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Making decisions is fascinating to me. Once you build a base level of competence, where you can trust that you will follow through with whatever you decide to do, you could say that your life is largely an exercise in decision making.
There's a concept we've all probably heard of, called paralysis of choice, where when given too many options, it becomes difficult to choose one specific one. There's a gelato place in Las Vegas called Gelatology that has twenty or so new flavors every day. It's nearly impossible to choose just one or two.
On the other end of the spectrum, I think when our choices are artificially narrowed, we have a tendency to forget that other choices exist.
I get asked a lot if I'm ever going to settle down. Right now I visit maybe twenty or thirty countries per year, plus another five or ten cities within the US. It's a pace that I find pretty comfortable, but there are downsides to it.
But settling down? One place? If those are the two options, I guess I keep traveling.
Why are those the only two options, though? Who made that rule?
Buying an island with ten friends was a major eye-opener to me. It seemed too good to be true, but then turned out to be even better than expected. Outsiders predicted interpersonal disaster, but it's strengthened friendships and created new ones. What an amazing model, though: each of us feels as though he has his own private island, yet bears only ten percent of the cost. Plus there's a community aspect that wouldn't exist if any one of us owned the thing alone.
So why not do it again and again?
I bought just about the cheapest housing you can buy in Las Vegas and then spent an above-average amount to make it really functional and nice. In San Francisco I have my RV. With those and the island I have three homes that cost me less than $1000 per month combined. Over the next few years I want to buy places in Budapest, Tokyo, and New York. Budapest is cheap enough that I'm shooting to do it within a year, Tokyo is possible now if I buy on the outskirts and split it, but New York will have to wait a bit (though I do have a plan...).
So in the end I'll have six home bases. In Vegas and San Francisco, the two "mature" home bases, I have really great setups for the things that are important to me. I have a great desk, comfortable ergonomic chair, second monitor, access to healthy food, and everything I need to make top-quality tea. By the summer of 2017 I should have most of that at the island as well.
That gives me a ton of stability. I can work at full capacity at any of my home bases and don't have to waste time booking accommodations, finding a gym, or finding food. My experience can be consistent across the different home bases, causing no interruption to my routine.
At the same time, it gives me even more freedom and flexibility than pure travel does. Each one provides me with a hub from which to explore a region of the world. San Francisco gives me West Coast, Las Vegas adds in the rest of the US due to extremely cheap flights, New York gives me the east coast, Budapest gives me Europe, and Japan gives me Asia.
I don't think this is a great solution for everyone, of course. I like organizing things like this and there's decent overlap in places I love and places where real estate is inexpensive. But that's the point-- you don't have to choose between the two most common options. You can think about what maximizes the attributes that you value and figure out how to make it a reality. For me that's six minimal home-bases. For you it could be anything.
Photo is a path in Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. I was just there and caught the tail end of the cherry blossoms.
Shout out to Ergo Depot for giving me an awesome huge adjustable desk, chair, and other stuff for my Vegas place. It's now my favorite place to work that isn't a cruise ship.
One of two things is true: either you will experience chaos in life, or you are setting your sights drastically too low. With even medium-sized goals, you're going to occasionally run into a time where you've underestimated a project, or someone has slacked and pushed work onto your plate, or a great opportunity arose and you had to scramble to try to take advantage. If this happens to you constantly you're probably doing something wrong, but the same is true if it never happens.
What you'd really want in these cases is to be able to bank time. You save up money partially so that if your car breaks down you don't have to pay for it all out of your next paycheck. If only you could do the same with time, storing up spare minutes here and there for when things really get chaotic.
You actually can do that, though, it just doesn't happen at Wells Fargo. In fact, I'm doing it now.
I'm on a flight from Tokyo to Melbourne right now. Nine hours, and most people are using the time watching movies or playing games on their phone. And most of them are probably on vacation from work anyway, so it makes sense.
I did the math again. Fifteen minutes to get to the car rental place, five minutes to check out, five minutes to wait for the shuttle, fifteen minutes to get to the airport, five minutes to get through security, two minutes to run to my gate. That was forty-seven minutes to get to a plane that was leaving in forty-five. I'd already given up on the idea of filling up the gas at a reasonable price; I was about to miss my flight to Japan.
It was the first time I saw my friend Neil in five years or so, so I pushed the timeline a little bit. And then I wanted to test out his Tesla, so I pushed it even further. What I hadn't counted on was that there was much more traffic on the way back than the way there.
I'm the last person in the world to admit defeat and become helpless. I'm tenacious (or stubborn, depending on who you ask), so I am always hustling and trying to make something work up until the buzzer. When there's anything left to do before giving up, I'll do it.
But sometimes you just get stuck. There was nothing I could do to get to the airport faster. If the shuttle took ten minutes instead of five, I couldn't change that. I could talk my way to the front of the line in security, but if I get flagged by the TSA, it's out of my control.
I woke up yesterday morning prepared to grind away at Cruise Sheet all day. This is actually a great type of day for me-- I love non-workout days when I have the whole day to block off and make huge amounts of progress. I always start the same way, though: tea and email.
In my email I had an offer for two free tickets to Nicki Minaj in Las Vegas at the new T-Mobile arena. I was in San Francisco. I immediately reserved them and emailed friends to see if anyone wanted to come. My friend Lenore, whose go-to Karaoke song is Super Bass, snagged a cheap flight and agreed to go.
I still got a ton of work done on the plane, but my day ended much differently than I had expected when I woke up.
The night before I was having dinner with a bunch of my friends. We talked about music, and people got on my case because I said that I wasn't a huge fan of any female artists. I'm not a big Nicki Minaj fan, although I do like a bunch of her songs and collaborations. The point being that I didn't go to Vegas because I was a huge Nicki Minaj fan, I went because it was a spontaneous adventure.
The past dozen or so years of my life have been dedicated mostly to learning and growth. Not totally singlemindedly, of course; I've traveled around and done fun things and have also put out a respectable body of work, but most of my focus has been on improvement.
And I needed it. I learned social skills, productivity, programming, writing, and some parts of ten languages. I built strong social circles in several cities composed of people I love and respect, built home bases in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and immersed myself in many different cultures around the world.
Time well spent.
Last night I had the idle thought that I should learn Korean. I miss learning languages, and Korean is a pretty good one. Then I thought about how I plan on spending more time in Budapest and how I should learn Hungarian, even though it is, by all accounts, impossible.
I never published it, but I wrote a post a while back about how watching TV was my canary in the coalmine. If I wanted to watch TV, that was a surefire sign that I wasn't fully engaged in my work, and that I needed to take a look at what was causing that.
I've gone way overboard with my remodel of my bathroom in Las Vegas. The floor tiles were these horrible vinyl tiles that were peeling up and weren't even in a grid. If I have to redo the floor, I may as well get black marble tiles. And if I'm going to put tiles down, I may as well put in in-floor heating.
I haven't taken a shower in my own home in many months. The corner shower had a broken door and I wanted a tub, so I ripped it out and put in a tub. But then I had to redo the walls to make them waterproof. And wouldn't it be cool if one wall was teak wood instead of just tile?
And that's where my Tuesday went. I grouted the two tile walls, sawed boards, and began to attach them to the wall.
During a six hour layover in Honolulu, my friend Brian and I went to the Honolulu Museum of Art. The museum is really cool and worth a visit for just about anyone passing through the city. They have the standard sort of stuff, but I was most impressed with their Asian collection. In particular, the Japanese woodblock prints stood out.
Usually I skim over the woodblocks, but their collection was stunning. I went around the room looking at all of them several times before leaving. I took pictures so that I could figure out later who the artist was.
Later, just out of curiousity, I started researching what it would take to buy a Japanese woodblock by a good artist. It was strictly aspirational, not something I intended on buying in the near future.
But I was surprised. Legitimate Japanese woodblocks from the 1800s, when the Shogun was in charge, go for one or two hundred. The ones that captivated me in the museum were by a guy named Ogata Gekko and were printed in the early 1900s, and were even cheaper.
I can tell you one thing: I'm definitely not writing a blog post tomorrow.
Two years ago I agreed to be accountable to a friend for writing a blog post every single day for two years. If I failed to do it, I would have to pay $10,000. I could skip once per month and I could "buffer" one post by writing two on the first day.
I'm finally done. I never used a skip, but I used the buffer on two or three occasions. I was always terrified of using the skip because I thought that I might absolutely need it in the thirty days following its use. I'll use my first one tomorrow, as it's technically the last day of the challenge.
Overall the challenge was a very positive thing. The speed with which I can write a blog post has increased dramatically. A decent post can be written with few or no edits needed in about seven to ten minutes. My writing has certainly improved to some extent, although it's very hard to gauge that. I guess the best empirical evidence is that I've gotten very positive feedback on posts that I thought were a six or seven out of ten.
My friend Sebastian has a great way of asking simple questions that create good discussions. We were talking about someone getting offended at something and he asked the not-quite-rhetorical question: why do people get offended?
You and I, he said, never get offended.
Being offended seems to have become a national, if not international, pastime. Anything that happens is examined not for shreds of decency and positivity, but for something to be offended about. Statements are taken out of context, magnified, and imbued with extrinsic meaning.
And people love it. Sensationalist headlines allow them to hop onto the bandwagon and be offended, maybe even more offended than the writer of the headline was.
I've been really excited to work on Cruise Sheet recently. I've made some big strides and am now an actual cruise agency rather than a web site that creates affiliate links. It's still fairly similar, but now I can control the experience the whole way through and the increase in revenue makes it look more like a viable business.
So now I'm back in that "Love Work" mode where all I want to do is work. Last night two friends and I drove around picking up Uber passengers while I sang "Drop it Like It's Hot" on our Car-eoke system, but in the back of my head I was thinking about Cruise Sheet.
One of the things I've been doing is going through every single port and making sure I have the right name, region, GPS coordinates, abbreviated form, etc. Not the most exciting work, but I have a thing for neat and orderly data, so I enjoy it.
Except for the damn Galapagos Island stops. There are so many of them that every time another one popped up, I was annoyed that I had to enter it in. For a while I had a dozen or so of them sitting in the queue while I waited for normal ports to show up.