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.
My friends and family are already well-aware of my obsession with the “dream pop” duo known as Beach House.
My sister introduced them to me back in 2013, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
What’s interesting about my love for Beach House however, is that I didn’t truly fall in love with them until I got to briefly see them perform live.
You see, they were playing at Coachella that year, and before the festival weekend, I was actively listening to artists I didn’t already know about.
Beach House was one of these artists, and they fit nicely into the schedule of artists I had already planned to go see.
So Coachella weekend came along, and I eventually found myself at the Outdoor Theater stage, patiently waiting in the dark amongst a pretty spread-out, comfortable crowd.
Once they came out and started playing, I was immediately entranced.
There was something so mysteriously beautiful about them, and maybe this was their intention.
Unfortunately, I had a lapse in judgment when I let my friends drag me away from the amazing experience (only 3 songs in) for the stage next door where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would be playing.
During that whole YYY set, I longingly stared back at the stage where Beach House was performing, realizing that I had made a huge mistake.
It would be another 2 years before I had the opportunity to see them again live, but it was well worth the wait.
I’ve now seen them 4 times since that fateful night, and with each show, my obsession has only grown stronger and stronger.
The most recent show was at the breathtaking Red Rocks Amphitheater, opening for Fleet Foxes.
Rain was forecast for that night. And while it did eventually arrive, it waited until Beach House’s set was over. The stars definitely aligned that night.
So why the obsession?
When you first listen to Beach House you probably won’t get it.
The sound can be slow, melancholy, sleep-inducing, and dare-I-say…boring.
But this is only at the surface level, which is to say that the music Beach House make is more complex than one may initially perceive.
This may sound like a pretentious way of putting it, but let me try and back it up in a way that I can set aside my personal biases.
One reason I think Beach House makes complex music is that there is very little consensus amongst fans on what their best songs (and albums) are.
And sure, maybe this is true for just about every single artist out there, but with Beach House, it seems that the fans have an especially diverse appreciation for their music.
I know this because of the frequent threads that are started on BH’s subreddit, asking fans to list their favorite tracks across a single album or entire discography.
There is no overwhelming consensus in these threads, and there is seemingly never any track that gets singled out as the “worst”.
And maybe this speaks more to BH’s consistency than it does to their complexity, but it’s still pretty remarkable to me.
If there were consensus about anything when it comes to BH, it would probably be that the album a new fan should start their journey with is 2012’s Bloom.
This is the first BH album I was exposed to, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. If I had listened to one of their older albums first, I may not have ever become anything more than a casual fan.
This isn’t to say that the albums before Bloom are bad. In fact, 2010’s Teen Dream is arguably BH’s best record in their entire discography.
But BH music takes time to digest. Every album is a slow burner. And in my opinion, Bloom is the quickest to captivate the listener, given the more prominent production and pop aesthetics.
No matter which BH album you choose to start with, the true catalyst to appreciating their music is through their live performances.
When you see that BH is effectively only 2 people (3 when you include James Barone, their touring drummer), the love of their music reaches new heights.
How can a group of only 2-3 musicians produce such a full sound?
How can it be that many of BH’s live sessions are even better than their studio recordings (see ‘Holy Dances’ below)?
I mean, it’s not like BH is going to the studio and recording songs with the intention of outdoing them in a live setting.
Or maybe they are?
Maybe BH just wants to reward their fans with an experience that exceeds the recorded version. After all, isn’t this what any classic artist would do?
It could also simply be that they are talented enough to always improve upon their previous work.
After 7 albums, they seem to only be getting better and better with each release.
And yes, that means I do think their latest album, 7, is probably their best to-date. This is simply because every track is top-notch from start to finish.
Even Teen Dream and Bloom had some tracks that I still feel are more filler than anything.
With 7, this isn’t the case. It is BH’s most complete album.
There are both new sounds and old sounds, and just like a lot of BH music, a lot of the songs are easy to dismiss after only a couple of listens.
But once you move past this typical litmus test, you’ll likely be hooked.
And if you needed any more convincing at this point about why this band is so amazing, here’s a little bit of “social proof” of how they’ve influenced some of the biggest names in music…
R&B sensation The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) sampled two BH tracks (Gila and Master of None) in Loft Music and The Party & The After Party respectively.
Kendrick Lamar, one of the biggest names in hip-hop, sampled BH’s Silver Soul in his classic track, Money Trees. This is a cool mini documentary that talks about the making of this track:
Jay-Z & Beyonce
Game recognize game? This is Jay-Z and Beyonce in attendance at BH’s 2010 Coachella set:
So there you have it, an introduction to Beach House.
The Golden State Warriors have never been a dynasty.
But that all changed last night, when they swept their way to their 3rd NBA title in the last 4 years.
And sure, it may have happened in a dramatically anti-climactic way, but you still have to stop and appreciate what it has taken to get them here.
No, it wasn’t just Kevin Durant.
Sure, he has helped in a significant way, but the Warriors were already on their way to dynasty territory before KD arrived.
In fact, they were mere minutes away from becoming a dynasty back in 2016, when they were outplayed by LeBron and Kyrie in the waning minutes of Game 7 of the NBA finals.
It’s crazy to think that this could have been the Warriors’ 4th consecutive championship if a few plays went the other way.
But alas, LeBron wanted it more than anybody else at that point in time, putting to bed any doubt that he was (and is) the best basketball player in the world.
Still, there is definitely a lot of randomness in sports.
But one thing that isn’t so random is how expertly the Warriors organization was crafted since changing ownership.
Not all Warriors fans have been around long enough to remember the horrors of the Chris Cohan ownership years. The guy flat out refused to sell the team to Larry Ellison, as if to give Warriors fans one last “fuck you” on his way out.
In the end, the joke was on him though, because the second highest bidders were definitely the better fit.
Really, you have to give a ton of credit to Joe Lacob (I’m intentionally excluding Peter Guber because his role has less to do with the team’s organizational components) for what he has done to turn this organization around.
Hiring Bob Meyers as the Warriors Assistant GM (only to be promoted shortly thereafter to GM), giving the go-ahead on the controversial Monta Ellis trade, firing Mark Jackson and eventually replacing him with Steve Kerr…
The list of good moves goes on an on.
The Warriors are a well-oiled machine from the top down, and it has to be acknowledged.
Some people also need to be reminded that the Warriors had been pursuing Durant years before losing to the Cavs in 2016. This was not just a reactive move to piss off NBA fans (aside from Warriors fans of course).
At this point, the only thing the Warriors organization has yet to achieve is becoming the greatest franchise of all-time. And yes, it would be awesome if they got there.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…there is a long way to go.
And with the rise of a ton of young talent in the league, along with the question of where LeBron goes in the offseason, next year could be the most difficult road to a championship yet.
P.S. MJBRO47, show me where I gave up on this team.
When the Warriors went down 3-2 to Houston, I went to the social medias to specifically cite how much I hated seeing Chris Paul go down.
Why? Because I knew Houston fans would inevitably blame their ultimate series loss on his injury.