Wynterland Band Review

With tickets sold out at the Blues Can last night, I headed over to Mikey’s Juke Joint on 12th Ave SW with a friend and enjoyed classic rock from Red Deer’s Wynterland.

This is an energetic cover band that does remarkably well at capturing popular riffs of yesteryear. I stayed for their first two sets and enjoyed classics such from Fleetwood Mac , Boston, April Wine, Pat Benatar, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Toto, and Journey among others less familiar. It’s a fun stage presence hosted by vocalist / guitarist Wynette Johnson. The biggest take away of the evening was song selection. I don’t know if they had kicked in all of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams, “Rhiannon”, and “Go Your Own Way” because of the news of FM’s concert postponement but if so, that was intuitive. Patrons obviously took to the rhythm section filling the dance floor from the outset. “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” from April Wine definitely had me reeling in Nostalgia as these guys delivered on this track pretty much note for note. 

When coming away from such an occasion, I reflect on the hard work that local musicians put into recreating popular songs for our enjoyment and the breadth of commitment required for band members to operate cohesively in this part time endeavour while maintaining full time careers. Although reduced …thankfully, Calgary has venues still available for these gigs. Go out and show your support. These bands need us.                

Karlovic Commends Calgary

The Challenger Tour’s inaugural stop in Calgary has culminated with a compliment from winner Ivo Karlovic. The 39 year old has become the oldest player in history to win a title on the Challenger Tour and in so doing has remarked that the Acadia Tennis Centre in Calgary is “unbelievable”.  Calgary should take great pride in this feedback given the number of establishments this man would have played in during his lengthy career.

I had attended early round matches this past week and can attest that the organization was excellent in the context of this being the first major event run from this facility. The quality of play was outstanding but attendance was lacklustre. Canadian top ranked players Filip Peliwo and Brayden Schnur graced the courts making an impact on the draw with early round wins. The 2016 junior player of the year, Casper Ruud, stood out magnificently with consistency and power from the ground. Borna Gojo may have surprised himself with a spot in the semis having come from qualifying. For those fans looking for free pro tennis, qualifying rounds served up incredible value. 

Next year I anticipate sponsors to follow up on their financial commitment by filling their boxes and showcasing the event. Local tennis enthusiasts who this year witnessed jaw dropping racquet skill and athleticism will next year undoubtedly share the merits of a ticket.       

Active or Passive Portfolio Management

I know, your broker is telling you not to worry, but had you purchased put options on any one of U.S. home builder stocks Pulegroup (PHM), D.R. Horton (DHI), Lennar Corp. (LEN), Toll Bros (TOL) or KB Homes (KBH), back in the summer, your trades would have experienced three figure percentage gains (yes, options give you this kind of leverage).  This is not the high flying darling sector of tech stocks but was one which has experienced particularly high volatility with guidance from the U.S Federal Reserve of rising interest rates. We all knew that higher rates were coming down the pipe.  This trade was not on the radar of your banker overseeing your portfolio.

When you head over and review that charts on these stocks, perhaps you’ll be thinking twice regarding the counsel from your banker and those lowly performing mutual funds in your portfolio.

The securities industry does not think that you have the sophistication required for trading in options. They may be right but with education and a desire to achieve a higher rate of net worth growth, you can acquire that education and discover those unique trades specific to any economic condition. You are responsible for your net worth growth. What are you doing about it other than showing up for work?

Facebook Unfollow Stats

You all have facebook friends you don’t follow in order to keep your facebook stream positive, fresh, and in line with your objectives of use. It’s a good thing. I’ve just run the stats on the percentage of facebook friends that I’ve unfollowed and it’s small but relevant. Here are criteria I use in order to determine if I unfollow someone:

  1. Is the platform being primarily used for commercial promotion or is there a surreptitious agenda?
  2. Do people actually sincerely share about themselves? Is it personal?
  3. Are the numbers of posts excessive and sometimes overly trivial?
  4. Can I learn something through the feed which is interesting which I wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere?
  5. Is vanity a theme?
  6. Is there a concentration toward political topics?
  7. Is the post original, a repost, or a re-circulated quote. If not original, is there context or has it been freshened with a personal addition?

Furthermore, people have the capacity for change and I’m still very interested in the lives of those few in which I’ve unfollowed of whom I may very well refollow. In fact, I’ve unfollowed one very good friend (LOL).

I suspect that most intuitively have similar criteria. Social media is evolving and frankly I’m fascinated by what I sometimes see. One friend here (you know who you are) was onto the social media bandwagon at its outset. In spite of facebook having security issues, people are resilient and continue to hang here which speaks to the power of the internet as a viable way of interpersonal connection.

Martin Armstrong’s Take On European Bonds

The thing I like about Martin is his dispassionate analysis of economic events possibly learned through experience documented in the movie, “The Forecaster”. Although he provides a political backdrop in identifying the climate inherent to his analysis of international capital flows, he does so with an emotional indifference even tinged with sarcasm suggesting a deeper sense of abomination for the mismanagement of global monetary policy.

In contrast to other contemporaries of Austrian economic theory, Armstrong does not foresee an imminent collapse in the equity markets, nor a short term devaluation of the U.S. dollar.  Armstrong sees the rising interest rate environment and cracks in the European bond markets as potential sources of support for the U.S. dollar over the short term given that big money will have few places other than U.S. equities to turn.

Armstrong also differs from his peers in referencing a direct correlation between rising rates and rising equities in the current environment. He cites problems with European bond yields as reason to flee for quality in U.S. equities.

Over the long term however, Armstrong sees the monetary system start to unravel come 2021 once emerging markets come to the realization that debt repayment in lofty valued U.S. dollars will become untenable. Alas, Armstrong falls in line with others espousing ultimate trouble for markets of all sorts other that real estate, precious metals and other tangible assets.

On the contrary, P.H.D. of statistics Jim Willie, suggests that contagion associated with European banking default could become the prime driver of economic chaos. My sense is that Willie’s time frame is shorter than that of Armstrong’s.  Both gentlemen see problems such as hyper inflation, unemployment, and corruption in under developed nations masked from media view as seeds adjunct for the culmination an economic reset.

 

Do Public Debts and Deficits Matter?

Yes they do. Are there consequences to never ending increases in government debt? Yes there are. Do we care like we should? No, we don’t? The Olympics are coming and the Canadian Press has indicated that governments will be on hook for three billion dollars associated with the endeavour. Your governments mean you. 

Gary Mason from the Globe and Mail has pointed out that when the Notley government took control, the Alberta debt was a manageable $11.9 billion. Given the unwillingness of this government to shave expenses during the collapse of oil royalty revenue, the debt is now projected to balloon to $71 billion dollars by 2020. Think about that for a minute….11.9 versus 71. Yup, it’s a 6 fold increase and the mayor of Calgary is worried about who leaked a report regarding Olympics planning. 

Greece in 2015 came to learn about what it means to spend beyond its means. Banks went on holidays and bank machines got turned off.  The health care system in Greece went on hiatus and austerity measures went into full effect. If creditors to a governmental jurisdiction come to learn that their investment is in jeopardy, terms will change to the detriment of debtors. You are your government.  Your government will ask you to come to their aid in the event of hardship in making payments. 

Your country also continues to spend like drunken sailors. Politicians love to match debt to GDP as if they can rationalize their continued increases in spending. The fact is that your country’s debt increases at a rate of $50 million per day. The taxes you send to Ottawa help cover the interest on this ever increasing debt.  Take $660 billion in federal debt while compounding a daily growth of 50 million per day and then factor in an increasing interest rate environment. Now, think again if the Olympics are worth the risk to you the taxpayer.     

Message For Aspiring Guitarists

As a preface, I write this not as an “accomplished guitarist” worthy of offering tips, but one who has embarked on a learning journey over the past 20 months. Hopefully, the following will aid anyone in taking up the instrument. 

You know someone who knows someone that simply picks up an instrument and they can play naturally “by ear”. I say “good for them” and this is certainly not I and will not be the majority of aspiring players. In fact, even for those who are gifted with musical intuition, there will be short cuts they will encounter in orchestrating melody, resolving a phrase, or identifying an appropriate chord should they obtain some kind of training. 

The sixth and fifth strings as bass notes, interval distances between notes and between strings, higher and lower octave notes as designed on the fret board through pattern, the CAGED system utilization as a means of deploying different chord voicings, basic open chords, barred chord structures, and scales up and down the neck are all guitar elements that very few will be able deploy without becoming versant through some training.

I suggest that the most enjoyment will come from applying mechanical fret board principles with some music theory and one’s inner sense of discovery. However; relying on the inner sense alone will simply lead to unnecessary barriers given the intricacies of the instrument. 

The good news is that the task is not ominous. There will be some memorization which is absolutely tenable. There will be some frustration in getting the fingers to go where they need to go. However; with practice, the neural system establishes the pathways. There will be a question regarding the time commitment to improve. You’ll conclude that part of your spiritual sustenance flows from a pursuit distinct from family and career. You’ll be wondering where to turn for your next nugget of fret board magic culminating in the arrival of new like-minded friends. You’ll also become fascinated by the equipment and accessories which produce varying sounds from the same notes. 

The biggest take away….you’ll learn humility if to date it’s been elusive!

Zombie State Accentuated in Canada October 17th

I’m highly suspect that the legalization of cannabis will become a net positive for Canada. In fact, I believe it will accentuate the zombie state. You see, already there are vast numbers of people in our society who have difficulty functioning at a high level because of a poor education system, a poor work ethic, poorly engrained values, an entitlement mentality, a daily hangover, and sleep deprivation.

In recent times, you don’t have to travel far to identify an indifferent customer service representative, a dispassionate reservation clerk, a vacant politician, a selfish tailgater, a stupefied crosswalk texter, or an ambivalent professional. Have these lower functioning souls been aberrated by mind altering substances, lesser cognitive acuity, or are they simply subjects of traits akin to the aforementioned? Could they be tempted away from ambition by the neural effects of cannabis ingestion? Could their ingestion of cannabis improve their productivity? I’m guessing you’re thinking, no.

You’ve seen the new urban train platforms with the big wide yellow bubble strips at the cusp of the train’s alley. You may think they’re there to aid the disabled, but perhaps they’re there in anticipation of the new cannabis legislation? Although I kid, not about the degree of smarts that your government awards you credit. Perhaps, your government would actually like to see you become more docile as a citizen through the cannabis habit so that you’ll become less abrasive in your opposition to their liberal agenda?

Your country, Canada, is a first world nation largely in part because of a value system which included the purity of a cerebral mind implemented in order to build and industrialize. In fact, the Canadian government prohibited alcohol when the seriousness of World War I became apparent. Times though have changed. A new industry has blossomed (pun obviously intended) and capitalists can now take pride in selling a product which has not historically been aligned with the freshness of mind synonymous with the capitalist ideal.

There will be those who will genuinely benefit from taking marijuana in order to alleviate symptoms of physiology. Unfortunately, there will be many who will wrongly look to it instead of within for answers pertinent to their homeostatic well being.

Nike’s “Believe In Something”

I agree. Believe in something and while doing it, undertake the process for change available to every other citizen in your country rather than grand standing at the sidelines of a sports venue.  Western democracies are endowed with the right of speech freedom. This right empowers citizens irrespective of race, sex, or religious affiliation to express themselves in the public domain. What is the public domain? Well, you can write a letter. You can recite your beliefs on a street corner. You can visit a government official. You can attend a political rally.  You can start a political party. You can espouse your beliefs in conversation. You can light up the twitter sphere with one liners. You can form an organization as a form of lobby. As you can see, the opportunity to freely express oneself has many outlets.

Colin Kaepernick had chosen a method of expression convenient to him in an apolitical domain – the football arena in a football uniform employed by a football franchise in the spotlight broadcast around North America via television. He chose an outlet reserved for an occasion other than politics and it was his right. The interesting thing about his behaviour is that his employer has the right to sanction him accordingly for behaviour not in accordance with his duty.  His behaviour will obviously impact the perceptions of other potential employers.  Some citizens loyal to his cause may empathize with his plight and even lavish him with praise of courage. However; it would be misplaced. I view Colin Kaepernick as a career martyr deserving of his plight. I consider him lazy for not pursuing the outlets of expression available to him with the same vigour in parallel to the apparent passion he brings to a cause.  

As for Nike’s endorsement of him, I’ve been avoiding Nike in stores for decades.

One Proud Sportsman Dismayed

I grew up on the sport field playing baseball. My dad taught me sportsmanship and he coached his fifth son part time whenever he was home early enough from the mine. The lesson was always simple….do your best, play by the rules, and bestow respect to your opponent and elders. In spite of your best, you will lose. Losses will inspire you to improve. 

Oftentimes, I reference a simple decision to terminate my cable television. This act has become so metaphoric in more ways than one. Thankfully, I did not witness the unfortunate turn of events at the women’s final of the U.S. Open today. The award ceremony and write up was enough.  The charade unfortunately reminds me of the unfortunate past of John McEnroe and his childishness of yesteryear. 

Elite athletes train throughout their youth to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Today, a new champion emerged but the euphoric sentiment of her biggest sporting achievement ever was simply hijacked from her today in the face of unsportsmanlike conduct of Serena Williams and the classless behaviour of New York spectators. To add insult to injury, Williams decided to become the protagonist in defeat by placating the crowd having sensed the void of joy in the hapless victor Naomi Osaka.

U.S. Open officials just couldn’t hold back by releasing a statement in the conclusion of the match referencing racquet smashing insult wielding Williams with the remarks “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud”.

Unfortunately, when the athletic arena is represented by narcissistic whining brats in addition to society’s other classless acts from which we’ve grown accustomed (I know who you’re thinking of), it’s disheartening. You simply hope to find virtue in sport.