Craft + Commerce Day 0.5

I am giddy right now.

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.

Oh well.

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’m not good at being busy in transit

I do a good bit of traveling, but for some reason I feel like I’m doing things wrong.

You see, when you get on a plane in the middle of the week you’ll often see business people with their laptops out, typing furiously on their keyboards and generally just looking busy.

One time, I was sitting next to some suit who put CNET on his seat-back TV, as I rolled my eyes in my head.

It just felt like such a front, but whatever.

Still, I can’t get past the fact that maybe I should be making better use of my time while I travel, since so many people seem to be working while in-transit.

And it could simply be the demands of their jobs, tight deadlines, etc.

This is totally fair.

But for the life of me, I can’t do work on an airplane, train, or bus.

It’s cramped. It’s distracting. WiFi usually isn’t free. There are rarely power outlets.

But people are still doing it, and I get some kind of weird guilt FOMO when I make the choice to listen to music, read, or sleep instead of work on my laptop.

I also don’t want everybody in an aisle seat behind me (assuming I’m also in an aisle) to be looking at what I’m working on.

This is especially true if I’m writing a post that’s bitching about people that use their laptops on airplanes.

When all is said and done, moments like these make me feel like I’m simply not good at being busy while traveling.

I like to work when I can find the time to do so, but I’m not motivated enough to work under unideal circumstances.

Granted, a lot of time is lost during travel, so in a way I really admire peoples’ efficiency.

So tell me…if you like working while you’re in transit, why do you like it? Do you do it out of obligation? To optimize efficiency? Some other reason?

Any tips for this overly-casual traveller?

Take your friend to work day

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.

So who’s up for it?!

Diffusion of responsibility

What a Monday morning this has been.

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.

Motorola says it’s Comcast. Comcast says it’s Motorola.

It’s so bad, it’s almost amusing.

To me, it simply feels like a constant diffusion of responsibility when dealing with big companies and organizations.

Nobody wants to take ownership of the problem, so the victim just get tossed back and forth between the parties who are supposed to fix said problem.

I sometimes wish there were a third party involved just to keep the first two parties in check.

So much falls apart to the hands of bureaucracy.

I wish I knew what the solution was, but I think this is merely a byproduct of a capitalistic society.

Big organizations are quite simply, not organized.

There’s always somebody else at fault because hey, “we’re big enough that I can point my finger in this direction, and my problem will be solved.”

And the customer? The awakened citizen?

“Who cares? I’ll never see or speak to them again in my life.”

In other words, there are no consequences to saying something is somebody else’s fault or responsibility.

My problem as a Comcast technical support person is to simply keep you from becoming my problem.

Anyways, just a little rant for your Monday morning.

My mantra today is Amor Fati. Love fate. Simply embrace the frustrating, silly moments like these, and be grateful that the SF police officer didn’t have worse news to wake us up to.


Why I’m thinking about killing one of my babies…

Warning: this is a rant/whiney post.

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.

Happy Sunday!

The Honeymoon Chronicles Part 1

My wife told me she didn’t want me posting this…

But what she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right?

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.

I can’t finish this project man…

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.

If V ever sees this picture online, she’ll probably kill me.

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.

More details on our actual honeymoon to follow!

This week’s therapy: The World Cup

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.

This is a special event.

Letting go of what you can’t control

I’m trying to practice what I preach with this one, because I’m getting worked up this morning about something that is completely outside of my control.

Yet I still feel like I have to do something. I have to solve the problem.

But I can’t. Again, it’s outside of my control. And it feels like the only way to respond is to do nothing at all.

Yet I don’t want my attitude to be mistaken for apathy, and maybe that’s the problem.

I feel bad for being apathetic.

But if I continue to try and solve problems I can’t solve, trying to solve these problems will continue to be expected of me.

And what good does that do for you and me?

Not much.

So today I’m taking the apathetic approach.

I’ll listen to someone I love if they need to vent, but I’m not going to try and come to the rescue, because it never does any good.

Is this selfish?

Without a doubt. But sometimes we need to be selfish to truly help others.

Let’s call it the antithesis to martyrdom.

I refuse to help the victim if it means that it will end up converting me into the victim.

So if you have people in your life repeatedly taking advantage of your support, I’d encourage you to try the opposite approach next time support is expected of you.

Ride out the storm with silence and dare I say, apathy.

See if the ironic response you were hoping for somehow actualizes. You might be surprised.

Starting again, today

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how “getting back on the horse” is one of the most important things we can do to achieve our goals.

This was fresh off of my 18 consecutive days of meditation coming to an abrupt end.

Well, I got back on that horse, hit another 15-day streak, only to have it end again last Friday.

But I didn’t dwell on it.

In fact, it was easier to start again the second time around, perhaps because I had become acclimated to the originally perceived failure.

Last week I started reading a book that confirmed how important it is for us to defy our inherent perfectionism.

i.e. when the streak ends, just start a new one.

It’s called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, and I can already tell it will go down as an all-time favorite.

At the beginning of the book the author, Jon Acuff, suggests that the only true failures are the habits and goals we never return to after starting.

You know, the New Years Resolutions that end the second week of January.

“Reject the idea that day after perfect means you’ve failed”, he writes.

And that stuff we say we don’t have time to do?

Well, it’s because we’re trying to do too much. 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound bag…remember?

“Cut your goals in half” is the lesson of the entire second chapter, and that’s what I immediately went to do when reviewing the goals I haven’t come close to achieving in the first half of this year.

He also proposes that we give up on trying to do the things we suck at or simply don’t want to be doing.

“Joyless goals fail”

There should be purpose and fun in the things that we are actively pursuing, and as time gets more limited, this is really something I want to make sure I’m living by.

“Joyless goals fail”

As I crank out the rest of the blog post, I am also having an honest conversation with myself (in my head of course) about the purpose of my  personal blogging.

Is there enough joy? Or is it simply a chore?

Well, I haven’t published anything in 4 days, which I could have easily shaped as a failure.

However, I’m back on the horse. My fingers are moving, even if there isn’t necessarily any cohesion through the words I’m writing.

And the joy I get from this is knowing that I can have a somewhat organized place for me to refer back to the thoughts that I have a hard time organizing.

I’m not striving for perfection; I’d rather have joy.

I honestly don’t even know if that was an appropriate use of a semicolon, but trying to figure that out will suck the joy out of this daily writing habit I’m trying to develop.

So I’m starting this week with the mindset of making my unachieved goals 1) halved and 2) fun.

If I can remind myself of these important facets, I think it will be a whole lot easier to get where I want to go.


Is FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) all it’s worked up to be?

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.