Into the smoke

Kicked off some major media web sites for being such a tool, he landed here. Over the next four or five years Smoking Man dropped thousands of comments on this blog. At least half of them were obscene, libelous, incendiary or unintelligible. Especially the drunken, overnight ones. SM became the most Deleted person in blog dog history.

The others were always acerbic, sometimes profound, bordering on prophetic. He called for a Trump win when the guy was still riding down his elevator and labeling Mexicans murderers. He mercilessly raked former banker colleagues on Bay Street. He wrote the worst book possibly ever penned, then insisted on trying to publish pieces of it here, hoping I wouldn’t notice. He attempted to humble, humiliate, embarrass and torment me. Then he sent me creepy emails (at night, drunken) to say he loved me.

When I wrote about Dorothy one day, this was his nocturnal message:

Garth, she is beauty. I know she hates my character. I wanted to say nicer things but I love being the bad man on the blog..you can’t bend what you can’t offend..

Your lucky, you got a good woman at your side.. It’s all you need. Everything is a risk on adventure after that.

Why you got into politics beats me.. You can’t the machine. What is wrong with you? Guess you figured it out the hard way……

Congrats, you ugly bearded freak…

Smoking Man was a persona. Or was it? Was Jim Stojsin really dyslexic, or just pretending? Did he actually make millions trading forex in his wife’s name after perfectly timing his Toronto real estate sale and moving onto a California beach? Or was that fiction?

One day three years ago he materialized, coming to visit me at my country general store, wearing Wal-Mart flip flops and driving a runt pickup with a broken windshield.

Just before the virus arrived, he went silent. I sent a note. The response: “Hello Garth this is Jim’s wife Brenda.  It’s been a tough road for Jim and I.  We were living an incredible life in California when terrible and tragic events occurred.  When he’s up to it he will let you know.  Meanwhile keep him in your prayers.”

Hours later SM sent this: “I want to send something. Just need some time to put words together. This thing is a bitch.”

Last Sunday, says daughter Amy, Jim died of brain cancer. At 61.

She sent his obituary:

Jim and his wife Brenda spent 2 fabulous years in Corona Del Mar, CA after Jim landed his dream job. Sadly, their time was cut short when Jim was rushed into emergency brain surgery in California. After, he had to return home to Canada and fight for his life, not able to return to his home away from home. He enjoyed the last few months of his life surrounded by his loved ones, seeking as much quality time and adventure as his body would permit.

Jim was a loving husband, devoted father, published author, conspiracy theorist, blog writer , alien hunter, animal lover and self-taught computer guru. Jim was not your average man, he pushed the envelope, thought independently, and walked to the beat of his own drum, all things that made others love the man they endearingly called “BigStoj”.

“Remember when you were young
You shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond” – Pink Floyd

Amy also said she was going through his laptop, “and found a final blog post that mentions you. It seems that he meant to post it. We were wondering if we sent it to you if you would publish it?”

Here are Smoking Man’s final words.

It must have started in September of 2019. I came here to post words would not flow, I imagined that I had grand essay only to catch it the next day one or two sentences.

Just did New Year 2019. Wife’s forex account screaming green. Complete bragging rights for Greater Fool, was trying to figure out a way to link the P&L sheet with out Garth knowing about it.

Next thing I know I wake up at the Hoag hospital in Newport Beach to the news that if I’m lucky, I get to live 1 to 5 more years. Brain Cancer.

Man does that change your priorities, even typing this little blurb while in treatment is almost impossible, good thing my phone does the typing, I just talk to it. It’s retarded but it works.

In a short span of time I’ve gone from a make money Maverick to a how much time do I have left. Take in the views, plan the next vacation before it’s to late, start helping other’s.

I never planned on living as long as my parents, was brutal on me watching them melt. Now the odds of me making it to 65 are clearly against me. Never saw that coming. But it is what it is.

I just want to thank you dogs for putting up with all my shit over the years, I think I’m a great troll but who knows who cares. Those days are over.

Indeed they are. And I regret that. It’s now a worse world.

 

Exodus

So here’s a big surprise. Not.

US financial giant JP Morgan has discovered younger employees who WFH are less productive, inefficient and more untrustworthy. What a shock that people in their jammy bottoms, watching TikTok on their phones and playing footsie with the cat while they Zoom a client were not fully engaged? Who knew?

As this paleo blog has stated a few times, this is not the future. Remote working will not replace the office. Those downtown towers will not stand empty. Employers want to see you, and anyone with a career aspiration should want to see the boss. The workplace is where innovation, collaboration, mentorship, experience and social interaction happen. When human nature chances, so will the nature of work. That’s not now. WFH is doomed. At least on a large-scale basis. That means about three million people still without good hygiene will eventually be heading back.

And what a shock that will be in, oh, Hamilton.

That once-gritty, steel mill-loving place 70 km beyond the Kingdom of 416 has now become Pandemic City. An exodus of WFHers has made its way down the near-empty QEW, escaping Toronto crazy prices to snap up – and inflate – properties in Hamilton, Burlington, Grimsby and environs.  A house in the east end, listed just above three hundred thousand had 172 showings resulting in 15 offers, and sold for 30% above asking. As reported locally, digs listed for $699,000 garnered 63 showings and 13 offers, giving its owners $885,000.

And are all these GTA refugees planning on trucking back to work in the Big Smoke?

Nah. Not a chance. GO Train ridership into Toronto is down 90%, for example. An army of millennial buyers figure they can own something affordable and let Covid take care of the rest. The virus has fostered the belief traditional workspaces are kaput, commuting is for idiots, enlightened employers understand work-life balance and the need to wear really, really comfortable pants, plus technology will eliminate supervision, trips into the germy outer world and being judged. But, of course, everyone still expects full pay.

Yes, it’s a fantasy. Some may live this dream. Most will not. They will be outsourced, overlooked or downsized. Forever forgotten. In Hamilton. Or Barrie. Or Hope. Nelson. Ladysmith. Kingston. Fredericton. Truro. Lloydminster. Even Mississauga.

So the latest stats just arrived. The phemon is national. Real estate sales in August were 6% greater than in July and 44% above the year before. Prices across Canada climbed 18.5% in twelve months – in a pandemic, a recession and amid double-digit unemployment. Just imagine how great things would be if we had Ebola and locusts.

By the way did you catch this comment yesterday from federal Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos? The Libs have no choice now, he said, when it comes to further opening the spending spigot: “We need to keep investing in Canadians to avoid moving from a recession to a depression.”

Seriously. He said that. So regardless of what the Throne Speech contains next Wednesday, all of us need to be aware the virus  – and the way governments responded – has blown a hole in the economy that will take a long, long time to repair. But it will.  Normal will be normal again. Meanwhile low rates are facilitating rash real estate decisions while the social media-infused WFH meme is providing justification for them.

A Mill couple sold a mortgaged $760,000 condo in Toronto, for example, and bought an ancient Hamilton bung for $700,000. He’s remote-working because of Covid. She’s on mat leave. Both have jobs are back in 416. They need two incomes. “We can’t really make a decision based on this future because nobody knows what will happen,” she told a local reporter who was writing about the hot market. “So we had to use the information we had. We’ll figure it out when we come to it.”

Yes, the future’s an abstraction. Forget it. Now is what counts, baby. Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today.

Where have I heard that before?

‘The budget will balance itself.’

Source: Bloomberg. Click to enlarge. PPE recommended.