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The police lined us up in the pitch black tunnel. Their headlamps flicked around as they gave their orders in French. We were getting searched.
They went up the line searching my friends. First they were patted down, and then their bags were sifted through. Nothing to worry about, as they had nothing to hide.
I was next. I did have something to worry about. Inside my bag, right near the top, were human bones.
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A while back someone e-mailed me and asked me how I had so many interesting experiences in my life. I meant to write him back, but couldn't find the e-mail.
First of all, what constitutes an interesting life? Do we care if OTHER people think it's interesting? Do we care if WE think it's interesting? Does it just have to be different?
A few people asked what I eat every day. I think that what I eat is of minor interest, but maybe the reasoning behind it might be more valuable.
First the what. My friend Dick Talens suggested that I do intermittent fasting, which means that I eat during only an eight hour period each day. There's some compelling evidence that this is good for longevity, but not enough that I can say for sure that it's true. I was attracted to the diet because it meant that I could spend less time eating each day.
When I first wake up, I drink green tea. My staple is Green Ecstasy from Samovar, but sometimes I have something else just to mix it up.
The beginning of my eating period is two pm. I make three open face sandwiches consisting of the following: one piece of ezekiel seed bread, hazelnut almond butter, a small handful of walnuts, one third of a banana, and a lot of chia seeds. Sometimes I have some nice organic berries to put on top.
There's a lot of political talk going around San Francisco these days, thanks to the recent election. There's also a fair deal of rioting due to the Giants' win, but that's a different post entirely.
I'll preface this post by saying that I'm nearly completely uninterested in politics. It's not something I think about, it's not something I participate in, and it's not something I talk about. And the main reason I don't like to talk about it is because people are not logical when talking about politics.
My favorite example is when people think a politician is an idiot. No politician is an idiot. It's their job, and their job is under a lot more scrutiny than yours is. Given the amount of politicians out there, the odds of an idiot being elected are just about nil.
I had just spent the weekend at Real Social Dynamics' Hot Seat 2, which, frankly, is an amazing program. Tyler comes in with nine hours of hidden camera footage, and plays it for the audience while pausing to explain what's going on.
I learned a ton and was properly inspired, but Tyler's approach is definitely not the easy way out. Instead of rolling up to a girl with an indirect opener, you walk up, make eye contact, and say hi. This sounds easy, but in practice it's scary because you're putting your ego on the line every time, making it trivially easy to be rejected.
So on Monday I went out to the mall to try it. It was the first time I'd been out in the day (for pickup) in a solid month, since we'd been going out at night instead. I did one approach, and then kicked myself for the next hour and a half and did nothing. My brain was looking for, and found, every single reason not to do it. She's too attractive-- start off easier. She's not attractive enough-- you don't want it to go well. She's walking-- she wouldn't stop anyway. She's standing still-- it looks too obvious.
There are two types of people at the poker table, generally. First there are the sharks. They stay quiet and occasionally make comments about the game that intimidate amateur players by revealing just how much they're thinking about. The second group are normal people who are there to have a good time.
Through hours of listening to the second group, I've noticed how different the things are that "normal" people think about, and people like me think about. I'll loosely define "normal" people as people whose lives are dominated by things they HAVE to do, vs. people whose lives are dominated by things they WANT to do.
I thought it might be interesting for people who haven't made the switch to independence to hear what sorts of things rattle around our minds.
I logged into my stock account the other day and realized that contrary to my previous claim/strategy of investing solely in Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, I had no Berkshire shares left. Time for an update, I reckon.
So what happened? Nothing against Berkshire, for sure. I sold almost all of my shares at a profit, and I still have full faith in the company. But sometimes opportunities come along that are too good to pass up, two of which I'm currently invested in.
When I was younger, I loved playing on swings. My best friend Ryan and I would spend all of recess on the swings, making up new tricks and seeing who could jump further. Eventually it got to the point where ankles were being sprained and we had both perfected the backflip off the swing.
Now, many years later, I still love swinging despite encountering fewer opportunities to do it. One of the distinctive features at my new building is a large metal terrace hanging over the rooftop patio. Since moving in I've wanted to build a swing on it so that I could swing over the edge of the building.
I'm not sure why, but yesterday inspiration struck and I decided that it would be that day I built my swing. Evan and Jonah were with me. Evan was upset by the idea, worried that I might die. Jonah was also eager to swing, and helped me assure Evan that I did stuff like this all the time, and that I wouldn't die. She wasn't wholly convinced.
A couple months ago I was minding my own business, reading a book, about to go to sleep. I give twitter one last check on my phone and see a message from my friend Jenna telling me of a deal to go to Lima, Peru for $380 round trip. I have no particular reason to go to Peru, but I decide to start booking it and make the decision as I go through the steps. The deal is about to go-- it's disappearing from different booking sites one by one. Hey, might as well go, I think. For how long? Well, I can't think of anything off the top of my head in Peru besides Machu Picchu (which I already decided I had to see before I died), so I play it safe and book eight days, figuring that will give me enough time for Machu Picchu and maybe one or two other things.
After booking, I begin to do a little research. The thing to do is the Inca trail, which is a four day hike from the Cusco area to Machu Picchu. You have to go with a tour group, and you have to book far in advance. I booked too late for that. The standard alternative is the Salkantay trek, which is typically a five day trek. It's harder than Inca and has better natural scenery, but no ruins along the way and doesn't lead directly to Machu Picchu like Inca does. I try to find a good tour group going there, but none of the published dates fit into my short window in Peru. Fine, I think, I'll just go solo.
I order a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and mattress pad, and that's the extent of my planning for over a month. With a week before I leave, I figure I ought to see if I need train or bus tickets. That's when I learn that Cusco is almost 24 hours away from Lima by bus, and that getting to the trail from Cusco takes several hours as well. Long story short, it looks impossible for me to Salkantay. But I've had it in my head for a month now that I'm going to do it, so I don't give up easily. Finally I find a way I can take a bus to Arequipa near the end, and then take a flight from there to Lima just in time to catch my flight. The problem is that this leaves me only about 3 days to do the trek, and less than 24 hours to acclimatize.
A week later, my trip begins. I'm overjoyed when my tent stakes make it through TSA security. Actually getting to the hiking trail is contingent on several fairly unlikely assumptions, the first of which is that the titanium stakes will make it through. The flight to Lima is long, but I somehow manage to get an exit row seat to Panama, and a whole row to myself to Lima. I get the best plane sleep I've ever had.
One of the more interesting people I've met since moving to San Francisco is Ramit Sethi, bestselling author and blogger at I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
He takes an out of the box approach towards personal finance that resonates well with me. In particular I like how he focuses on conscious spending and automation. His stuff is extremely practical, to the point of sharing fill-in-the-blank scripts to be used when calling credit card companies and banks.
His advice is practical and immediately applicable, and he focuses on getting people take action and really improve their lives, rather than sit and read about it all day.