Where did the summer go? Don’t get me wrong, I love the change of seasons. I love fall clothes but I’m just not fond of fall weather and the summer just flies by.
Its been a while since I’ve just sat down to write. So now that I have a few minutes I thought I’d catch you up on life with me. As the title implies this, isn’t the most elegantly stated post I’ve written. This my friends, is a brain dump.
Let’s start with…
The LCBO Scotch Tasting
My wife treated me to a scotch tasting a few months ago. We were treated to premium single malts from some of the well know scotch distilleries in Scotland. If you ever have the opportunity to do this, it’s an excellent experience. It was a great opportunity to learn about the whisky production process and how small adjustments to the process and ingredients can affect the taste, colour, and smell.
- Highland Park 21 Year Old (47.5% alc.) – Orkney Islands — It was very neat or with water. Great finish, light peat nose and palate.
- Laphroaig 18 Year Old (non-chill filtered, 48% alc.) – Islay — For those who enjoy more peat, like myself, this is the one for you. It’s smooth and I love that strong peaty smell. The longer the whisky ages in the casks more the peaty nose and palate diminishes. So the first thing I did after the tasting was purchase a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year. That’s strong!
I found Glenfiddich 21 Year Old just okay and I didn’t like The Macallan 18 Year Old at all.
The one surprise gem was an inexpensive Welsh whisky recommended by the guy sitting beside me. It’s call Te Bheag Whisky and goes for $37 at the LCBO. It proves that you can get quality in the $30 to $50 range
Marriage is tough. What makes it hard now is different than what made it hard in the past, but it’s still tough – no matter how you slice it. Over the summer my wife and I have had a couple tough conversations come up. The first was on the subject of religion. No surprise there. My wife is Jewish and I’m a Christian. We aren’t fanatical about our respective religions. We both believe that religion provides the guidelines for life. We both respect each other’s religion. I respect all religions. At their very essence, all major religions have a moral code. We all strive to be better people. We all want to take care of our children, respect the earth and love our neighbours. The basic tenants of all the major religions are good, valid and positive. I truly believe that.
So the tough conversation wasn’t about what is best or what is right. The conversation was about when… when does the exposure to religious teachings begin? Exposure to the traditions is easy. Exposure to the teachings… that can be difficult and confusing. We are both still learning about each other’s religion. How we introduce it to our children, that will be the topic of many discussions in the near future. The conversation this summer was just the first of many.
How Old Do I Actually Look? (Part 1) – My Trip to Dallas
I was in Dallas this summer on a business trip and I caught a Rangers game while I was down there. It turned out to be a funny ‘How old do I look?’ experience.
After rushing off the plane, picking up our rental car and checking into the hotel, we didn’t have any time to eat before heading to the game. So as soon as we got to the ball park, I stopped at the concession stand. I love southern cooking so when I saw a stand that sold po’ boys I was all over it. I ordered my food with a big can of Coors Light. To my surprise, instead of immediately enjoying my meal and drink, I was asked for ID. I was dressed casually and had sunglasses on, plus it’s a common policy at stadiums to ID anyone 30 or younger. So I wasn’t surprised. I took off my glasses and handed her my driver’s license. She looked at it and then looked at me, then looked at my ID again. Yes, it’s a foreign ID, I’m Canadian. But really, there is no way I can be mistaken for anything younger than 30. If 21 is the legal drinking age, then I should be able to drink, run a bar and operate fire arms just based on a visual assessment of the grey hairs in my head. However, she needed to talk with her manager. So to settle the argument, I presented my passport. After close examination of both documents the manager told me that they would sell me the beer “this time” because it had already been opened. But next time I’d need American ID.
Lesson learned. On future trips to Texas, if I’m interested in drinking beer with this baby face, I’ll need to either marry an American and get a green card (not my wife’s preferred option), obtain high quality fake ID (I’m sure I read somewhere that using fake ID is an executable offense in Texas), or get drunk at the hotel first.
I love Montreal. I love the food, the architecture, the bars and the culture. The men, old and young, are so well dressed. Or, I should say well put together. I saw one very well put together guy who was probably in his 60’s but looked like a 40-year-old. He was driving a classic sports car with an age appropriate female companion, windows open and playing jazz. I thought to myself I hope I’m that cool when I’m that age.
Unfortunately, this trip to Montreal was to visit my brother in the hospital.
He injured his foot in a series of unfortunate, minor accidents to the same spot. Then, when he went to the walk-in clinic for treatment, he ended up getting an infection in his foot.
Anyway, I went to visit him and keep him company while he was off his feet. It was great to just hang out with him. We haven’t done that for a long time. I realized that if we weren’t brothers, he’d still be a very good friend of mine.
Oh yeah, I also had my first 5 Guys burger. Wow, it was good! I just noticed this week that 5 Guys is coming to Toronto soon – Yonge and Dundas. That’s going to be a problem…
How Old do I Actually Look? (Part 2) – Century 21
I visited New York many, many, many times. I even lived there briefly back in 2006/07. But in all my time there I had never been to Century 21. For those who don’t know, Century 21 is a department store in lower Manhattan. Right across the street from Ground Zero. They feature deeply discounted designer clothing. The only problem is that it’s super busy. How busy you ask?
Well, its like Ridiculous and Crazy had a love child. While Crazy was pregnant she drank, smoked and even dabbled in recreational drugs. When she finally gave birth to the child, Ridiculous walked out on her and Crazy decided to abandon the baby in New York. The child grew up in an unforgiving foster care system. As soon as he was old enough, he ran away for a life on the streets. As we know the streets can harden you and this child became angry, selfish and inconsiderate. This child grew up to be Saturday afternoon at Century 21.
That is how busy it was.
Well as I walked through the store being my polite, accommodating Canadian best, a young woman approached me and asked if I’d like to apply for a Century 21 VIP loyalty card. She said if I signed up I could us it right away and get a discount on this purchase. Well hey, the only thing I like more than getting stuff, is getting stuff cheap. So I signed up.
She asked me a few questions. I could tell she was flirting with me. I’m still aware of these things. Name, address and email. Then she asked me my date of birth. I told her. July 10th 1972. No shame in my game. I say it loud and proud. I’m 40-years-old!
She became ticked off. Almost angry. She snapped back, “I don’t care how old you are you know”. “It’s not a big deal.”
I was confused. She thought I was lying about my age? So I asked. She thought I was much younger.
Despite a lot of grey hair. I mean, a lot of grey hair. I still look like a young guy. Maybe I have a chance at being like that cool 60-year-old Montreal senior that looked like a well dressed middle-aged man.
I Hate Work Right Now!
I’ve always worked in finance. From insurance to mutual funds to private banking. But I only got into investment banking, the client facing side of the business in 2006. So let me put a little context around that. I had one year of seeing (not experiencing, just seeing) the good life before the bottom fell out in 2007. And boy did I have a great seat to watch the bottom fall out. I was on the Credit Trading desk in New York in early 2007 when the first rumblings about sub-prime mortgages began. I wondered if I’d still have a job in 5 years but I wasn’t particularly worried. By 2008 I was back in Toronto and Lehman Brothers had totally blown up. Everyday I wondered if that was the day I’d get fired. When the bonus time rolled around I was happy just to have a job. Since then there has never been a 6 month period where I haven’t worried about getting fired or getting an extreme pay cut at least once. I’m getting burned out and its not from the actual work. The constant threat of job cuts and pay cuts has created a toxic environment here. Guys in their 50’s don’t want to share information or mentor younger people. The younger people resent the older people for sticking around and blocking upward mobility. Motivation and morale is shot. Plus, the public hates bankers.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ll go after this. The roller coaster is becoming too much.
My Goals For the Year
I’m 40-years-old now.
I said I would. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve been saying I’ll post my goals on Project 40. I’ve done everything else short of it. But my goals, they’re very personal.
However, I made a deal with Pat. If he posted his, I’d post mine. So here they are.
You’ll notice a theme, health, fitness and financial security.
Work out 3 times per week
Visit the doctor for a full check up (at 40-years-old this includes the dreaded prostate exam)
Maintain blood pressure at 125/80 (get my blood pressure checked regularly)
Get a massage quarterly
Play winter and spring basketball
Double the kids’ education savings this year
Create an emergency reserve fund
Go on a family trip with all the families (Pat’s and Greg’s family)
Take a Toastmaster course
Take a leadership/volunteer role in a charitable organization
Buy a new home
There it is. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
So, we’re up to date. I have a few more stories on my trip to New York that I’ll include in a separate course. In the near future I’ll post about health issues all men our age should be thinking about. Finally, we are approaching the one year anniversary of this blog. Writing this blog has really made an impact on my life. I have some ideas for the future that I’ll share shortly.
One last thing. When my wife read this post (she’s a wonderful proof-reader), she mentioned that none of my goals included her. That’s true. But its not because I wasn’t thinking of her. On the day before my birthday I thought and wrote about a lot of things. Not only did I write down my goals, I wrote down a list of reminders. Things that are important to me that I never want to forget or take for granted. I’m not going to share them all, but I’ll share two that I think she’ll find interesting.
I’ll make sure my wife always feels loved and protected.
I’ll make sure my family knows they are my top priority. Family first.
Life’s too short to lose sight of what’s important.
How’s that for an update?