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Last night I played poker at Bellagio in Las Vegas. At one point I got pocket queens, a tremendously good hand. The hand played as expected until the last card. I got raised by a mediocre player which meant that I could be assured that he had made his hand. I had hundreds of dollars in the pot, but I folded. The money was spent, and chasing after it wouldn't do me any good.
When I got home, I cleaned up my place and packed for my trip the next morning. Several months earlier I had used some airline points to book a round trip flight to Hong Kong. I stayed up late to get myself tired for the flight, and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to my alarm. I packed up my laptop, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and began to dial the number for the taxi company to take me to the airport. I paused for a minute and then put down the phone.
Why was I going to Hong Kong? I like Hong Kong a lot, especially this one teahouse in the park. And I had twelve hours in Seoul, which I was looking forward to. But beyond that, there was no reason to go. I was going by myself and had nothing planned. On the other hand, I had tons to do in Las Vegas. I'd finally gotten a stove, so I could complete the kitchen remodel I was working on. I had lots of regular work to do, too.
A few times a year, a crazy flight deal appears. Sometimes they're crazy sales, and other times they're mistakes that the airline will be legally obligated to honor. Take, for example, the one that popped up right as I began to write this post: San Francisco or LA to Jakarta for $385.
The unique characteristic of these flights is that they do not last. Sometimes you have a full day to book them, but other times you have hours, or even minutes. Very often availability will disappear within an hour or so until it's all gone. So you can't plan these trips like normal trips-- you have to go about a different way.
The first step is to just book any dates that you think you might want to go. Find an opening on your calendar, and choose a trip duration. When in doubt, go shorter. You never know what your schedule is going to look like, but a 4 day trip is easier to accommodate than a 10 day.
Because you're not paying much money, you don't need to get as much out of the trip. I'm paying less than $400 to go to Jakarta, with a full day in Tokyo. It's not going to take seeing too many things for that to be worth it.
Due to poor planning, I had to walk a half mile or so to my motorcycle tonight before going home. Not a big deal, but it was after midnight, I was tired, and still had a few things to do. Helmet in hand, I started walking down the sidewalk towards the bike.
A thought struck me: this could be the last time I ever walk. Motorcycles are a lot safer than most people think, but people do get paralyzed on them sometimes.
You never see it coming. You wake up, you think about unimportant things like breakfast cereal, and that night you're in the hospital, wondering if you're going to walk again. That's how it happens in real life.
As I walked, I thought about how good it felt to be walking. It's pretty amazing just to have the human ability to balance on two legs. And then there's the breeze, the sound of my rubber soles scraping against the concrete, the illuminated houses passing by. It felt great to move my legs with such precision and ease.
I remarked, on the way in, that we were the only people that wanted to be there. Being a defendant must be a bad time, and I doubt being a plaintiff is much better. Jurors are getting a couple bucks a day to disrupt their lives, and it's just another day at work for everyone else. But we were there voluntarily, because we wanted to see what a trial was like.
Everyone at the courthouse was friendly, but it clearly wasn't a place meant for visitors. We walked around trying to find someone to give us information, and finally found a friendly janitor. He had no specific suggestions, but said that we ought to just open courtroom doors until we find a case we'd like to see.
We walked in in the middle of the case, and I immediately felt as though I was somewhere I shouldn't be. A trial seems like such a personal and intimate thing, deciding one's fate. We sat up front.
The witness being questioned was a sixty-year-old woman. Her questioning was slow because it went through a Chinese interpreter, was interrupted by her sobbing, and was hindered by her clear displeasure at being there. It turned out that although she was the victim of a purse-snatching, she wasn't the one prosecuting. It was the city's DA.
In case you don't know, there are a large number of people on the internet giving up shampoo. They claim that shampoo is the problem, stripping your hair of oils and then adding them back in. If you just give up shampoo, your hair will regulate itself, just like the hair on all other animals.
I decided to give it a try, mainly to get rid of one more small thing in my travel bag.
My hair revolted from the beginning. At first it just looked a little bit oily, but soon it became stiff. I could shape it in any way and it would stay there. It was tangled enough that I couldn't run my hands through it.
A week or two in, it was looking less oily, but still stiff. No one noticed or said anything, so I figured that even if it was a little bit weird, it was still working.
There's some fundamental human attraction to permanence. We want relationships to be permanent, achievements to hold their importance permanently, and for our possessions to be ours permanently. When we break up, when our accomplishments are forgotten, or when something is lost, stolen, or sold, we feel a loss.
Good reasons to value permanence exist. It gives us consistency upon which we can base other things. It limits our options, which is something I think we all like more than we admit.
When I was a nomad, my permanence was my computer. I could be at a family member's home or at a grungy third-world bus station, and much of my world was consistent. I communicated with my friends online, worked online, learned online, and researched online. That familiar space allowed me to vary other parts of my life wildly. I never felt homesick or lost because of it.
Before being a nomad, I took permanence for granted. Even if I could have guessed I wouldn't live in Austin forever, I knew that I'd be there a while and that it would always be waiting for me. But becoming a nomad threw into contrast just how valuable permanence is.
It's more than halfway through the year, which means I'm overdue for an update on my dating situation. If you're just tuning in now, I took three years off dating with the intention of looking for a serious relationship, starting January 1st 2015.
Thanks to an introduction from a reader, I met a fantastic girl who I dated for a little over four months. I don't want to say too much about the relationship, mainly because I don't think she wants to be splashed around the blog. I will say that I think that the blame for us not working out falls squarely on my shoulders, and while I think that breaking up was the right decision, I'm certainly not sure.
If I'm honest, my motivation to date is really low. It's one thing to declare it as my first priority, and it's another for it to actually be the driving force in my life. It's definitely not.
Something critical I've realized through my re-entry to dating is that I'd rather be single than date someone I'm not extremely excited about. Just finding someone I'm excited enough about to go on a first date is very difficult. I've never actually met someone through a cold approach who I thought could be a long-term partner, and my online dating screen leaves me about half a dozen girls in any major city.
I've been blogging for nine years and five months. That's a pretty long streak, and I'm sure you can imagine how big of a barrier it creates against me ever quitting. Streaks are a powerful tool in the habit-builder's arsenal. There's some magic to them that makes us want to keep them going, just for their own sake.
That's a good thing, but it can also be a problem. Sometimes you don't want to keep taking the action that's creating the streak, but you keep doing it just to keep the streak alive.
I made the decision recently to only post once per week. I decided to stick to twice a week on a whim a few years ago, and hadn't missed a week since then. But my readership has barely crept up since then, and the second-best post every week is never an amazing one.
And I dreaded doing my twice-weekly posting. I haven't been coming up with great post ideas for a while, so I feel like a lot of times I end up having to choose a subpar post to put online.
Last Thursday, four of the owners of the island converged there to tackle the biggest task so far: build the yurt. Things started going poorly even before we got there.
Brian came down with a sinus infection and a 103 degree fever. He is the physically strongest of our foursome and also probably the most knowledgeable with construction. And even if he wasn't, we needed four people to complete the project. Bailing on the trip wasn't an option, so he rested for two days and came late.
Once we got there, a forklift at the storage place broke, making it impossible for us to pick up the yurt materials until Saturday. We were leaving on Monday.
Many other bad things happened. A 16' long rafter fell and hit Lisa on the head. Our boat stopped working. Two Home Depots were each out of one critical piece for the scaffolding. The mosquitoes were the worst they've ever been there.
Last night, over dinner, I was part of a conversation about virtual and augmented reality, two technologies that aren't here yet, but are inevitable and will change a lot about our world. We marveled at the possibilities and how wonderful it might be to live in a world with these things.
Today, in Budapest, we woke up and had tea at a great local place with the strange name, 1000Tea. They do tea right-- they give you a good amount of high quality leaves, water of the right temperature, and all the accoutrement necessary for Chinese tea ceremony.
After tea we strolled around a bit and made our way to Kiraly Baths, a Turkish bathhouse that's been in operation for around five hundred years and hasn't been restored in decades. We soaked for an hour or two, alternating between hot, very hot, and cool pools of water.
As I sat in the pool, staring at the light filtering through the five-hundred-year-old glass blocks in the ceiling, I thought about how great it was to be able to soak in natural geothermically-heated water from the depths of the earth. I also thought about how incredible it was that I could drink tea anywhere in the world that was expertly grown and processed in China.