Categories
General

Update – Social Isolation

It’s been a while since I’ve done an actual update right? I usually just repost my Quora answers here and don’t really do actual blog posts anymore.

Well, that’s probably because for the past 2 years nothing especially interesting has happened in my life besides depressing things. In Jan 2018, I made a life-altering mistake to take out 3 personal loans to dump into crypto – because I thought it was only a temporary dip – turned out to be a full on crash – I lost 80% of my crypto money – including $80k in profit. that means I had lost in total about $150k in crypto – a fact I verified by looking at my Gemini ballances. In order to pay back the loan, I was forced to renovate + sell my SF apartment. Then I subsequently lost the proceeds / profit of my SF apartment in a massive crypto scam (QuadrigaCX). So I ended up in Vancouver with basically nothing, no money/savings, no job, no friends, and desperate for a place to live. At the time I needed to find a place fast so I looked on craiglist, and found the cheapest place that was stiill in Vancouver and the landlord knew that I was in a desperate situation and took advantage of me. 

I only lived in that Vancouver place for like half the year, since I was traveling in Korea/San Francisco/Toronto other times and moved out early. The place was terrible, it was a one room that I had to share with 5-6 other housemates, the bed was crawling with bugs when I got there, and the landlord was a total asshole. I was so sick of that landlord. He was completely paranoid, he installed a kitchen camera to take videos of people to make sure they are following the house rules which is ridiculous and probably illegal, always blamed me for breaking house rules, fined me several times for things as small as leaving dishes in the sink too long, raised my rent because I ‘used too much electricity’, took all the rent in cash (probably evading taxes I figure), and to top it all off, he took 85% of my security deposit in the end. I should have known. He wrote in the contract that he was entitled to all my security deposit if I broke any house rules – I didn’t read the contract carefully enough as I was desperate at the time – and gave him two months rent ($1800 CAD) for first + last month’s rent. Then in Feb, he asked me to pay the month’s rent and I told him, I thought he just deduct it from my security deposit and he said ‘that’s not how it works’. In retrospect, I should have known he was trying to get more money from me. It doesn’t make sense for him to ask me for more money since that security deposit included the last month’s rent. Anyways like a sucker, I paid him. Later that month I moved to Burnaby as I found a new place – MUCH better – not only living by myself, but now in a nice high rise building with a lovely balcony and view as well – the space is also MUCH bigger – it’s a big studio and the rent was only $500 more. But my landlord kept hounding me. Somehow a piece of garbage I had thrown out before, came back into the house and my landlord of course blamed me for it, so I had to pay $40 in Uber rides just to go back to my old apartment and throw out that piece of garbage. Then later that month I had to give him back the keys as my contract was up. He asked me to also give back the copy of the contract he had gave me for some reason. This was weird – he already had a copy of the contract why would he ask  for mine? Anyways just like a fool – I gave him the keys and contract back and he told me he was keeping the majority of my security deposit because I had ‘broken too many house rules’ which makes NO sense as I was only in the house half the year anyways! and it’s not liike I broke those rules on purpose. What I should have done was kept the keys from him until he gave me back my security deposit – what could he have done? evict me? I was already out of that place. Call the cops? I didnt do anything wrong. I should have stood up for mysellf more. Instead I let my landlord bully me and take all my money – like a sucker. Got scammed right after getting scammed. What a fool I  am.

I also finally got my taxes done – it was really complicated because of the QuadrigaCX scam last year – I ended up writing off a total of $576,000 CAD – I can apply half as capital losses to my capital gains in the future indefinitely. In addition – I finally sold the rest of my crypto holdings for $48k last month – this was when BTC finally went back up over $10k. I took the chance and sold everything. This was much less than what I could have gotten had I sold last summer – I would have made at least $55k-60k had I sold last summer – but I was a fool back then and was waiting for $100k for some reason. This year I wanted to really make amends for some of my previous mistakes I made over the past 2 years. One of those mistakes was holding crypto too long. So anyways, I took a loss of about $72k USD – I had initially invested $150k USD in crypto, but after subtracting everything I got out of crypto during the last 3 years, my total loss was $72k USD (or $96k CAD). That’s additional capital losses I will claim on my next year’s tax return, giving me a total of (($570k + $96k) / 2) = $333k CAD I can apply to capital gains in the future. This is probably enough to cover any capital gains for the next 20 years for me. 

In addition, I also decided to reconcile my relationship with my old friend Ethan – the main reason being that it was difficult to meet a friend who shares similar interests. Yes, I know I wrote a massive blog post about this guy in May 2018 about how much of  a douchebag he was – but I came to realize that I can probably put up with this just to have somebody I can talk to about tech, asia and games – it’s quite difficult to meet a good friend like that actually. So this was another mistake from the past 2 years I mended. 

 Speaking of making friends – yes it has been very difficult to me making friends in Vancouver. Part of the reason is because I work from home, so there’s no coworker ties to introduce me to new friends, which is how I made my best friend Tony in San Francisco. Another reason is the meetups in Vancouver are not as big as the meetups in SF even, and definitely not as big as the ones in Seoul. The last time I went to a meetup was last Oct, and the last time I met up for an actual event with my Vancouver friends was last June. That’s a long time ago. After last Oct, I was consistently busy after then. Nov – I was in San Francisco / took a Bahamas trip with my family. Dec – I was in Toronto / Orillia. Jan – I was in San Francisco, then I had to take a trip with my gf since she visited me in Vancouver, to Banff. Feb – I had to deal with moving all my stuff over to my new Burnaby apartment – took at least 2 rental cars over the course of 2 weekends to do it. And now this month – first I had to take a trip to Arizona  for a company retreat and then – coronavirus pandemic – can’t really go outside or go to any events much. 

So yeah.. quarantined just like everyone else at the moment. It doesn’t affect me all that much since I work from home and  am an introvert so its not too much of a lifestyle change from me – but it does make it even more difficult for me to meet anyone new in Vancouver. In addition, I have no idea when I can visit my gf in Korea. We’ve been trying to do video calls consistently but of course, I need to physically meet her sooner or later. I really hope the COVID-1 9 pandemic will subside soon but who knows – currently it’s affecting everything from our social relationships to the stock market (which I am currently shorting at the moment because I think a recession is inevitable at this point). I haven’t met anyone I know physically in almost a month (last time was my co-workers in Arizona). We’ll see how much longer this can go on, but it really feels like we’re living in a dystopian / post apocalyptic world where everyone outside are essentially infected zombies. 

Categories
General

2019: Year in Review

Every year, I do a year in review, with highlights and lowlights and a summary so this is my year in review for 2019.

Highlights

-I found a great job at a great company with great co-workers at Kong
-Had a great time in Korea this year, met all my friends again, made a Korean gf
-Went on a nice cruise with my family this year

Lowlights

-Still recovering from all the financial issues I suffered last year mainly losing the majority of my life savings because of the QuadrigaCX crypto exchange collapse
-More difficult to make new friends in Vancouver than I expected

Summary

I don’t have a whole lot of updates for this year, because this year was pretty much a recovery year from the disaster that was last year. Last year took away my San Francisco apartment, my life savings, and most of my best friends away from me. I started out this year with almost no savings, no house, unemployed and with no friends in Vancouver.

The start to this year was really rough. I was told that the exchange that I used last year to transfer my savings over to Canada, QuadrigaCX had gone under with over $215M CAD owing to creditors once the CEO died under mysterious circumstances in India. The rest of this year was basically waiting for updates from the ongoing lawsuit – Ernst&Young being the bankruptcy trustee and Miller Thomson being the lawyers.

So far they are still processing claims, and have been doing so for the last 4 months with no updates to us creditors so far. They have roughly $33M + $12M (the CEO and his widow enriched themselves by purchasing Nova Scotia property so there’s extra assets here) for us but roughly $7M I estimate will be in legal fees paid to EY and MT. After that there’s roughly $38M left in the pot for us creditors, depending on how much people claim. There’s $215M in total claims outstanding but me and several other creditors theorize that at least half of those claims are not real or left on the exchange by money launderers. And then there’s the CRA (Canada’s IRS) waiting to take even more money from us.
So I calculated it and I think roughly we’ll get back anywhere from 15% (worst case scenario) to 40% (best case)  with 25-30% being the most likely percentage we’ll get back. I have no idea how long this process will take but hopefully sometime next year we’ll get it back.

So that being the backdrop, a hammer that was dropped on me at the beginning of the year, you can see the rest of the year takes a backseat to this whole lawsuit thing.
I did manage to luck out finding a great SF company to work for (Kong Inc) that I could work remotely for, and everything about that company I liked better than my previous company. My manager, coworkers, the type of work I was doing etc I learned way more in 6 months than I did in a whole 1.5years at my previous company.
And I did manage to have some time to travel to Korea for a bit and that was a really great experience, much better than last year (God really had it in for me last year), got to meet all my friends again and dated a bunch of girls, etc it really transported me back to the days when I lived there (2015-2016). I also got a chance to go on a cruise with my family (to the Bahamas) which I haven’t traveled with since late 2013 and especially getting to see my brother again is nice since he’s usually busy and very isolated since he lives in Winnipeg.

But once I got back to Vancouver, it became lonely again, and I think it might be just because its hard in general to make friends once you’re out of school but even harder when you work from home and have no co-workers to really talk to. At least in San Francisco I still have one really good friend to hang out with. In Vancouver I didn’t know anyone. I tried going to some language exchange meetups but the people I meet there are always very transient, they change every time so its hard to meet someone stable.
I did get into a relationship with a girl I met in Korea but its long distance and that’s always really difficult to maintain. I hope I can though, because she seems much more stable than my ex gf was, and much more mature (she’s 3 years older than me). On top of that, I don’t really like my landlord and am looking to find a new place to move to next year. He is incredibly strict with his house rules and seems always ready to fine me since he blames me for  everything that happens around the house (I have 6-7 housemates) and raised my rent by $100 because he said I ‘stayed at home too much thus using more electricity’ which is ridiculous. 

So yeah this year is mostly a recovery year, but after the initial shock that happened early this year and lucking out into finding a good company to work for, the rest of the year went reasonably smoothly. Let’s hope that next year will continue to go smoothly and hopefully I’ll have some luck finally with crypto (I still have some reserves but its down a whopping 80% and I missed a good chance to sell it in the summer, hopefully it will go back up next year), and with the lawsuit as well (oh please don’t let that $215M in claims be a real number, hopefully most of those big claims are fake).

Otherwise I’m just slowly saving up money again trying to afford a place in Vancouver eventually. This process might be considerably faster or slower depending on how much crypto goes up/down next year and how much/when money I get back from the QuadrigaCX lawsuit…

 

Categories
General Music

Back to boring everyday living again…

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?