Thursday, August 27, 2009

Verbosity 2009

Sarp is back, and the fridge is ripe with 2L Coca-Cola bottles once again. Everything feels right. In his absence, The Discovery Channel has more or less become the background noise of my life, whenever I'm at home. It's just nice to hear English discourse. This show "Snake Master" is on right now. The guy is a modern day Steve Irwin (RIP) focused exclusively on serpents. They are interviewing him and the funny thing is, although a total smooth operator with our legless and cold-blooded friends he had to overcome wicked claustrophobia. Everyone has hurdles to deal with.

I made two trips to the grocery store last weekend. On neither of them was I able to buy chicken breast. My fridge is therefore a little emptier than usual so I returned to the place of reckoning for a quick stock-up. I was feeling particularly observant on my journey.

It's worth noting that my house is undergoing something of a facelift. In an attempt to differentiate it from the other faded and gray buildings that pollute the skyline, it's getting a new colour. Rather than paint the concrete, they seem to be covering the building in blocks of foam, whose physical properties provide the impression of a fiberglass-styrofoam hybrid. It is this mysterious material that they will paint a "McDonald's Pickle" shade of green. Lovely. To make matters worse, the building is completely encapsulated by a giant exoskeleton of scaffold. There is always a construction worker outside one of the windows. Hammering or shouting. The impact statement of all this, is that there has been an increase in gypsies in the area. This might be a result of small sample sizes but I'm about 80% confident in the statement, with a 7.5% interval. My personal hypothesis is that the Roma are a resourceful bunch, and the shit-storm of construction material strewn about is too intriguing to turn down.

Oh yeah, I was returning from work earlier in the week. I walked in on a building wide meeting. From what I could gather from my neighbourly monoglots was that I am going to have to endure this "nonsery" for a period of 3 months.

I alluded to the skyline earlier. The view isn't terrible actually. In the area immediately around my building the greenery is lush and extremely overgrown. From a distance it looks nice. Which brings me to my next point. I'm already making note of places that look "extra communist" in preparation for my first ever flickerphoto foray. With the arrival of winter, the strictly deciduous tree population shall succumb to the perils of seasonality. The grey and barren result will be a landscape describable only as "bleak as hell." I think it will be funny. Or misery loves company.

Have I mentioned pedestrian rights? Probably not because I don't remember what they are. The attitude of drivers almost makes me believe that I should be jealous of their cars. As though they are better than me, for having a car. And sure, maybe that's true to an extent, for now. My timeframe is longer than yours, bitches. I digress. It's important as ever to look both ways around here.

Obviously the month is just about over, hopefully paralleling: The end of this blog post. This month hasn't been as good as July. It's going to suck to get less money, that's for certain. I've reflected though. At the beginning, I was complacent. I had just cashed in big and I was caught on my heels. Never again. Winning feels too good.

The weekend, a long one, promises to be crazy, one way or the other. Check back Monday for hilarity.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Outsourcing, A Case Study

DISCLAIMER: I don't know exactly how this may or may not apply to the real world. Any meaning you derive has been reached by your own conclusions. Or you can read mine. You should probably do both.

I'm obsessed with the stock market. Once again, science wins. Maybe I have found a way to harness my binge behaviour; with a pursuit society excepts as reasonable -Potentially most destructive of all.

Allocating appropriate attention to global financial markets has been difficult and demanding in the months most recent. For obvious reasons. As addictions go: It's pretty consuming. I don't have time right now to constantly be refreshing select tickers. No matter how good the dopamine squirts feel, with every uptick. Ergo, I've had to find ways to streamline. I'm going to test one. Right here. Right now. You see sir, If I blog about it, then I am more accountable. Haters can call me out for sucking if I fail. A valuable opportunity for reflection?

ASIDE: Generally I will try to avoid making you read my mental logic map mid-post. This entry is cleared labeled as a case study though, so you knew it was going to be rough around the edges. Bare with me through this thought experiment.

In this particular example I am looking to buy a stock. I saw the stock PETS mentioned in the Stocktwits Recommended Stream. I ran it through an analytical screener or two that I've come to like. I like what I see so I am going to buy 10% of the total position I am willing to a lot. The decision didn't take that much time. Hopefully it will be money.

ASIDE II: I wouldn't usually put so many links in a row. But this is science. I can't be as verbose as usual. Ironic how I keep throwing in all these extra notes.

CONCLUSION: The point of this post isn't buying stock, d'uh. It's about maximizing the use of the time. If the hot pick works out, I'll get some more confidence in my methodology. I'll know where my system needs tweaking. I can still a lot time to it but I take out legwork by checking out legit sources. Of course finding the sources is the tricky part and essentially what we are testing. It's about doing this as effectively and efficiently as possible so I have more time to do other random happenings.

I'll update you when I exit the trade.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Maybe it's the Counting Crows music, or the fact that Sarp isn't around. I've been in a more reflective mood as of late. It's getting to be that time of year. People in and around my age cohort are on the move. Not me.

Not returning to school in September is an odd feeling, bordering on eerie. Something I haven't experienced in 18 or so years. I'm not that in touch with my 4 year old self, so the whole experience feels relatively new. The comfort of annual routine eludes me now, and seasonality suddenly feels less significant than ever.

I look at my peers. Internships are wrapping up. Camp is almost finished. Graduate and professional programs are beginning. Unemployment and uncertainty looms for some. And others are set to return to their institutions of choice, to seal up their scholarly pursuit in whatever undergraduate discipline they've chosen to pursue.

You only need something of a roadmap. Nimble is clutch. 6 months ago I hadn't a clue I would end up in Slovakia. The opportunity was available though, I guess that's just how things go. My moves are no longer tied to a sinusoidal pattern of exams, reading weeks or summer holidays. The only world I have really known, the one I have spent the majority of my life trying to dominate, is no longer relevant. The lessons and skills I acquired though are more transferable than I might have originally thought. If I want to keep moving forward I need to remain organized and focussed. I definitely need to keep moving forward.

The real point of this blog post isn't about what I'm doing or where I'm going. I am sure that is something the month of September alone, will not determine. It's about how lucky I am. I'm incredibly fortunate to be in touch with so many amazing people who are doing so many fantastic things. I am blessed to have friends that are pursuing their own amazing endeavors all around the world. It's incredible to see people tepidly explore and adapt to the realities in which they now find themselves. Just as I want success for myself, I am incredibly interested in what you are doing and want you desperately to work hard enough to accomplish your goals. Everyone is an inspiration in their own right and if I am lucky enough to have you in my network of friends and family, thank you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hey Fish

I'm reading an article about beef jerky business cards. Interesting...

There have been some developments at the office. Loyal readers (thanks for being so loyal, by the way!) know that over the past 3 months numerous of my colleagues have quit, or been axed. Finally the ebb of workers out of the firm has reached it's short term maximum. The flow in of new "International Business Development Executives," has begun.

I'm no longer the new guy. Not to be a dramatist, but it's a paradigm shift. It really sets a benchmark for how far I've come and provides more than ample opportunity to reflect. It gives me a chance to peer into a looking glass, or some crazy time machine. In these new recruits, I can see myself a few months ago. Before experiencing the demoralizing effects of thousands of failures and the euphoria that accompanies a few victories.

It reminds me that change isn't a magical thing that happens while we're asleep. It is a series of small and systematic victories that occur over time. A significant net positive outcome only occurs if you stick with it. I've seen enough people falter already. I wonder how these new kids on the block will fare.

It also reminds me that I still have a long way to go. That I must keep persisting. This upcoming week, will be a real test of that.

While this blog is a great forum for me to discuss my ridiculous exploits and weekend alcoholism, it's also become a tool for managing myself and a place for reflection on the mistakes I've made. I think it's really helped me understand where I am and where I need to go.

Music for your Sunday morning: What I'm hearing. Reminds me of mornings after at Mr. Wu's cottage

In other news:

Finally somebody is saying something: The notion that Canada is a mosaic while the United States is a melting pot does not survive scrutiny

At least this has happened to you today!

A Trip to the Doc

The long, tedious and stressful few month as an illegal migrant worker are coming to an end. The bureaucracy in this country moves at the pace of frozen molasses, but that's a topic for an entirely different day. One of the final steps in the process of proving I'm fit for citizenry in Slovakia is to ensure I don't have any highly communicable diseases.

This late stage medical exam omits the fact that I've been here already for 90 days. If I am in fact unwell, it is most likely because I caught something indigenous to the area. Probably from one of the local "kebab engineers." All of whom fail to use gloves (I'll touch more on glove misuse later) when handling food, money and their burning cigarettes. If though, I was in fact sick when I arrived, I have had three months to cough, spit and sneeze my infection all around the country. Regardless of the obvious faults with the system, such are the hoops I have to jump through.

At 6:50 am I got to where I thought, was the Dr.'s office. I quickly realized I didn't have a clue. I promptly swallowed my pride and asked people for help. No one seemed to know where the address was. The poor quality of the street signs here is impressive. Eventually I got a nurse-looking lady at a nearby hospital to point me in the right direction. She confused "left" with "right" though and added another 20 minutes to my pointless meander around a one block radius.

The waiting room furniture was reminiscent of the Foreman's basement in "That 70's Show." I gave the smiling lady at the desk my passport. She gave me a small bottle I was to fill, with what she called "YOU-REEN!". Her smile, along with the bright, sky-blue walls and matching drapes made me feel weird but comfortable.

Throughout the whole ordeal I didn't see a box, let alone a pair, of latex gloves. I was however, impressed with the speed of the procedures. I guess doctors are able to see more patients when they don't have the hassle of washing their hands or donning those pesky gloves. I bled on the bare hands of the lady who took my blood. I watched her put my used needle into an empty 2L bottle of Sprite. I had to get an X-ray in another building. The X-Ray technician told me to undress. I wondered "What kind of X-Ray is this?." I looked around the dim, eerie room. My shirt was off. The X-ray equipment looked like a torture device that only the Iron Curtain could produce. I started to undo my belt. The technician stopped me. It turns out it was only for my lungs, to see if I have TB. Thank goodness. Nonetheless, two more photos of my lungs and I would probably be on par with those Chernobyl kids, as far as radiation exposure goes, given that dodgy machinery. Was that analogy too far? Don't answer that.

I stepped onto the street an hour later. Despite being 200 Euro less liquid than when I woke up, I felt good. It might have been because of my pristine blood pressure reading of 120/80; but, I think more likely was the sense of autonomy I felt. The prevalence of English here is really low. There is no way I would have found the right building without asking for help. I guess I could have better prepared for the adventure. But in the end I think I floundered and doggy-paddled a bit when I could have sank.

What I'm hearing right now.

UPDATE: I didn't realize the severity of the Chernobyl disaster. Definitely crossed the line. If you're still looking for distractions from work I recommend you educate yourselves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It's pronounced something like "dak-wee-em." It means thank you.

I'm ironing, blogging and watching a Discovery Channel show about saving the planet. Imagine how much I could get done if I had a personal robot assistant. Anyways, these science nerds on the boob tube are trying to use salt crystals to make clouds more reflective, to curb global warming. To me, it sounds like a slamdunk for innovation. I guess the environment might benefit too.

You see friends, unless your name is Jiash Wu, you don't really care about the green movement. Nobody cares about the environment. The faceless mobs care about trends and feeling self-righteous. They care about cool ideas, and amassing wealth. We care about ourselves -I mean they care about themselves.

From what I can gather, economics is about people maximizing their utility. I think it's all fair and well to have opinions and desires for change. I think you can probably get a lot closer to seeing such said hopes realized, if only you are aware of what the crowd is doing. Whether it's to forecast your next move, or insinuate yourself amongst them, you cannot be blind to where the herd is going, or how it is getting there. Paying regard, you'll do infinitely better than just obnoxiously sticking it to the man and refusing to see the world for what it is.

A personal anecdote that comes to mind was the green-ovations that we did for Orientation week 2008 at Queen's. Aside from cutting bottled water use in a giant way (admittedly it still has a long way to go) and other grassroots initiatives we challenged the corporate world to sponsor our green shift. We didn't judge because of how people acted, we offered them an opportunity to contribute to something important, a great cause that they could feel good about (read: we were desperately begging for their copious sums of money). At the end of the day though, to make it work, we had to be aware of what our sponsors wanted and find a way to provide them with that, at benefit to us. We aligned our needs with the goals of our sponsors. I also had the privilege of working with a lot of smart people who worked very hard to complete that project.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 17, 2009


My hangover having long left me, I am free to return to exerting my tele-dominance over pharmaceutical executives the world over. While my afternoon might have been a coffee fueled rocket ship to the moon, my morning was still significant progress in the right direction. I had begun to apply meaning to my work to try and route the apathy. Beyond the simple monetary rewards equated with hard work, as is the case given my employment contract, I tried to define what it meant to make money. Whether it was being able to travel and do cool or stuff or just be able to Make It Rain, [so to speak] every once in awhile.

By some God-bestowed brushstroke of luck I managed to close some business this afternoon. It was a surprise. At the time I wasn't doing anything related to that particular client, I was reading an article or looking for a lead or something. Then I got this e-mail worth a few thousand Euro. Out of nowhere. Awesome.

It reinforced my desires to work hard. It felt like I didn't deserve it, but I know it's the result of much toil by "Past Jeff." It also reminded me how good it feels to win. The last three hours of my day were extremely productive, despite the heavy pizza lunch. My appetite for victory was wet.

In this job I've learned that logic never beats emotions. It should have been obvious, given my previous interactions with the female brain, but it's not. Even if we think about it logically; explain it to ourselves. The deep-seeded emotion, the fear of failure, the humble nature -your character- that which guides your decisions will not succumb to logic and reason. Anxiety, habits and fear are overcome much more quickly by brash and audacious action than the most robust of justifications. If you want to do it, you have to do it now. Then do it again. Repeat (x 3208947202). When it's a hard thing to do, no matter how sound your argument, if you really want to believe it and live it you have to prove it for yourself.

I still think success=failure + persistence. That makes persistence a pretty big part of the equation. One of the next steps on the path will be to figure out how to inspire maximum grit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

IKEA Slovensko

Sarp is in Istanbul, for the next few weeks. I have the flat to myself. I've been showering with the door open and playing ridiculous music at high volume.

Feeling oddly enabled I made the journey to Ikea yesterday. No one told me that the bus ride to our favourite Swedish superstore doubled as the hot-mom express. My arrival confirmed that indeed, I had arrived at a veritable MILF Mecca. I enjoyed my trip to the store. I made a few purchases. Small, yet necessary. Ones that will contribute much needed value to my life around the house. Especially over time. A period from now, life without them will become unfathomable. I bought a french press, garbage can and pillow. If I stoked your curiousity.

The arrows on the floor helped me feel my way through the labyrinth of value pricing. It was immediately apparent that the cheap food wasn't saved just for the Ottawa location. 30 cent hot dogs tempted me. I use the word tempt very generously, in this instance. A few differences did jump out, however. That's why the trip was so funny. It was a hilarious twist on something I was familiar with. The employee section of the parking lot had barbed wire fences around it and STOCKHOLM brand beer was available in a combo with the aforementioned offal tubes.

This morning I ran to the local "Billa" grocery store to get a few essentials. Sunflower oil, milk and butter. If you must know. The cashier I picked was an old lady. Usually a terrible choice. She moved quick, a lot faster than the sluggish pace I had come to expect from her demographic of item scanners. She tried to talk to me. I held my own. She smiled; I was surprised.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Good and the Bad

I was going to link some interesting Slovak news articles. Instead, I found a way to insert a widget on the side that does it for me. I'M A KING IN THIS TECH GAME, evidently. Please peruse through them to see what's going on in this faraway land. Recent highlights include a crashing GDP, a deadly mining disaster and a scathing review of Bruno. Bruno just came to theatre here.

Thursday was probably the worst day of my life. Allow me to explain. It's all derived, you see, from a night of irresponsible intoxication, the evening prior. Weekday hangovers are a cardinal sin when you're worried about productivity and "Advancing Your Swagger", two things I hold in the utmost regard. In my defense, it was a work function, and my boss was the one feeding me glass after glass of whiskey, simultaneously pressuring me to put my fingers to the keys on a conveniently located piano. To make matters worse, the next-morning shower, which I was counting on to give me a pot-shot at saving the day, didn't have any water. Yup, I turned on the tap and no water came out. I'm like, "WTF, FML" and that sort of thing. I limped to work with puffy eyes, exuding a smell of whiskey, second hand smoke and shame -rivaled only by a Hull Casino smoking room. My head echoed with a cacophony of phrases like: "I am too hungover for this shit."

Friday things went a lot better. I managed to score a shower and a good night of sleep. At lunchtime I got my fattest envelope of cash yet. It reminded me that working hard was worth it. But for whatever reason, motivation has been a whore these last few weeks. I'm not sure if the environment is wearing on me, the product has me discouraged or there is just no end of the month urgency yet. I'm hoping it's the last option. I think this terrible hangover experience was something of a catalyst that will catapult me back to exceptional levels of quality output and work.

The same dilemma plagued me at school. I need to be really busy to be busy. I can give myself fake deadlines, but I know they are fake. There's no sense of urgency. It's not that I lack copious amounts of future thought. It's that I know I have more than enough time. Solutions on this motivation problem to come...

UPDATE: My intake of Nutella is shameful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Open Letter

Dear Twitter,

I know you've become really popular lately, and it's probably put a lot more stress on you than you were used to. But get your shit together, please. These increasingly frequent blackouts are killing me. Your platform and success are based on short and erratic messaging, under the guise of "microblogging." My social networking game is being crippled. Your poor accessibility is rivaled only by Slovak infrastructure (I once had to lift a girl in a wheelchair onto a bus).


I'm going to watch a show about bombing the southern states with trees to re-grow forests. I love Discovery Channel.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back at It

Saturday, in the spirit of National Violence Against Roma Day Mike defended my honour by throwing an idle cup of water into the face of an aggressive gypsy. Only once the aforementioned destitute member of society hacked a lugie at me after we refused to buy his sub par magazine. Luckily I'm dodgy as hell and managed to evade the spit missile. Other than that our weekend was pretty standard, by very high standards. If you know what I mean.

It's nice to share my new world with someone who grew up with me. And sort of sad to be alone again. I get the idea that Mike was a little shocked at my newfound surroundings as well. He expressed an equal degree of perplexity as I first did, at the lack of a push/pull convention on building doors. But with the end of Monday fast approaching the weekend feels miles away and I find myself thrust back into this grinding and blogging business.

Truth be told, I'm still pretty exhausted. I hope it's a testament to the hectic weekend and not some underlying malady or anemia, of which I am unaware, eroding my stamina. As the final month of summer marches steadily towards its terminal week I can't help but feel my perception of time in the last few months has been distorted. In retrospect it feels as though it has all flown by; yet, I can vividly recall the agonizingly slow pace of those first few days, and select incidents thereafter. I will now spend the rest of my August 10th, 2009 waking hours practicing Slovak so as to not feel like such a moron in class tomorrow morning.

I need to do something to get myself pumped up about work this week. Hopefully sleep, something I usually disdain, will help.

ASIDE: Here's a fun one for all those wannabe CEOs out there. Rap music is poetic motivation, haters.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Wormwood Diaries

It's been a scorcher this week, and I'm grateful for overcast. The pathetic fallacy it provides is a nice surprise. A fresh breeze ambles through the flat. It's just a little colder than the temperature of the room. Refreshing and cleansing. A nice change from sticky and sweaty. Another day tolling about under intense UV-assault would have been too much for this pasty Canadian boy. Not that I anticipate doing much tolling today.

You can bet it's another one of those weekend morning (read: afternoon) posts.

I spent the better part of the previous hour navigating a maze of linked Wikipedia articles. Trying to understand what exactly I did to myself, in concocting that "Holy Trinity" of fire, sugar and Absinthe. I look at the bottle, half-full. I ensured a gregarious evening when I poured the other half, and two sugar-free RedBull, into an empty bottle of Sprite. We chugged it in the cab on the way to the now infamous Harley Bar. The glass container has a sticker. It says Van Gogh and Hemingway used it as "Creative Stimulant." I guess I'm in good company.

It's a good thing I opted out of the black one, reaching instead for the emerald green. They call it a lucid drunk. A delicate balance of stimulants and depressants are at play in the herbs. Playing tug-of-war with your consciousness. My memory is foggier than I'd like to admit, but the description feels right. It's scary how quickly it sneaks up on you.

It has started to spit rain. I think Mike might be awake now too. The likelihood that I'll do much more than help him find his way to the train station remains low. We have had a great weekend. Monday will offer me another chance to prove myself. For now I will bide my time, sipping coffee. Watching a man chase komodo dragons on the Discovery Channel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Just Think About It.

I've mentioned it once before , but it's been raining again and the absolute rancor diffusing from the fermenting sewers is all kinds of putrid. I feel the need to emphasize it once again. Sorry. Nothing is easy in Slovakia, except buying corn on the cob. For whatever reason that shit is ubiquitous in these parts.

Anyways, on my stroll to the tram with my boss, after a measly 11 hours in the office, while sporadically getting jabbed in the face by fists of stench, the subject of smart work breached our conversation. You see, we work with this one girl who works indefatigably hard. Her results are consistently above average; but, quite frankly, she sucks. I mean the quality of the majority of her output is substandard, as far as we could tell. The thing is, her ethic is consistent and extreme. If I was a child laborer on coke, she would be a spartan warrior on steroids mixed with MDMA in some sort of super drug cocktail.

In Slovak the word is kokteil -and camping is kemping. See, this language barrier isn't such a big deal.

The thing is, I think she would be exponentially more successful if she took a little time to look back for areas upon which to improve. Things that weren't just quite perfect. But I'm still new at this, so what do I know.

My Slovak Teacher/Supermodel tells us that Slovaks have just adopted a lot of words as their vocabulary has grown. My favourite one yet is a breakfast occurrence. "Ham and Eggs" is hemendex. Say it fast.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fly Dropping

Honestly, I love to work. I don't really have anything else to do, as sad as that may sound to the uninitiated reader. If I feel like I am accomplishing things, and that money is being made, I don't care, I'm happy in the office. What else could I be doing with my time that's more productive? At this point in my life, I don't need a balanced schedule. Maybe I'll burn out eventually, but I don't foresee that occurring for awhile.

Three arduous months ago, on my first day of "Le Travail" I was taken out to lunch. The other trainee and I were escorted by a successful salesman to a quaint little place called "Jazz Cafe." I ate soup, chicken and rice. Every meal here is served with soup. Even on the hottest of days.

At noon, both of them quit, simultaneously and independently. I'm the only of our May 13th lunchtime trio that remains employed.

The good news, is they interviewed a new guy today. I'm gaining seniority quickly...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life Hack: Define Your Week.

I've been up for a few hours. It's Monday morning, an hour or so before work. I'm in the office, well into my second cup of coffee.

I find the idea of starting the week early appealing. And not just Monday early.

I love the feeling of jubilation that accompanies the end of each Friday afternoon, don't get me wrong. By Sunday however, I usually find myself thinking about work again. As morning makes way for afternoon, my hangover subsides and my mind clears. I have few distractions here, so work is the only real thing to start worrying about once my social agenda clears.

After my most recent weekend dinner, I ironed a few shirts and reviewed my pitch. I practiced a bit of Slovak. I've found that when I start doing things Sunday night that either get me in the working mindset or help prepare for Monday my life is a lot easier on the first day of the work week.

I'm itching to get going while the majority of you slackers are enslaving yourselves to the snooze button. Don't let societal definitions of the week dictate your behaviour. Do what works for you.

UPDATE: Hard work pays. More proof.