STOCK

Today, for the first time since August of 2010, I received shares of EA stock through the employee stock purchase program. In this program, EA deducts a certain amount of money from your paycheque for six months. At the end of the six months, that money is then used to buy the stock at a discounted price. The stock is then for you to do as you choose. The safe bet is to sell the stock immediately because you assured a profit. Waiting is dangerous.

If you wait, the stock price can then fluctuate from your original purchase price. Sure it can go up but that hasn’t been the trend for EA stock recently. It can also go down in price which is a more likely scenario. If that happens, you lose money if you sell. With the current state of the global economy and where EA is right now, selling immediately is the safe and logical choice. I put my sell order as soon as I got notification the shares were in my account.

I’ve been burned before. Some of my loyal readers know that I have four blocks of shares that I held onto when the purchase price was around $40 a share. What a fool I was. I can only hope to break even someday with those. The most likely scenario is I can just claim capital losses.

FIRST WORLD PROBLEM

So it’s tax season in Canada and people are trying to align their finances before they file their income tax returns. One aspect of these finances is contributing to an RRSP or registered retirement savings plan. If you’re not from Canada, it’s essentially an investment savings vehicle for retirement. The immediate effect of contributing to such an account is the lowering of the amount of income tax payable for that tax year. Usually because of RRSP contributions, I receive a tax refund.

The deadline for this year’s RRSP contributions is the end of this month. As a Canadian citizen, I can buy RRSPs from a multitude of different financial institutions. Working for EA though, I have incentive to buy RRSPs from our group retirement financial product provider, Sunlife. That’s because contributions to that account are eligible for a company match, which is essentially free money from EA. Now in my situation, I have two separate RRSP accounts at Sunlife because when I left EA in late 2010, I had transfer the employee RRSP account to a regular one. When I came back to EA this summer, another employee account was opened for me.

Now since I want EA to match a portion of my RRSP contribution this year, I decided to contribute a lump sum of money last week. I guess I wasn’t paying attention because I contributed to wrong account, sending money to the non-employee account, which EA doesn’t care about. There was no easy way to transfer the money to the other account so I was stuck. Not wanting to lose out on the company match, I contributed an identical amount to the proper account just days later. I was extremely luck that I had the extra money lying around as the amount wasn’t trivial.

Wow, what a boring post. I hope you enjoyed reading about retirement investments and how I don’t know how to click on the right things on a web site. Tomorrow, I’ll explain how I observed some paint drying.

UNEMPLOYMENT STORIES

No matter where you work or what you do for a living, I am sure you encounter a few gripes (small or large) about your job. Take me for example. I went to work this morning and I found out the studio kitchen was out of English muffins. For breakfast, I was forced to eat a granola bar instead of my desired choice of a warm, toasted, and buttered English muffin. Is that a punk-ass thing to complain about? You bet since the English muffins arrived later in the day and I had one for an afternoon snack.

I stayed grounded and gain perspective about work in many ways but one of them is by reading a series of real life stories sent in by people to the web site Gawker. Gawker‘s stuff can be really hit or miss but these pieces are written by readers. Entitled Unemployment Stories, they outline how some Americans are dealing with unemployment and what they are doing to get a job. Being the Internet, it’s possible some of these people are making stuff up but of all the things to lie about on the Internet, lying about not having a job really doesn’t get you anywhere.

There are twenty-eight such volumes now. I’ve read through many of them and noticed a few interesting things. First, I was surprised at how long some Americans have been unemployed. Being jobless for over a year is not uncommon. I think I read that one guy was approaching four years or so. I don’t want to judge but how is it possible to go that long without lowering your standards of employment? When push comes to shove, you gotta make ends meet and if that means working the fry station or pumping gas, there’s no shame in doing what you have to do. Now I understand you don’t want to give up on the jobs that are right for you too soon but perhaps a deadline should be set. Take this guy for example:

I have applied to, on average three jobs a day since 11/14/2012 and have gone on a total of three interviews.

When does this guy loosen up his standards? Another thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of university graduates who can’t land that first applicable job after they graduate with their undergrad degree. Some of them give up on the job search and then go back to school to get a graduate degree in the exact same field that they couldn’t get a job in. In my opinion this is super risky. In some cases, it totally wasn’t their lack of education or lack of specialization that precluded them from getting that first job. Then they come out of grad school with the extra degree and even more school debt and they still can’t get a job. In many ways, they’re now even worse off.

I did not have a plan for after college. I cried to my professor. He helped me find a part-time job and told me to get my Master’s. Subsequently, I became a graduate student the next fall

The last thing I’ve noticed, and is the most sad, is that people lose hope when they can’t find a job. They get depressed and life isn’t really fun for them. A lot of people derive purpose by having something to do. Without that, they feel lost.

I’m depressed, and if it wasn’t for the family pets needing kibble, I wouldn’t get out of bed. I’ve contemplated suicide. I’m a burden on my parents, who are approaching the age of retirement. I don’t have a husband or boyfriend to rely on for financial or emotional support. I think back to college and wonder what I should have done differently, and I can’t believe I can’t even score a job as a dishwasher, or a waitress, or bagging groceries. I’m not picky. I just want a job…

When I read these people’s stories, it does put into perspective where I’m at and how my problems compare to theirs. I hope you can gain some perspective as well.

CHOLESTEROL

A while back my doctor suggested that I get my cholesterol checked since I’m starting to get old. I don’t think I’ve ever had that tested before. It took a while but I finally got around to it. It’s a relatively easy test considering all the other diagnostic tests that can be done on a human being. The only mild annoyance was having to fast for ten hours before they take your blood sample. Even then, I was asleep for most of those ten hours so it wasn’t even that bad. Actually, I was more bothered by the fact I had to wait thirty minutes at the lab before they called my number.

Anyways, I got my results back and everything is within the normal ranges. I was quite happy to see that since I sometimes don’t eat the healthiest choices out there. I’m trying very hard to eat better on a daily basis. I’ve done a great job at reducing my sugar consumption. I don’t eat candy and chocolate nor do I drink sugary sodas. Yeah, I slip sometimes and eat like 20 Timbits but that’s not a normal thing. I’d like to tackle fat consumption next but that’s going to be a bit tougher.

SONY PLAYSTATION 4

Last week, I wrote a post about my enthusiasm about the next generation of video game consoles. On Wednesday, Sony introduced to the world the Playstation 4, signaling the start of the next console cycle (umm… sorry Wii U). At least from a technical perspective Sony appears to have learned from their mistakes with the PS3. No crazy hardware architecture.

If you missed the press conference, our friends from the Taiwanese news summarized the two-hour press conference into the video you see above. It’s quite entertaining, even if you don’t like video games.

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

For many years now I’ve suspected that I am, to some degree, lactose intolerant. That is, I cannot or do not produce in sufficient amounts, the enzyme that properly breaks down lactose. Over the years, the results of ingesting foods with lactose have been varying. I’ve chronicled my experiences with Starbucks frappucinos. Some foods with dairy leave me with no ill effects. Other times, I’ll be left with bloating and massive amounts of gas. The worst is the explosive pooping. Oh dear, the explosive pooping. Often it’s not the type of dairy, it’s the amount that determines the outcome. I also belong to an ethnic group that is predisposed to being intolerant to lactose. Many Asians cannot drink milk or eat ice cream without suffering from ill effects.

I think it’s time for me to experiment with taking lactase supplements. There are two things that have led me to this decision. First, we’re having an ice cream party at work in a few weeks. This is our reward for 100% participation in some survey that we had to fill out. Now despite my uneasiness with dairy, I love ice cream, always have. It’s possible for me to just eat a tiny bit of ice cream and be done with it but that’s smacks of being responsible. What if I want to eat lots of ice cream? Second, I went out for dinner with a friend last night. We had poutine. It was delicious but remember that poutine is made with cheese curds which contains lactose from the milk. I wound being gassy the whole night afterwards. I was passing wind like an F5 tornado.

Now the gas could have been from just the greasy fries and I might be able to eat lots of ice cream with any problems but why leave it up to chance anymore? I’m going try taking a lactase supplement with any of my meals that might contain dairy. The ice cream party will be a good test. I’ll report back with the results.

HIT IT OR QUIT IT

I’ve posted a few videos from the Jamie Kennedy Experiment before but here’s another one. In this segment, Jamie goes out on a date with an unsuspecting young lady who thinks she’s on a reality TV show. The date turns out to be quite amusing.

This show deserved to be on for more than the original three seasons. You can search YouTube for more.

DID YOU KNOW?!?!?!

Welcome to another edition of Did You Know?!?!? Did you know that I ate a whole box of 20 Timbits by myself last night? I felt a bit of shame afterwards and wondered how I much fatter I’ll get before I start reducing my fat intake.

THE HEAT EXPERIMENT

Loyal readers, some of you know that in previous years I attempted a challenge in which I tried to keep the heat off in my apartment year round. Of course, this was really only a challenge in the winter time. I successfully went without heat for a few years in a row by adding layers of clothing, wearing socks, and taking advantage of some mild winters in Vancouver.

This year though, I decided to do something different. I wondered exactly how much money I was saving myself. There were many times where it got quite cold in my apartment and I really wanted to just turn on the heat instead of bundling up in multiple layers. Was I going through all this trouble just to $5 a month? Or was it a more substantial amount?

So this year, I decided to turn the heat on during the winter for an approximately two month period of December and January. I also set up some guidelines for this experiment. I would only turn on the smaller electric baseboard heater in my bedroom. The thermostat would be set at 15 degrees Celsius when the heat was on, no higher. The heat would be on only during the evening, usually after sunset and mostly after I got back from work. I would also attempt to turn it off when I left the room. The heat also would not be on overnight while I slept. Sometimes I would forget this part but the majority of the time I slept, the heat would be off.

I thought these were conservative ways to heat a portion of my apartment. After two months I received my electric bill for those months just last week. Historically, the months of December and January would garner me a bill of around $43 without any electricity devoted to heat. The latest bill amounted to $88.

Turning on the heat doubled my electric bill. I checked the rates and there was no sizable increase from last year. This was purely from extra consumption. I was quite shocked, no pun intended. Even with those guidelines that I set out, it was expensive to heat one room in my apartment using electricity.

Since receiving my bill. I have gone back to using no heat in my apartment. At this point, the comfort of a heated living space is not worth the doubling of my electric bill.

Now I know!

DAAAAAAMMMMNNN!

Several hours ago, a meteor entered the atmosphere above Russia. As it burned up in the air, it provided an awesome light show for a great number of Russians. The video above doesn’t show you the actual meteor streaking across the sky but it does catch the resulting shock wave. The massive boom catches the camera person off-guard and you can hear windows break and car alarms going off. This meteor was apparently too small to stay intact for a landing. Imagine the carnage for something the size of the meteor that killed all the dinosaurs. Nature is definitely both amazing and scary.