More Sun, Less Screen

A lot has happened in the past month, hence being MIA on the blog. I’ve been in shock or depression or both, or really just so overwhelmed that with any down time, all I’ve wanted to do is crawl into bed and rest.

We lawyered up and went into mediation to settle a real estate dispute. For four hours, we sat in an office while the mediator (a retired judge) bounced back and forth, talking to the plaintiff (us) and the defendant separately. Mediation should be a case study in Negotiation 101. Each party has their bottom line figure, and it’s the mediator’s job to get us to come to a resolution before time is up! Thankfully, “The matter settled on terms acceptable to all parties.” I didn’t want to go through this whole rigmarole. The legal system scares me (queue the music to the Serial podcast) and I freaked out that we would end up paying for a lawyer and losing our case. But I have to give credit to Dean who insisted that justice would prevail once we pushed through. Sadly, in order for justice to prevail you have to have the money to pay for a lawyer. Either that or I guess get a public defender, or find someone who will take up your case pro bono? Seems like it’s very easy for people of power (i.e., nail salon owners, Bill Cosby, slumlords) to take advantage of those without means or resources.

We closed on a new home, no thanks to my chosen lender. The transaction was so delayed and so traumatic, I can’t even say the lender’s name without wincing and telling everyone who will listen, STEER CLEAR! THEY SUCK! We closed one week past our contractual date, and I had to dial for dollars to make that even happen. I figured one week was more than enough time to have appliances delivered, schedule movers…yet it came down to the wire. We signed title at 5pm and had movers scheduled to come at 8am the following day. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. Thanks to Oasis Moving Company for quickly and efficiently moving us from SF to Alameda in 7 hours. They charged $100/hour for 3 movers and a 24-foot truck, plus $20 for gas. $720 total. No extra charge for mileage, stairs, tax, etc. Chinese movers are the best!

We found tenants for our place in SF, and have decided to maintain that 2-unit property as a rental (versus selling). Based on our open houses, there are cool people who live in or want to live in the city. Sure there is a strong contingent of techies, but I still believe that SF city dwellers are hard-working, talented and most importantly diverse (both culturally and socio-economically).

On top of the move, I went into my busy season at work with the ritual of waking up at 4am once every quarter to get into the office to report earnings. I’m also suffering from sea sickness, commuting by ferry. I’ve done every natural remedy short of taking medication (Dramamine or the Scopolamine patch). The Sea-Bands worked, then they didn’t. I read that your body can get acclimated to them at which point they’re useless, which seems to have happened to me. It’s quite unnerving coming into work, feeling nauseus/hungover, with that condition not going away until a good night’s rest. Then it was back on the ferry again in the morning. I’ve reverted back to taking the bus and train to work. I’m waiting for the Relief Band—which emits an electrical pulse to your wrist—to arrive from Amazon. Will try that and see how that goes. If that doesn’t work, it’s on to the patch for me, but wary that a potential side effect is drowsiness. Not sure how that is going to jive when I’m supposed to be productive at work! If anyone has any thoughts or feedback, I would love to hear.

Lastly, on a bright note, my dad and I celebrated our birthdays belatedly (his 70th; my 40th) with about 50 family members at our new home. It was sponsored by our real estate agent Carol Brubaker who cooked up a whole spread of sirloin burgers, chicken and pork dogs, teriyaki chicken, grilled veggies, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, spinach salad with beets/feta/bacon, watermelon, grapes, pickles, olives and lots of wine. We also had Filipino food—lumpia, pancit, suman—and ice-cream cake. Can’t go wrong with ice-cream cake! The party was truly epic!

Happy 40th Birthday to Me

I turned 40 on June 18. Happy birthday to me.

Most of my friends know, I love throwing parties. Why the hell not? We are on this earth to celebrate! Whether it’s the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage, Pride Weekend, a major birthday, a non-birthday, or even a death, lives should be celebrated.

I am writing this post with a pained heart because I found out today that a friend’s 9-year-old son passed away. I feel honored and blessed to have met Tyler. He was the happiest, sweetest boy. There is both sadness and profound joy that he graced us with his captivating presence.

I almost cancelled my birthday party because of some majorly huge stressors in my life. I’ll get to all of that in another post, but Dean convinced me otherwise. I celebrated at Ampersand flower shop in San Francisco with 30 friends from all walks of life: high school, college, work, Burning Man. Whether you were at my birthday or not, family and friends mean a lot to me. This is what life is all about, enjoying each moment, savoring our relationships. Some of my friends brought tears to my eyes, oh the stories they were telling about what our connection was or what memory stood out about me. I certainly felt special. Best birthday ever.

Take Time to Read the Classics

When was the last time you read a classic? A real classic novel.

I recently finished Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and it blew me away. I couldn’t believe I’d never read it before. It’s truly a masterpiece. It was never something I was interested in reading, thinking it was pornography in prose. It’s not. It’s very smart and a study in psychology because the book kinda plays a head-trip on you. Even though you know the narrator isn’t someone to be trusted, you start to feel sorry for him, and in the end start rooting for him. Very trippy.

Full disclosure: I did not read it. It was read to me by Jeremy Irons who did the most impressive reading I have ever listened to ever. Best audiobook of all time.

“The Fault in Our Stars.” “Gone Girl.” “The Help.” We’ve all read these books and they’re ok, maybe good, but they’re not exceptional. So why do we limit ourselves to what everyone else is reading? I’m not propositioning that everything we read must be Shakespeare or Ayn Rand or Faulkner, but every once in a while…can we try? Classic literature deserves our time and these books are great for a reason.

I urge you to suggest a classic for your next book club choice and let me know how it goes. Here’s a good site for reference.

What was the last classic novel that you read?

What was the last book that you read?

How does your book club choose what to read?

Where to Buy Your Apple Products

I recently had to buy a new laptop and I went to my trusty site for purchasing Apple products: B&H.

I bought a brand new MacBook Air 13.3 inches for $819. Total. No sales tax. No shipping fee.

Granted it’s a 2014 model, you still can’t find a better price for a brand new MacBook whether it’s on Amazon or Craigslist. I even get a partnership discount with Apple through my employer and that doesn’t even come close to B&H’s prices.

B&H started in 1973 with a retail photo shop in Manhattan and now they run a pretty amazing online business as well. Love their site.

They don’t sell iPhones, but they’re an authorized reseller of most other Apple products: Mac desktops, MacBooks, iPads, iPods, Apple TV and other Apple accessories.

Where do you buy your Apple goods?

Did you know that Apple earns more money than any other company in the USA? Almost $40 billion in net income in 2014. And the stock finished the year up 40%? In one year! 40%!!! Those are mind-boggling figures.

Say No to College: The Future of Education

This article appeared recently in The Atlantic.

The Economy Is Still Terrible for Young People: The era of the overeducated barista is here to stay. College graduates are still spending more and more years (and money) to get worse and worse entry-level jobs.

The article goes on to discuss how college grads, based on the data, are underemployed, either working multiple part-time jobs or finding jobs that don’t require a college degree. Gasp! I would shit a brick if I had loan repayments looming and the only career available was beneath my education level.

I continue to harp on this topic because despite the data, everyone still seems to want to follow the status quo. Send Johnny to college. Most people raise their eyebrows when I say defiantly that I will not pay for my son to go to college. He will have to find and fund his own way–like these kids. Very young adults (driven and ambitious) are making their way to San Francisco and Silicon Valley and working for tech–where youth is a badge of honor. It’s pretty awesome.

Some of these kids are Thiel Fellows, brainiacs awarded a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to forego college, hone their craft, and solve real-world problems. Peter Thiel, who established the fellowship, founded PayPal and is one of the most respected investors in the Valley. I think it says a lot that despite doing his undergrad and getting a law degree from Stanford, Thiel believes that our youth’s educational interests are best served outside of the classroom!

Still with me?

When I read about Make School, I almost burst into song. A tech-focused college alternative, Make School is (drum roll please) free! How is that possible? The program takes a cut of your internship and first two years wages after graduating. That means if you don’t get an internship or you end up working at Starbucks, they make nothing. This, people, is the future of education. No false promises from glossy campus brochures. It’s all about fucking results. Can I get an AMEN?!