Sunday, 27 September 2015

New Ideas, Nimby and Now News

The word of the week is compassion.

September 21 – NIMBY

What’s a refugee, exactly? Do you know?

Given the dire situations in many places in the world right now, including Syria, you think more people would be aware of what a refugee is… but they don’t.

Some people just don’t care, but too many others think that refugees are simply people who have decided to mooch off other countries while running away from their problems.

Ignorance, in this case, is not bliss, and some smart people have a lot to say about it:

Myself, I find it shocking how easily people can dismiss the plight of others. How they can assume that many of the refugees are ‘lazy’ or ‘just terrorists pretending to be in need’ to gain entry to other  countries to cause violent mischief.

If you’ve watched the video above, you’ll know that’s a misconception, and a big one.

The world can be( and is, in places, too often )a rotten place. Don’t let it fool you into believing that those in need don’t deserve your compassion, or your help.

September 22 – Childhood

Play is making the imaginary real.

I did a lot of that as a kid, and I've retained the core of my imaginary play time in my creative side as an adult. I'm thrilled that I've managed to do so, as I've seen too many people for whom practicality is a way of life. Where imagination is something that they've sidelined or forgotten altogether under the daily bombardment of the mundane.

Did I mention that I especially liked playing with Star Wars spaceships as a kid?

The video below perfectly captures what it was like for me to imagine amazing worlds in my backyard( or elsewhere )as a child. The professional, high production value video was created as a tribute to a famous filmmaker who is involved in the Star Wars franchise and is a joy to watch:

September 23 – Small Steps

I’d like to stop being a renter one of these days and turn into a homeowner.

The problem is, it's not very practical for me at present, nor do I really need to own a home in terms of just having a place to keep my stuff. The average cost of a detached home in Canada is relatively high, but it does vary significantly from region to region. 

This graphic, based on recent data, shows how much a household has to make in order to afford a home purchase - assuming that the bank will talk you in the first place:

For my own situation, I'm exploring other options.

Mainly, I don't want to be stuck with a house that doesn't suit my needs, which are admittedly modest: I don't have a family to take care of, nor do I have pets that need outdoor space or a hobby that requires a workshop( that part may change, I admit ). There is no vehicle for me to park, eliminating the need for garage and I don't have a whole lot of furniture or other materialistic goods that would require additional storage rooms.

That's why I'm putting together a Tiny House mortgage package to present to the credit union sometime this spring. While I'm a fair way away from being ready to spring for such a shift in finances, the credit union is extremely interested in what I have to say, as it's a new market for them and quite honestly they'd stand to benefit greatly from opening it up here in Victoria( and Vancouver Island in general ). 

My plan is to put together as complete a package as possible, including how local bylaws affect the purchase and placement of a Tiny Home, as well as targeted research from many other Tiny Home projects across Canada and the United States. I want to make it as easy as possible for the credit union to tell me what they can do for me in terms of a smaller mortgage, one that doesn't fit within traditional boundaries of home ownership in Canada but is still extremely feasible to set up.

Wish me luck.

September 24 – Nerf Business?

Nerf has been on my mind all this week, for various reasons.

Apart from the fun factor, I've had an idea rattling around in my brain: could I start up a small business based around ‘Nerf Tag’ and make a go of it, while still having fun with my friends once or twice a month? Given that I can't do a lot of physical activities any more, including my beloved archery, it seems like the perfect fit.

The ideas not as silly as it sounds; there's already a Nerf Gun Rental business right here in Victoria, complete with a website: - right here in Victoria!

There's also other similar businesses set up across Canada, including one in Winnipeg, though they seem to be based around the idea of taking the game to birthday parties, corporate events and the like.

That's not for me though; I'd rather not have to transport a whole bunch of gear all over the place all the time, mainly because I don't own a vehicle. That mobile business model is also dependent upon people coming to you and that necessitates advertising in all sorts of places an order to make yourself visible and get the word around that you exist in the first place.

I'd much rather set up games locally in a park, complete with safety signage, waivers and all the necessary details of a small business. I've put some thought into this concept this week and I'll be looking into it further as time permits. I like the idea that it has a low initial outlay for set up and operating costs, with potential for growth into a permanent facility depending on where I locate. The facility would also have the added bonus of not needing much work, unlike a business like laser tag, which has tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs for equipment and facility modification.

More on this as it develops.

September 25 – 3D Business?

Holy business ideas, Batman!

Continuing my thoughts from above, the other business idea I had this week has to do with laser printing. Well, not exactly: it’s actually laser etching, cutting and engraving.

This month sees the debut of an amazing step forward in small-scale laser technology that anyone can use. It’s best explained by this short, fascinating video:

In a nutshell: until now, 3D laser printers have cost upwards of $10,000 and are complicated to use, though the results can be amazing. Yet, if you don't know exactly what you're doing, it's often a continuous exercise in frustration and wasted materials, not to mention the huge cost of the purchase in the first place. Hence not many people knowing about the potential of what 3D laser printing can accomplish( here's some examples )or even that it exists.

Enter Glowforge.

Designed to be as easy to use as possible, the Glowforge can print on all sorts of flat materials, up to 12" x 20" wide in the base model and much more in the upgraded Pro version. The printer comes with everything that you need to get up and running immediately, as all the complicated software is run over the web, helping to lower the printer’s initial cost significantly.

Now, don't get me wrong: this is not a cheap purchase, nor is it something the average person will have in their home or office. It's a machine meant to create things for other people, or for someone with specific needs… like cosplayers, or others who need its services.

I'll be researching local 3D-laser businesses in the next few weeks, to better understand how a Glowforge might provide me with advantage over other businesses in both market and cost. The initial outlay for the printer may be offset fairly quickly, depending on the demand for what it can do and how easily I can provide such services.

Who knows? I may end up opening an Etsy store, given the opportunity to provide Internet orders for projects such as this… 3D-cut gaming system tiles, custom-sized and low cost:

The possibilities are almost limitless and to be honest, I am more excited this point than anything else. Which means I have to sit down and have a good think about what exactly this sort of thing would do to make my life better financially, while not sucking up all my time that could go towards other things, like writing.

We'll see what the next few weeks bring, in that regard.

September 26 – The Eyes Have it?

My vision isn't great.

All the same, I'm glad that I can see - in general - without my glasses and that I don't need a heavier prescription, but many are the days I wish I had 20/20 vision. Having needed glasses since the seventh grade( and likely earlier, at that )it's really been frustrating sometimes to know that other people see far better than I do far more easily. Sure, I could wear contact lenses, but those raise their own issues that I don't want to have in regards to eye health.

Which is why laser eye surgery has always been on my mind.

However, the unknown long-term effects, coupled with the high cost, have meant that I've never seriously considered going down that route and ditching glasses altogether.

Developed right here in BC, the lens replaces the defective one in a person's eye in a procedure that takes less than 10 minutes and grants them perfect 20/20 vision once again. As an added bonus, the artificial cornea means that users will never develop cataracts! I also imagine that the lens would be replaceable if a persons prescription changes, and it opens the possibility of additional optical functions, depending on how fast implantable technology develops in the next few years.

Much better than surgery, in my opinion. The creators of the Ocumetrics Lens hope to have Canadian regulatory approval by 2017, which means that surgeries( and their medical results )will happen within the next five years or so - exciting times for people like myself, who tire of glasses and one just to see properly again day to day.

I'll be keeping my eye on this one.

September 27 – Going Well

How are things going overall of late, you ask?

That's both hard and easy to answer for me right now.

My work's going well, for as I've said before, I can leave it all behind at the end of the day and I'm neither physically nor mentally exhausted when that happens. While there's obviously some busy days at times, having a solid team around me as I do right now makes it so much easier to get through the more challenging workdays than at any previous job.

My personal life is doing happy cartwheels of late. I spent a good deal of quality time with my girlfriend every day this weekend, enjoying the good weather outside and watching Babylon 5 when the sun had set. Today we spent a few hours in the morning down at the Yacht Pond, which was fairly crowded with RC boaters, given the sunny skies and warmer temperatures. We chatted up more than a few folks, who admired our buoys and generally made us feel welcome – the president of the local model boat club, the VMSS, even invited us down to the Christmas club dinner, which was again extremely friendly and indicative of the relaxed air that we've noticed whenever we've sailed our Trawler on the Pond.

Financially, well… I'd like to be making more money, but as I said before: I'm holding my own right now and for the foreseeable future. The business ideas that I have above are to try and get ahead, while still keeping my own interests in mind for what I can do in terms of hobbies and other projects… bearing in mind that costs are costs and would come out of my own pocket.

Writing-wise, things are a bit stalled. I'm still struggling with the middle of Book 2, where the plot lines all tangle; getting those sorted out has been quite frustrating these last few months. I've taken it upon myself to focus just on getting the plot sorted for now and once that's done, the words will flow once more.

There are other frustrations, for the most part they're fairly minor. As lives go, mine's doing pretty well of late. I just have to discover the right balance of time spent on work, rest and play, finding out what's really important to me for the next few months and budgeting what's needed on a day-to-day basis.

Getting six hours of sleep a night, with a few interruptions, isn't conducive towards feeling rested. Thankfully, the next month will see a big reduction of interruptions, especially after my sister spends a few weeks vacationing in Europe, which she definitely deserves - she's been dreaming of going to Paris for years and finally, she's getting her heart's desire..