Today We Brought You Home From The Hospital

Today We Brought You Home From The Hospital

It’s just before Midnight on September 26th, 2017 and today your mother and I brought you home from the hospital. Someday, when you are ready, I will share this letter with you because I think that reflection is important for personal growth. As the clock ticks past midnight, I am reflecting about a conversation that I had today with my mother, your grandmother, about what childbirth means. She said, that to her, giving birth to another human being is about the past, the present, and the future. I found this intriguing – she explained, that when you look at a child, you can see the past. Some of a baby’s physical features come from their grandparents – this is a looking glass into the past. Also, some of a baby’s characteristics come from each of the parents, who also experience the birth in the present. The parents and the baby will continue to live in parallel as the baby ages and matures. Finally, the baby will grow into it’s own individual person. The baby will be a mix of new characteristics, different from the past, different than its parents and grandparents, yet carrying a piece of the past forward. Sort of a way for the parents to live on – in part. Old and new together as one.

So, from this, I want to share with you three reflections today. One for each of – the past, the present, and the future. I hope that these might be useful to you in your life.

The Past

It was recently discovered that modern human beings have been around for at least the last 300,000 years. If most of our ancestors reached maturity around 15 years old, which is reasonable up until the last last few hundred years of human history, you and I both have approximately 20,000 generations of ancestors. Let this sink in. Even with my best efforts to search ancestry.com while your mother was pregnant with you, I could only find names for perhaps 4 or 5 generations at best. That means we have approximately 19,995 generations of ancestors for which we have no information, not even their names. Little is known, much is not.

This puts things into perspective. The things that we think are important, stressful or even joyful today, will become insignificant in the immenseness that is the past. Individual people, the generation that they are part of, the politics of that day, and even entire millennia will fall by the wayside to time. When life seems hard or difficult, try to remember this – think about how difficult it must have been for our ancestors 5,000, 20,000, and 300,000 years ago. Day to day life had very little convenience – it strikes me that the word “convenience” may not have even been invented until perhaps 5000 years ago.

I think about this every time I change one of your diapers 🙂 Our ancestors didn’t even have disposable diapers, much less the Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail (so that they wouldn’t have to smell your poopy baby butt).

The Present

Life is better now than it has ever been. This is, of course, a double meaning. Technology is better than it has ever been, but there is also a trend in 2017 toward doing Yoga, meditation, and practicing mindfulness (whatever that means) – basically focusing on the present as opposed to the past or the future. And what way is better than controlling your breathing (a bit of sarcasm), which is normally handled by your autonomic nervous system along with your blood pressure, but I digress…..

As I write this sentence, I can hear you squeak, coo and cry in the other room – I can hear one of the cats run up the stairs, and Christopher come in the room and nail the Moroccan Pouf in my office. These moments are precious. Raising you is going to be amazing, watching you grow, seeing you become your own person, separate from your mom and me.

Tonight, before I wrote this letter, I ran to the store, picked up the Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail, then went for a two mile run, took a shower, and changed your diaper – I believe for the fifth time. Today is never easy – the only easy day is yesterday (David Goggins, my 2017 man crush), because it is done.

The Future

The future is constantly happening – it’s a constant barrage of decisions. Keep running or quit – stay in college, or drop out – lift the heavier weight today, or change the programming (weight lifting) because it’s too tough, procrastinate, or take action? This is the set of decisions that you will be bombarded with. We all are, but the sum of how you make these decisions will take your life in small, incremental course changes that will add up to a huge amount by the end of your life. They will be difficult to see day to day – like heartbeats, breaths, and steps, they will seem small, but will add up to huge consequences, not only in life itself, but in the way you look at life and engage with it.

Park far away and walk two minutes instead of spending that exact same time driving. Save $5 a week instead of spending it on frivolous things. Finish the book before playing the game. Finish the homework before watching TV. These are the drills that are not enjoyable today, but create a happier life in future – which in turn makes it easier to do the new drills. In the end, you can end up with the same one year of experience five years in a row, or five years of new experience. Either way, you will be five years older.

Decide what you want and make small incremental steps towards it because five years from now, you will be five years older whether you do it or not. The small incremental steps build upon themselves. This can end with feeling either content or regret. Primates are not very good at imagining the future, much less deciding what they want. Practice that skill and you will be happier over time instead of less happy as you age.

Conclusion

I can tell you with 100% certainty, I feel better today than I ever have. I have you sleeping in the other room with mom and the cat (Christopher) driving me nuts licking the Moroccan Pouf. I feel this good because I am content with the choices I have made to get here and I am confident that we can raise you with a better life than I had growing up.

You will face challenges in life, but I hope you will have immense opportunity as well. I want to take you to the tops of snow covered mountains, the centers of huge metropolises, and the coves of tiny islands in the middle of huge oceans because growth comes from seeing, learning and experiencing as much as possible. I will do my best to show you all the beauty that the world has to offer.

The future is bright….

Love You

Dad

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Primary Residence: Determining What You Can Afford

Primary Residence: Determining What You Can Afford

Typically, people buy the nicest house that they can afford. Sometime the thought process is that increasing income over one’s lifetime will ease the burden of a large house payment. There is some merit to this thought process, but I would also urge you to analyze this purchase as a banker would.

This first most important thing to understand is that a primary residence may be considered a financial asset, but it is also a liability because you always need a place to live. Unless you want to be homeless after you sell it, you will always need to purchase another home or rent another apartment. Now, if you purchase a secondary residence for the strict purpose of being rented out, this is purely a financial asset. Either way, I suggest you analyze the purchase like a banker.

Bankers understand that there are 11 major properties that can be used to judge a financial asset. Even though your primary residence is not a financial asset, these tools can be useful for analyzing any large purchase that you make. A home as an asset has advantages and disadvantages to it’s properties, much like any investment.

  • Moneyness: Ability to buy stuff. For example, cash and checks can be used to purchase food or clothes. A house or car cannot do this. You cannot go to a grocery store and buy food by trading your house. Moneyness is an attractive feature for a short term investor.
  • Divisibility and Denomination: Cash and checks can be divided down to the penny. This is smallest denomination in the United States. Other assets cannot be divided like this. For example, often bonds are sold in units of $500 or $1000. Houses are sold in complete, while condos are sold by the unit. While you could take parts off your car or house and sell them for their individual value, most people can clearly see that the value of the lumber in your house is not worth tearing your house apart to eat for a week. Divisibility is an attractive feature for an investor, but not for a borrower. A borrower does not want to get twenty $5000 loans to purchase a $100,000 home.
  • Reversibility: This is the cost to purchase an asset. Generally, a house bought in cash has no major cost, but there is also no market maker. This is a barrier to buying/selling a home. If you decide you want to sell your home, you most likely have to hold it until you can find a buyer. This makes you the market maker and slows down the process. You can hire a Realtor to assist you in selling the house, but this adds to your market making costs. Reversibility is an attractive feature to an investor, and homes require significant cost when transacting and do not have very good reversibility.
  • Cash Flow: Cash flow is the amount of money that is received from a financial asset. A home, which is lived in (without renters), will always generate negative cash flow. Taxes, insurance, and home repairs all contribute to this negative cash flow on a primary residence. Cash flow is attractive for an investor. A primary residence provides no cash flow, but a rental unit provides cash flow each month.
  • Term to Maturity: Term to maturity is the amount of time before a profit or dividend will be paid to an investor. For a home there is no specific term to maturity. The maturity date is the date that you can sell it. This requires you to become a market maker as stated above. With a thirty year loan, a house will typically not provide any maturity until several years into a loan, preventing sale at any sort of profit.
  • Convertibility: It’s common for corporate bonds to have a convertibility clause which allows them to be converted into normal shares. This is attractive to an investor for negotiating market fluctuations. A home does not provide any sort of convertibility. If the home market crashes, it can not be changed into a car and driven to a different neighborhood.
  • Currency: Because of currency fluctuations between countries, it can be attractive for an investor to have an asset which can be sold in multiple currencies. For example, there are bonds which can pay interest in either yen or dollars. Obviously, homes in the US can only be bought and sold in US dollars.
  • Liquidity: Checking and savings accounts are completely liquid. Assets (dollars) can be removed at any time. With a house, one can sell it faster by lowering the asking price, sometimes greatly loosing money. Therefore, homes do not have a good liquidity property. Home liquidity is further limited by the lack of a market maker to buy the home at any time and the lack of divisibility. Liquidity is an attractive feature for an investor.
  • Return Predictability: Return predictability can be somewhat tracked using the Case/Shiller Home Price Index. Prior to 2008, the predictability of home prices was fairly steady and attractive. Since the housing bubble burst, it has been more difficult to predict home prices. Predictability is attractive for an investor.
  • Complexity: Complex assets are made up of other assets. Derivatives may be considered more complex because they are composed of multiple financial assets with complex conditions on buying and selling. Complexity, well complexity can be attractive for market makers, but often risk is difficult to judge for investors.Homes, are simple assets composed of only one investment which makes it fairly easy to analyze.
  • Tax Status: Tax paid on an asset can vary wildly. Homes typically require payment of tax once or twice per year. The rate of tax paid varies by state, county, and city which can make it difficult to judge. Even within similar houses in similar neighborhoods in the same city, taxes can vary wildly. When purchasing a home, one must consider the tax. The tax can sometimes be negotiated with the state, county or city after purchase, but this is risky. Some states, counties, and cities can lock in tax at a certain rate after a certain age (e.x. San Francisco) – this is very attractive for retirees in volatile markets.

Akron, OH

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Crack on Crosby

Crack on Crosby

Crosby street is a strange place to live. It will be quiet for weeks, then chaos for a couple of hours. A couple of years ago, when I first bought my house on Crosby, I was struggling to fix it up. I was painting, patching, sanding floors, etc and I was starting to get tired of doing all of the work by myself.

One day, around this time, a skinny black guy came up to me outside the house and asked if he could help. He was rail thin, his face was sunken, and had missing teeth. Clearly, he had signs of crack use.

Well, at this point my house was vacant except for when I came over to work on it each day, so I didn’t have anything to loose. Learning from my friend Myrl, I gave the guy a shot. It can be frustrating, but I try to give people a chance.

He offered to paint the ceiling in what would eventually become my bedroom for $20, I figured if it took an hour to lay down a couple of coats it was worth it. I gave him a ladder, a paint brush, and some paint. I showed him what to do and went in the other room to finish painting some other stuff. About a minute later he called me and said he was done. I chuckled and walked in. Obviously it was NOT done. He had made a few strokes across the ceiling, but it was nowhere near done. I explained to him that I needed it covered better than that, and we went through this cycle a few times. Finally, I gave up, gave him $20 bucks and told him that I could never let him work again – that this was his one chance. He said he understood, and he seemed to feel genuinely bad. I knew it was drugs.

About an hour later I came out on the back steps and this guy was sitting there. I asked, “what are you doing?” He responded, “Oh, not much. Just got a piece of pussy, some weed and some cigarettes.” I thought to myself, “holy shit, I don’t even want to see what you can buy for $5” Eventually, he left. He was sad, entertaining, annoying, and harmless all at the same time. I ran into him several times over the next couple of months. One time, he even came in the house, and my tenant upstairs almost pulled a gun on him. After about six months, I never saw him again. That was about 3 and 1/2 years ago, and I feared he might have died.

About 10 months ago, I ran into him up in Highland Square. He looked better, and he was alive. He seemed depressed and was working at Portage Country Club washing dishes. He said the people were not too friendly and the job was miserable. I felt bad.

Today, I ran into him again, and I found out his name is John Isaiah. I noticed instantly that his face was full, and he had new teeth. Clearly, he was off the crack. He seemed happy to see me and wasn’t depressed at all. He told me it had been ten months and that he had a job at Hopocan Gardens out in Barberton. It was nice to see somebody turn their life around. I noticed he even had a girlfriend with him. It was genuinely good to see him and now he has a name. I know it is cliche, but people really can turn their lives around, this is why I live here on Crosby. I genuinely believe the rich, the poor, and the middle class all need to live next to each other or things will never get any better.

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Immigration

I think my feelings on illegal immigration have at last reached critical mass. Arizona’s new social travesty masquerading as a Law is akin to punching Lady Liberty in the bread box. I am ashamed to share a nationality with these people.

No illegal immigrants are taking jobs from “us”. There is no “us” and “them”. There are millions of PEOPLE living here, fancy papers and skin color aside, that work, go to school, buy food, see movies, mow the grass, raise children, and even pay taxes. These PEOPLE are US.

If the good citizens of Arizona were really interested in curtailing immigration they would rally federal support for accountability of American enterprises operating in Mexico. They would urge Congress to enforce a minimum wage on those companies and insist they honour environmental laws. But that’s not what its about.

Hiding behind the noble banter of “Rule of Law” and “Illegal” lurks the insidious secret of the right: They hate these brown bastards. Pure and simple.

This law doesn’t just compel Arizona Police to ferret out working class people and treat them as criminals. If that’s all they were after they already had that power available. Rather, it gives not only the power but the obligation to demand proof of citizenship “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States”. Guess what guys, they sure ain’t going to reasonably suspect Little Johnny Irish of being here illegally. That honour goes to the brown people of Arizona; apparently automatically guilty, and required to prove themselves innocent.

I’m sure that this law will not last long, as it violates the Constitution(Article 1, Section 8, supported by numerous Supreme Court cases as giving Congress the power to govern entry into the country). The real issue here is how misled the whole thing is and how disheartening it is to watch what are otherwise good people succumb to hate.

I’ll leave you with the poem on the Statue of Liberty:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Ultra Libertarians vs. Compasionate Anarchocapitalists

I often read Matt Assay’s “Open Road”. For the most part I like reading his take on the open source world, but every now and then he posts something that makes me feel like I am researching lesser known connections of some political organization. Really, I didn’t know the Heritage Foundation was connected to Chechnyan Rebels. But wait, aren’t they leading the war on terror?

Recently, he posted a comment about the the differences between the Apache licensing and the GPL (here). I followed one of the links to a blog post from a guy named Benjamin Black (here), notice the title. Both are positing that the Apache license is better than the GPL because it allows more freedom and does not infect your code like a virus, which is generally true, though I am not convinced that this is worse than total freedom. They posit that this can lead to abuse.

Benjamin Black gives two examples of people abusing the GPL. His first example may have some merit (here). It looks like they are dual licensing it, which means they can choose who gets freedom to do different things. The second example is of from Zed Shaw who wrote Mongrel which is a web server that, I believe, is popular among Ruby programmers, though I have never used myself. Zed explains that if he doesn’t GPL than other people and companies can abuse him, which he explains here (here). I think Zed makes a fairly strong, if emotionally connected, points and I feel quite similar to him when I am coding myself.

Either way, I am glad we have the choice between all of these different licenses, but I think I will stick with the GPL for now. The debate rages on, which side are you on?

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