Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Per aspera ad astra [Latin]
Through adversity, to the stars
Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya [Sanskrit]
From darkness, lead me to light
Find purpose. The means will follow.
― Mahatma Gandhi
The username Adastra is derived from the two ancient languages of Sanskrit and Latin, to explain the purpose of this blog and the means used to achieve the purpose.
In Latin, ad astra translates to “to the stars”. The purpose of this blog is to elevate your health and wellness – be it financial, physical, mental or spiritual – to the moon, mars and maybe stars.
In Sanskrit, adas astra translates to “that weapon”. That (adas) as opposed to this (idam) would be a weapon different than what is a weapon in conventional thinking, typically used for destruction or defense. That (adas) weapon (astra) would be the weapon of knowledge (light), used to destroy the root case of evil in this Universe – ignorance (darkness).
For the purpose of this blog, I use the following definition of knowledge, as explained by a pioneer of the discipline of Management:
“The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.”
― Peter F. Drucker
In this blog I present numbers, data and information (data “in formation” that makes sense), along with narratives to make you better understand these and apply them as knowledge for results. We live in the knowledge age, as opposed to the industrial age, and the tool of production for many workers is now the human mind (for knowledge work), as opposed to hands (for manual work). Hence, although wealth is a major focus of this blog, knowledge is the main focus.
I have used an alias for this blog and my social media profiles by design. I choose to be an anonymous faceless nobody, at least for now. Who I am is less relevant than the numbers and narrative I am presenting. I don’t care about fame because that feeds the ego, something I have struggled to control all my life. Wealth does matter to me as I have responsibilities, and hence I could use your support and any gains I can get in the process.
But I will share that I am in my early forties, family man with kids and dog. I am one of countless middle-class humans, stuck in the corporate rat race, trying their best to improve the lives of those that they care about, while dealing with stress, inflation and the many challenges faced by the “other” 99% of human society. I’m a middle management knowledge worker in Toronto and have a background in data and analytics, finance, strategy and technology. I won’t go into details of my work experience and education and try to sell myself as an expert or guru, because I am neither. I believe that as a society we focus too much on style rather than substance, and we measure success in terms of achievement (mostly financial) rather than contribution to making the World a better place. So, I will leave it to your judgement to decide based on the substance and content of my blog, whether I am worthy of your time and support.
Investing and personal finance are subjects that have fascinated me since a young age, as I grew up in a family with modest means. Ever since I started working, I made it a priority to find ways to not just make money, but also save and grow wealth. I started investing in the US and Canadian stock markets at the age of 22. I invested across multiple sectors over two decades, and have learned much in the process. I don’t make any claims of being a financial expert, but the knowledge I gained is the foundation for the numbers, narratives and investment methodology presented in this blog.
Most of the investments I manage (this includes the portfolios of retired parents) is in dividend paying stocks in the Financial Services, Telecommunication, Energy and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) sectors. The dividends these shares provide help my retired parents with their monthly expenses. This blog diverges from my core investments and focusses primarily on the Cannabis Sector, with the intention to add the Psychedelics and other sectors when time permits.
I was an early investor in the Cannabis sector, having invested in Aurora Cannabis in 2016. The investment was not just because of the anticipated legalization of Cannabis in Canada, but also because of the benefits the Cannabis plant brings to the world. I sold my shares in 2018 when my analysis told me that valuations were too high.
I watched the industry closely for the next two years. In 2020 I invested in Meta Growth, that later got acquired by High Tide. This decision was based on an analysis of licensed producers vs retail cannabis companies that identified that retail was an overlooked but high potential subsector within the cannabis sector. The stock market then tanked due to the Covid pandemic. In November 2020, after High Tide acquired Meta Growth, I added more shares and also bought warrants. I watched these rise until the Cannabis sector peak in February 2021. In the months that followed most of my gains disappeared and I was often carrying paper losses.
I held through the downturn because of my faith that Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats would fulfil their election promises and bring some progress on Cannabis decriminalization and legalization. My thinking was biased because I always had a high regard for the Democrats. As the sector tanked I started losing faith in the US politicians. Believing in them was an error I made in my investment journey. I was thinking of at least selling some holdings to get some gains, but didn’t, as I keep seeing more promises on Twitter from Senator Schumer. I still believe that some form of pro Cannabis legislation will pass during Biden’s presidency, and that US legalization will happen eventually. I just don’t know when and in what form. But I do remain positive about the overall investment thesis for Cannabis and am happy to remain invested till the bull market finally arrives.
This blog has been a joy to write, but it is also a product of sacrifice as I have had to dedicate time and personal resources. I received no funding to publish this and have had to incur the expenses myself. Over the 18+ months from High Tide’s acquisition of Meta Growth, I spent on average more than an hour a day researching the sector and interacting with fellow investors by posting and commenting on platforms like Stocktwits. That makes this blog the product of a significant amount of work and analysis.
I believe that this blog has the potential to add tremendous value to society, cannabis consumers (both humans and pets), cannabis investors and companies. I did not intend to write this blog, especially knowing that I could not monetize it using advertisement technologies like Google AdSense, as they prohibit Cannabis content. But I was compelled and inspired by a hard to explain force to analyze the sector and write about it. My best ideas, including the analysis and narratives/analogies came to me when I least expected them: walking the dog, doing household chores and in my dreams. I found it my duty to at least try to make a valuable contribution to the world, by shining light to fight the darkness that clouds cannabis; a miracle plant that I view as the original plant medicine, and divine gift from mother nature to bring physical, mental and spiritual wellness on Earth.
As you navigate through this site, you will notice the simplicity in format and design, using templates from Wix and minimal customization. This is because I believe in simple living and high thinking. Just kidding! I did the best I could while working on this blog part time, along with a full-time job and personal commitments. I did not have the resources to hire writers, editors or designers, and hence this has been a DIY project for me. The hardest part has been to transcribe the thoughts and analysis in my mind into numbers and narratives that can be understood by readers. I would have been able to add more value if I had more resources and time. The best outcome for me would be if I can monetize this blog to the point where I can do this full time. There is lots of content I still want to publish but am challenged to do because of limited resources. If you can help me make this dream come true please contribute to my efforts via the affiliate links I have used and/or Patreon.
The sections that follow were written to give you a better understanding of who I am, my passions and motivation for publishing my thoughts. Unlike the vast majority of the blog which focusses on numbers and narratives, this is more on the personal note.
For those more interested in the numbers, the Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) version is:
Stress bad, alcohol bad, tobacco bad, cannabis miracle plant.
In the journey of life, we sometimes have turning point moments; moments where we are triggered to reassess the status quo and decide whether to continue in the same path or proceed with a better route. In the following sections I document some such turning points that led me to writing and publishing this blog.
Modern life is stressful. For those who are knowledge workers and use the human mind to do work, the stress can be both mental and physical. It is understandable that people will try to find ways to deal with the stress, especially during a time of global pandemic, lockdowns, isolation and uncertainty. The healthiest ways to manage stress involve wellness practices that improve physical, mental and/or spiritual health. Good diet with nutritional foods and supplements does help. As do a variety of practices including deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, positive thinking and meditation, just to name a few based on my experience; and also spending quality time with loved ones and mother nature.
But there are occasions when the stress can get too much even for the best of us. And that’s when people are sometimes drawn to consuming alcohol, tobacco and drugs to cope and escape the pain and suffering they are going through.
I never had any episodes of alcohol abuse till the pandemic hit. I always enjoyed alcohol in moderation and would drink socially, but never by myself. In my twenties I liked rum and mixed drinks. In my thirties I got into scotch, which became my drink of choice. When the global pandemic hit home in March of 2020, the stress levels in my life spiked at a rate I had never experienced before. Most humans on the planet faced similar issues and we have seen a global increase in anxiety and mental illness from the pandemic.
In my case, I was taking simultaneous hits from multiple directions. My family’s (including parents’) stock portfolios crashed and I saw our hard earned savings sink to levels I did not ever imagine. In parallel, as a manager of a large sized team, I had to navigate through a series of crises at work. I had to be the pillar of strength and help those who were struggling and were my responsibility. And I had to do it as a parent with kids stuck at home because the schools and day care facilities were closed.
Sometime in April of 2020 I started drinking alcohol by myself on a daily basis at night. I didn’t care what the alcohol was as long as it gave me an escape from reality. I would wake up with a headache and hangover and continue with my day as best I could. This was abuse to my body and I was aware that it was not a sustainable solution to my problems. I was getting more irritable, frustrated and angry. Fortunately, this lasted only for around two weeks before causing any long-term damage, and ended when I faced one of the turning points I referred to.
I was in an important meeting at work, when my kids (then aged 5 and 3) barged in and started shouting about some issue that I don’t recall. I muted myself from the meeting and yelled at them at the top of my voice. They started crying but I shouted more, sent them out of my “home office” with a warning and slammed the door loudly.
As I gathered my senses, I started to assess what was going on with me. Over my career I had developed a reputation for being the guy you wanted on your side during a crisis – calm, rational and always focused on solving problems through the crisis. How did someone like me end up in such a state?
I quit drinking scotch and all forms of hard liquor that day. I even quit beer. I would on occasion take a glass of wine just to be social, but never too much. This consumption became so infrequent that often 2 or 3 months passed without me consuming even wine.
I got more into the healthy practices I mentioned before. I’m into plant medicine, so supplements like Spirulina, Lions Mane mushrooms, Ashwagandha and Chyawanprash also helped. Amazon links below:
As did Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and capsules. CBD is a cannabis compound that is non-psychoactive, as in does not get you high. I found it an effective was to deal with stress and get a good night’s sleep.
As an early investor in the cannabis sector I was aware of the benefits of cannabis. But it was only after I started using CBD that I learned more about the research by various organizations and academia, and the developments done on the pharmaceutical front on cannabis derived medicines for a variety of ailments. I am not an expert on the subject and would recommend anyone interested in the subject should do more research. But it is my belief that cannabis is a miracle plant and that cannabis prohibition has been one of the great acts of disservice against the human species.
One of the main misconceptions of this miracle plant, rooted in stigma and ignorance, is that most people associate cannabis with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. But this is just one of more than a hundred compounds, called cannabinoids, found in this plant medicine. Research on the health benefits of cannabinoids is on the rise, as is consumption of non-psychoactive cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG).
This blog has several affiliate links to non-psychoactive cannabinoids, with the goal of spreading awareness and monetizing this blog’s content. Feel free to check them out as part of your research. You might find something that helps improve your physical, mental and/or spiritual wellness; and you would be supporting my efforts as content creator in the process. I have not mentioned any brands or products containing psychoactive compounds in this site. It is not legal to promote them, and hence you can do your own research starting with the companies covered in this blog.
FABCBD (a High Tide brand) affiliate links have been included in every page of this blog. The products are very high quality with excellent reviews, and their CBD oil is ranked Best Full Spectrum CBD Oil (2022) by Forbes. The company has provided a 20% discount coupon "NUMBERSNARRATIVE" for this blog. If you are in the US, feel free to click on the links to explore products, and don't forget to use the coupon to get the discount!
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On this blog I have also included products by Future Kind and Shipped Today Inc, two of the high ranked health supplement merchants on the ShareASale network that I am using for affiliate marketing. I do consume turmeric, ginger, probiotics, vitamins and other healthy supplements, and these nutritional supplements are well worth checking out.
I don’t smoke or vape. I am aware that a lot of consumers consume via inhalation, but it is not for me. I find the scent of cannabis to be pleasant and a reminder of the awesomeness of mother nature. But the smell of tobacco absolutely disgusts me. This brings me to my second turning point.
When I was ten years old, a relative of mine died of lung cancer. He was the cool uncle, charming, witty and a talented musician. He was addicted to tobacco and could not overcome his addiction. I saw him deteriorate and die at a young age, leaving behind a son my age. Although it was more than three decades ago, I still remember him in his last days. After his death I remember his father selling musical instruments to raise money for the family. To lose your child and be forced to sell his belongings, which would have brought memories of his incredible life. The gravity of that event is one I will never forget. It was like a switch flipped in my mind and the smell of cigarettes has disgusted me ever since. I swore to never smoke, and have kept that promise till date.
It is truly a tragedy that in this twenty first century, countless lives are lost and impacted by addictions to alcohol and tobacco. Add the opioid crisis and we are looking at suffering on a global scale that could have been reduced if authorities had been more responsible with the policies they executed. While I do acknowledge that more research is needed and I am not an expert on the subject, my research indicates that cannabis presents a more natural and sustainable alternative to alcohol and tobacco.
The world needs cannabis legalization. I believe that this will happen within the next few years across multiple countries, and within a decade or two across most of the world. Cannabis prohibition was an error and a disservice to humanity. This error needs to be fixed.
Do you want to know more about me? Proceed further only if your answer is something like...
In that case I’ll share some more details on the Ad Astra (To the stars) and Star Trek theme I have on social media. My image on Stocktwits and Twitter is a photo of my hand doing the Vulcan symbol, used by Spock in Star Trek. Science Fiction is a passion of mine, as are science and spirituality. I’m into TV shows and movies in the Star Trek, Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universes, to name just a few. James Cameron’s Avatar is my all-time favorite movie.
For fun, I often use GIFs of Spock, Kirk and others in Star Trek’s The Original Series (TOS). I also use Data, Picard and others from Star Trek’s The Next Generation (TNG). Spock is a character I identify with and try to channel in my posts. He is half logical Vulcan, and also half human, a hybrid of logic and humanity. I too try to find a balance between numbers/data/logic and the more human narratives I have covered in this blog. TNG’s Data is the other character I bring into my posts, because I want to focus on the data and fundamentals.
One of most memorable movie scenes I have ever watched was the one of Spock sacrificing himself for the sake of the Enterprise and it’s crew in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).
The following is a quote that I consider powerful and one that can inspire people to make the world a better place:
It was logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
- Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy
Ad Astra (later Astro Nova) was also the name for the school founded by Elon Musk. Musk is someone I admire because unlike most people with talent, wealth and fame, he actually uses these to make the world a better place as seen via Tesla and SpaceX. Climate change is real, and we need more entrepreneurs and companies that help humans live more sustainable lives. I find that talent, wealth and fame are often wasted on people who waste these for their personal gains and Egos, rather than for the greater good. In this regard, Musk I admire second only to MacKenzie Scott. She, like Andrew Carnegie of the Twentieth century, sets the highest standard for a wealthy person using wealth to make the world a better place.
On a final note (for this page), I am into spirituality, science and philosophy. I have been described as a hippie in a suit. I fit in well into the corporate world because I inherited a multi-generational family trait to be both interested in and talented with numbers. And I have always cared about people, and that has helped me to be an effective leader and manager. But at the core, I am the very opposite of what the corporate world stands for.
I believe that we are stardust, and the products of an accident. I’m referring to the 10 kilometer diameter asteroid that hit Earth around 66 million years ago creating the Chicxulub crater in Mexico. The impact caused the mass extinction of 75% of plant and animal species on Earth, including all dinosaurs who could not fly. This happened not just because of the size of the asteroid but also the angle of the impact. Prior to this low probability event, dinosaurs ruled the world. Mammals (including primates) were to the dinosaurs, what insects are to modern humans. With the extinction of dinosaurs, the primates were able to evolve first to the apes (around 20 million years ago) and finally into humans. In essence, we humans are the product of this low probability event of the planet being hit by a random asteroid, a speck of stardust. I often think about this when I am in a situation of high stress, or when I look to the stars while walking my dog at night. Helps to put things into perspective.
So now you know something about me. I am no one, and also part of every one, that together makes up the ONE truth that is called many names: Universal Consciousness, Brahman, Gaia, etc. I am stardust, and will return to the stars (ad astra) with the other weapon (adas astra) of knowledge. I hope that you will join me on this journey.
Now, let’s get back to the numbers and narratives!
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Disclosure: I (username Adastra) am an investor not a trader. I am bullish on the Cannabis sector as a long-term investment (2025 and beyond), provided stocks/ETFs are carefully picked based on data-driven due diligence. Of the 15 stocks covered in the Best Cannabis Stocks analysis, I own only High Tide, which I am holding as a long-term investment. But my analysis indicates (without any guarantees) that there is a potential for impressive gains in investing in the stocks best ranked in the analysis, including WM Technology, Trulieve, Curaleaf and any other stocks that will have a dedicated page. I reserve the right to buy or sell at any time any of the stocks mentioned in this blog. I do not short stocks and never will short any stock in a company that makes the world a better place. I do not have insider knowledge of any company covered in this blog. All data used for analysis is from public sources. I have received (as of last update date of this page) ZERO funding for this blog from any of the companies featured in this blog.