Monday, June 26, 2023

Comment response

I have two main commenters on my blog, with a few others commenting via email or other channels. Often those are not especially for public consumption, though sometimes I'll ask permission to publish. In case you hadn't known, I love getting comments on the blog! Here's a big thank you to my readers and especially to the two prolific commenters.

Janice has inspired today's blog by her comment this morning.
"I'm glad you're still blogging, albeit less frequently. I'm going to try to write one today for the first time in a long while. I think it gets harder when you write less often. How do you pick just a topic or two when you've had so many floating around in your head over weeks or months? Lots of great photos here. I especially like the aurora, the second driftwood, and the long exposure. Your technical skills have really improved overtime. It's hard to imagine you were ever satisfied with just using a cell phone camera. Are you still using an iPhone?"

Thanks for your kind words about tech skills. I've almost certainly passed 200K photos taken in the last 7 years, given I've deleted a bunch of rubbish over the years. Do something that many times, and you've got to be getting better at it. In fact, even before I started carrying around a film camera, I was looking at potential photos much more carefully, wondering if this would be a better version of something I already have, or if I'm saying something interesting about it, or if it's a documentary there I was photo. Here's a year by year break down for those interested. The number for 2023 does not include July.

Of course, the majority of those photos are not edited. About 15% show up as edited to some degree or another, though that's complicated, depending on images for time lapse photos.

The cell phone camera is an interesting comment. I'd used an inexpensive digital point and shoot before cell phones came along, but it was mainly capturing vacation photos. I didn't think of myself as a photographer. Then the cell phone and I took lots more photos, and still didn't think of myself as a photographer, but I was becoming aware of the limitations of the cell phone. I decided to pick up a mid line 'real' digital camera with a nice lens and instantly fell in love with the image quality and flexibility. It's gone on from there. Generally now I only use the iphone camera to take a photo of a document to send someone, or I want to take a photo and that's the camera on hand. The sort of exception is when I use the phone as a light meter for the film cameras, that's using the camera and a pair of specialty apps.  You can read more about which camera I use for what, here. If you really want to know more about the specialty apps, you'll have to ask.

Blog topics are hard sometimes. When this was mainly workouts and related activities, blogging was easy. They often wrote themselves during the workout. Being out and about in the world leads to adventures, and that can lead to blogging. Lots of topics/rants/essays came to mind and usually mostly wrote themselves between coming to mind, and my fingers landing on a keyboard.

But as time goes on, the number of interesting topics that have not been blogged gets smaller. Retiring from triathlon training and regular paid work cuts off two rich sources of blog inspiration. Retirement is busy, but much of it is not particularly blog fodder.

As Janice said in her own blog, getting old isn't for sissies. Younger people don't want to read about the various indignities that creep up on people as they get older. I'm acutely aware I'm heading into the time of life where some men fall apart, and have tried to be as prepared as possible. There's lots of situations now where I pause and channel the various safety people I've worked with over the years, to ask myself, "how could this go bad or end painfully?"

Still, shit happens. (Excepting those people with IBS or other digestive issues.) Something will catch up to me sooner or later. I try not to obsess about it, for all my comments about being dragged off by the glue factory wagon. (I just watched the Monty Python 'bring out your dead' sketch.

We have wills, of course, dated July 7 1996. Yes, 27 years ago almost exactly. Please don't laugh at us. We are in the process of updating them. This has been on our to do lists for at least 5 years. The only reason I had one in the first place is that I needed one to become a client of a financial advisor. That was her version of my putting some skin in the game to show I was serious. We've been building a list of all the things to be considered. It's longer than you'd think. For some people it's easy - sell everything and split it between the kids. Done.

But for those of us without children it's a different story. Yes, the theory is that you spend the last of your money the day you die, but that's not terribly likely. At the least another pension cheque will be along soon. We have the simultaneous desires to enjoy our money while we still can, yet not outlive it, and not leaving some huge estate. It's a tricky balancing act. Small changes multiplied by decades can have big outcomes.

For example. Our financial advisor has software that feeds in pensions, investments and projected returns, tax rates, inflation, desired income and it generates a graph. Right this moment I'm getting CPP and an investment account payout. It was a bit of a guess balancing how much I need vs how much I could take out. It's pretty much balanced. If I were to take out, say $10K a month, the software would show me running out of money as a bright bloody red graph bar in an easily foreseeable timeframe.

It's kind of neat, actually. They use fairly conservative estimates for financial return and inflation. You can tweak those, and your withdrawals, and see when you run out of money.  OAS, for example, isn't a lot of money in any month. I'm eligible for it in a few months, and I've no reason not to take it. But initially when we built the plan, I said keep my income the same when OAS rolls in, and lower my withdrawal rate. That left me with still having money at 95. But we looked at what happens if I keep my current withdrawal rate, and it turns out I run out of money late 80's I think. It's been a few months since our last meeting. On the other hand, tweak a couple of assumptions and live frugally, and at 95 I'd have a million dollar estate.

Here's a quick and dirty rule. As long as your investment nest egg is in a balanced and diversified portfolio, or it's in an index fund that tracks the overall market, and you have the wit and discipline not to sell off during market volatility, you can take 4% out every year for the rest of your life, however long that is, and likely still have about the same amount of money in that nest egg. Take out 5% and you're probably ok. Take 6% and there isn't much wiggle room. 

The key question in retirement planning is of course, how long are you going to live. Knowing that would simplify planning enormously. If you were to know you'd only live a short time because of cancer, or driving stupidity, or bad luck, then you can spend big and live it up. (Which might lead to one of those mentioned causes of death, which as an idea has generated lots of science fiction stories.) Or maybe you'll take after Jeanne Calment and live to be 122. The oldest man lived to 116. Maybe I'll beat that, but that wouldn't be a safe bet. Age table here.

According to Stats Canada figures, I'm good for another 17 years or so. What that means is that half of all men my age will die before that 17 year mark, and half after. I think beating that is a reasonable bet, given that all my grandparents dramatically exceeded the life expectancy at their time of birth. That was about 50 years, and the men made it to mid 70's or so (after a lifetime of hard physical work farming and logging), one grandmother to mid 80's, and one to her late 90's. My mom is still with us, though slowed down by a broken leg just now. My dad just missed his life expectancy, cancer.

So if I want to still have investment income for a comfortable old age, I need to be cautious how much I take out. There is math that suggests I should have deferred taking CPP till I was 70, since I stood a reasonable chance of living long enough to have the larger payments for a shorter time add up to more than smaller payments for a longer time. 

So last night we rounded up a couple of people willing to be the trusted contact people, and us them. They even have a child who is currently not of legal age, but that will change soon. That's a new thing for investment firms. Next is power of attorney to deal with things in our dotage. Right now that's someone living in Ontario, which might not be the smartest choice. This is a much tougher decision. There are several people I'd cheerfully trust now, but I need to think about 20 years down the road. Those people aren't much younger than me. Maybe pick one of them now, and revise as necessary. Hmmm. 

When you blog nearly every day, it's easy to carry on with the habit. Blogs can be topical and tightly edited. The less frequent the blog, the more you want to say, and the more it's likely to ramble. But sometimes it's hard to find the time to blog, especially if you have a broken wrist, or you're out of the habit.

I always say I'm not a wildlife photographer, but when they pose nice I'll usually oblige.

Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)

Driftwood (BC)




Yukon (Miles Canyon)

Film (new)

Film (old)
Frost on stuff was common at the WWT plant.

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