Two boys walk into a bakery on a dare. They have no money in their pockets, but are determined to score a few treats. When the baker isn’t looking, the first boy, Tyler, swipes three cookies from a tray on the counter and sticks them in his jacket pocket.

“Guess I won this challenge,” he says to his friend Chuck.

“Watch and learn,” Chuck replies as he walks to the counter and rings the bell. “What can I get for you?” the baker asks.

“Just your undivided attention,” Chuck answers.

“Gather around folks. I am the Amazing Chuck, and I know magic.”

A small crowd assembles around Chuck and Tyler. Chuck turns to the baker and says, “If you would be so kind as to give me a cookie, I will show you all a trick.”

The curious baker obliges and hands Chuck a cookie from the tray on the counter. Chuck takes the cookie, looks it over, and then stuffs it in his mouth. When he is finished, he says, “That was pretty tasty. Might I have another?”

The baker is becoming skeptical and says, “This isn’t much of a trick as far as I can tell.” He hands Chuck another cookie and watches as Chuck gobbles it down, as he did with the first one.

While smacking his lips, Chuck says, “Trust me, this is going to be the most amazing magic trick you ever witnessed. I know you have your doubts, but please, sir, I just need one more cookie for this trick to work.”

“This better be a heck of a good trick,” the baker says as he hands a third cookie to Chuck.

Just as before, Chuck devours the cookie. He then pats his belly and rubs his hands together. He rolls up his shirtsleeves and shows his palms to the baker and says, “Abracadabra!”

“I don’t see anything,” the baker says.

Chuck points to Tyler and says, “Let’s check his pocket.”

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A king had a boulder placed on a roadway, then hid and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way.

Some of the kingdom’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many of them loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear.

Then a peasant came along, pushing a cart of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant set his cart aside and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

Then he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king, explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances.

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Some studies have suggested that drinking too much coffee can cause stiffening of the arteries, increasing the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke. However, a new study from the British Heart Association, reported that drinking 3 cups of coffee or more a day is no worse for arteries than drinking a single cup.

Researchers studied more than 8,000 people in the UK, some of whom drank 1 cup of coffee or less a day, others who drank 1 to 3 cups, and a third group who reported consuming up to 20 cups of coffee a day.

All participants were given extensive tests and the findings appear to show that drinking 3 cups or more a day doesn’t significantly increase artery stiffness compared with consuming just one cup.

No one is recommending having 20 cups or more per day! However, if you do enjoy a cup or two maybe even three per day, you should not be at any additional risk of heart issues.

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In BC in January, the housing market warmed up again, with sales rising while new listings and starts fell. Sales rose in all areas of the province from December. Rental costs in Vancouver and Victoria remain broadly elevated relative to most other points since the onset of the pandemic.

Retail sales declined in December in BC with the arrival of the Omicron variant but remain 11 per cent above February 2020 levels. As of January, restaurant reservations in Vancouver are at roughly 60 per cent of the pre-pandemic level. Compared to Toronto and Montreal, Vancouver restaurants avoided lockdowns during the month of January. In BC, Google’s measure of movement trends is currently about 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Although aggregate employment has recovered in BC to pre-pandemic levels, the accommodation and food service sector was about 15 per cent below the pre-pandemic level in January. The labour market has served high-income workers much better than low-income workers. Employment in high-income industries is about 8 per cent above pre-pandemic employment levels, while employment in low-income industries is about 5 per cent below pre-pandemic employment levels. Manufacturing and imports edged up in December, while exports declined slightly. Business confidence declined slightly in January, while consumer confidence drifted sideways. The number of US and non-US tourists has been rising each month since restrictions were eased last summer, reaching about 45 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in November.   

For a more comprehensive overview of BC's economic recovery, click here.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

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Creativity may seem as if it springs from nowhere, but the truth is, you’ve got to work at it. Here are three tricks from the Creative Boom website to get your imagination into shape:

1.  Develop a ritual. Don’t just sit around waiting for ideas to strike. Train yourself to think creatively by developing a routine. A painter might set up his or her paints and pencils, doodle for a bit, then start on a new work of art. Other people take baths or showers before getting to work; some focus on simply making the perfect cup of tea. Whatever you do, make creativity a deliberate habit.

2.  Look for bad ideas. Looking for the perfect solution often means sorting through imperfect ideas first. Instead of focusing on what will work, start by figuring out what won’t work. Generate bad ideas and analyze them to find out why they’re bad. You may be able to eliminate the flaws and find the diamond underneath. (You’ll also get rid of your fear of failure by embracing the worst ideas you can think of, knowing you’ll eventually find something better.)

3.  Think like a child. Children have no assumptions or preconceptions about how the world works. To tap into your inner child, remember the kinds of ways you used to play when you were young—and then do them. Fly a kite, build a sandcastle, make paper airplanes, play a game, or whatever strikes your fancy. You’ll loosen up your mind and see the world in a different light.

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Drawing can spur your creativity and you don’t have to be a Picasso. Just try some of these games with your friends, from the My Modern Met website.

The Exquisite Corpse. In this game, developed by the 20th-century Surrealist artists, one person begins a drawing at the top of a sheet of paper, then folds it over or covers it up so only a bit of the bottom is showing. The next person continues the drawing, folds it down, and so on. Unfolding it to reveal the completed drawing should produce surprises, laughs, and even some ideas.

Paper Telephone. One person writes a short, descriptive phrase on a piece of paper, then passes it to the next person, who then draws a picture based on the phrase. The next person looks only at the picture and then writes a phrase or sentence describing it. The following person then draws a picture of that phrase, and so on. By the end, the final picture and the original phrase may have nothing to do with each other.

Blind Contour. In this exercise, you and a friend draw something around you, but without looking at the paper—just the subject of your drawing. Keep your pen or pencil on the paper at all times. You might be surprised at what you see.

Scribbles. One person scribbles on a piece of paper, eyes closed. The next person has to turn that doodle into a drawing. This forces your mind to make sense of nonsense.

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Canadian seasonally-adjusted retail sales fell 1.8% to $57.0 billion in December. Declining sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (-9.5%) and furniture and home furnishings stores (-11.3%) contributed most to the drop. The initial spread of the Omicron variant in December also drove falling sales activity. Core retail sales, which strips out gasoline and vehicle and parts sales, decreased 2.4% in December. In volume terms, sales declined 2.5%. 

In BC, seasonally-adjusted sales declined 1.4% in December. Compared to the same month last year, retail sales were up 3.3% in the province. In the Greater Vancouver region, sales declined 1.6% month-over-month and were up 7.7% year-over-year. 

In December, Canadian e-commerce sales declined 3.9% to 4.1 billion. As a result, e-commerce decreased from 6.8% of total retail sales in November to 6.5% in December. This percentage remains elevated relative to pre-pandemic levels. 

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.
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I’d love to offer you one word today, courage. It was a mere two years ago when we found ourselves in unprecedented times. And now, look at where we are and how far we’ve come. Things are less scary and more manageable all because we adapted.

When a person does not have courage, it’s impossible to adapt because, to adapt, one must be willing to be uncomfortable. And if we flashback two years ago… uncomfortable we were!

At first, the adjustment felt unattainable, but then, at a certain point, things normalized. We stayed home, connected with loved ones in innovative ways, taught ourselves how to cook, and learned how to navigate new technology. It wasn’t easy, but we figured it out. Some people think courage means running into a burning building, but to me, it just means walking towards the unknown. Two years ago, the entire world had to be courageous at the same time. We had to be willing to do something we had never done before, and we also had to be willing to be wrong and try again.

We are not completely ‘back to normal’, but we have adapted to a new way of living, I want to remind you of your courage. For some of us, the courage was in helping others and being on the front line, and for some of us, the courage was leading our team while working remotely for the first time. Whatever courage means to you, embrace it.

With Gratitude,

Gino Pezzani

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Canadian prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 5.1% on a year-over-year basis in January, up from 4.8% in December. On a month-over-month basis, the CPI rose 0.9% in January (0.6% seasonally adjusted). The Bank of Canada's preferred measures of core inflation (which use techniques to strip out volatile elements) rose an average of 3.2% year-over-year in January. Prices rose year-over-year across all major components of the index, but prices were driven in particular by a 6.2% rise in shelter costs, the highest rate of appreciation since February 1990. Goods (+7.2%) continued to rise at a faster pace than services (+3.4%) in January. In BC, consumer prices rose 4.3% year-over-year in January, driven in part by a 4.2% increase in average rents. 

While inflation may moderate over the second half of this year, especially if gasoline prices come down from record highs and home price growth slows, we expect that inflation will still be trending well above the Bank of Canada's 2 per cent target in 2022. To counteract this inflation, the Bank of Canada will begin raising its overnight rate at its March 2 meeting. We expect the Bank will increase its overnight rate a total of six times over the next year, bringing its key policy rate to 1.75 per cent before pausing to assess the impact of higher interest rates on the economy.


For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.
Link: https://mailchi.mp/bcrea/canadian-inflation-january-2022

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Valentine’s Day celebrates love and happiness, and although real life offers plenty of true stories with happily-ever-after endings, many of us look to literature for inspiring tales of passion’s power.

Romeo and Juliet. Teenagers from feuding families meet, fall in love, marry, and ultimately end their lives rather than live without each other.

Odysseus and Penelope. Penelope remains faithful to her absent husband for 20 long years; Odysseus persists in his quest to return home after the Trojan War. Both overcome temptations and obstacles to be reunited at last.

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Charlotte Brontë’s classic 19th century novel tells the tale of a young governess and a gruff, lonely landowner with a dark secret. But love triumphs in the end.

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