7 types of people you will see at the CFA exams

The Dude Bro: Wears a backwards baseball cap, a polo, and plaid shorts; essentially looks like a walking Abercrombie ad. Brings the bare minimum exam tools. Maybe an eraser if he’s feeling a little less confident. Seems to know every other Dude Bro candidate, probably from drunken times at various keggers. Will take any break opportunities to socialize with their frat friends.

The Hopeful Single Girl: Showed up on exam day partially to take advantage of the high male to female ratio. Wears bright-coloured form-fitting top, super tight yoga pants, and a face full of makeup. Travels alone to increase chances of guys approaching her. Spends 10 minutes in the washroom touching up her mascara, prior to catwalking back to her seat.

The Banking Veteran: Older gentleman, fully suited up with a tie. Studied a total of 4hrs, banking on his 30yrs of professional experience to propel him to a passing score. Erroneously thought exam day is another networking opportunity. Gives disgusted looks to the hordes of younger, just-out-of-school candidates running around in sweatpants and flip-flops, blaming these whippersnappers for the ruin of the glory days of banking.

The Nervous Wreck: Spends every minute of lunch break trying to re-hash his notes or memorize another footnote. Brought all 6 curriculum books in a giant backpack in the off chance he needs to refer to it. Refuses to acknowledge the existence of anyone speaking to him, in fear that an extra conversation will set him off his game. Has the most pristine study notes.

The Level I Newbie: Arrived an hour earlier than the reporting time. Allowed enough extra travel time to account for traffic, accidents, schedule changes, and being abducted by aliens. Brought every single writing instrument she could find in her house, in addition to a pencil sharpener, two extra calculators, calculator batteries, and screwdriver to change the battery.

The Lost Cause: Stumbled into the exam room just as the doors were closing. Forgot his calculator. Bloodshot eyes and darkened face from an all-nighter, in which he thought he could learn the entire curriculum. Finishes the AM portion in an hour and sits there for another 15 minutes wondering what to do, observing everyone else furiously writing. Says “fuck it”, doesn’t go back to check his answers, hands in the morning exam, and slogs back home to bed.

The Fob Mob: Group of 4-6 Asians, who arrive to the exam together, take lunch break together, and leave the venue together. Females all wearing some cream-coloured frilly dress appropriate for strawberry-picking. Males all wearing black, rectangular, thick-rimmed glasses and sporting anime hair. Converses in loud Mandarin, opening discussing how they answered every single exam question and posting to some BBS via cellphone, despite knowing it is a violation of the CFA Professional Standards.

About Mad Men


Mad Men main characters

You will never look this boss

I really enjoy Mad Men. Everyone knows the premise: employees of a New York advertising agency do stuff in the 60’s. But what is it really about? What are these people trying to accomplish here? What’s the end goal? Who are the good guys and bad guys? Why am I giddy when I get to watch this show, even though I have no idea what it’s about?? Why am I asking all these questions??!?!?!?!!

I think the reason why I keep watching is because it makes me feel uncomfortable.* Not like being-touched-by-a-creeper uncomfortable. Like unsettled uncomfortable.  Our innate desire for closure and relatability is exploited. We want to rationalize and connect everything that happens on this show, but some things are seemingly baseless. Not everything ties together nicely, and it leaves me wondering “Ok? Well…? Soooo…….then what??”.

But such is life. Some things are inexplicable, people are irrational, and that’s okay. Love this show.

*Disclosure: the other reason why I keep watching is for the pretty sets and wardrobe :D

Remember me?

For some reason I decided to have a look through some of my REALLY REALLY old blog entries (you won’t find them on this site; I had to do a lookup in the Wayback Machine).  I had anticipated them being horribly-written, cringe-worthy and all-around cheeseball-y immature. Surprisingly enough, I did not feel like tucking myself in and melting away in embarrassment. Instead, it was quite the interesting experience to mentally transport myself back to my 17 or 20-year-old frame of mind and recall how I used to think about my self and the rest of the world. Even the mundane posts enlighten by giving me flashbacks into the motives and purpose of writing that entry. It sort of brought me back to why I started blogging in the first place.

It wasn’t about getting those page views, or announcing to the world every detail of my fabulously interesting life. It wasn’t about delivering news or endorsing my own schools of thought to my readers. (God knows there are millions of other blogs who do these things much better than I will ever be able to.) To me, blogging was about keeping a personal record, and having a space to jot down my thoughts and beliefs. As I was reading my archaic entries, it was fascinating to see how my thought process, expectations of life, and tone of speaking has changed over the years. It’s almost an exercise to reflect on my self-progression and assess my growth. Do I like the person I have become? Would 17 or 20-year-old Louise approve of me now? Would she have looked up to me and said “I want to be just like that”? How do my goals in life differ after all this time?

A blog/diary/journal is, in my eyes, the best possibly way that a person can honestly reflect on him/herself. Photos lie and do not provide any context. Social tools like Facebook are distorted by people cherry picking “highlights” to share. So I would like to continue blogging, if anything, for my future self.

It’s been a while

To my dear readers, especially the throngs of you who have been on edge everyday, wondering if I’m still around – I am happy to announce that yes, I live on! There’s a good reason why I didn’t have “update blog more often” as an item on my list of things to do over the summer…

I can’t legitimately cross off a lot of things from the aforementioned list, but the summer has been quite awesome thus far anyways. Work has been going quite well. By “well”, I mean it’s never boring, and I can’t ask for a better environment. I think I’m one of the few people my age who thoroughly enjoy being at work. Either there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, or I’ve really struck gold here.

As much as I bask in the feeling of selling my soul to corporate, an office job with a 3-hour commute is hardly the way I would prefer to be spending my first summer in five years where I don’t have to worry about academics. I decided to use this free time to catch up with my travels. Given the amount of crazy I’d been through during the first half of the year, I had initially decided on some relaxing, resort-type, lounging-around vacation.

NOPE. Spent two months running around.

Buffalo, NY. A much-needed shopping trip while the Loonie was flying high (it’s actually flying even higher now). After a day of outlet craze, we swung by Niagara Falls on the way back across the border and were lucky enough to catch some fireworks.


Fireworks at Niagara. Photo shamelessly stolen from Eric.


Mont Tremblant, QC. As a last-minute decision, six of us signed up for one of those Chinese bus tours that took us to Mont Tremblant over the Canada Day long weekend. WHAT, you say, WHY would you crazy people lumber up to a ski resort mid-summer? WELL, I reply, it was actually quite gorgeous with surprisingly a wide range of activities. We made a few mandatory useless stops (namely Upper Canada Village) on the way there and back, so we really ended up having only one full day to spend at the resort. It was decided that we needed to make the day count as much as possible. What followed was our execution of CHALLENGE ACCEPTED:

  • Breakfast at French café! When I start the day with chocolate milk on a patio, I know it’s going to be an awesome day.
  • Boat cruise around Lac Tremblant! Watch a ginormous helicopter land at a baller vacation home.
  • Lounging / swimming at hotel pool! Reject idea of poolside eating because we can’t afford a $7 hot dog at the Fairmont.
  • Lunch at Spanish restaurant! The day only gets more awesome with chimichangas on a patio.
  • Cable car up to mountain top! It was extremely windy at the summit, and the view figuratively and literally blew us away.
  • Luge down mountain! Apparently it’s a Québécois thing, and was one of the best random calls of the day.
  • Kayak in the lake! By the time we got a hang of things, it was time for our appointment at…
  • Scandinave Spa! Lily and I went for Swedish massages and Scandinavian Baths to rejuvenate while the others had their own little misadventures.
  • Dinner in the resort village! With live music and yes, on a patio.
  • Le Casino de Mont Tremblant! Matt gained a 1000% return playing a slots machine called Chien Académie (sounds legit).


View from the top of Mont Tremblant! Thanks Matt for giving me implicit permission to post this photo.


After we got back to our rooms I pretty much passed out instantly and don’t recall anything else. On the way home the tour stopped by Kingston where Char gave us a quick tour of downtown and the Queens University campus. Now Waterloo seems even uglier by comparison.

California. I can’t even fully recall what I did here, but simply thinking back makes me miss it so much!

My impression of Los Angeles was what I expected after speaking to numerous people who have been there before – sprawling, overhyped and kind of ghetto. Certain areas were only nice in the sense that you could marvel up close at the multi-million dollar mansions of local residents in the Hills. We ended up spending much more time in San Diego, where the beaches were nicer, the traffic was better, and the burritos were holy. Some Kodak Moments included:

  • MXN, a chain of Mexican fast food restaurants. We could’ve eaten this on any occasion. Proper meal, midnight snack, drunk food, post-roadtrip arrival food, beach-side munching… you name it.
  • Surfing at Pacific Beach. Or our attempt at doing so. We rented some boards and were merrily floating in the water when I started noticing that the waves kept pushing me out to sea and made it nearly impossible for me to get closer to the beach. Before I made it all the way back, a lifeguard actually turned up with a megaphone and instructed us to get out of the water ASAP. Once we were all safely on land, he explained that we were in a riptide, and lectured us about getting actual surfing lessons. First time for everything!
  • Jetskiing in Mission Bay. I get why people can do this in circles for hours by themselves. It’s just so liberating. 30MPH doesn’t sound like much but it gets intense when you’re on pretty much what is a motorized bike on open water.
  • La Jolla. An upscale beachside neighbourhood in northern San Diego, I regretted not being able to spend more time exploring the area.
  • Meeting up with Gavin & co. for a bar night and dinner the next day at San Diego’s best lamb shank joint, according to Yelp.
  • Gifting Dan a microwave. “What did you guys buy? It’s so big… You guys got me a microwave?”
  • San Diego Zoo. Having worked in a zoo, I was impressed with the way everything was laid out, the tour buses were conducted, and the variety of flora and fauna found there. I didn’t quite feel all the hype with the Panda exhibit though. There was actually a line-up for the exhibit itself, and as adorable as it was, only one cub was on display.
  • Driving through Gaslamp. We were so tired at this point that we settled for a comfy car tour of the district. It’s so much cleaner and more upscale than any entertainment district I’ve seen so far anywhere. Somehow it has this warm, friendly, yet sophisticated vibe. Maybe I’ve just been hanging out in all the wrong areas.


Can I just live here...

Mark my words, San Diego… I will be back for actual Gaslamp shindigs, SeaWorld and of course the ever epic LegoLand. And maybe to retire.

A morning drive up the I-5 later, we found ourselves back in the Los Angeles area to meet up with Connie and Herman. First up was ferrying our burrito-filled butts (1lb burrito for breakfast, say WHATTT) to Catalina. It was a gorgeous island, albeit touristy. After exploring the boardwalk, we did the only thing there was to do – golf cart around the island bluffs! This was much more fun than I expected. I don’t think anyone in history was as elated as I was driving a golf cart. Caddy, anyone?


Golf carting to new heights. That's how we roll.

The highlight of Catalina was having the chance to scuba dive for the first time in an actual reef. Normally for recreational dives they’d first train you in a pool or something. I have no idea how deep we went (40-50 feet maybe?) but the experience was interesting to say the least. Not the most comfortable hobby but I suspect you’d get used to it. It might be a while before I dive again, but it’s rather surreal to be swimming among schools of fish and holding a live sea urchin in your hand.

We spent the night out in downtown LA, then caught some Zs before flying back to the Land of Thunderstorms and Haze, aka Toronto.

On a couple of random notes:

  • I completely understand the California song, about driving down the freeway. It is really such an awesome feeling, with the ocean on one side (though you can’t really see it) and mountains on the other. The only thing that could’ve made it better was if we rented a convertible. While I’m at it with the random points, doesn’t that blond guitarist from Wave look like Neil Patrick Harris? A little bit??
  • I am impressed at how well flippers work in practice. For some reason I never expected them to be a necessity but they do quite a good job in propulsion.

I miss this.

I’m going to cap this post right here and continue MY SUMMER: PART DEUX in another entry, before anyone starts suing me for eye strain. You’re welcome!


Long time no see, my darlings! I thought it’d be a good time to change things up a bit, for a simpler (and hopefully faster-loading) theme.

It’s been busy with work and study, so there’s not too much to say, except that I’m really looking forward to post-exam time. In fact I’ve already made a list of things I would like to do this summer (but definitely not limited to):

  • Wander down Queen St West and pilfer through vintage/thrift shops
  • Have a picnic in Scarborough Bluffs (with Lunchables…omnomnom)
  • Visit High Park during cherry blossom season
  • Walk along a beach at sunset (and a lot of beach-ing in general)
  • Buy and construct a 1000+ piece puzzle
  • Play a crapload of boardgames
  • Read a ton of books I’ve been missing out on
  • Camping, including hiking pretty nature areas (campsite’s been booked already!)
  • Get a lot of exercise
  • Frequent patios just to chill
  • Go to concerts/musicals/exhibitions, as my workplace is pretty close to entertainment/theatre district

I am open to suggestions and/or interested participants in any of the above! Hope you guys are all enjoying the spring weather. Also hopefully I will have more interesting things to blog once this exam is out of the way. I am pretty much going to be a major party-pooper until then.