You Think What!?!

Covid Questions?
Are you Seeing Double, Blindsided, or Enlighted by Hindsight?

Are introverts really enjoying lockdown & all this working from home?

Are some people secretly delighted not to have to travel for work?

Should we continue to support local small businesses if they suck?

One year on, knowing what we now know, would putting up with a hard, one month, 100%, total lockdown really have been so bad last year?

Or would enough people still break the rules, that it wouldn’t work anyway?

Ever get the feeling that we missed a really big opportunity to learn how to handle pandemics better?

What if the next one is far more serious? More deadly?

Would we react differently if the death rates were far higher?

Or if a virus targets our children more severely, rather than the sick & elderly?

Or are we collectively that stupid that it wouldn’t matter? Maybe don’t answer that one! LOL

What about a virus that targets liberals or conservatives? 😜

Which country did the best job containing the pandemic?

Which one is doing best deploying vaccines?

Are the rest of us capable of learning anything from them? Maybe we shouldn’t answer that one either! πŸ™„πŸ˜œπŸ˜

Have you wondered if you’re one of those people susceptible to believing conspiracy theories?

Why don’t we give the real ingredients to the @#&$heads out there making fake vaccines?

Should we look at improving our country’s healthcare system?

Do we only worry about the less well-off countries after we take care of ourselves first?

What are the chances that we all answered all those questions the same way?

Is there anything we can agree on? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

Stay safe out there all. πŸ™

Happy St. Brigid’s Day

Scarves out for the attention of St. Brigid on the eve of imbolg!

St. Brigid is a 5th century Irish Saint. And a Celtic fire goddess. How Christianity is interwoven with Celtic mythology is something that can only be sensibly discussed in an Irish pub! Indeed, the celebration of imbolg, about halfway between the winter solstice & the spring equinox, goes back even further. Through the times of the mythological Tuatha DΓ© Danann & probably further, all the way back to neolithic times. But whatever the origins, February 1st is celebrated as both imbolg & LΓ‘ FhΓ©ile BrΓ­de, St. Brigid’s Day.

Neighbours passing by our Canadian homes over the years have been treated to occasional displays of (mostly unrecognizable to them) flags of Irish counties, green lights on Paddy’s Day, & other traditional oddities. Nothing, though, is as strange as seeing scarves tossed onto winter-stripped shrubs at the end of January!

While we are usually still white & frozen at this time of year in Canada, in Ireland, spring is imminent. Crocuses & snowdrops have been blooming in January. And, this year, I’ve already seen pics of bright yellow narcissus blooms on the social media pages of my Irish friends. Though, sometimes, I feel like they’re growing them indoors & sharing pics with the sole purpose of irritating me! 😜

So what’s with the scarves on the bushes?

Brigid, the saint & the goddess both, have a large portfolio of responsibilities. She is the patron saint of farmers, milkmaids, blacksmiths, fisher folk, mariners, children, poets, & Lord knows what else. She stands, side by side, as a patron saint of Ireland, with her contemporary, St. Patrick. Known for her kindness & charity, Brigid is also famous for turning water into an endless supply of beer! Funny enough, she is not one of the patron saints of beer. Go figure!

Again, what is the thing about the scarves?

If you toss a ribbon or scarf out on a bush on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day, it’s said she passes by overnight to bless the cloths. These will then protect you for the next year. And they are reputed to cure ailments, like headaches, pains, & other afflictions! Probably worth a shot, if you are so afflicted.

Hey, if nothing else, especially during these pandemic times, it makes for a great interactive story opportunity for the kids. But, even for us adults, what’s the harm in having a scarf round our neck that’s been naturally freshened outside overnight! 😁

If you have covid-confined kids that you’d like to entertain, try making a St. Brigid’s cross. You’ll find plenty of simple instructions online. If you can’t find any reeds growing around your garden at this time of year, try plastic drinking straws, craft pipe cleaners, or cut strips of card stock. Very entertaining & a great time consumer for kids. That’ll be St. Brigid protecting your sanity during covid too. And I pray those refreshed scarves will keep us all safe ’til we’re vaccinated!

Stay safe out there & …

Happy St. Brigid’s Day! ☘️☘️☘️

Work From Home Investing

Stocks only go UP! Right!?!

This is a different topic for The Wry Eye, but I thought I’d share one of the silly things I’m playing with during my work from home experience: investing! Investing & weigh-loss have a lot in common. Both require dedication, patience, & a proven methodology. I can only hope I’ll do better with investing than with my recent weight-loss efforts, or I’ll be in real trouble! 😜
If you do some investing, let me know. Maybe we’ll swap more stories on this subject.

During the early stage of the pandemic restrictions, I moved a small, professionally managed portfolio into a self-directed account. I meant to do it years ago, but I never got around to it. The market slump in March woke me up. Unfortunately, it took weeks to get my money moved across, so I missed buying the lows. By the time I got to trade, things were on the way back up & I was too scared to invest it all at once! I worked it back into the market over the next several months.

My returns over the over past six months beat the advisor’s by a chunk. That sounds great, but it wasn’t very much money to begin with, so we’re not talking early retirement here. To be fair, the advisor had been working within my very conservative guidelines. And I got what you might expect from that guidance: very conservative returns. I have no idea why my guidelines were so conservative. And that’s the story of my investing history; half the time, I have no idea what I’m doing, nor why I’m doing it that way! My recent success was even more surprising because I was not buying the high-flying, stay-at-home, rampant tech stocks. I made most of my returns with pretty conservative stocks & boring ETFs. And now, it was all with lower fees.

I got so cocky about it all that I used a tiny portion to bet on small oil stocks, precious metals ETFs, & Bitcoin! Believe it or not, I made money on most of those too. Yes, I had a few losses, but mostly I was winning. I wondered what would happen if I did this with my real savings? Would I crush it? Maybe early retirement really was in the cards!?!
And right there, I knew it was time to stop! I sold off the stuff I didn’t understand & put the proceeds into a boring ETF.

Now that I’m an expert investor (πŸ™„πŸ˜œπŸ˜), I’ve started “educating” my kids!

It’s funny how some things are falling into different perspectives during the pandemic. I am fortunate to still have a job, but none of us knows what happens next. I’m building a list of those things I’ve left long undone. This could be a great opportunity to get some of those tasks ticked off the list.

TGIF!
Have a great weekend & PM me with your hot stock tips! LOL

PS … I am not suggesting that you go into the stock market, none of this is investing advice, this post is purely for entertainment. I’m having fun with it, but I also have some investing experience to lean on. Always seek professional advice before making your investing decisions!

Be Selfish … Shop Local!

Do you know how to shop your local businesses online?

We’re close to Christmas, in the middle of the pandemic, & it’s Black Friday shopping season. I had already bought all I could think of buying at my local stores so now, it’s time for a little online shopping. Woohoo!

I can’t deny it, I’m a fan of the big e-commerce sites. And I’m sure I’ll do some shopping with them too. However, do you see newly shuttered shops & “For Lease” signs in the local malls these days? Some lights are out & might not be coming back on. Those are our neighbours.

We can shop local for totally selfish reasons too. We’ll all want more choices in the post-pandemic world. If we don’t keep them in business, those choices disappear. Small business people are paying taxes too. And they buy other products that eventually circle back around to keeping those of us still in a job, in a job! So go ahead … be selfish & shop local! 😜

These days, many small business owners are trying to build an online presence. I’ve seen some interviewed on TV & most were able to get up & running, pretty quickly, with Shopify’s platform. That helps them get cheap shipping rates too. All necessary in the modern competitive landscape.

I assumed part of the benefit of using the Shopify platform is the sheer scale & size of that company. As a consumer, I figured it would be an easy online search to find all the local shops who were using Shopify.
Not so. I couldn’t find Shopify businesses & I couldn’t even find out how to find local Shopify sites to buy from. I was mystified. Small business owners need the benefits of Shopify’s size & power of aggregation. But where was that advantage? Surely there was a way to find which local businesses were offering their products through Shopify?

I went directly to Shopify’s site looking for the answer, but it wasn’t jumping off the page there either. I clicked on a support chat button. I’m not sure it was a support button for this kind of question but I got help from a great support person. (Thanks, Alycia!)

Of course, privacy rights prevent them from sharing who is using their platform (duh!) but, as it turns out, there’s an app for that! πŸ€ͺ😁
I’m not kidding, there is an app called “Shop”, by Shopify, that does connect us to local businesses, & more. I downloaded it & had a quick look to see if it could hone in on local businesses & yes, it can.
You can even … wait for it … SHOP with it! πŸ˜‚

I haven’t done any shopping yet, so this isn’t a review of the functionality of the app. I’m just sharing it, in case you might want to try it out, & support your local businesses too.
Or does everyone already know about this? And it’s just me that was in the dark!?!

I’m not in any way connected with Shopify, by the way, just sharing what I found out.

And did you know there are selfish reasons to add food to the food bank boxes at the supermarket exits too? I put a couple of bucks worth of non-perishable food in there & I felt like a million bucks. Where else can you get that kind of return!?! 😜

Take care out there all.

Shopify & Shop are registered Trade Marks of Shopify Inc.

Wanted! Dead or Alive

The guilty band leader!

I watched this guy, with about 80 of his buddies, make repeated sorties to my neighbour’s cherry tree yesterday. They were so cheekily rambunctious that it was like being caught in that Hitchcock bird movie. Before this lot showed up, the tree was laden with delicious, yellow-red fruits, ready for the picking. And these little shaggers did the picking. As they flew off, each with a cherry jammed in the beak, they looked like a mocking flock of feathered lawn darts in flight. From where I sit this morning, enjoying another beautiful sunrise, I can’t see a single cherry remaining!

My cat was thoroughly entertained by this same flock yesterday. She spent much of the afternoon sitting in the window, tail swishing back & forth, in eager anticipation of being allowed to go out to play. I should have let her out!

In between visits to the cherry tree, you see, they were visiting my back yard. I’m not sure if it was chinch bugs or grasshoppers, but they were having a serious party out there. And if it was either, or both, of those lawn-destroying bugs, I was happy to have the birds do the extermination for me.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that, during their moments of respite on my deck, they found another snack!

Thieves taking a break!

My seedlings!

The little monsters treated my deck-rail planters like the peanut bowl at some avian nightclub. They’re destroyed. Done for. Devoid of plant life now.

I’m seriously re-evaluating my “don’t even hurt a fly” philosophy of life now! And while I do that, I’m online-shopping for some stainless steel mesh to protect my ripening blueberry crop!

By the way, anyone know what species of bird that is? Might as well pick up some new knowledge on the back of the whole affair!

Stay safe out there.