Financial Terms Translation Key (Canadian Edition)

Much of the financial investment and savings advice I come across is U.S.-centric, so I always have to ask myself things like “what’s the Canadian equivalent to a 401(k), again?”

Here’s my reference sheet. Making it public to hopefully help some other Canadians interested in personal financial management.

Note: This is an incredibly basic “equivalence” list. Different laws dictate how each investment vehicle works in each country (and even different states/provinces). This is just how the overall concept of each vehicle generally equates in my mind with many many caveats involved (see the TFSA vs Roth IRA, for instance).


U.S. term Canadian term Definition
IRA RRSP/RSP pre-tax vehicle can hold non-cash investments; annual limit carries over.
Roth IRA TFSA after-tax investment vehicle with annual contribution limit; in Canada it can hold cash and the annual limit carries over.
529 plan RESP pre-tax contributions that save toward education goals of recipient of the plan
401(k) defined contribution pension Wikipedia article
401(a) defined benefit pension Wikipedia article

Terms I have yet to match are left blank. If I miss or misstate something in this table, let me know in the comments and I’ll update it.

237 words on the election

I care more about the institutions of government in this country than the political parties. These institutions are generally structured to protect the citizens and the country, while politicians work within them for their ideological ends.

In my mind, the greatest existential threat to Canada is any government that disregards or undermines our system of government. We can bounce back from most external things, but slow-boil systemic changes will shift the structure of Canada in ways we don’t even realize today.

In this current government I’ve seen a continued and increasing disregard for Parliament and the Supreme Court, including the Prime Minister publicly trying to convince us not to trust those institutions because they have challenged him for breaking or ignoring various laws. There are also the personal attacks to discredit the head of Elections Canada for defending our election laws (i.e. doing his job). And the huge issue of the lobotomizing of our collective public knowledge (see “Vanishing Canada”, in Maclean’s), which, intentionally or not, serves to undermine decision-making in government. (If we don’t have scientific research and data to base decisions on, we’re only making decisions based on political ideology.) Before considering the short-to-mid-term policies that everyone is promising, I had to eliminate Stephen Harper’s Conservatives from the options, because it’s evident to me they do not respect — and are actively undermining — the long-term system we are ultimately electing them to uphold. .:. Cross-posted to Facebook.

on the 42nd general election in Canada

Misappropriated from G.K. Chesterton’s 1926 book on distributionism, this passage struck me as rather appropriate words in the middle of an election. It was the closing to the chapter titled “On a Sense of Proportion”:

If a man wants what he calls a flower-garden he plants flowers where he can, and especially where they will determine the general character of the landscape gardening. But they do not completely cover the garden; they only positively colour it. He does not expect roses to grow in the chimney-pots, or daisies to climb the railings; still less does he expect tulips to grow on the pine, or the monkey tree to blossom like a rhododendron. But he knows perfectly well what he means by a flower-garden; and so does everybody else. If he does not want a flower-garden but a kitchen-garden, he proceeds differently. But he does not expect a kitchen-garden to be exactly like a kitchen. He does not dig out all the potatoes, because it is not a flower-garden and the potato has a flower. He knows the main thing he is trying to achieve; but, not being born a fool, he does not think he can achieve it everywhere in exactly the same degree, or in a manner equally unmixed with things of another sort. The flower-gardener will not banish nasturtiums to the kitchen-garden because some strange people have been known to eat them. Nor will the other class a vegetable as a flower because it is called a cauliflower. So, from our social garden, we should not necessarily exclude every modern machine any more than we should exclude every medieval monastery. And indeed the apologue is appropriate enough; for third is the sort of elementary human reason that men never lost until they lost their gardens: just as that higher reason that is more than human was lost with a garden long ago. — G.K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity

Rando Photo 1: Songkran on the Moat (3238)

I have a lot of photos that I do nothing with. That’s not to say they’re bad photos, just that I don’t do much with them once they’re off my camera.

Inspired by an offhand comment by Xeni Jardin, I’m just going to put some out there. Mostly for me, and if anyone else likes them then great.

So I picked a random number – 3238, and checked my hard drive for that photo.

Loi Krathong on the Moat, Chiang Mai (2011)
Loi Krathong on the Moat, Chiang Mai (2011) [IMGP3238]
My wife walked in while I had this photo open, and said “I recognize that — it’s Chiang Mai!” The Flight of the Gibbon banner was the giveaway, even though it’s an attraction we never took in.

This was in the middle of Loi Krathong. While we were there, we were told the whole festival was Loi Krathong — loi being the paper lantern and krathong being the “boats” made of coconut leaves and trunks, holding flowers and candles.

Wikipedia tells me that’s not entirely accurate, with it actually being the confluence of two festivals — Loi Krathong (the floating basket festival) and Yi Peng (the floating lantern festival).

There’s obviously a bit more to the festivals than these rudimentary descriptions, and we were lucky enough to be hanging out with people from our school who explained the personal and spiritual significance of the festival(s). They both generally had to do with cleansing, and letting go of negativity through symbolic action.

Releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)

After the description of the festival, we we honoured to make krathongs with our gracious hosts. I’ll post more about that later, as it’s a thing unto itself.

A few more khom loi shots:

Kelly, releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Kelly, releasing a khom loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Khom Loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)
Khom Loi (Chiang Mai, 2011)

marketing vs. the fine print

There’s a little disconnect between Denny’s nice little slogan on their coffee mugs…

and the disclaimer in their menu whenever you have a choice of egg style:

But remember, it’s always sunny-side up. 🙂

.:.

 

Denny’s U.S. menu

 

Funny, the menu I looked at welcomed me to Canada’s diner.

Reminds me of a local Wal-Mart flyer a few years ago sporting a maple leaf as the dash in their name and the slogan “Proudly Canadian”.

You can’t just say these things.

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is an underrated masterpiece

Todd VanDerWerff, on Vox, putting it out there that contrary to the knee-jerks out there, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is:

  1. a technical achievement
  2. a well-done commentary on the post-9/11 Iraq War
  3. a good human story

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it an “underrated masterpiece”, but I’ve always been the one guy I know who loves most of Shyamalan’s work because of how he tells great stories of personal human struggles. Starting with Signs, the twists were incidental to the story.

He tells the story he set out to tell. The Shyamalan problem is a marketing problem — the audiences are usually there to see a different story than what he’s actually telling.

I first noticed this with Signs. The hype and advertising around it were for a summer blockbuster (“ILM did the aliens, yo!”), but the movie was about a man’s struggle with faith during a time of personal turmoil.

He’s said as much about his work in an interview in The Independent:

A common misperception of me is That all my movies have twist endings, or that they’re all scary. All my movies are spiritual and all have an emotional perspective. – M. Night Shyamalan

I don’t recall the advertising around The Village, but I assume it was making it out to be a horror-esque movie. I won’t explain the crux of that story here, since my wife hasn’t seen it yet (read the spoilers in the linked article if you want them), but it’s also exploring questions that we all deal with in modern society (as the Vox article articulates well).

Lady in the Water is another movie where you have to take him at his word as a filmmaker. The story is explicitly framed as a bedtime story, and I assume the movie is less enjoyable if you ignore that aspect of it. (It’s hard to ignore — there’s even a prologue that tonally sets it up this way).

The reason I’ve enjoyed his movies is I trust Shyamalan as a filmmaker more than I trust his marketing team. Even with that said, Lady in the Water is the last of his movies I’ve seen (with the unfortunate exception of The Last Airbender). The ads around The Happening pointed at a genre I don’t generally care about, but I should have known better by then not to trust the hype machine around his movies.

I think it’s time to re-watch his canon, and newly watch the ones I’ve missed. Maybe I’ll even find some redeeming factors in The Last Airbender if I go into it looking for his trademark stories of struggle and growth. The source material, Avatar, is chock full of that, but I didn’t go into the movie with that mindset — I was more worried about it ruining a show I loved, which is probably just a self-fulfilling prophecy when you’re looking for things it “does wrong”. (To be fair, I don’t think this movie is fully redeemable, but at least I might find some redeemable qualities in it. I like his movies, but that doesn’t mean everything he does is perfect.) At any rate, I’ll see where a re-watch of The Last Airbender leaves me.

Let the Shyamalan marathon begin!

On the inevitable cannibalization of tech by those who monetize a public good

But here’s object lesson number infinity on how handing over all the software to somebody else with a datacenter is the Law of Unintended Consequence’s best friend.  — brennen, on MetaFilter

The whole thread is quite good (not surprising on MeFi – the corner of the internet where comments are good).

august long redux (found on roadside edition)

There was more to the August long weekend than I let on here.

Part of the 1,200km of driving was a 10-hour trip within the trip, to visit an aunt and uncle in Saskatchewan for a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. As my uncle mentioned in his speech, it’s not very often we see an anniversary of 50 years, but it’s even less often that a parent of one of the celebrants is alive to see it; his mother is still alive and kicking at 107 years old.

According to Statistics Canada she has already lived three-quarters longer than the life expectancy for a woman born in 1908. Statistically most of her peer group wouldn’t even have lived to see my uncle’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Along the way to the party we decided to selfie-document the trip:

Hour 0: Welcome to Saskatchewan. Watch out for fire-farting birds.

 

Grenfell
Hour 2: Grenfell. Land of…well, land.

 

Hour 10: Back in Manitoba. Someone was sleeping in the car…

.:.

Another roadside attraction encountered was the field of sunflowers in all their beauty, and while not as breathtaking, I also took a much more interesting photo of them.

This is with the same camera, #nofilter:

Sunflowers, 1970's style

I love it because it inexplicably feels like a grainy Polaroid from the 1970’s. Just as the other sunflower photo, this was taken with my iPhone, within a meter or two of the other location.

To get the same feel with my Pentax, I had to tweak some of the lighting in post-production, but here’s my attempt at retro bad photography:

sunflowers, aged
sunflowers, aged

I actually like it because it has similar (though more vibrant) colour, but it doesn’t have the grainy blur that the pixelation gave the other one.

And to prove I didn’t just travel back in time to get 70’s light everywhere, here’s the before and after of my modified photo:

sunflowers, before and after
sunflowers, before and after

.:.

The chickens are now safely in our freezer. Plenty of feet, liver, and meat to take us into winter.

We also got a handful of gizzards in the mix, which Kelly made up popcorn chicken style (along with popcorn olives and yams). Yum! It was the first time we’d had gizzard, and based on the prep necessary, probably the last. But if you’re looking for a good way to prepare chicken gizzard (or probably anything, really), try battering and deep frying.