I got into Boise, Idaho yesterday afternoon for what will technically be my first conference ever.
The conference hasn’t even started yet, but I’ve already gotten so much value out of it.
How’s that possible?
Well, I attended an early-bird meet-up dinner last night with other conference attendees, and left the dinner completely blown away.
Aside from my weekly mastermind group, the handful of people I met at this dinner were some of the most likeminded people I’ve ever encountered.
It was like simultaneously meeting 10 different people that I could see myself being lifelong friends with in the real world.
Suffice to say, it was a profound experience. Maybe this is the norm? Maybe it’s just so new to me? But I can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend has in store.
Day 1 is today, and it’s jam-packed with more meet-ups, one of which I personally attempted to host at 6:30am at the Downtown Boise YMCA.
Nobody showed up. But it was alllll good!
I honestly didn’t expect anyone to show up. Plus, I got to play basketball and meet a few cool locals that have nothing to do with the conference. So I’m glad I powered through this morning and made it happen. I feel energized for the rest of the day.
Quick, off-topic side note: I feel like an idiot for renting a car.
While I didn’t pay for the rental itself, I will be paying $12/day for parking. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I actually had to drive to various places, but every part of this conference is within walking distance.
I actually think the car may just end up sitting in the hotel parking lot for the entire duration of my stay.
If you’re attending Craft + Commerce in the future, my recommendation would be to pass on the car rental and just take Lyfts/Ubers for the few things that aren’t within walking distance.
I was chatting with V last night about a friend who recently returned from a rather lengthy work trip.
It had me thinking…
I have no idea what my friend does in their work life.
I mean, I know who they work for and generally what they do, but the rest is 99% mystery.
I know the weekend brunch version of this friend, but I don’t know their professional side at all.
Isn’t this kind of weird?
I mean, our careers don’t define us, but they’re certainly a big part of who we are. Yet most of us don’t have a clue about the day-to-day lives of our closest friends and family members.
We have take your daughter/son to work days, so why not have the same thing in the adult world?
Basically, employers would provide a few paid vacation days each year to shadow a friend or family member in their place of work.
OK OK, so maybe this has “Kramer idea” written all over it, but I personally would love to see what my closest friends are like in a work setting.
I also think it could potentially have great networking implications.
Think about it…
You bring your graphic designer friend to your workplace for the day. It just so happens that your company is looking for a freelance graphic designer to design some digital ads.
Of course, it won’t always work out this perfectly, but at the very least your employer gets to see you on a more personal level, your friend gets to see you on a more professional level, and you get to be distracted for an entire day of work!
But that’s a small price to pay, right?
It’s also not guaranteed to be a distraction. It could end up being even more productive, since you’re trying to prove to your friend that you’re no slouch.
Of course, in my line of self-employed work this might not work out too well.
I imagine my friends would get bored after 5 minutes of watching me do things on my computer with limited coworker interaction.
In fact, we’d probably end up going out for a round of disc golf instead of being holed up in my apartment.
But I’d be stoked if one of my friends invited me to their work.
V and I were rudely awakened by an SF police officer, incessantly ringing our doorbell at 4:45am.
When I answered the door, I thought we were going to get some very bad news.
Instead, the officer tells us that the Berkeley Police Department has information about V’s car, and to give them a call.
Our initial thought was that the car was stolen, but upon further inspection, it was actually the rear license plate that was stolen.
And here’s where things got even more annoying…
Berkeley PD told us to call SFPD. SFPD told us to contact the DMV. DMV told us we needed a police report. Berkeley PD again said to contact SFPD. SFPD is confused why Berkeley PD isn’t dealing with the issue.
Round and round we go.
Meanwhile, I’m dealing with some back-and-forth between Comcast and Motorola regarding recurring internet issues we’ve been experiencing.
I’m so frustrated right now, I’m smashing the keyboard to just get this rant out.
It’s about WordPress. Freakin’ WordPress.
I’ve been working with this platform for nearly a decade, and it’s still regarded as one of the best platforms for building a website.
I’m starting to feel that nothing could be further from the truth.
The Coffee Concierge backend is so bloated right now with plugins and other technical errors, that all I’m doing is hopping from one problem to the next.
It’s the equivalent of trying to type a blog post like this one, only to have the “T” key stop responding for 10 minutes, followed by the “E” key, and then the “A” key.
My work session started with simply trying to update some plugins on the backend of my website. Eventually, it turned into me being completely locked out of my site.
I moved everything over to a staging environment, only to not be allowed into my staging environment because my password was apparently incorrect. Mind you, this is probably the 10th time this has happened, and I use two different password managers.
So, I attempt to reset my PW and my username allegedly doesn’t exist.
I then proceed to spend 20 minutes over tech support chat to see if they could shed light onto what might be going on.
We seemingly come to a solution, only for the problem to resurface later on.
More on that in a minute…
I finally login to my site successfully to update the plugins. Bam, done!
Move everything back over to the live site, login successfully. Woohoo!
Try to work on homepage…front-end visual editor plugin is not working correctly.
OK, I’ll try Safari instead of Chrome.
I go to Safari, attempt to log in to my site, wrong password.
I’m literally using the password I just changed it to 5 minutes ago.
And the cycle continues…
I’m so tired of technology.
It seems that I can’t ever focus on one problem at a time, because a thousand other tiny ones keep smacking me in the face as I’m tying to focus on one problem.
This brings me to the end of this rant, which I don’t expect anybody to read or care about.
But if you do happen to be reading…maybe you can relate?
Does technology fuck with you too?
There are so many damn obstacles interspersed between the main obstacle, that sometimes I feel like giving up on certain projects all-together.
I guess it’s best if I just take a break and return to it later, but I can’t stand the thinking about returning to something I wasn’t even able to start on because of a bunch of bullshit technical issues I have no patience for at this point.
About 8 months have passed since V and I went to Japan for our honeymoon, and I’ve been putting off any form of documentation until today.
Originally, we had planned to put together a scrapbook, but for some reason analog art stuff just sits in my apartment untouched, for pretty much an eternity.
For example, I finally made a coffee bag poster, but I haven’t put said poster up on the wall yet because a lot of the bags are no longer sticking to the canvas as originally intended.
And my bottle of Gorilla glue is basically so dry that I can’t even get myself to complete this simple little project.
So analog scrapbook? Forget about it.
Digital scrapbook? Let’s do it!
I figured I’d use this post to talk about how we paid for our honeymoon, since a lot of it was covered by frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.
Apparently the average American honeymoon costs $5,000, and we came under this number largely because of a little bit of “travel hacking”.
In fact, we saved more money than what we actually spent through our various flight and hotel redemptions.
Total spent: $3,926
Total saved: $4,659
This means that if we had spent cash on the hotels and flights we used points for, our three-week honeymoon in Japan and Colorado would have actually cost us $8,585.
That’s definitely way more than we would have wanted or been able to spend.
So where’d we save this money?
1) Round trip flight from LAX to NRT (Tokyo, Japan) – $1551 saved
We booked our main flight through Singapore Airlines using Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
It cost us 103,448 UR , which is the equivalent of about $1,551 when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. The card allows you redeem your points for 1.5x the value for flights, hotels, and rental cars through their online portal.
Singapore Airlines was awesome, even in economy.
I highly recommend this airline.
2) 2 nights at Tokyo Hyatt Regency – $578 saved
After spending our first 2 nights in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo at an AirBnB, we switched over to a hotel for the next 2 nights, specifically, the Hyatt Regency.
This was an incredible experience, as it was one of our first major encounters of the exceptional level of hospitality in Japan.
We literally had about 5 staff members approach us when we walked through the door.
Upon arriving to our room (which was stunning, by the way) after checkout, we were greeted with a small bottle of complimentary wine as a honeymoon gift from the hotel.
The total cost for two nights was 34,000 UR, which we transferred to World of Hyatt (Hyatt’s rewards program). We splurged a little bit and did the Regency Club redemption, which gave us access to (you guessed it) the Regency Club.
Perks of the Regency Club were evening happy hours and buffet breakfasts. Having access to both of these was well worth it.
As I mentioned, the staff at this hotel was exceptional.
We wanted to attend a baseball game at some point, but really had no idea how to buy tickets.
One of the concierges at the hotel literally walked us down to the 7-11 (they are completely different in Japan), and bought us tickets through an ATM-like machine.
3) 2 nights at Ritz Carlton Kyoto – $1300 saved
This was our first Ritz Carlton experience, and suffice to say, we were blown away.
The check-in process was one of the most remarkable things we’ve ever experienced at a hotel.
When we got out of the taxi, we were greeted and asked our name by one of the staff members.
From there, we were escorted directly to our room by a Japanese-American girl from the Bay Area, who proceeded to check us in over coffee and tea.
The room was pretty damn amazing, we even had a little Bonsai by the window.
And the room had a Nespresso and pod-like tea maker with a beautiful little tea set!
There was even a TV built-in to the bathroom mirror…crazy.
4) 2 Nights at Osaka Marriott Miyako – $569 saved
Nights 9 and 10 of our honeymoon were spent in Osaka at the Marriott Miyako, which is the tallest building in Japan at 60 stories.
We stayed on the 52nd floor, and the incredible view was definitely one of the best parts of our stay there.
Although the hotel didn’t have a pool or spa, we took advantage of the Marriott Club in the hotel with our Marriott Gold status (matched through the American Express Platinum charge card).
We wrapped up our trip with a 3-night stay at an Airbnb in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo.
It was nice hopping between hotels and Airbnbs for the duration of our trip, as they each have their pros and cons.
We paid cash for all of our Airbnb stays, but considering how much money we saved on hotels by using points, this wasn’t a big deal in the end.
To accumulate this many points in such a short span of time is not that easy.
I keep pretty organized spreadsheets for all of our point-earning activities. But this is a discussion for another day.
I guess what I’m trying to show here is that travel doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. At the very least, there is a lot of money to be saved if you take the time to figure out how to save it.
Although I grew up playing futbol (or as we Americans say, Soccer), I’m pretty detached from it these days.
But this does not mean that I don’t enjoy the sport.
I went to my first MLS game last year when the San Jose Earthquakes played the Portland Timbers, and I had a great time.
I’ll also occasionally tune-in to a Barcelona match thanks to my father in-law, or even an international friendly when it involves the Chilean national team, La Roja.
Yeah, I’m still nostalgic towards the year I spent in Chile, which was now more than 10 years ago.
But my favorite time to watch futbol is during the World Cup.
Yes, I know FIFA is (or at least was) super corrupt, but I really can’t take my eyes away from the action.
Though it can be perceived as “just sports”, I think it’s an interesting look into different countries and cultures.
Sure, it may be a bit superficial, but it’s still more than many of us ever get to see of the world that exists outside of our own home countries.
One of my favorite examples of this was during the Chilean national anthem vs. Spain in 2010.
Even though the music was cut short during the lengthy anthem, the players and fans kept it going in one of the most beautiful displays of nationalism I’ve ever seen.
If you thought you had pride in your country, watch this:
Another fun example of the “little things” was when North Korea competed in the 2010 World Cup.
They weren’t a very good team, but the fact that almost nobody knew anything about them was fascinating to me.
I felt strong empathy for the players, since there was likely an incredible (and potentially life-threatening) amount of pressure behind every sequence they were involved in.
In a way, I wanted to root for them.
Meanwhile, in the current tournament we’ve seen two incredible examples of fans from underdog countries (Japan and Senegal) cleaning up after themselves at the stadium, putting all celebration on pause.
I mean, they beat Colombia and Poland respectively, and they’re cleaning up instead of celebrating.
How can you not instantly fall in love with both of these countries after something as seemingly insignificant as this?
And on top of these behind-the-scenes moments, you have the excitement of the sport itself.
Yes, it’s not necessarily high-scoring. Yes, there’s a lot of flopping/acting.
But how can you not appreciate the athleticism, skill, passion, and teamwork that comes with futbol?
Watching Spain take on Iran in the background as I type this is making an otherwise difficult week much more enjoyable.
If you haven’t watched much of the World Cup in the past, I encourage you to check it out before it goes away for another four years.
There’s a community of people on the internet that I like to lurk on from time to time.
They are known as the FIRE community, which is basically a conveniently cool (though, not literally) acronym that stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
These are people that essentially are living well within their means, and thus saving boatloads of money so that they can retire early (i.e. in their thirties or forties).
Effectively, these are people that want to actually enjoy their retirement while they’re at a relatively young age, presumably so they can do more hang gliding and less golfing.
All jokes aside, I admire these people.
It’s obvious that one of the cruxes of our society is the ability to delay gratification, especially when it comes to spending money (or worse, money that we don’t actually have).
And to know that there are actually people who are saving enough money to not have to work into their twilight years is quite impressive.
But I’m not gonna lie, I’m also very salty about this philosophy.
Maybe I’m just jealous?
Well yes, I’m definitely jealous.
I’m also often filled with excuses and a victim mindset when I think about FIRE.
“I live (and was born into) a place with one of the highest costs-of-living…”
“I own a business with all kinds of expenses a W2 employee would never understand…”
But there are also a few things about FIRE that I definitely don’t envy.
For one, it seems like a lot of people engaging in FIRE are unhappy with their current jobs and/or lifestyle.
Yes, this is good motivation to save like hell and get the fuck out…
But what if you don’t make it to 40? Or worse, what if you don’t make it to 30?
What if you die the day after you reach financial independence? Will it have all been worth it?
My personal financial path may be way slower than that of a FIRE practitioner, but I take comfort in knowing that I’m spending every day as if it could be my last.
This doesn’t mean I’m traveling the world, eating in fancy restaurants, and going to concerts every single day of the year. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to afford a lifestyle like this unless there was a guarantee my life would be over in the very near future.
But this doesn’t mean that I will take each passing day for granted either.
While I’m doing my best to save as much money as possible, I’m not working towards FIRE.
Every day, I’m working towards making my life a little bit better.
I’m not slogging through the same shitty job just for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Instead, I’m using each passing day to figure out how I can not only make my work more fun and rewarding, but also how I can make my personal life more fun and rewarding.
In many ways, I feel like I’m already retired just for the simple fact that I mostly enjoy my work and I get to mostly choose how I spend my time.
And don’t get me wrong, I know that if I was on a FIRE path I’d be feeling even better than I already feel.
However, I still wouldn’t choose this path if it meant giving up the relative freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day.
Life is far too unpredictable for that kind of risk, $30k emergency fund or not.