"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning" - Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A kid in a candy shop

2 blog posts back-to-back!? No way!? This is to all those out there that enjoy gluten-free, as a choice or out of necessity. It's a reminder that we have it really good in Victoria compared to a decade ago, or 2 decades ago.

As a child my mother had to order WEEKS of bread and treats (I say that liberally as 'treats' were limited back then) in advance for my younger sister and I. We are both coeliacs and have been for years - since we were young children. Back in the UK in the '90's I remember coming home to an order of a few boxes of goods that we had to deep freeze to prevent spoiling. Oh the joys of deep freeze - a way to prevent spoiling but you get that free oh-so-lovely freezer burn taste added after weeks of sitting there. The 'treats' that we got were ridiculously expensive sausage rolls, and fruit turnovers. Not many, mind you, because they were not cheap. It was hard to ration ourselves so to have them last all those weeks before we placed another order. Bearing in mind that all this food came from England, and we lived in Scotland. That gives you an idea of how hard it was to get gluten-free food back then. Finding GF pasta was even a chore!

Today, we can all walk into a shop and see increasing amounts of GF food at our disposal on a daily basis. It's a great thing and a wonderful step forward for everybody that is either Coeliac or on a GF diet because of intolerance or personal choice. There is a BIG difference between intolerance and being diagnosed Coeliac, by the way. Some are unaware, or there is a misconception that they are the same. There is also a misconception among many that Coeliac Disease can go away. Well, it is an auto-immune disease and is life-long.

In Victoria there are so many resources for people on a GF diet:

Origin Bakery at the Stadacona Centre (Oak Bay junction), Sante GF Cafe (Between Hillside and Bay on Quadra), GF Pizza at Oregano's (Fairfield Village), GF Pizza at Ali-Baba's, GF Pizza at The Joint (Warf Street), GF Burgers at Jackalope Bistro (On Yates by the cinema).

These are just a few. You can go into Save-on-Foods now and buy Udi's brand bread, pizza bases, cookies, muffins, bagels. This brand is probably the best one I have tasted so far, for pre-packaged mass-produced GF foods. You can buy it at Market on Yates also, but for some reason they freeze all their product.

I'm hoping to find as many resources and places to get GF foods in the city I am moving to. For me, I get a real sense of happiness to see that there is a GF alternative or substitute to a food that I would otherwise be unable to enjoy on a evening out. That smile on my face comes from all those years of not having the treats and foods at such a convenient disposal that everybody takes for granted. I'm like a kid in a candy shop!

Patterns and recognition

Far be it from the human race to see and register a pattern for future reference. We are generally inept at preventing ourselves from making the same mistakes over and over. I say this after a recent (within the last 9 months) on-and-off conversation I have had with advisors regarding the money markets.

This is a box of random shapes is it not? Children understand this. Heck, even adults understand this. So, why do we teach children to play and understand these shapes - recognition - if it does not have value later in life?

I woke up this morning to see the TSX Composite Index hit a new 52-week low within the fist 2 hours of trading. I lay there thinking to myself, 'I knew it'. Reality is that nobody really KNOWS, but those that forecast market outlooks can give a general idea of what may happen. Back in January when the TSX was hovering around and over 14,000 points, I had mentioned that I thought it was due for a correction. That idea was knocked down and I was told that the Canadian equity market was only going to get stronger through the year. WRONG. In June, that forecast by the same person had changed dramatically.

For me, this short-lived downturn in markets is a great thing as it provides A LOT of opportunity to get in on some good companies at low prices. I am not an advisor, far from it in fact, but I am following my gut as it has steered me in a good direction so far. Looking at a lot of charts this morning there is a consistent pullback in stock prices until the last day or two. Just by drawing basic lines on a chart I can see that there are new lower lows, and new lower highs, which technical indicator teaching would suggest a selling point. However, a dramatic break through that extrapolated line is what is going on with most stocks. What I see is trigger-happy people are selling and all the stop-losses that investors place to protect themselves are hitting, propelling stocks downward. I think there is at least a dollar or more correction on the upside to be had in the short term for many TSX stocks that will account for those stop-losses.

Markets lately are so volatile that it is hard to get a good grip on what is happening. I am looking at both short term and long term trading, and both have different strategies. While long term is more related to the fundamentals of cash flow and dividend payments, with modest growth, short term trading - for me - is based on daily ranges and volume. In the short term, I don't care about the fundamentals. What matters more is market sentiment.

Like I said, this blog is going to be random now! Time to get hyped up of caffeine and do some organising.

**Note that none of what I am writing about is advice or even remotely based on anything other than my own opinion. Please do not take any of this for word and go spend your life savings playing on the stock market without soliciting advice from a real advisor**

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What's been going on?

I think the last time I posted on this was about a year ago. Things have changed significantly since then.

I left the notion of becoming the best I could be as an elite athlete (in BC at least) with a bitter taste in my mouth. Starting out on this path, I found it difficult to place the trust of what I saw as my goals and future in another person. That wained, and I soon gained the confidence to place more and more trust in the people that were essentially guiding me towards my goals. I say 'guiding' because it is a two-way street for both communication and trust. Nobody is perfect and never will be. We can still have expectations. What I learned last year is that I was trusting the wrong person. All of the work through the winter months that I saw great gains with just dwindled away. I watched as all of my plans for racing went by the wayside because of the same problems and there was little help nor good advice from where I really needed it. In hindsight, it shows a lack of experience. One can attribute that to whomever they like. I was upset as I was basically disowned as an athlete by the same person that I had trusted all along. All of this added up to a terrible feeling about my presence in the sport and my future in it. Lessons from experiences are what make us better and stronger at what we do. So, for those lessons I am thankful.

Although I am not pushing on towards the same goals I was over a year ago, I still have a passion for sport; I always have. Without sports as a kid, all the way up through university, I would not have met some of my close friends, I would not have seen some of the places I have seen, nor would I have had the sense of excitement and joy that you get from competing and leaving it all out there. I would not have seen many beautiful sunrises that I would otherwise would have no idea even occurred. Next year I will make a return to some racing and I will show that I am the best in the class I will compete in. In the meantime, I am working back in a profession that I am passionate about, I have a wonderful and beautiful girlfriend (whom I would likey not have met if it were not for sports), and I have opportunities that will take me further in life.

I hope to use this blog for random updates not only related to sport, but other things that intrigue me such as finance, travel, and what is going on in the world we live in. It won't be another year before I post again, hopefully.

To the people that have supported me, listened to me, and taken the time to read this blog I say a big thank you.

Thanks for reading,