolutions check in

1) Limit my time on the 407etr. The Price is going up and I want to make sure that i don't take the 407 more than twice a week. This should keep my bill under $50 per month. Which is reasonable in my opinion.

I have actually been on the 407 quite a bit lately. However, it was completely covered by the company. So I am not sure whether to categorize this as a success or a failure.

2) Go to the gym 4 times per week. Since there is a gym right by my work and since i don't want to get on the 401 at 5pm. This is a reasonable goal.

This is a complete and total failure. At most I would say I averaged 2 times per week and there were weeks when I didn't go at all.

3) Keep blogging on a regular basis. My goal is to have a new blog addition at least once per week. So far i think that is about as often as i update. If i can keep up that pace i will be happy.

This is a complete success. This is my 49th post of 2007. Expect for the week I was away on vacation and the week when my Internet connection was down I have had a new post up every single week. A few days late maybe but up none the less.

4) Manage money better. I don't think that i have been terribly irresponsible in the past but I do think there is room for improvement. I plan to buy quicken and keep track of all my spending. I would also like to increase the amount of money i put into rrsps.

I did increase my contributions to RRSP's but I didn't have any money tracking software. I am not sure if I am dedicated enough for this.

So that's it.

Happy new year every one.

Next Week ... Goals and resolutions for 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Season

I don't have a lot to say about the christmas season actually. Last year I made a post about how much i detest christmas shopping.

Nothing has changed in the year since. This year I have had the week leading up to christmas off work so I have been able to get into the stores early and get my shopping out of the way before the malls go crazy which is a very good thing. I don't have a ton of gifts to buy actually. Just my parents and my finacee. So really there is no need for me to be at the malls for any extended period of time. As of this writing I am pretty much done all of my shopping.

So that's it for this week. Pretty shitty post I guess. But next week I am going to be doing a wrap up of 2007 and that will be very long post.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good Bye Ford Canada

Well, last week was the end of my time working on site at Ford Canada. Overall I must say that it was a very good experience. I was somewhat thrown into it. The person from Wunderman that was on-site got married and moved to be with his new wife in Houston Texas. I had about two days notice before I showed up at Ford. I was a little nervous about going because quite frankly I was happy downtown. I could have refused the transfer but I am not too sure how that would have effected my long term career prospects. I work for a consulting company to some degree so shifting assignments should be part of the job. The only reason I was somewhat hesitant were because of a the distance, it's in Oakville Ontario which is about an hour from where I live. Additionally, I did not care for some of the full time employees at Microsoft and since this is another big company I assumed I would be in the same situation again. However, the difference is that since I was not initially hired to work at Ford I was able to negotiate compensation for the distance I traveled. I was given 48 cents per km. Which worked out to about 370 per week. Since I rarely spent more than about 100 per week on gas this worked out to a decent profit margin. Also, I was compensated for 407 fees so traffic was rarely a problem.

Also, the employees at Ford are polar opposites of the full time employees at Microsoft. I felt completely welcomed and part of the team from the very beginning. I was offered the opportunity to stay at ford indefinitely. I turned it down for a few reasons. Although I was being compensated for the distance I still didn't completely feel it was worth it. For one thing it is tiring to drive that amount of distance every single day. Working at ford would mean being in my car for a minimum of two hours a day. When I drive on the highway I have to be very alert. There were more than a few times when I felt myself getting sleepy behind the wheel. My car is also becoming somewhat of a high mileage vehicle. As of today it has 183,000 km on it. since working at ford means putting 760km per week on it the car would probably not last that much longer. I bought the car with 123k on it so i have put on 60k in just under 2.5 years. I want it to last me at least another 2.5 years and working at Ford would not help that situation.

Being off site also concerned me. I was not sure that any accomplishments I made would be guaranteed to make it back to the main office. I would be depending on the Ford clients to relay my work back to Wunderman. I don't like that concept.

But Overall it has been a good experience and since the hours at Ford are longer I received extra vacation time. I don't have to go back to work until January 7th. Since my fiancee is off also we get to spend some time together.

I just passed a year at Wunderman last month and because of the moving around I have done I have definitely added some positives to my resume. I worked with Sibel, MS SQL Server 2000 and MS SQL Server 2005, MS Visual studio 2005. Also I worked with Unica and Business Objects (Crystal Reports). That's five positives that I can add to my resume which will definitely help me in the future.

I will miss aspects of Ford Canada but I will be happy to be back down town.

I am Legend

I saw this movie and didn't care for it. I found it very depressing. Also, from what I have heard it is a very big departure from the books original story line. I have talked to some other people and they seemed to like it, but it just didn't work for me on many levels. However, the movie did have the premiere trailer for "The dark Knight". Which looks absolutely incredible.

Next week ... Christmas Season.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Marriage Classes

As part of a catholic ceremony the bride and groom have to attend marriage classes before the wedding. I am not the most religious guy, and I thought that theses course would essentially be another mass. As such I was somewhat opposed to it in the beginning. However, we have attended classes for three weeks now (one every Thursday) and I must say that my assumptions were wrong and I do actually enjoy the classes. The classes actually have very little to do with religion. It really is more about strategies for having a happy marriage than it is about anything else. There exercises designed to help you resolve conflict in your marriage. You talk about what responsibilities each person will have in the marriage. Next weeks class is about financial decisions we will have to make. Overall its been very good. The only thing that I don't particularly care for is the location and time. Our class is at 7:00 pm on Thursdays. Since I have been working out at FORD it is not always easy to get back to my area to pick up my fiancee and then drive to the location of the class on time. So far we have been averaging showing up about 5-10 minutes late. But, I am off next week Thursday so we should make it in plenty of time.

That's it for this week.

Next Week ... Goodbye Ford Canada.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

TV writers Strike/Lion Man

So this post has been a very long time coming. Actually I kept putting it off because other things have come up in my life. That's not to say that this stuff doesn't interest me it's just that they can mostly be covered in a few sentences.

TV writers Strike

As most people who know me know, I consider my self to be somewhat of a student of pop culture and Television is a big part of this. If you have been watching the news you may have heard that there is currently a TV writers strike going on. What it is based on is the total lack of revenue/residuals that are not being paid to writers for the new media forms. What I mean is that for some reason studios think it is okay to generate revenue off of the Internet or DVD sales and not provide the writers with any compensation for there work. If you watch a TV show on a network website (as opposed to an illegal file sharing site) you are forced to watch the show in a viewer they provide. This viewer allows you to rewind but you can not fast forward through the commercial advertising content the studios put in the shows. If there is advertising content then the studios are making money. If they are making money then they should have compensate the creators of the material. To me that would seem obvious but for some strange reason the studios feel they should not have to pay the writers anything. When a show is sold into syndication the studio have to compensate the writer for the work. I don't see why the deal should be any different if the syndication happens on the Internet as opposed to television. Obviously the writers want to put a stop to this. As such, about three weeks ago they went on strike. This is having huge affects on the TV season. The 7th season of 24 has already been canceled. A serialized show like 24 needs to have all the episodes filmed. They can't shoot some and air them and wait for weeks on end for a strike to be resolved before they can show the rest. The Fans of the show expect to see the show continuously for 24 weeks straight. Anything else is simply unacceptable. Although 24 was pretty bad last season I was still looking forward to its return. Now it looks like I will have to wait another year to see it. Another show that is up in the air is LOST. Lost was supposed to have a shortened season of only 16 episodes. But apparently they have not finished filming/writing enough of them yet. It has not been officially canceled this season but it is certainly looking like that is the likely outcome.

The only show that are pretty much safe are American Idol and other reality shows. Since in general I hate reality TV and think it is the worst thing to happen to the medium since Ted Turner or Fox news, I am not thrilled about the prospects for TV in the winter season.

I hear that the studios and the writers are negotiating again. I hope they get this resolved soon or I could see myself spending a lot of money on DVD's for entertainment.

Lion Man

Have you seen this?

As I have mentioned in past post I have been working at ford for the past 2.5 months. I actually sit next to the guys who are somewhat responsible for this campaign. I have heard them on the phone discussing it. They are nice people and I enjoy working with them. That being said, this is still an incredibly dumb idea. Who they hell thought that a "Lion man" could help them sell cars. The new Ford Focus is actually a very good small car. It doesn't need Lion men! Ford needs to focus on cars and leave the "Lion Men" in the jungle.

That's it for this week.

Next week... Marriage Classes