Sunday, February 1, 2009

February 1, 2009 - Flying home from Calgary

Ah, another Olson family power weekend.  As I type, Ana, Magnito and Stella are all snoozing wildly in their leather WestJet chairs enjoying the hum of the 737 engines.  Ana was in Calgary last week for training so the kids and I flew out on Thursday night to meet her and spend the weekend in Calgary catching up with old friends including brunch at our favourite restaurant in Inglewood and a great dinner party on Saturday.  We spent Friday with the Davidsons - Gerry, Barb and Nicole and had a great visit, which included the obligatory and much loved finance/investing session with uncle Gerry.  I am always amazed at the depth of his knowledge of all things financial, especially impressive for a weenie engineer.  We of course discussed the current market meltdown and the abundance of opportunities presenting themselves in the markets.  It seems like a simple decision to up the stakes in financial investments and cash in on the amazing yields available.  But hold on.  I'm also in the midst of reading Garth Turner's latest (see book called "After The Crash".  Though an awful lot of the book is simple reiteration of his last book, "Greater Fool", there are nevertheless some interesting viewpoints presented.  The basic thesis is that the world's financial systems are in a mess, the value of residential real estate in Canada is destined to plummet much further and the possibility of a major depression and deflation, though not inevitable, is real and significant and the overriding majority of Canadians are ill prepared to weather such an unwelcome storm.

I don't believe that we are headed into a depression, but many of the ideas in the book strike a chord with me.  The one basic recommendation is to hope for the best but be absolutely prepared for the worst.  In recent years I've found myself becoming more risk averse and much more concerned with safety and self preservation.  I don't know if this is due to the aging process or perhaps having the responsibility to protect and take care of my family, or maybe simply because of the large number of close calls, near misses, death defying stunts, and amazing acts of irresponsibility  experienced during my bachelor days.  A couple simple things he recommends is having a backup generator for your home in case of a major power outage (which just happened in Toronto a couple weeks ago that left people without power for two days in -20 weather), having an emergency food supply available and having a "Bad Day Kit" prepared which includes items such as batteries, water purifying tablets, cash, etc.  Best to prepare well before it's necessary.

In other news, after a year and a half of aggravation and stress, our worst tenant finally moved out.  This is the guy we've been to tribunal court with twice for late payment of rent and selling drugs out of our building.  He has caused us more grief than anything else in our lives and his departure is like a blessing.  We now have a month to renovate his unit which will take a lot of work considering he's been chain smoking in there for six years. Like anything else, persistence has paid off but it's been a real test of patience and we've even considered selling the building several times because of him.  In one regard, though, I'm happy we went through it because we now know the Ontario Landlord/Tenant law like the back of our hand, which will definitely help us in our future dealings.

One last bit of news, we spent a week in Dominican Republic with Dad and Loretta and loved it.  We stayed at an all-inclusive resort at Punta Cana for the entire time.  The kids spent 90% of the time in the pool, which meant we spent 90% of the time in the pool; fortunately there was a swim up bar so that helped lubricate the swimming lessons.

All for now, back to the renovations!


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