These days trying to save up as much money as I can to help purchase a place in Vancouver hopefully next year.. ideally I want to 1) get my mortgage down to $200k 2) leverage my current SF home to get a home equity loan of at least $310k and 3) save up at least $60k this year in cash.
I want to take advantage of the US dollar strength because $310k + $60k = $370k which equals roughly $500k CAD which is just enough to get a decent 1 bedroom condo in a decent location in Vancouver. Of course, I want to purchase a home back in Canada for several reasons.
One is that the US is not particularly friendly to immigrants and especially so since Trump took office, and I get harassed every time I go across the border, since I am not a green card holder, and the TN visa is not a dual intent visa which means I cannot apply for a green card on that visa. Furthermore, recent changes to the H1B, the only dual intent working visa, have made it more difficult for programmers / software engineers to obtain. This means that my time in the US is likely limited.
Two is that Canada is the place that I want to start a family and retire anyways. I have often said before after all my travels, is that America is the best place for working due to the high salary and low taxes and low cost of goods; China and Europe are the best places to travel due to all the history and natural beauty; Korea is the best place for nightlife and having fun; and Canada is the best place to start a family and actually live, since it has a combination of European and American culture, the tuition fees are lower, the healthcare costs are lower etc. And Vancouver is unique as the warmest city in Canada as well as being on the lovely West Coast, and having lots of Koreans (Long term workers not just students) there doesn’t hurt my future plans either.
Three is I want to finally be able to purchase my own place with my own money. I always felt like my SF home is kind of my parents home, since they helped out with 40% of the cash. I want to finally purchase a place all with my own cash and call it my own.
So I’m trying to save a lot of money, but of course this being myself I do buy some things still… among the things I purchased recently is the Milkman Amp 1 Watt Plus model. This is a Class A Tube Amplifier that was handmade in San Francisco so I thought I might support a local shop here. But don’t I already have a Class A hand-wired tube amp? Yes I do, the Swart Atomic Jr. But this one has more wattage (10W vs 5W), 12″ Alnico Blue speaker (vs the 8″ Ceramic in the Swart), built in attenuator (goes from 0.5W to 10W) and is better for traveling due to the tubes being covered (the Swart has uncovered tubes which makes it risky to travel with it, despite being lighter).
It definitely has more headroom than the Swart does. I’ve also finalized my pedal board! My pedalboard contains 10 pedals. I’ve gone through tens of different pedals in my career, and I’ve finally settled on this configuration (for now): (from first to last in the chain)
BBE Wah -> Boss Waza Tuner -> Dunlop EP101 Preamp -> Wampler Euphoria -> RambleFX Marvel Drive -> Keeley Magnetic Echo -> Xotic SP Compressor -> BBE Sonic Stomp Mini -> Hermida Reverb -> Boss RC3 Looper
Retired my Maxon TBO9 (served me well) and the Keeley Oxblood Germanium (might use as backup to the Euphoria), and had to get the Hermida Reverb due to the Milkman amp not having onboard reverb. It was a compromise I had to make, the bigger Half Pint model had onboard reverb, but it was also 5lbs heavier.
And I want to get rid of my Gretsch White Penguin and Traynor Amps, even though the Gretsch is a great guitar, it has intonation problems, and is still a bit heavy for my tastes. It’s definitely the best looking out of all my guitars though. So ideally I want to keep the custom Partscaster that I built (Fender Telecaster Thinline ’72 deluxe with Filtertron/WRH pickups) as my main jazz/blues guitar, with the Fender Stratocaster doing rock and blues as well, and the Martin OMJM as my acoustic doing mostly pop tunes.
I’m doing a lot of jazz guitar these days. I love it! Playing a lot of Larry Carlton and George Benson these days. And I also love that John Mayer’s new album (Search for Everything) has great funky jazz-type riffs like ‘Moving on and Getting over’ and ‘Still feel like your man’. That man is a genius. Best album for me since Battle Studies (Continuum obviously still everyone’s favorite). Here is my ranking of John Mayer albums btw (from best to worst) as well as my favorite songs from each album.
1. Continuum (blues/pop masterpiece) – Best song: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
2. Room for Squares (great acoustic pop) – Best song: St. Patrick’s Day
3. Try! (his best guitar album, great blues/rock songs) – Best song: Gravity
4. Battle Studies (more great guitar-pop) – Best song: Friends, Lovers or Nothing
5. The Search for Everything (blends all his previous styles + adds funk/jazz) – Best song: Moving on and getting over
6. Born and Raised (acoustic-folk pop) – Best song: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967
7. Inside Wants Out (like Room for Squares but more raw) – Best song: Victoria
8. Heavier Things (some songs are great, others not so much) – Best song: New Deep
9. Paradise Valley (not many songs I liked from this album) – Best song: Who you love
In other news I’ve also been playing games with my friend, being bored a lot at home these days makes you do that. We still play Far Cry 4 a lot despite it being a 3 year old game just because of how amazing the co-op experience is. I think I have like 30 videos on Youtube of our play sessions together. I even made my own map and published it!
Other games I’ve been playing are the fantastic JRPGs Persona 5 and Yakuza 0. I’ve loved both these series (wayyy more interesting than Final Fantasy XV for me) so that’s no surprise. Also finished Root Letter (it was alright, but the ending was unsatisfying), and both Blazblue Central Fiction (love that series) and Steins Gate 0 (also love that series as well). Also bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda mainly because both of them have co-op but both of them were letdowns for me. And of course still playing Hearthstone, which just released a new expansion (Journey to UnGoro).
Also looking forward to: Fire Emblem Echoes (3DS).. Akiba’s Beat (Vita).. Agents of Mayhem (PS4).. Quake Champions (PC).. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
And that’s the state of my life right now.. everyday work, go home and play games, and save money. Boring existence. When’s my next trip to Korea?
Here’s my official explanation for why I’m so focused on Korean girls because I get asked this ALOT. I get this asked to me alot because I know that if I were Korean and I told people I only like Korean girls no one would care but because I’m a foreigner (albeit born only a few miles away from Korea) its somehow not acceptable that I only like Korean girls… I think its also because people just can’t seem to understand that Korean girls are very unique and no other girl can really replace them. Japanese girls are probably the closest approximation to them, but they are still very different from Korean girls.
So, I know its hard for Americans and Canadians to understand this so I’ve had to explain this many many times. In USA and Canada, we are used to having multiple cultures mixed so everyone is very very different from each other. In Korea, this is not the case. Because they are 99% Korean, the culture is very homogeneous, meaning Koreans are very similar to each other, the way they are raised, taught, what they dress like, how they act etc. Now I’m not saying that every Korean is the same – but there is definitely more of an air of conformity in Korea than in other countries.
Now – something else that’s important – Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, etc are all very different from each other. Its easy to group them all as “Asian girls” but in reality after having traveled to each of those countries and lived there, they are all very different from each other. In particular, Chinese are about as different from Koreans as Americans are from Koreans. This makes Koreans wholly unique from other Asians, and other people, because their culture is unique.
So a girl’s personality and what she likes is exactly what I like! My point is if she is raised in Korea – then she has the cultural values, politeness, way of thinking – those values that I appreciate and like. Essentially being raised in Korea gives me and her a set of common interests, shared cultural values, and a matching personality.
So its not that I only like Korean girls or girls that look Korean else I would be interested in Korean Americans which I am not.
I am interested in girls who have that same personality, way of thinking, and upbringing that Korea has, thats my preference. If a Chinese girl or Japanese girl grew up in Korea and had those values sure I would be interested. Its not about what race they are, its about the cultural values they represent, and I just happened to really like Korean cultural values. I hope that makes sense.
So I called my mom yesterday because there were so few Korean girls in SF and I was so lonely and anxious to meet someone since I am getting older, and I got very upset when she started pushing me towards alternatives to Korean women just like a lot of my friends did. My friends and family don’t understand – I didn’t choose to be only attracted to Korean women, why would I choose that for myself? it makes it harder for me to find a gf. I never chose to be “close-minded” like they said. I would gladly date other Asian girls or American girls – if they satisfied what I was looking for in my ideal girl. It just so happens that everything I want in my ideal gf is 100% fully satisfied by Korean women – they are attractive to me in every way, appearance, personality, style, fashion, pretty much everything. And non-Korean women just don’t attract me the same way. I don’t why people keep trying to push me to other “alternatives”. To me, there is no alternative to Korean girls. They are unique, special and cannot be replaced. To me, thats the only option, after having traveled the world, I can honestly say no other women attract me the same way. In Taiwan and Eastern Europe I always thought the prettiest girls there were the Korean girl tourists…
Also another reason I don’t want a Chinese gf is partly because of how my mom is – raised in Northeast China (oddly, very close to Korea) yet Northern Chinese girls have the opposite personality of Korean girls – they are super strong and independent. My mom is no different. When I was young she would constantly fight with my dad. I always heard them hitting each other and my mom throwing things at my dad when I was young. I was of course also beaten by my parents as a kid as well. I don’t like how Chinese women raise their kids – they are super strict Tiger moms. Korean moms don’t treat their kids with as much strictness and I certainly have never heard of any Korean mom beating their kids. I also have never heard of Korean moms physically fighting with their husbands – it seems in Korea the man usually has the temper and the wife’s job is to calm him down whereas in China its the opposite.
I also don’t like that Chinese including my mom and aunt are so arrogant about themselves – they keep saying that Chinese women are more beautiful than Korean women – when they’ve never been to Korea or met Korean girls before! Same with my Chinese friends both guys and girls – those who have never been to Korea, they all believe that Chinese girls are the best looking. I can honestly say that easily the worst looking women, in Korea or not, that I have ever seen were Chinese women. Why? because they don’t care about their appearance! And their personality is too strong – my Mom says thats a good thing – of course she would since she wants to validate her own personality – but thats just totally not my type. If you want to be arrogant and call yourself the best – why not prove it? Why not put at least an ounce of attention on your appearance instead of just making a blanket generalizing statement like that? I got pissed when I heard that because I know its totally not true, and I even did a video on my youtube to dispel rumors that Korean girls are only pretty because of plastic surgery or some BS like that I hear from non-Korean girls who are clearly jealous of them. My best friends gf is Korean and she said these words to me. “If you come to my area of China, you will see so many beautiful girls, like me” and “If you don’t care what your kids look like, then you should marry a Korean girl” just such blatant ignorant and arrogant comments. Whats more is that Chinese women seem to have such negative impressions of Korean girls despite most of them not knowing any Korean girls at all while most of Korean girl friends seem to have positive impressions of Chinese girls. They always say ‘Chinese girls are quite beautiful, nice etc’. Just goes to show you the difference between how they think about each other.
And of course, its not just appearance – some of the rudest and most selfish girls I have ever met are – you guessed it – Chinese! So yes, clearly they are not the women for me – I know its because China had a glorious history and maybe 400 years ago they were ‘ahead’ of Korea and Japan, but that doesn’t mean they are ahead in the present! Its like the British saying they are better than Americans because they once had the bigger empire. It makes no sense in the present day – I’ve been to every East Asian country now except for Mongolia, and I can say that Japan and Korea are much more ahead of China in technology, manners, etiquette, cleanliness, etc But whatever Chinese people can keep thinking that they are the greatest if they want to – to me they are the USA of Asia – arrogant, and ignorant of other cultures.
In general, since I was born in China, raised in a Chinese family, had mostly Chinese friends in university, but hung out with Koreans a lot and lived in Korea for 2 years, here are the main differences between Chinese and Korean women:
1) Chinese women usually don’t wear any makeup and if they do, its very light. – Korean women usually wear a lot of makeup especially foundation to make their skin really pale and white.
2) Chinese women don’t care about their fashion that much, they usually wear sweaters, pants or jeans or long dresses and dress very casually. – Korean women are much more feminine and wear blouses, skirts, dresses, high heels, platform shoes etc very often
3) A lot of Chinese women don’t shave or do their eyebrows or paint their nails. – Korean women do all of those.
4) A lot of Chinese women don’t shower everyday. They will shower only when they know their bfs are coming over – Korean women shower at least twice a day and are clean enough to the point where they will carry a toothbrush + paste in their handbags throughout the day.
5) Chinese women like to brag about how beautiful their race is, how ‘naturally’ pretty Chinese women are and how great their country and culture is. – Korean women are also proud of their country but they don’t openly brag about it, and they don’t think they are the prettiest women.
6) Chinese women care a lot about money, making money, starting businesses and carrying status symbols around like iPhones and expensive cars. – Korean women don’t care as much about money or business or about brand name items.
7) Chinese women don’t have good manners and will often talk very loudly. – Korean women are more quiet and will cover their mouths when they laugh, etc
8) Chinese women make their bfs buy things for them all the time and often times make their bfs basically be pack mules for them when they are shopping. – Korean women don’t expect expensive gifts from their bfs often just flowers or chocolate will do, and they don’t make their bfs carry their bags either. Have you ever seen a Korean guy hold his gf’s bags for her?
9) Chinese women in general are not as sweet or loving to their bf or husband. They usually have more pictures of their dog than they do with their bf. – Korean women are very sweet and loving to their bfs, often take couple pictures together, hold on to their bf’s arms when they are walking and text or call their bfs all the time.
10) Chinese women are not loyal or dedicated to their race. Proof of this is how many of them are marrying Korean guys these days, ironically. They are more likely to marry outside their race. – Korean women’s #1 choice for marriage is always Korean men. I have never met a Korean girl who would not at least consider their race for dating or marriage. They rarely marry outside their race.
11) Chinese women expect the man to do everything around the house like cooking and cleaning. – Korean women will not expect this since in Korean culture the women usually do that while the man works. Proof of this is that there’s no housewives in China whereas in Korea there’s lots of housewives.
12) Chinese women think Korean women are ‘fake’ because they wear makeup or do plastic surgery, a huge irony considering how many Chinese women photoshop their pictures online or go to Korea to do surgery. – Korean women have better opinions of Chinese women they often praise Chinese women for being beautiful. This is coming from girls who have never met the other race but goes a long way to show their differences in personality.
13) Chinese women think the key to raising their children well is to be Tiger moms – raise them as strict as possible and give them a good beating once in a while if they fall out of line. – Korean women are not Tiger moms and treat their children with love and respect.
14) Chinese women are very strong and independent and will often boss men around. – Korean women are more dependent, gentle, soft and sweeter to their bfs, husbands and men in general.
Now onto the second part of my post…
A couple things happened in the past few weeks that really put a dent into my plans to move to Vancouver / find a Korean girlfriend.
1) President Trump said that he would renegotiate NAFTA and is clamping down on immigration
2) I got laid off at Walmart
Yes thats right, so I’m out of a job right now. And yes it came suddenly because our whole team at Walmart Grocery was basically duped into believing there would be a future for us, and then I got a meeting invite with the engineering head and just like that our whole team got canned. It sucks, but what makes it worse is that Walmart was the last big company to allow remote work.
So now I have to find a smaller company or startup that allows for remote work, so its definitely not going to be as easy as before. What’s more, the uncertainty around Trump means my TN visa could possibly not even exist a few months from now, and the H1B visa will also go through additional restrictions and/or scrutiny.
I don’t really want to stay in SF more, for the reasons being that SF is way too gentrified and there’s too many engineers, too few women, and not enough things to do. If I was married or had a girlfriend I could be fine here, but as a single guy in his late 20s, time is running short and I can’t stay here for a long time and see my plans for starting a family get wasted here.
Moving back to Canada is also painful because the salary in Toronto and Vancouver for IT jobs is less than half what I make now, in USD. I’d be taking a 50% pay cut for moving back.
So basically I have a few ways to go from now on:
Plan A) Find a remote job here in California, rent out my apartment, and work remotely from Vancouver. This is the best option, if I can find a good remote job. This way I can get California salary + rental income and still be in Canada. I can stay in California until I save up enough money to buy a place in Vancouver without getting another mortgage.
Plan B) Find a regular job here in SF. This plan probably gives me the highest salary, but I’ll have to put up with living in SF for a few years more. I can buy a place in Vancouver without getting another mortgage, but since Vancouver laws means I get taxed on empty places, I’ll have to rent out that place immediately after buying.
Plan C) Rent out my apartment, and find a regular job in Vancouver. This is a last resort option, since I make the least salary with this option, but it will work regardless of Trump’s decisions on work visas since I don’t need a work visa to rent out my place. I will need to take out a mortgage to buy that Vancouver place though.
So yes, the plan is in order from A to C, with C being the last resort option if Trump does any radical changes with the TN or H1-B visa. Plan A is preferable, but also the hardest since it requires finding a good remote job, which there isn’t many of.
For now, we’ll see what happens… hopefully things dont have to change too much. And yes, moving back to Korea is pretty much out of the question since I have no plans to buy property in Korea and thus have to spend more money paying rent, plus work additional hours due to Korean work culture..
So I’ve been working in my new company, ezRez Software, for a few weeks now, and been in San Francisco for roughly a month. How do I feel about things? Well, they say that the grass is always greener on the other side. I do think that there is truth in here. I came to California expecting my life to have a significant upgrade, learn new things, make new friends, enjoy nice weather, etc. I now have to revise my expectations downwards a bit. While working at the new company is exciting, people are friendly, and I have a place close to work, there is a few things that disappointed me about moving here.
Weather is colder than I thought. Living in SF can get cold in the summer. While Toronto is currently experiencing a heat wave of ~100 degrees, SF is a cooler 50s-60s. This takes some getting used to. So much for hot California weather… maybe I was thinking of SoCal.
Immigration here is difficult. The US makes it as hard for people to immigrate here as possible. Canadian credit doesn’t matter here, so I had to begin a new. Everything expensive requires your SSN and a security deposit if you don’t have credit. Also, since I’m on a TN visa, if my employment situation ever changes, I have to leave the country and apply for a new one. I also cannot apply for a green card while on a TN.
Cost of Living. SF must be the most expensive city in the US to live in. I thought Toronto was expensive, but California has the same tax rates, and some foods like cheese, are even more expensive. I don’t get it… aren’t a lot of foods produced in California? Why does it cost more here than in Canada? Rent prices in the city range from $1000 to $3000+ for a studio room. Yeah, there goes a significant portion of my paycheck…
Loneliness. I never thought about how lonely it would be here. No family and friends here. I always thought I could make new friends, but I miscalculated on how exactly I could do that. It’s always fun to go to new events and meet people, but you can’t exactly ask them to hang out with you after meeting them once. There are only a couple co-workers around my age, and I’m unsure of whether I can just ask them to hang out with me either. And being the shy guy I am, I’ve never considered going to bars or clubs to meet people…
So yeah. The working life… it seems depressing when you think that you’d be working and/or looking for work the rest of your life. Currently, I don’t have any social life due to just moving here, and so my life is just working right now. But I guess that’s what I signed up for when I moved here. Hopefully things will improve as time goes on.