The best Canadian cities for millennials

Generation Why is a financial advice website for millennials by millennials. 
Generation Why's goal is to teach you the lessons about money school forgot to. 
Read more here.

Toronto and Montreal have been rivals for decades. Whether it’s the Leafs vs the Canadiens, UofT vs McGill or a debate about which city has the most attractive people, Toronto and Montreal are always in competition.

But which is a better city for millennials?

We asked a group of millennials what things they would consider before moving to a different city and compared those factors for Toronto and Montreal. We’re going to put an end to this silly debate once and for all! Probably not but here we go:

Median income

Toronto: $72,830     Montreal: $73,250

Median age

Toronto: 39.2             Montreal: 38.6

Crime rate

Toronto: 0.81%       Montreal 0.96%

Unemployment rate

Toronto: 7.8%         Montreal: 7.8%

Rent (1 bedroom apartment)

Toronto: $1,492.88, outside of city $1,142.12     Montreal: $942.90, outside of city 654.26

It looks like Montreal is the better city for millennials because the cost of living in Toronto is too damn high! According to Numbeo, Montreal is more affordable than Toronto in matters that most effect young adults like cost of rent and transportation. By Numbeo’s calculations the cost of living Toronto is 18% more expensive than in Montreal. You would need about $5,290.49 in Toronto to maintain the same lifestyle that you can have with $4,400.00 in Montreal.

People have often said “Toronto is a great city to live in…if you can afford it.”

Earlier this year the Angus Reid Institute conducted a survey which revealed that 45% of millennials are “seriously considering” moving out of Toronto because they don’t think they’ll ever be able to own a house there. Currently the cost of a house in Toronto is upwards of half-a-million dollars; and 8% increase since the last quarter. Many millennials feel as if they’re being pushed out of the housing market and being forced to rent. Unfortunately, that situation isn’t much better; according to Diana Cappa, student housing coordinator at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Toronto’s vacancy rate is anywhere between 1-2%. That means if there are 100 rent-able apartments only 1 or two of them will be available at any given time in the year.

The high prices of owning and renting a place in Toronto means that many millennials will end up living at home longer than their parents did. Some have called this phenomenon of millennials living at home “failure to launch syndrome” while others say it’s a good idea. Even on the national level more and more young adults are living at home longer according to StatsCan.


According to Angus Reid Institute45% of millennails in the GTA  are “seriously” thinking of leaving the GTA due to the high cost of home ownership. And 48% of them are “frustrated” by how far they live from work or school. So if you’re tired of living at home or tired of how much it costs to live in Toronto you could always move. According to Monster.ca, it’s not even one of the top five cities of millennials. Neither is Montreal. Below is a map of Canada hi-lighting some of the best cities for millennials along with some important information about them cities.

Should I stay or should I go?

Generation Why is a financial advice website for millennials by millennials. 
Generation Why's goal is to teach you the lessons about money school forgot to.
Read more here.

I know it’s exam season but breathe; you’re almost there. Soon you’ll be home with warm beverages, holiday-themed-TV specials and most importantly, no school. Just visualize it. Where are you?

Some of you are studying in a different city than the one you grew up in; is that place your home or do you consider home where you’re living now? You may be thinking of relocating somewhere completely new even if you’re living at home now. The whole Ted Mosby “My parents live in Cleveland, I live in the moment” thing is only cute for so long. Eventually everyone has to move-out, enter the “real world” and there are some things you should consider first.

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JOBS

Jennah Pomgyal described moving-out as the “next level of life.” In 2009, Pomgyal took everything she owned and moved into an apartment in Toronto three hours from her home in Tillsonburg, Ont. Pomgyal, 25, moved to study theatre at Humber College and has lived in Toronto ever since. Life in Toronto, with it’s population of 2.79 million, is a culture-shift from the 15,000 people of Tillsonburg. Pomgyal said a big part of her decision to move was finding a job in her field.

“You need to be where the work is,” she explained. If there aren’t many jobs in the field you’re trying to get into, move. For an actress like Pomgyal that meant being in the city; Toronto has over a dozen theatres and one of the biggest entertainment district’s in North America.

The unemployment rate, crime rate, taxation rate and cost of living are all things you should consider before you relocate. For example, the unemployment rate is 12.3 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador and 4.7 per cent in Saskatchewan.

HOUSING

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Young adults have to consider how close do they want to live to work (or school), do they want to be close to downtown, what is the cost of transit and are they going to rent privately or live with roommates. Diana Cappa says that preparing for your search is the first step to moving out. Cappa is the student-housing coordinator at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.

that UTSC’s residence office offers a two-hour workshop so students understand “what they’re entering into.”

UTSC’s residence office offers a two-hour workshop so students can get an understanding of “what they’re entering into.”

Cappa admitted that finding the perfect place in To ronto can be challenging because the market is “very competitive”, especially for affordable housing. “In Toronto the average vacancy rate is 1-2 per cent  per every rental unit it,” Cappa said.

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One of the sacrifices young adults usually have to make to find affordable housing is being further from downtown or living with roommates. Roommates are a great way to cut back on the costs of living says Cappa because they split the cost of rent, utilities and sometimes furniture.Cappa recommends looking for places that are furnished or partially furnished and also suggested looking on community boards like Kijiji for furniture.

Having roommates can also be nice for the social benefits; they can help make you feel more comfortable in a place city as well as show you around. Sites like Groupon are also useful because they can help you find deals and cool things to do around the city.

Negotiating the terms of your lease before you sign it is another way you can save on your rent.

“There might be services like lawn maintenance or snow removal included in your lease that you can opt out of or negotiate for a flat rate” Cappa explained.

She pointed out that it’s important for young adults to be aware of their rights and responsibilities as tenants. It’s good to get legal advice or have someone help you decode the legal jargon of your lease, this is especially important for international students and people who’d first language isn’t English. Cappa said international students and people who’s first language isn’t English are most likely to be taken advantage of or discriminated against by landlords.

MAKE ADJUSTMENTS

Vlada Moroz made a ton of adjustments when she moved to Halifax to live with her brother. She limited groceries  down to the essentails and spent most nights at home because regular work was hard to come by.

“I wasn’t getting nearly as many hours as before,” she recalled.

Not to mention, the minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $10.40 compared to $11.00 in Ontario. Sixty cents sounds like “no big deal” Moroz said but “you think about money differently when you’re paying for everything,” she elaborated.

Living in Halifax taught Moroz to be mindful when it came to money; she learned about rates, percentages, how to pay a bill and the importance of paying them on-time.

Moroz lived in Halifax for two-and-a-half years and said it was a horrible experience but it helped her become more independent.

“I definitely learned to ‘adult’ a little bit better,” she laughed.

Living away from home is a right of passage and it can be an amazing experience. Although moving out is a big step to take, don’t let it freak you out or turn you off. Someone living with their parents going into their 30s, now that’s a turn off.

If you’re thinking of moving-out check out the best cities for millennials in Canada. 

A smartphone that gets smarter

Published on the Toronto Observer.


Whether you’re on team ‘iPhone’ or team ‘Android’ a new android robot mobile device with big, round eyes that chat can stand, walk and move its hands is bringing the future into the present.

Recently Japan’s Sharp Corporation introduced RoBoHoN, the phone-robot developed with the help of Tomotaka Takahashi, CEO of Robo Garage.

What sets RoBoHoN apart from other phones is its interpersonal skills. RoBoHoN is designed for interaction — the more you interact with it, the smarter it becomes, with a better understanding of its owner.

Users can have conversations with it, and, according to Takahashi, RoBoHoN wants to help, becomes friends and “share your dreams.”

The bot is set to be released in Japan early next year. There is no information about when it will be made available in Canada.

While RoBoHoN may be new, the concept of a friendly machine capable of learning isn’t. Movies such as I, Robot and the Transformers franchise have explored the idea of robots and artificial intelligence.

“What people don’t realize is that these kinds of things aren’t just in the future, they’re here now,” said Sandy Fleischer, managing partner at Pound & Grain, a digital creative agency in Vancouver, which also has an office in Toronto.

Fleischer admits there is a possibility of a dystopian outcome with artificial intelligence, but that’s not a main concern of his.

“What we do is look at how technologies can be useful and relevant,” he said.

“It expresses personality, which changes the way you interact with it,” he added.

Technologies that are able to personalize themselves and interact with a user, such as Siri and SlackBot, show signs of artificial intelligence.

Fleischer thinks that down the line our devices will be able to interact with each other on our behalves which would bring “interesting” possibilities.

Some of those of possibilities include a technological singularity as well as merging of biology and technology.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that technology will continue to advance until it’s beyond human comprehension or control. Kurzweil says that this outcome is not only possible but inevitable and will happen in 30 years.

Other possibilities for the future of technology include transhumanism, which is a theory and movement that supports fusing technology with biology to increase of capabilities.

“All the signs point towards that happening,” commented Fleischer. “I think it’s a matter of when.”

There is also technology being developed which aims to understand our brains, solve our impending water crisis and fight pandemics.

National Geographic and General Electric teamed up to create the six-episode television series Breakthrough, which takes a closer look at groundbreaking science.

Each episode explores a different technology meant to deal with a certain problem. The show’s interactive website features a cool guide to all the episodes, extra information and speculations from celebrity scientists. The six-episode series runs from Nov.1 – Dec. 13.

Don’t call me daddy

Written for the Toronto Observer

Most people wouldn’t associate the title “prime minister” with “daddy”; that is, unless Justin Trudeau is involved.

Trudeau and the Liberal’s won a majority government in the the 42nd federal election ushering in a new wave of Trudeaumania. From defending a reporter from a heckler, to his now-famous one-liner to videos of him dancing–looking much less awkward than NDP leader Tomas Mulcair— has earned Trudeau fans.

But that’s not all the young prime minister is getting attention for. Several media outlets have commented on the “dreamy” new face of Canadian politics, from The Daily Show to Forbes magazine. People in Canada and aboard have been swooning over the prime minister’s good looks, a stark contrast from attack ads that suggested his looks were a weakness.

Toronto-based clothing line Shelfies, celebrated Trudeau’s looks and victory with a sweater named the “Dreamy Trudeau sweater.” The design is also available for a vest and t-shirt.

However, some people are not too happy about the way the new prime minister has been talked about. Digital editor of the National Post, Jen Gerson, wrote a scathing article about people obsessing over Trudeau’s looks saying comments about how attractive the prime minister is are “cringe-worthy” and “embarrassing.” Rhianna Myatt, a third-year student studying gender studies and mental health at the University of Toronto said the media’s treatment of Trudeau is a double standard.

“People would say it was sexist if it was happening to a woman,” she commented.

Trudeau has received treatment that some would deem inappropriate if the subject were a woman, especially a politician. On election night, #daddyTrudeau was trending on Twitter and New York Magazine recently created a paper doll for Trudeau, complete changeable outfits and a tacitly-placed Maple leaf.  According to Myatt, attention based on someone’s looks is a distraction and a sign of not valuing one’s intellect. She cited the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 federal election in the USA.

“No one was listening to what she was saying, they were always talking about what she was wearing,” Myatt added.

Freelancer and social media coordinator Lauren Messervey, pointed out that the media’s adoration of Trudeau is unfair because of how female politicians are treated because of their looks. Messervey referenced the coverage of Conservative-turned-Liberal Belinda Stronach who served as the minister of human resources and skills between 2004-2008. Messervey recalled when Stronach was appointed and how everyone had something to say about her looks but it became all people talked about. The word “slut” was tossed around when describing Stronach and her looks were used as a reason to disregard her experience.

Michelle Rempel, Tory MP for Calgary Nose Hill and is one of the candidates to succeed Stephen Harper as the leader of the Conservative Party. When speculation broke that Rempel might replace Harper, she received mixed messages on Twitter. The 35-year old has been described as too young and too “bold” for the position despite having more experience in government than the prime minister.

Just because someone’s attractive doesn’t mean they can’t be successful politician. Here’s a look at some of prettiest faces in politics:

Mara Carfagna:

Mara Carfagna, (Italy) 39, the former actress and model served as the Minister for Equal Opportunity under Silvio Berlusconi between 2008-2011.

Alina Kabeava:

Alina Kabaeva, 33 (Russia), the retired gymnast is a deputy of the United Russia Party and was rumoured to be Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend.

Hans Linde:

Hans Linde, 36, (Sweden).  group leader of the Left Party parliamentary group since 2010.

Imran Khan:

Imran Khan, 63  (Pakistan) the former Cricket World Cup captain was the founder of the political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insa.

Belinda Stronach:

Belinda Stronach, 49 (Canada), served as Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development under Paul Martin from 2005 to 2006.

Barak Obama:

Barak Obama, 54 (United States), Obama has been president for two terms and the first African-American to be elected to the White House.

Watch what you say online

Written for the Toronto Observer

Social media has made it harder for people to separate their private and professional lives, and it’s not just your actions at work now that can cost you your job.

In May of this year, Hydro One fired Shawn Simoes after Simoes was caught on camera in a confrontation with CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt after a Toronto FC match. The incident revolved around the viral-prank-turned-phrase, FHRITP. The phrase has been called misogynistic and an example of “bro” mentality.  When Hunt asked Simoes and his friends whether they thought the phrase appropriate Simoes said it was “f—— hilarious … it’s f——  amazing, and I respect it.”

The video spread online and was met with a slew of negative comments. Simoes was eventually identified as a Hydro One employee, and when the company found out about the video Simoes was dismissed for violating the code of conduct. Last week Simoes was rehired and returned to his position after going through an arbitration process.

Simoes situation has reopened the conversation about the ethical standards employers hold their employees to. Hyrdo One argued that Simoes actions in May didn’t reflect the companies values, but apparently that alone isn’t grounds for dismissal. At least not in this case.

During the lead up to the federal election several MP-candidates got in trouble because of inappropriate things they said or posted online. In Toronto, two Conservative MP-candidates were dropped by the party after they made headlines for the wrong reasons.

Toronto-Danforth’s Tim Dutaud was forced to step down after he was identified as the “UniCaller”, a prankster who uploaded a video to Youtube of him crank calling people. In the video Tutaud can be seen faking an orgasm while on the phone with a female-customer-service representative, and also mocking people with mental disabilities. The videos were uploaded six years ago.

Dutaud’s incident happened on the heels of the dismissal of fellow-former Conservative, Jerry Bance. Bance was the Torries candidate for the Scarborough-Rouge Park riding but was dropped by the party after he was identified as the repairman caught peeing in a homeowner’s mug by a CBC surveillance camera.

When an employer fires an employee for their online activity they have to consider the history of the employee (are they a repeat offender?), how long the person has been with the company, does the publicity hurt the company’s image and what is deemed “inappropriate” according to Daniel Lublin. Lublin is an employment lawyer who has represented employers and employees. According to Lublin’s reasoning, in the case of Dutaud and Bance, it’s debatable how inappropriate their actions were but it’s clear their actions hurt the Conservative’s brand.

Another thing to factor when looking into social-media slip-ups is whether the comments made or actions taken affect the person’s ability to do their job. Bance and Dataud showed poor judgement, which is not something you want from someone who’s supposed to be a public figure elected to represent the people.

As former MP candidates, Bance and Dataud represented the Conservative brand which is why their actions got them fired says Sean Smith. Smith is a social media coach and believes the role of the employee is important to consider when choosing a punishment.

“If you did not know these guys personally and you were to run into them on the street, would you know who they were?” he wrote.

Smith noted that an official spokesperson or a public figure always represents their company, but most other employees comments don’t reflect poorly on the company. Bance and Dataud may not have been recognizable outside of their ridings but they were still public figures representing the Conservatives. Simoes on the other hand wasn’t a “public figure” until he was ousted on social media.

Smith believes that employees should set clear expectations of what is and isn’t considered appropriate use of social media. He also suggested that employers try to curb inappropriate social media behaviour to prevent matters from worsening without infringing their freedom of speech.

While not every employer has a code of conduct that includes online behaviour like Hyrdo One, it could become more common as more cases like Simoes’ and Bances’ appear.

Here is a list of more Canadians who were fired for their social media activity, plus a list of all the social-media casualties from the 42nd federal election.


The Mohammed Fahmy experience

Written for the Toronto Observer and New Canadian Media

After being labeled a terrorist, spending 438 days in a maximum security prison and being pardoned for a bogus case, Mohamed Fahmy is ready to speak.

The Canadian-Egyptian author and award-winning journalist shared his story with Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star as well as an auditorium full of people at the Toronto Reference Library earlier this week. Fahmy’s talk was held on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

Fahmy was Egypt’s bureau chief for Al Jazeera when he and his team had reported that The Muslim Brotherhood had officially been labeled a terrorist group by the Egyptian government. Five days later, police and paparazzi stormed his office to arrest him for conspiring with The Muslim Brotherhood. Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were also arrested with Fahmy; the men were charged with fabricating news stories and supporting The Muslim Brotherhood. Fahmy thought it was a joke until he noticed that he was being held with members of ISIS and leaders of Al-Qaeda. He realized he was in serious trouble.

“Before we were even tried, we were branded as terrorists,” Fahmy explained.

The situation was “surreal”, “tough” and a test of his limits according to Fahmy. He spent one month in solitary as well as picking up a permanent disability in his shoulder but Despite spending one month in solitary, as well as picking up a permanent disability in his shoulder, Fahmy remained positive. Fahmy The journalist said that regular exercise and knowing that people were fighting for his cause uplifted him. The support Fahmy received from his wife Marwa, his lawyer Amal Clooney, from NGOs and from social media helped him see it this situation wasn’t just about him anymore. He decided to start the Fahmy Foundation, whose goal is to provide financial assistance and advocacy for unjustly imprisoned journalists. Fahmy said he feels like a changed man because of his experiences.

“I feel like I’m a stronger person after prison,” he added.

Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Fahmy was light-hearted as he recalled the ordeal, making jokes with Shephard, the host, throughout the night. The two joked that in a perverse way Fahmy being sent to prison gave him access to exclusive information. To keep themselves busy and to make the most of their situation Fahmy, Geste and Mohamed started a “radio” show where they would interview fellow prisoners through a slit in the cell door.

“You have the former head of Parliament on your left, former prime minister on your right, the head of The Muslim Brotherhood is in front of you,” he laughed. “So there was a lot of exclusive material gathered.”

However, the warden eventually stepped in and forced Fahmy and his team off the air.

According to Fahmy, “the war on terror” has been used as an excuse by governments worldwide to clamp down on civil liberties and justify murder.

“We are witnessing the worst phase of suppression of the press and civil liberties in our generation,” he proclaimed.

For example, Fahmy met young men with strong ideologies who got involved with organizations but should not be considered terrorists in his opinion. Fahmy also noticed how the rhetoric of extremists got more radical as they got older, which he found worrying.

“These newly passed Draconian laws in Canada and abroad could lead to my story to being repeated,” he added.

Fahmy referred specifically to controversial Bill’s c-51 and c-24, which were introduced earlier this year, as laws that are “problematic.” People can be loyal to two countries and stripping someone’s citizenship or asking them to denounce one of theirs is like “ripping the heart” out of someone says Fahmy.

“There is an unprecedented terrorist wave happening but there has to be a balance between security and civil liberties in order to have true democracy,” he said.

Fahmy danced with joy when he heard he’d been pardoned and he was “ecstatic” when he landed in Canada on Thanksgiving Day.

“Sometimes you forget what freedom is really about. To walk around and not have to worry or be judged,” Fahmy commented.

Fahmy hopes that everyone can learn from his case, particularly governments across the world. Fahmy has already met with Prime Minister Trudeau to discuss the details of his Foundation and possible outreach programs. The journalist said these talks are still in their infancy.

Fahmy said he plans to return to journalism eventually but would first like to teach it. Fahmy is currently teaching courses at The University of British Columbia as well as working on his book. There is no timeline for when the book will be expected but Fahmy revealed his lawyer, Amal Clooney, will be writing the forward. During the question period Fahmy also mentioned that Amal’s famous husband, George, was very interested and involved in the case. Fahmy joked that if a screenplay adaptation of the book he would like George to play him if he can’t do it himself.

Babies havin’ babies

Generation Why is a financial advice website for millennials by millennials.
Generation Why's goal is to teach you the lessons about money school forgot to.
Read more here.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; cuffing season! If you’re single, it’s time to find someone to keep you warm. If you’re in a relationship, cuffing season is a time to indulge in cuddling, cute outdoor activities and matching-seasonal outfits; not to mention the Instagram posts that accompany them. #Bae.

According to Statistics Canada, the most popular months for babies are August, September and July, respectively. Meaning November, December and January are busy months for a lot of folks. So if you’re planning to start a family this winter–even if you’re not– you should know the financial realities that come with having children. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not cuffing season is a thing or not (it is).

There’s a lot to buy before and after a baby arrives, from bottles to changing tables. Dealing with the unexpected expenses that come with a child can be tough for a young parent, especially when the pregnancy is unplanned. But we’ve got all the tips you need to start getting prepared now.

Talk it out:

With your partner, your parents, a professional or a combination of the three. It’s important to discuss the financial side of having a baby early on: Where will you live? What items do you need to buy? Where will the money come from? Most young parents arrange to live with family so they can save on rent, though this isn’t always an option. Either as a couple, or on your own, you should be looking for other clever ways to save money. “You have to consider some things that weren’t luxuries before as luxuries now,” according to “Nanny” Robina Uddin, a parenting expert. She says looking for small ways to make cutbacks is the first step. Consider limiting restaurant visits to once a week or cancelling your Netflix subscription.

Buy smart:

Realizing how much you have to buy for a baby can be overwhelming, says Dominic, a 23-year-old dad from Toronto. “Everything goes through your head and you wonder how you’re going to support [your child],” he says. His girlfriend, Patti Wanless, 21, said their five-month-old son was “more expensive before [birth] than after,” because of big purchases like baby seats and a crib mattress. If you want to avoid buying out an entire Babies ‘R Us, start a registry with everything you need on it and throw a shower; friends and family will provide toys, clothes and even some big-ticket items for the baby.

When you’re picking up necessities yourself, Wanless points out that it’s important to be practical. A Mickey Mouse outfit is cute, but it’s a waste of $45.50 if the kid only wears it twice before they outgrow it. Check out second-hand stores to load up on onesies and sleepers. A baby monitor, on the other hand, is something you’ll want to purchase brand-new.

One thing you might not want to spend lots of money on is baby formula. There are competing theories about the benefits of breastfeeding vs formula but there’s no question  it’s hella expensive. “It really is an outrageous price, some are $30 a bottle,” Uddin explained. “It’s a huge pressure for families during the early days of the baby.” Some employers offer discounts on brands of formula through their health insurance plans… but still. For some families, like Sarah Brown’s, formula is the only option. Brown’s 14-month-old son was breastfeeding for the first month then wasn’t taking to it suddenly so she switched to formula. According to Brown formula is a “regular and expensive” necessity. “They can go through 2-3 cans a week,” she added.

The issue of breastfeeding or formula feeding is another thing that couples should talk about. Ultimately, it comes down to the baby and the mother’s decision.

Get support:

Dominic and Wanless live with Wanless’ family and Dominics’ sister is a willing nanny. “We have so many family members willing to help I don’t feel that much stress,” says Wanless.

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Uddin warns that while they’re grateful for support from family and friends, it should never be expected.  It’s important to have back-up plans in case something changes like a grandparent isn’t able to look after the baby one afternoon.

Getting support for your baby also means getting support for yourself, Brown explains. “People will tell you to put the baby first, but you have to remember if you’re feeling low or sad, the baby will feel it too,” she said. She suggested finding a hobby (like working out or learning to play an instrument) or something you can do to focus on yourself and give yourself a break from worrying all the time; for Brown, it’s school. Having people to support you mentally, emotionally and financially when needed is the key to being happy while raising a baby according to Brown.

The young parents we spoke to de-bunked the rumours of Mean Girls and high-school-sex-ed class; having sex won’t kill you and having a child young isn’t the end of the world.

It does however take a lot of communication, support and learning on the job. But almost all parents will tell you that the sacrifices are worth it.

So, now that you know what you’re getting yourself into, you can get into it. All puns intended.