Tynan http://tynan.com Life Outside the Box en-us Sun, 29 Nov 2020 18:20:22 -0800 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Gratitude 2020 http://tynan.com/gratitude2020 Usually in my annual gratitude post I write about people in my life. My family and friends are an easy source of unending gratitude. This year, though, I want to write about something a little bit different. This year I'm grateful for my country, the United States. This ]]>

Usually in my annual gratitude post I write about people in my life. My family and friends are an easy source of unending gratitude. This year, though, I want to write about something a little bit different.

This year I'm grateful for my country, the United States. This has somehow become a slightly polarizing sentiment and sometimes interpreted as being partisan, and it's become en vogue to bash our country and focus only on its faults. And, yes, our country has its faults, both at the highest levels in government down to all of us as individuals. But we can be grateful for something even if it isn't perfect.

I'm grateful that we live in a country where a good life is possible for most of the population. Opportunity may not be distributed as evenly as we could aspire to, but we have a country where people can visualize a life they'd like to live, whether urban or rural, frenetic or peaceful, tropical or in the desert, and can work towards getting that life. I like that we have so many states that are so different, and that we can window shop between them and choose the one best for us.

Congress has an abysmal approval rating, and our president's rating isn't too impressive either. And yet, government functions enough to keep us safe and stable. Often as Americans we take this for granted, but if you look at what entire populations in many people in other countries have to deal with, we have it quite good. I'm grateful for the system that we have which has held up remarkably well to the challenges of our current times, and to all the people who work in government, often in unseen positions, who are the gears that keep our society moving.

I'm also grateful for all of my fellow citizens. I probably disagree with nearly every single one about something, and most on at least some fundamental issues, but I also see Americans band together to help each other in times of crisis and I believe that most people want what is best for the country, even if we can't agree on what that is. It's easy to demonize other groups, and there are certainly some small ones that deserve it, but I think most humans, Americans included, are good people who want to do the right thing.

When I could travel all around the world I was constantly in awe of the natural wonders in other countries. Being mostly stuck in the US for the past nine months has helped me be more grateful for what we have here. I had some vague prejudice against Florida, but when I visited a friend there early in the pandemic I was struck by how beautiful the beach was, with plovers running away from the tide and giant pelicans flying above. We took a little hike and saw armadillos, too. In Vegas we have an incredible lake, Lake Mead, which I've boated on and even scuba dove in for the first time, and soon it will be time to ski in the mountains. In Hawaii we have volcanoes, reefs, and flowers and greenery everywhere. Had I traveled more around the US I could have seen just about every other kind of ecosystem that exists.

The more we are grateful for, the happier we will be. Nothing is perfect, which makes it very easy to focus on the positive and be grateful, or to be negative and be ungrateful. Being ungrateful is easier and often more popular, but it's better for oneself and those around us to be grateful. America isn't the only great country in the world, and isn't perfect, but I'm grateful to have been born here, to have grown up here, and to continue to live much of my life here.

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Photo is a sign above a paleta stand in Hilo, Hawaii

Gear post is coming! I waffled on whether or not to do one this year, but tradition is tradition. I'm currently in the middle of moving (stil in Vegas), so I'll see if I can get it done in the next week or two.

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Sat, 28 Nov 2020 14:48:53 -0800 http://tynan.com/gratitude2020
Stability and Utility http://tynan.com/stabilityutility As far as I can tell, money has two valid uses: stability and utility. It has a lot of other uses as well, like signaling and scorekeeping, but these are poor uses of money and focusing on them will reduce your ability to use money for better uses. Most people do a fairl]]>

As far as I can tell, money has two valid uses: stability and utility. It has a lot of other uses as well, like signaling and scorekeeping, but these are poor uses of money and focusing on them will reduce your ability to use money for better uses. Most people do a fairly poor job maximizing for either of these things.

Using money for stability enables you to decouple your lifestyle from your income and expenses. If you make $1000 per month and require exactly $1000 per month to live, you probably have very little stability. Even one unpaid day off would throw your month into chaos, as would a small unexpected expense. Building up a buffer of savings allows you to be unaffected by such things, as does having an income that is several times greater than your expenses.

Utility is simply converting your money into something that provides a benefit. Buying food counts as utility as does giving a gift or renting a car.

If someone derives a lot of stability and utility from their money, they are set! These two elements alone create a good personal finance ecosystem. Focus on them when allocating your money.

Once you can provide yourself with the basics like shelter and food, you should focus primarily on stability. When I moved into my RV (shelter) and had enough passive income for food, I immediately shifted my priorities towards stability rather than excess utility. Many people have never truly felt financial stability, so they don't understand how beneficial it is.

One way to think is: "For how long can I sustain my current level of utility under worst-possible-case conditions". The pandemic has provided a reasonable benchmark. I would focus on getting this duration to at least a year before focusing seriously on increased utility. Beyond a year is still valuable but it feels more abstract, as anyone who is capable of saving up a year of expenses is also probably capable of figuring out how to earn more money within a year.

Thanks to advertising it's very easy to imagine the benefit of buying an iPhone (though it may not be as big a benefit as is promised), but it can be hard to imagine the benefit of two more weeks of financial buffer. For that reason, this initial push towards stability can be challenging for a lot of people. It's tempting to just buy stuff.

Once you get to more than one year of buffer, you can consider allocating additional savings to utility. Wait until the money is in the bank, though. Don't finance something and use future earnings to pay for it, as that decreases your stability significantly.

Let's say that you save up a year of expenses and have an extra $10,000 in the bank. I would next consider how I could convert that money to the most utility over my lifetime. We're all different, but good uses for me have been trips with friends (memories and bonds that last a lifetime) and shared properties with friends.

A good starting point to figuring out what these things are is to think back over the past five years and thank about which experiences or memories have made you most grateful. For me the list is almost entirely quality experiences with people I care about, so I try to spend money in ways that generate more of those things.

I find that most people end up spending on utility they don't care about. They buy a car for $30,000 that gives them 1.2 imaginary units of utility versus a $5,000 car that gives them 1 imaginary unit of utility. These purchases are usually because people don't think much about what actually gives them satisfaction, and instead they look to society, the media, or advertising for clues.

If you spend efficiently on utility, you will probably find that continued stability is easy. When you are getting a lot back from every dollar you spend, you don't need to spend as much, and you are more motivated to invest in stability to keep the things you have. When you spend money and don't get much back, you feel like you have to spend more to fill the void.

Stability for you may be two months or it might be several years. Utility might be the same sorts of things that provide me with utility, or it may be a wood shop in the backwoods. The particulars don't really matter as much as the general concepts. Understand how money can benefit you the most and focus on those things.

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Photo is Liliuokalani gandens in Hilo. I took a walk there yesterday and even in the rain it was really peaceful and pleasant. Feels great to be back in Hawaii after 8 months!

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Sun, 22 Nov 2020 12:30:55 -0800 http://tynan.com/stabilityutility
How to Be Secure http://tynan.com/security Why are some people secure while others aren't? Is it because they deserve or don't deserve to be secure? There are enough obvious counter-examples to that idea to dismiss it immediately. Is it genetic? Maybe partially, but many people have switched from being secure to ]]>

Why are some people secure while others aren't? Is it because they deserve or don't deserve to be secure? There are enough obvious counter-examples to that idea to dismiss it immediately. Is it genetic? Maybe partially, but many people have switched from being secure to insecure or vice versa. I'd argue that being secure is a practice that anyone can implement.

A friend of mine once told me, as if the idea was an obvious one, that he constantly suspected that people didn't really like him very much and invited him around to be polite. This idea completely blew my mind, because he was one of the core members of our friend group and I'd never once heard anyone say anything bad about him. It made me realize that insecurity is usually an error of perception.

Pickup transformed me from a very insecure person, who basically thought that almost no woman would really want to get to know me, to a very secure person who now assumes that basically everyone will like me and see my value.

The biggest thing I learned is that people will like you for who you are. This sounds obvious and simple, but for years I just figured that there were one or two "very likeable" archetypes, and I wasn't one of them. Media and pop culture set this trap and it's an easy one for anyone to fall into.

What I found was very nearly the opposite. Someone acting cool is not scarce or interesting. Someone being genuine and authentic and presenting themselves through the clearest lens possible is extremely rare. These people are so rare that when you meet them you immediately like and respect them, even if you don't have much in common with them or even want to be friends with them.

If you're insecure you may be either living a lie or trying to. If you are trying to portray yourself as someone that you aren't, you should not be secure! You should be worried that your secret will be found out. If you are simply being yourself, there's nothing to worry about.

This is a lot easier if you know who you are, know what you believe in, know what you stand for, and know what your values are. Imagine that you know all of those things and you know that you are doing a reasonably good job living by them and are striving to get better. If someone thinks negatively of you, you can know for sure that they just don't know you well enough to know the truth. You have the proof that you are living up to the standards you have set for yourself.

People would always ask me what people I met thought about me living in an RV, with the implication that there would be some negative association. It never occurred to me to care about what other people thought about it. I knew my values, knew that the RV was perfectly aligned with them, so their opinion didn't matter.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because when I talked about my RV there was no hint of insecurity. I was excited and proud of it, which probably led to people thinking it was cool, even if it wasn't something they would want to do themselves.

You could come up with a lot of concrete reasons you should not be secure. Maybe you're poor or overweight or a nerd. But if you can think of even one person who has that trait and is still secure, you know that it's not a real obstacle.

Being secure is a choice, but not an instant one. Your mind takes time to retrain. Think about what you do and what you believe in. Are you proud of those things? If you aren't, you should change them or think more about why you do them. For example, if you're a janitor but aren't proud of being a janitor, you can be proud that you are willing to take a job like that to support yourself or your family. Of course, if you do something and aren't proud of it, you should probably stop.

The next time you feel insecure, think about what caused it. Is it real or is it something made up? I knew a girl who always thought that guys thought she was ugly and didn't want to go on second dates with her. The truth is that she was insecure about her looks and the insecurity drove people away.

If it's real, ask whether it matters or not. If I played basketball with people who were good at it, they would probably laugh at me because I'm terrible at it. Is that real? Sure, I'm not good at basketball. But being good at basketball isn't important to me and doesn't matter, so it wouldn't make me feel insecure.

Hold yourself to your own standards. Anyone who is trying to hold you to a standard they've created which you don't subscribe to is not doing you a service. Be proud of who you are and be honest about who you are. Anyone can be secure if they work at it and understand the underlying mechanisms.

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Photo is Lake Mead. It's fun to swim there in the summer, but cookouts and bonfires on the beach make fall pretty amazing, too. Plus you don't have to live in constant fear of being sunburned.

I'm going to Hawaii tomorrow for the first time since March! I feel like I might cry from joy when I land there.

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Sun, 15 Nov 2020 08:30:00 -0800 http://tynan.com/security
VR For Non Gamers http://tynan.com/quest If you've read my blog for a while, you might be surprised to see a post that's about video games. I've never written about video games before because I have never really played them. A couple years ago I had the idea that I should find a fun video game to play on airpla]]>

If you've read my blog for a while, you might be surprised to see a post that's about video games. I've never written about video games before because I have never really played them. A couple years ago I had the idea that I should find a fun video game to play on airplanes just to pass the time when I'm too tired to work, but I couldn't find any that held my attention. In other words, I am not into video games at all.

However, I am REALLY into VR. Seven years ago I got to be one of the first hundred or so people to experience VR with full positional tracking, and it blew my mind.

For the past few years I've had a gaming PC and wired headset just for VR, but I haven't recommended it much because the cost of a gaming PC + headset are pretty steep for occasional VR use.

However, the Quest 2 from Oculus/Facebook changes all of that. I've had one since launch date last month and am absolutely blown away by it. I've pushed a bunch of friends to buy one and the universal reaction is something along the lines of: "Wow, I had no idea this sort of technology even existed."

The thought that keeps crossing my mind is: when I was a kid I got to play video games. Now I get to be inside video games. That distinction makes them not feel like video games, but rather like doing an activity with your friends. What's the difference between an escape game and a computer game? One of them you are looking at, and another you are immersed in. VR may not be as immersive as real life, but it is much closer to that side of the spectrum than a regular computer game. And, of course, it has the benefit of not needing to adhere to the rules and physical laws of reality.

The timing on the Quest 2 is accidentally perfect. At a time when I can't see most of my friends, we can all go into VR and play games together. I rarely play by myself, but I play almost every day with some subset of the 10-15 friends I have who bought Quest 2s.

The Quest 2 starts at $299 for the 64gb model, and that's really plenty of space. That's enough for 15-30 games, which is probably more than you'll realistically be playing at a given time.

The best multiplayer games are Rec Room, Echo VR, and Population: One.

Rec Room is a big social world where there are built in games but also user-generated games. My friends and I love playing "Rise of Jumbotron" together, all of the escape games made by a guy named gripter, and the elevator escape game. I would not recommend playing with random strangers here, as they tend to be obnoxious teenagers.

Echo VR is sort of like ultimate frisbee in space. This seemed like a game that I would hate, but it is really so much fun. It takes a lot of teamwork and coordination and is very immersive. After a few minutes you forget that you're in VR and you really feel like you're floating around and launching off of things.

Population: One is another game that I thought that I would hate. It's fortnite in VR but you can climb and fly. I've never played fortnite and don't like first person shooters, but again this game is so much fun. None of my friends are gamers and we are obsessed with it. If you want to play with us, my friend code is 3UA7-FO0P-AYRI-3.

What makes these games fun is the level of immersion and the social aspect of playing with your friends. It's hard for me to explain to people who haven't played VR just how real these games feel. They don't feel like actual reality and they aren't photorealistic, but it really does feel like you are inside them, not just looking at them. Think of them as doing activities with your friends, not as playing video games. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but it feels much more like hanging out in crazy worlds with your friends.

There are also great single-player games, but I find that I would always rather play something with my friends. The best single player game is I Expect You To Die, which is basically a series of escape games without the restrictions of real-life. One of them has you escaping from a sabotaged submarine, for example. You can also cast your view to a TV or phone, so friends can help you with the puzzles in real life.

It's worth knowing that all games can be returned within 14 days if you play less than 2 hours, so I buy any game that looks good to me and just return the ones I don't like.

Many places sell the Quest 2 right now, but I'd buy it from Best Buy since you can go get it in person today and they will let you return it any time before mid-January. That's a pretty good risk-free opportunity to see what the future is like. Most people, including myself, find the built in strap very uncomfortable, but the Elite Strap is really good.

Some people find motion in VR uncomfortable. I found it extremely uncomfortable, to the point where I'd become nauseated if I used the controller to move around for even a minute or two. For that reason I always avoided any game that had any sort of movement. I tried Echo VR on a lark and somehow it didn't make me sick at all. After that I tried Population One, which is exactly the type of game that would make me feel sick before, and it doesn't bother me at all now. I even turned off all of the comfort options and it still doesn't bother me. I have no good explanation for this, other than maybe Echo VR is a good innoculator.

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Photo is another cool installation at Area 15 in Las Vegas.

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Fri, 06 Nov 2020 13:39:55 -0800 http://tynan.com/quest
What You Should Know About Buying Light Bulbs http://tynan.com/bulbs Last summer I got to travel to Uzbekistan with some friends from the area, and we were randomly invited to visit the house of one of the five richest families in the country. However incredible you may imagine the house, I promise you it was even more amazing. The courty]]>

Last summer I got to travel to Uzbekistan with some friends from the area, and we were randomly invited to visit the house of one of the five richest families in the country. However incredible you may imagine the house, I promise you it was even more amazing. The courtyard could have fit several tennis courts inside it, it had a museum in the basement, the foyer was bigger than several copies of my apartment in it, and the front door was made of inlaid metals and stood 30 feet tall.

It was easily the nicest house I had ever seen the inside of and yet... it had terrible light bulbs.

A year later and I'm still thinking about it. The house was incredible and the product of excellent taste, but no one noticed that the light bulbs were bad. The house would have literally felt twice as nice to be in if they had the right light bulbs.

Today I brought a new light bulb for the fixture in my tea teacher's tea room. People were stunned at how much better the room looked with the new bulb and asked for details so that they could get better bulbs.

Getting good light bulbs isn't hard, but it seems like no one understands what they should be looking for in a light bulb, can't tell whether they have good light bulbs or not, but will still usually appreciate being in a space that has good ones. So in a massive tangent from anything I've ever talked about, today I want to talk about light bulbs.

The most important factor is color temperature. Color temperature (warmth) is expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). Candlelight is about 1500K (orange/yellow), Sunlight is around 5000-6000 (white/blue), and most people choose bulbs between 2700K and 6500K for their house. Traditional incandescent bulbs, not often used these days, were around 2500-2700.

Incandescent bulbs look the best, but use too much power, so we use LED bulbs now. Get 2700K bulbs. If you take one thing away from this post, just replace your bulbs with 2700K bulbs and your house will be much nicer.

In ideal circumstances you would want 4000-5000 when you wake up, 2700 as it gets dark, and maybe even 2200 when you have your lights dim at night. Kitchens and laundry rooms can be cooler, maybe 4000K.

If you really want to optimize (like I have), get color changing bulbs like Philips Hue. Set them to the temperatures I mention above. If you have lights with dimmers, get Philips Warm Glow bulbs. These bulbs are amazing and yet no one has heard of them. They are 2700K when they are at full brightness but dim to around 2200K when they are dimmed. This matches an incandescent bulb fairly accurately. Bulbs that are not color changing or warmglow will look sort of grayish-yellow when they are dim and are very unpleasant.

The next most important factor is Color Rendering Index. This number refers to how complete the spectrum of light which the bulb produces is. For example, the sun has a CRI of 100, since it has every wavelength from red to violet. A really bad bulb might have a very narrow band each of red, green, and blue. That bulb would still look white, but it would be much worse at reproducing colors. Looking at things with bad CRI bulbs is frustrating and they look weird and washed out sometimes. In general try to get something around 90 or above, though you may have to settle for "80+".

Last, choose the right brightness for your room. Lumens are an accurate measure, but most people think in incandescent watts, and so most LEDs are sold with labels like "60 watt equivalent". Ideally you want to have several light sources, all with dimmer bulbs. A single 100-watt equivalent bulb will simultaneously feel too bright when you look at it and too dim when you look at the corners of the room. Three 60 watt bulbs in an average bedroom will look much nicer.

If you have a fixture that has many bulbs, get many dim bulbs. If you have fewer fixtures in a large room get brighter bulbs (and, preferably, more fixtures). Shield bulbs behind lamp shades or bounce light off walls or ceilings. Keep lights bright and cool during the day, bright and warm in the afternoon, dim and warm in the evening.

I'd recommend picking the room you use most often (living room or office, probably) and getting the lighting right for it. It's hard to imagine that it wouldn't fundamentally change your enjoyment of that room and illustrate just how big of an impact good lighting makes. If you've ever been in a restaurant, tea house, or coffee shop that felt warm, welcoming, and comfortable, a lot of that environment was created through good lighting. You can have the same at home.

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Photo is another cool art piece at Area 15 in Vegas.

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Sun, 01 Nov 2020 08:30:00 -0800 http://tynan.com/bulbs
How to Be Carefree http://tynan.com/carefree One of the greatest luxuries in life is to not have to worry. This isn't possible for all people at all times, but there are things all of us can do to be more carefree, especially those of us who have only "first world problems". Be very deliberate about taking on oblig]]>

One of the greatest luxuries in life is to not have to worry. This isn't possible for all people at all times, but there are things all of us can do to be more carefree, especially those of us who have only "first world problems".

Be very deliberate about taking on obligations. The obvious example is debt, which I talk about all the time. Most people make debt decisions based on their current situation, and not an evaluation of all reasonable outcomes over the term of the loan. Rather than worrying about the debt before they assume it, they are forced to worry about it over the term of the loan. And of course if something happens, it's even harder to be carefree.

Obligations extend beyond finances, though. Everything you purchase, especially large purchases, comes with some obligation. For example, with all of the properties I've bought with my friends, I'm essentially always on call to deal with them. More than once I've gotten an email from our Hungarian accountant saying, "You really need to come here by the end of the month to sign a document." Those obligations are worth it to me, and I can remain carefree and deal with them only because I've been judicious about taking on other obligations.

Don't totally avoid obligations, just make sure that the benefit accrued from them justifies the obligation.

It's always worth working as hard as you can for things to turn out well, but it's not worth worrying about if they don't. If you have the habit of making the best of setbacks, you'll often find that some of the best things that happen to you stem from the worst. Even COVID, which massively disrupted my life, my business, and my wife's career, has been overall positive and I would prefer to be where I am today than where I would be if it didn't happen. Aim for best case scenarios, but don't assume that worst case scenarios are all that bad.

These days when bad things happen to me I just think, "It will be interesting to see how this turns out", and usually the result is good. I sometimes take it as a challenge, refusing to let something bad remain bad, and instead thinking, "What would it take for me to be glad that this happened?"

Even if we minimize obligations and recognize that things will go wrong but may end up good anyway, we all have things on our minds that we worry about or wonder about. However, we all also have a ton of things that are going great in our lives and things that have happened that are positive. Focusing on these positive things doesn't eliminate worry, but it helps put it in context.

Focusing on positives and gratitude can change a mindset of constant worry to one of, "Wow, my life is so great and so many good things are happening that even if a few things coming up don't go my way, my life is still going to be great." As a carefree person, that's generally what I'm thinking.

It seems that sometimes people worry because it's part of their identity and it makes them feel safe. If they are constantly worrying, nothing will slip by them! Of course, the real effect is that they create problems that don't exist.

It feels great to be carefree and it feels great to be around carefree people. Keep your obligations small, accept that not everything will go your way, realize that "bad" events often lead to the biggest wins, appreciate all the things that have gone will, and let go of your worrying identity.

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Picture is a crazy skull art thing at Area 15 in Las Vegas

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Sun, 25 Oct 2020 09:44:34 -0700 http://tynan.com/carefree
Your Past http://tynan.com/past I was one of the very lucky ones, though it took me a long time to understand just how lucky I was. I grew up with loving parents, siblings with whom I never fought, very involved grandparents, and a bunch of cousins who I count as close friends today. I made friends wit]]>

I was one of the very lucky ones, though it took me a long time to understand just how lucky I was. I grew up with loving parents, siblings with whom I never fought, very involved grandparents, and a bunch of cousins who I count as close friends today. I made friends with incredible people as early as kindergarten (one of whom is still one of my closest friends), and continued to have really excellent people as friends for the rest of my life. I thought that this was totally normal and nearly universal for a very long time.

Like anyone I've had big challenges in my life, but none of those challenges came from any sort of childhood trauma. If anything, my childhood helped me get through them.

As time has passed, I've met more and more people with childhood issues that continue to affect their daily lives. This was very surprising to me at first, but when I thought about how I continue to benefit from a good childhood, it made sense that issues from childhood would continue to plague people.

Through coaching, as you might imagine, I've seen a lot more of this sort of thing and have gotten to explore it in depth.

The most common thing I see is parents, usually fathers, setting expectations for a child based on their own lives (and often their own shortcomings). If the father was a lawyer, then any level of achievement that doesn't look very much like his path in life is a complete failure.

A perfect example of this was a guy who made a million dollars in a year through his business, proudly told his father, and his father said, "Ok fine, but when are you going to get a real job?". This dynamic is really surprisingly common. I see it all the time.

If you're in a situation where your past works against you, the first thing you have to do is to recognize that you are not your past. You may be acting like you are, and you are certainly affected by it, but you aren't bound to it. There are plenty of examples of people who have broken free of their pasts, and if they can do it, so can you.

Especially in the case of parent issues, it's important to understand that your parents can mean well, love you, have the best intentions, and still totally screw it up. You can judge them and their influence on you separately. For example, imagine a new parent who is terrified of the responsibility of a kid, is underslept, and is trying his best. As the kid gets older he wants security for him so he tries to drill in the importance of a good job, maybe because that's what his parents did. As his child grows up and veers away from the narrow path to success that the parent is familiar with, he keeps trying to nudge his child in the right way, fearful that he won't have a good life if he doesn't follow the path that he knows.

In this example it's easy to see how a parent could be trying to do the best with what he's got, and how it could also make the child feel like he's not enough if he makes his own choices. Understand that following your own path isn't a judgment on your parents, it's just a judgment on some of their advice.

A principle that I believe is a universal truth is that you will never be happy and satisfied living up to someone else's standards. You may share some standards with your parents, siblings, and peer group, but probably not all of them. Think about what you truly believe, what you truly want, and judge yourself according to those standards. If someone judges you against their own standards, just realize that that's their problem. It's not fair to set standards for other people and to hold them to them.

Sometimes your past self will set standards for you. This happens often if you've created an identity around something you did, and you now feel like you have to live up to it. You have the right to reinvent yourself and your goals and standards any time you want.

Where would you be if you weren't hampered by your past or your upbringing? Where would you be if you had the love and support that you wished you had? As you think about that, realize that there is nothing physical stopping you from getting there. It's all mental. Mental barriers are real, but they are also malleable and can fade away.

Think about what you want for yourself and think about how to get there. Identify goals that aren't really yours, but are products of your past. Surround yourself with people who support you and hold you to your own standards, not theirs. Take the positive parts of your past and let go of the negative parts.

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Photo is another drone shot of San Miguel de Allende.

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Sat, 17 Oct 2020 09:56:06 -0700 http://tynan.com/past
My First International Trip in 7 Months http://tynan.com/sevenmonths Since my last blog post I traveled internationally for the first time in almost seven months. That period of time represents the longest time I've stayed in one country since 2008, I think. It was a weird experience for a number of reasons and made me reflect a lot on tr]]>

Since my last blog post I traveled internationally for the first time in almost seven months. That period of time represents the longest time I've stayed in one country since 2008, I think. It was a weird experience for a number of reasons and made me reflect a lot on travel and being stationary.

In some ways I've been surprised at how much I've liked not traveling. Or, rather, I think that my lifestyle of nearly constant travel caused me to forget about the benefits of staying still. Staying in Vegas I've enjoyed seeing the seasons change, connecting a little bit more with local people, having a rock-solid routine, and doing projects that require longer sustained periods of time.

That said, I have of course been dying to travel.

The first thing that surprised me was what a big deal it felt like to travel. Before COVID I would go all over the place with very little planning, but planning a 3 day trip to Mexico felt like a big deal. It gave me a little glimpse of how most people think of trips as "big deals".

Once I got on the plane, though, it felt normal again. I was practically giddy going through immigration and customs, which is certainly not how I normally feel about the process.

I was surprised at how quickly my Spanish came back to me and how much fun it was to speak it. I probably hadn't been to a Spanish speaking country in over a year, so it was like this portion of my brain got to wake back up.

The biggest thing I felt, though, was that my world was so small without travel. I felt like I had been cooped up in a bedroom for seven months and was only now allowed to walk around the whole house. Saying that my world felt small sounds like a bad thing, but it isn't entirely bad. I think I got to know Vegas and the people and things in it better because I was there for so long.

In a normal year I fly between my usual places: Tokyo, Budapest, Hawaii, Vegas, Halifax, a few other places where I don't have homes like London, New York, and Chengdu, and some random one-off places. Throughout the year I see all of my friends, most of whom don't live in Vegas. I see all of the seasons, usually multiple times and in a weird staggered order, I visit many of my family members a few times per year, and I see pretty every climate.

A few days before I went to Mexico I realized I hadn't seen rain in months. I'm not necessarily someone who craves a lot of rain, but I found myself yearning to sit at the window seat in Zhao Zhou, looking out over a rainy Budapest.

While I didn't take the privilege of getting to travel all the time for granted, I took a lot of these little details for granted. You don't crave rain until you don't see it for months, and you don't miss your friends until you don't see them for a while, either.

I don't see myself doing a lot of international travel in the near future, mainly because the borders are closed everywhere I would normally go. But this one little international trip helped remind me what I'm missing out on and how eager I am to be able to expand my world again. It also helped me appreciate even more just how great I had it when I was flying around several times a month, and will hopefully make me even more grateful for it when it comes back.

Oh, and I lost my earphones going through security, which I think is the first time I've ever lost anything going through security. I guess you do lose it if you don't use it.

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Photo is the Parochia in San Miguel de Allende. I flew my drone really far there.

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Sat, 10 Oct 2020 10:00:56 -0700 http://tynan.com/sevenmonths
Turn Maybes into Wins http://tynan.com/maybes We all want good things to happen in our lives. Sometimes these good things stem from obvious wins that can be picked up easily, like accepting a new job offer or going on a second date when a first date went well. In thinking about which events in my life were most posi]]>

We all want good things to happen in our lives. Sometimes these good things stem from obvious wins that can be picked up easily, like accepting a new job offer or going on a second date when a first date went well. In thinking about which events in my life were most positively impactful, however, I noticed that many of them were not obvious wins. They were maybes, which I turned into wins.

For example, take buying an island with my friends. This is definitely not an obvious win. It could have lead to fights with my friends, it could have turned into a big money pit, or apathy could have left it undeveloped and relatively useless. However, my friends and I worked hard to turn that maybe into a big win. We've had zero fights, have kept costs low, and have built it out to the point of being a great destination for ourselves and our friends and families.

Relationships, particularly marriages, are another one. I got married on the one year anniversary of meeting my wife. People congratulate each other on marriage as if it's an obvious win, but I'd categorize it as a maybe. I've seen people for whom marriage has been a huge negative as well as those for whom it's been a huge win. The marriage isn't a win, but what you do with it can be a big win.

Is dropping out of school or quitting your job a win? Like the other examples, it all depends on you.

Sometimes maybes are foisted upon you involuntarily. Is COVID good for you? That all depends on what you do with the changes in your life that have resulted from the lockdowns. Most of my friends and I are in the situation of, "I wish it didn't happen and wish it would end... but I'm better off because it happened." It's a weird paradox.

I was trying to think of a clear loss and couldn't really think of any other than people dying. I'm sure that there are others, but the point is that almost everything short of a win is a maybe. You have some agency to change things, to influence them, or at the very least use what you've learned from them for long term gain.

There's no point in focusing on obvious wins. You're going to get them automatically, and you probably don't deserve much credit for them. The trajectory of your life will be dictated by how you treat maybes.

It's important to recognize when something is a maybe and not just assume it's a win. Maybe you're excited to move to a new city or to get into a new relationship, but that doesn't mean that it will automatically be good for you. Don't be complacent but instead treat it like a maybe and then work to ensure that it will be good.

Easy wins are nice, but the biggest gains come from maybes. I suspect that's because you have more agency to make it not just a win, but the best win for you.

It's worth being really stubborn about turning maybes into wins, even when they look more like "probably nots". For example, my previous bank, which I was really happy with, randomly told me that they were going to shut down my accounts (maybe due to a lot of international wires + crypto, but I never found out for sure). At first I was annoyed that I was going to have to go through the hassle of changing my personal finance system, but I quickly realized it was a maybe and not a loss, and I developed the Billionaire Personal Finance system which I've been writing about recently.

Don't rely on easy wins and don't become too attached to them. Take them if they come. Focus most of your energy on maybes and think about what it would take for each one to become a win, even if it's a small one.

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Photo is me steering a sailboat a few weeks ago in San Diego.

I'm going to Mexico this week!! I'm so excited to have my first international trip in almost 7 months.

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Sun, 04 Oct 2020 12:04:08 -0700 http://tynan.com/maybes
Your Time Scale http://tynan.com/scale We make hundreds or thousands of subconscious decisions each day, but just because they're subconscious doesn't mean that we have no influence on them. Quite the opposite, they are actually dictated by our principles and the lenses through which we view the world. By cha]]>

We make hundreds or thousands of subconscious decisions each day, but just because they're subconscious doesn't mean that we have no influence on them. Quite the opposite, they are actually dictated by our principles and the lenses through which we view the world. By changing those things we can automatically and effortlessly make better decisions.

One of the most important lenses through which we make decisions is our time scale. We make decisions to effect positive change in our lives, but WHEN that positive change takes place can vary a lot.

For example, a drug addict makes decisions on a very short time scale, maybe just a minute or an hour or so. Addicts know that the substances or behaviours they use are bad in the long term, but that's not a time scale that they are concerned with. If you want to optimize for the next few minutes of your life, choosing to use heroin makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand, some people optimize for infinity. I dated a girl once who was totally unwilling to spend money on anything (she actually spent tons of time entering sweepstakes so that she could win everything she needed), but had saved up tons of money. Even when the money would have a huge benefit to her life, she would not spend it.

Those are extremes, of course. It's just a rough guess, but I'd estimate that people generally optimize for about 3-12 months in advance. They're willing to save up a little bit or delay a little bit of gratification for something up to a year out. They'll work out in advance of a wedding or bikini season, but not to keep themselves in good health in the next decade.

A better idea is to optimize for about 5-10 years in the future. Almost five years ago I wrote about how I was optimizing five years in advance, which felt pretty far away at the time, but if you follow my stuff you can see that everything I talked about https://tynan.com/2021 paid off.

When you optimize further out you have a lot more leverage and can create much bigger changes. How much can you improve your social life in a month? Some, for sure. How much in five years? A tremendous amount. Same with finances, career, health, or anything else.

If you decide to start optimizing 5-10 years out, what you are really doing is trading some enjoyment for the next period of years for a much better life for the rest of your life. This happens because once that 5 years hits, you are enjoying that huge leverage you had on your life. And because you kept optimizing for that time scale as your life went on, the big benefits keep coming.

I started doing this in earnest some time around 2010 or so. It felt like it wasn't really working for a while, and then sure enough things really started to take off five years later and continued to improve more and more.

The balance, of course, is that in some ways you are in the best years of your life now, so it would be nice to enjoy them as much as possible. For example, if you have the money to travel earlier, you can do more because your body will be in better shape. If you make better friends sooner you'll have more years in which to bond and create memories. For that reason I think it's best to start with a five year horizon and to gradually extend it to ten years, or to mix in five and ten year initiatives.

This sounds all very theoretical, but it's really easy to implement. Whenever you're making a decision, just ask yourself if it will be something you'll be glad you did in five years. Usually the answer is extremely obvious. If you find yourself becoming too extreme, remember that your health, including mental health, now is important. So it's not worth sleeping 4 hours a night to set yourself up in 5 years, because you're actually damaging your health.

Eventually your time scale becomes part of who you are. I've been doing some home shopping in Las Vegas and I noticed that my favorite houses are ones where I could spend years remodeling them to make them perfect, rather than ones that are pretty good now. When I pitched properties like the island to people, you could really see what their time scales were. People who thought long term thought it was a no brainer ("Imagine what we could build and do on the island for the rest of our lives!") and people who thought short term had zero interest ("What would we do on an undeveloped island in the middle of nowhere in Canada?").

Look at your decisions and figure out where your current time scale is. Write down 10 big decisions and ask yourself when they would be expected to pay off. Average that number. Think about whether that's when you want to be optimizing for. Too short and you shortchange your future self, too long and you shortchange your present self.

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I made some changes to my email software, so your email may look different this week. If didn't get this post in your email and were expecting to, please get in touch.

Photo is yet another Lake Mead drone photo

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Sun, 27 Sep 2020 13:14:16 -0700 http://tynan.com/scale