Setting Your Limits

Sometimes a few constraints can boost your creativity. As recounted on the Fast Company website, publisher Bennett Cerf bet one of his authors, Theo Geisel— better known as Dr. Seuss— that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Seuss stepped up to the challenge and won the bet with his book, Green Eggs and Ham.

“Putting limits to encourage creativity might sound counterintuitive.” writes JotForm CEO Aytekin Tank on the website. “But the thing is, constraints encourage more divergent thinking— and you can leverage built-in limits or apply them to the project at hand. For example, sometimes we’ll tell our designers that they can only have 10 elements on a product screen. These limits stretch their problem-solving abilities and typically produce surprising results.”

Very Suspicious

A police officer was testing three potential detectives on suspect identification. She showed the first man a photo for five seconds and then turned the photo over and asked the candidate how he could best be identified. The man replied that the suspect would be easy to spot because he has only one eye. The police officer frowned and explained that only one eye was showing because it was a profile photo. She moved on to the next candidate, who sat back in his chair, smiled and smugly said:

“Ha! He’d be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!”

“What’s the matter with you two?!” exclaimed the officer. “Only one eye and one ear are showing because it’s a picture of his side profile!”

Extremely frustrated, she showed the picture to the third candidate and asked the question for a third time. The third man looked at the picture intently then calmly pointed out that the suspect wears contact lenses. The officer didn’t know what to think but checked the suspect’s file on her computer, and was shocked to find it was true.

“Wow! I can’t believe it. It’s true! The suspect does, in fact, wear contact lenses. Good work! How were you able to make such an astute observation?”

“Easy,” the third man replied. “He can’t wear regular glasses because he only has one eye and one ear.”

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DaVinci’s Designs

Leonardo da Vinci is known for such paintings as “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper,” but he was also a masterful engineer. According to the LiveScience website, in the 16th century he designed what would have been the longest bridge in the world at the time, connecting Constantinople to a nearby area called Galata over the Bosporus Sea. He was responding to a request for proposals from Sultan Bayezid, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

DaVinci’s bridge was never built, but modern researchers from MIT have built a 3D replica of the bridge, using materials and construction equipment that would have been available in the 16th century.

They found that da Vinci’s design, using only a single arch, would have been structurally sound, thanks to compression that would have held the bridge’s stones together.

Leonardo was a true Renaissance man.

Housing Markets Flat in 2019 After Strong Second Half

Vancouver, BC – January 13, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 77,331 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2019, a decline of 1.5 per cent from the 78,516 units sold in 2018. The annual average MLS® residential price in BC was $700,460, a decline of 1.6 per cent from $711,564 recorded the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $54.2 billion, a 3 per cent decline from 2018.

“Housing markets across the province staged a strong recovery in the second half of 2019,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “This sets up 2020 to be a much more typical year than what markets have experienced recently.”

A total of 5,218 MLS® residential unit sales were recorded across the province in December, up 48.9 per cent from December 2018. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $755,165, an increase of 8.7 per cent from December 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $3.9 billion, a 61.8 per cent increase year-over-year.

Total active residential listings were down 10.6 per cent to 24,691 units in December. Total inventory of homes for sale have declined more than 10 per cent on a year-over-year basis for two straight months.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Canadian Employment (Dec) – January, 2020

A good news report. Canadian employment increased by 35,200 jobs in December, partially offsetting the previous month’s decline of 71,200 jobs. This brought the national unemployment rate down from 5.9% in the previous month to 5.6% in December. Regionally, the increase was led by Ontario (25,000) and Quebec (21,000). December’s increase was largely driven by full time work in the private-sector, which finally broke its losing streak. Most of the increase was in accommodation and food services (25,000) and in construction (17,000), while other industries saw little change. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment is up 1.7%.

Not a great report. Employment in BC fell by 7,700 jobs in December, following last month’s decline of 18,200. The decline was primarily driven by part-time employment (-6,500). By Industry, employment losses were generally broad-based, with the exception of construction, health care/social assistance, and accommodation and food services. The provincial unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 4.8%. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC is up by 0.3% (7,100) jobs.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Canadian Housing Starts (Dec) – January, 2020

Canadian housing starts decreased by 3.4% in December to 197,329 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). The trend in national housing starts fell, averaging about 212,000 units SAAR over the past six months.

In BC, housing starts fell by 10% on a monthly basis to 42,791 units SAAR, largely due to contractions in the volatile multi-unit segment in regions outside of Vancouver. Compared to the same time last year, provincial starts were down by 16%. The province ended 2019 with the highest level of housing starts since 1955, the year when data collection began.

Looking at census metropolitan areas in BC:

Housing starts in Vancouver were flat in December, following last month’s 78% increase. Compared to last year in December, housing starts were up by 12%. In 2019, Vancouver reported record-level housing starts.

In Victoria, housing starts were down by 23% on a monthly basis to 3,263 units SAAR. Compared to a year ago in December, housing starts were down by 66%. Overall, housing starts in Victoria slowed by 18% in 2019 when compared to last year.

In Kelowna, housing starts decreased by 74% in December to 908 units SAAR. Year-over-year starts were down by 73% in the region. In 2019, housing starts were 12% lower than in 2018.

Monthly housing starts in Abbotsford-Mission were up by 54% at 2,517 units SAAR. Compared to the same time last year, new home construction was down by 28%. Abbotsford-Mission ended 2019 on a strong note with housing starts up by 61% compared to 2018.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Stats Centre December 2019 for Housing in Great Vancouver

The latest Stats Centre Report for Great Vancouver is now available.

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Dealing With Stress

Stress has a negative impact on everyone’s health. One way to ease the stress in your life? Unsurprisingly, Bicycle Cards advises that you play a game of cards. They might be onto something— here’s how a few friendly rounds of cards can help reduce stress:

• Conversation. A card game isn’t just about counting up points. It’s an excellent path to friendly and lively conversations that can help you relax.

• Laughter. Conversation usually leads to laughter, which can reduce tension in your mind and body.

Low pressure. Assuming you’re not playing high-stakes poker with your life savings on the line, a nice game of hearts or gin rummy offers entertainment without pressure.

• Brain exercise. Strategizing, keeping track of the play, and calculating your points at the end of the game helps keep your mind fresh.

• No technology. You can play blackjack on your smartphone, but a few hands of pinochle with friends lets you detach from technology and reconnect with the rest of the world.

Winning Advice

People who’ve made it to the top have lots of advice to share. The Muse website features these tidbits:

  • Miriam Salpeter, founder of Keppie Careers: “Use every job as an opportunity to learn something new and keep an open mind; you may find that you really enjoy something you never imagined would appeal to you.”
  • Catherine Straut, assistant editor of Elle: “When it comes to having your ideas heard, or to really connect with co-workers, never underestimate the power of face time and the importance of in-person communication.”
  • Jane Fonda, actress: “If the career you have chosen has some unexpected inconvenience, console yourself by reflecting that no career is without them.”