Friday, May 3, 2019

Bert User Guide




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Greetings! You have made the correct decision in becoming friends (or more) with my favourite human: Bertram Leonard Brandon The Third. Before you begin your journey with this adventurous nomad, I feel that you need to know a few things. Car manuals come with instructions; blenders give directions on how to blend at maximum capacity for your family’s health and future; spaceships show you how to blast-off. This is a manual for dealing with Bert. No refunds or exchanges will be processed.

Bert is a sensitive soul. He has grown up with loving parents, a brother and sisters who care for him very much. He has not sought or ever dealt with harsh criticism during his time on this planet. He is well aware that there is much to criticize but he does genuinely want you to have a successful relationship with him. He wants to make your life better in any way that he can with his limited skill set; his heart in the right place. This is not always enough. He can be extremely stubborn when faced with either challenging situations or when he is clearly wrong (which is frequent). He does not operate at full capacity when even slightly hungry, tired or stressed. Fascinatingly, he gets thirsty often which may or may not be a future medical condition worth discussing with your new acquaintance.

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He has spent a considerable amount of time with his brother who sets a great example and who looks up to. His sisters have been nothing but kind and supportive of his life abroad. He speaks with his mom more often than a regular adult male but she brings joy into his life so you would be lucky to meet her; she’s good people. Bert’s dad died when he was 19 and we are unsure how that has influenced his post dad life. While his dad loved his family very much, there are certain characteristics Bert has learned from his dad that need could learn and grow from. His competitiveness, slight anger and non-verbal tendencies come from that side. However, Bert is a better human after observing the importance of hard work, supporting or being the underdog, saving money, the importance of family and keeping an orderly lawn/garden.

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He is self-conscious about many things. He is not handy, has never been in a real fight to defend his or a mistress’s honour. He has lacked financial aptitude and restraint in the past which he is secretly concerned about re-becoming an issue in the future. He is unsure he will be a fit husband/dad due to him being a man. He says one of his priorities is becoming better with food and cooking but early results of these New Year’s Resolutions are not promising. His physical health is not optimal at this moment. He is not flexible, has poor endurance and is the last person you would want picking a lacrosse team for you. His French language skills have diminished considerably since grade 12 and is poor at greeting/goodbyes. This may be time to reconsider the role this man will play into your future.

Having said all that, there are a few positives in allowing him into your life. From my knowledge of the situation, he is honest, trustworthy, humorous, kind, adventurous, fun, pensive, reasonable, outgoing in certain situations, spontaneous and inquisitive. He is someone who will help you move, take you on a picnic or cheer you up after your wife leaves you. While Bert has not always learned from all of his mistakes, I believe he has learned valuable lessons about honesty, communicating, being open and transparent.

It is important to remember that Bert is a kid at heart. While he has been technically an adult for some time now, people who know him best would say he leans more towards being a student than a traditional teacher. He has spent the majority of his life alone which has taught him a lot about who he is, what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he is looking for in others.
Before I forget, his laugh may startle you. It comes out of nowhere. It has been known to cause some embarrassment with those that socialize with him out in public. He laughs at random times. For example, at a movie theater where nobody else laughs at a particular line in the move, BAM! Classic Bert laugh. He does not enjoy people mocking his distinct laugh so proceed with caution.
Bert loves babies. He believes they are incredibly cute and adorable. He can relate to kids because as we noted earlier, he basically is one. He will make faces at babies on the subway and play with children where it is socially allowed. While he adores kids, he is in no hurry to have any now, in the foreseeable future, or possibly ever. He loves his nieces and nephews very much and wishes he could spend more time with them.

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Other items to be aware of include his buying of bananas but rarely eating them, his ability to spill a cup of water if put anywhere near his feet, falling asleep with the light on, reluctance is speaking about his feelings, his inability to stay in a country longer than two years, his inability to tie a decent boat knot, the fact he would be a terrible detective due to his lack of attention to detail, he is easily agitated, is the last person you want making sure the rope to the water ski doesn’t get stuck in the boat’s motor which ultimately could kill someone’s best friend’s wife, the possibility of putting dish soap into an actual dishwasher, not finding a new job before quitting his current job, his ineptitude at stopping while skating, his poor drawing skills and questionable tattoo choices are all weak points for this being born May 18th, 1986. For those interested in personality quizzes, he is an Enneagram 7 and a Myers Briggs ISFP.


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While this may seem complicated, Bert certainly isn’t. As long as you love him with all your heart, make time for him, laugh at his jokes, listen to the occasional country song together, drink lemonade together, talk about books you read and quotes you like, play sports, climb mountains and explore waterfalls, feed him mango, bagels and Honey Nut Cheerios, learn how to gently criticize/influence his behavior, let him think he is in control when clearly he isn’t, let him have his alone time, accept that he will watch more football than he should and cares far too much about his fantasy football team and Dallas Cowboys, understand that he can be forgetful and to remind him to take his time, make a list and to visit the dentist regularly, as well as being open to travel and life abroad, your experience with this user will ultimately be a positive one. I wish you good luck on this adventure. 

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'Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom'

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My services are no longer needed



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Looks like my time as an employed person will be coming to an end come June. Is it my fault my school is closing? Yes. Should I be concerned about life without an income? Certainly! What am I going to do about this problem? Probably nothing.

For a variety of reasons, my school is closing and taking my paycheck with it. On the plus side, I have had a few months to construct a plan. I will give you a few seconds to take a stab at what my new plan will entail.


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If one of your first guesses is travel, you would most certainly be correct. I don't feel like I have explored enough countries in my time since leaving home. I could have discovered many more places if stupid Thailand wasn't so appealing. I will be taking a (short) Thailand break and exploring some countries in Asia. My plan changes hourly but as of this moment, I am considering spending July in Shanghai while tinkering with some ways to make money online to prolong this period of being a deadbeat. I have heard great things about Sri Lanka and flights from here to there are reasonable ($450ish) so I am planning on spending a month discovering Sri Lanka (alone if you can imagine). My next stop will be a return to Indonesia. Indonesia is a massive country that should be easy on my wallet if I plan it correctly. I will also learn to surf in either Sri Lanka or Indonesia because I feel like I haven't learned a new skill lately. After a month or possibly two in Indonesia, I have my eyes set on Australia.

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While my experience in that part of the world hasn't been ideal to date, I believe Australia can give me what I think I need: English speakers, clean air, nature and a Canadian lifestyle without having to go back to Canada. Will this plan change? Almost certainly. Will I definitely make a mistake, regret it and blame someone other than myself? Indubitably! Is this a good plan? Only time will tell.

Living in China has been a trip. I love Shanghai more than I thought I would. I got out of debt, met different people, traveled and got to hangout with high school kids every day. I lived all by myself for the first time which was a real delight and semi learned how to use chopsticks. The fact that I will have spent just about the same amount of time overall in Thailand as I have in China is pretty wild. While Thailand has my heart, my lungs will always remember their time here.

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I'm not sure humans were meant to live in a city with 23 plus million people. I think it makes people act like savages. There are many young foreigners in town getting wild each night and dating in Shanghai is not an experience I would recommend to others. While this might be a 2019 thing, people here are certainly looking out for themselves and Shanghai will get you one way or another.
I just went to the rugby 7's in Hong Kong last weekend. It is the most hyped weekend in Hong Kong. Nations from around the world congregate to play a fast style of rugby, dress up, cheer and drink.

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I have been wanting to experience it since I heard of the event. This year I finally had the time and the money. While it is an experience and I'm glad I went, I wouldn't make it an annual event like some people do. Most people arrive in the south stands by 930am and stay for as long as they can last. The costumes are fun and the rugby is entertaining but I feel it is a tad overrated. I couldn't see a clock indicating the score or time left so it made it hard to understand what was happening. The south side stands were packed filled with drunk Australians (a glimpse into my future) and people drinking like they've just found water in the Sahara. 
For more of an accurate depiction of rugby 7's, watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vepUlBAqfb0

I will be making another Hong Kong trip this weekend to play in a lacrosse tournament. 

"Oh Bert, how is being the captain of the lacrosse team going this year?"
"Oh, thanks for asking friend. I drafted a team and we have lost all 6 games so far. Everyone hates me and I'm not allowed to be captain ever again. Talk soon!"

In other news, my favourite day is rapidly approaching. May 18th, I will be turning 33. That is the update on that.

People sure do seem to like this Game of Thrones show.

In October, I will regret not having a job and will be super stressed about money and life so check back again in a few months to see that prediction come true.

I don't love Youtube and don't follow too many people but I just found Matt D'Avella and find his videos enlightening. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ24N4O0bP7LGLBDvye7oCA

I heard a great quote today. I will share it without sharing my analysis because my analysis will certainly come off as negative.

It is difficult to overstate the unimportance of practically everything 

That is long enough of an update. I wish you all good health and good fortune. Appreciate your jobs and income while you have it. It may not last as long as you think.



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The north wind made the Vikings

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tim Hortons comes to Shanghai



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Took a little writing break but that can’t go on forever. March is a time for 
writing and by God I’m going to write. It’s 2019! It’s almost spring! I live in China. What a time to be alive. What’s the point of this post? Trending towards no point…

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I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately about how important community is in our lives. A big reason people are unhappy and unsatisfied is because they don’t feel valued in their jobs, don’t feel like they have a purpose or are engaged with a community. If you are not feeling 100%, ask yourself who is in your community, how to expand it and how to help others. I’m realizing the key to feeling better isn’t to focus even more on yourself and your own needs but to play a bigger role in the lives of those that surround you.

It’s easy to blame others for past relationships, bad situations or not getting the result you want. I’ve been asking myself lately, How might I be wrong? Or what could I have done differently? In almost any case, blame can usually be shifted to some minor or major way to me. Consider the role you have played in the outcomes you have received.


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I’m reading a book titled ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ by Dale Carnegie.

Quotes I like so far:

One grain of sand at a time. One task at a time.
At one time, half of all the beds in our hospitals were reserved for patients who had collapsed under the crushing burden of accumulated yesterdays and fearful tomorrows.

You and I are standing this very second at the meeting place of two eternities: the vast past that has endured forever, and the future that is plunging on to the last syllable of recorded time. We can’t possibly live in either of those eternities-no, not even for one split second. But by trying to do so we can wreck both our bodies and our minds. So let’s be content to live the only time we can possibly live: from now until bedtime.

One of the most tragic things that I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.

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If you have a worry you should:
1-      Ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that can possibly happen?’
2-    Prepare to accept it if you have to.
3-    Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
Another book I’m reading is by Russell Brand about addiction and recovery. Points he makes I like are:

You can never quench your spiritual craving through material means.
Gratitude for where you are and what you have is one important coordinate for returning our consciousness. Similarly acceptance. We are where we are supposed to be.

If we want forgiveness, we must forgive.

I can see now that if I am physically using a woman, when I know that it will be of no benefit to either of us, beyond short-term pleasure-which is, let’s face it, an extremely effective and diverting reward system-then I am participating in ‘bad faith’ activity. That is because I now know that I cannot be fulfilled by transient pleasures and that as an awakening man, my attitude towards women is to be one of nurture, kindness and generosity.

Love is the answer.

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I was supposed to be in Laos for two weeks then Thailand for about 10 days. In a shocking turn of events, I only spent 5 days in Laos and the remaining time in Thailand. Long story short, I had to take a bus to the northeast part of Laos. Bus was supposed to take 22 hours. Got to my guesthouse 35 hours later. After I did the Gibbon Experience (3 day zip-lining through the jungle) I decided that since Thailand was a twenty minute drive away, it would be irresponsible not go there.
I essentially spent a week on an island and spent a total time of talking to other staff/Thai people and random tourists on taxi boats for about 5 minutes. I made a few phone calls to my family and friends in Canada but I basically didn’t talk to anyone for a week.  Part of me really enjoyed the solitude. The other part was unsurprising loneliness. I do not like approaching strangers and I don’t want to eat with a bunch of random people. After my second day of not approaching or meeting anyone new, I thought I might never talk to another new human again so I continued the experiment. Almost a week went by before I came out of my Bert shell. Feels good to be back to a reality that involves social interaction. Community people. Community.


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I’ve been watching Ray Donavan lately on Netflix. It is kind of a mix of Californication, and Sopranos. Ray Donavan fixes problems; he’s a fixer. I also just watched Friends from College which was good and recommend A Typical.


I’m back to real life in Shanghai. I have nothing to complain about.
Save your money. Live within your means. Get your steps in. Oh and Tim Hortons is now in Shanghai.
I wish you good health and good fortune.


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‘Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is.’



Dale Carnegie