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. 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 few hundred years of human history, you and I both have approximately 20,000 generations of ancestors. Let that 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 to focus on the present than by 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 programmig because it’s too tough (a concept from weight training), 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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The Carbon Footprint of Teleporters vs. Force Propulsion Travel

The Carbon Footprint of Teleporters vs. Force Propulsion Travel

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Yesterday, marks the end of the historic 2416 election. The Crelian party made major gains in both the house and the senate. Though the robotic judiciary has yet to weigh in on whether the results will be accepted by the Artificial Intelligence Council, it is expected that there is a 43% chance that the human voting results will be deemed not dangerous and thus will be valid.  It was such an historic election because this is the first time in five election cycles that an actual issue has driven voters to enter the grid and vote.

The hot button issue was the carbon footprint of teleportation. Carbon is the leading cause for involuntary vacation of planets in the Breton and Americon planetary systems. Over 11 planets have been rendered uninhabitable since the invention of the teleporter 50 years ago in 2366. Agent Director Chief John Smith Tyrell from The Interplanetary Science Consortium says that, “we are losing planets at a rate of 1 every 4 years” while only “discovering 1 new habitable planet every 5 years.” This leads to involuntary vacation which is putting particular strain on the mining and engineering controlled planets. The Arts and Sciences casts have been unsympathetic and refused to allow the use of teleporters claiming the prohibition of teleporters is the reason they have not had any involuntary vacations of planets under their control over the same period of time.

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.com

The debate stems from the fact that teleporters are often used instead of spacecraft to move people and goods between planets. Teleporters require 100X the energy per ton of cargo moved, but the safety and convenience of teleportation make it the number one choice among many travelers. Ever since Yeltion bandits attacked and destroyed a transport full of middle school children during their mandatory interplanetary culture and linguistics education class – which requires visiting 10 different planets in one semester – lawmakers have made it illegal to use forced propulsion for the transport of children under the protection and care of the Department of Interplanetary Childhood Education.

This is a the first time in five election cycles that the results are being blamed on an actual issue as opposed to cultural differences between the cast planets. Last election cycle the Mining and Engineering coalition’s message that the Arts and Sciences were “out of touch” with “real work” appealed broadly. While voter turnout was only average during last election cycle, natural and AI augmented social media interactions were were up 3% during phase II campaigning. However, this election cycle’s lower turnout and results were based on an issue as opposed to cultural differences. This refutes the Sociology and Psychology cast’s claim that this could never happen again and renews the argument about whether humans have really evolved into a “post issues” society.

While normal election turnout is typically, 5.4%, the lower election turnout of 5.3% in addition to the backlash on the use of teleporters is being blamed by the Anatola party for the results this election cycle. The Anatola party has also appealed the results to the AI Council claiming that “letting our enemies know” that we will be using forced propulsion again will be a disaster and result in more Yeltion bandit attacks.

It’s difficult to say if the Artificial Intelligence Council will accept the results of this election, but it’s clear that the people have made their voices heard. Now it’s time to see if the Crelian party will deliver on their campaign promise to use more forced propulsion for interplanetary travel.

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Primary Residence: Determining What You Can Afford

Primary Residence: Determining What You Can Afford

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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.

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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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Are the Rich Really Getting Richer while the Poor Get Poorer?

Are the Rich Really Getting Richer while the Poor Get Poorer?

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Dr. Steve Horowitz says “No. This is just a myth.” Here’s his explanation.

It grates me when one behaves as if he or she is clearing something up but he or she doesn’t make the distinctions required to indicate just what it is that needs to be cleared up in the first place. Statements like “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer” are ambiguous, but not necessarily myths. In the context of argumentation, a myth is a statement that is a generalization that is untrue or lacks a sufficient basis to be treated as true, but is treated as true nonetheless. An ambiguous statement, on the other hand, could mean a number of possible things. For instance, “the rich are getting richer…” can mean:

A) The rich make more money now than they did in the past, while the poor make less.

B) Real income of the rich has risen over time while real income of the poor has dropped over time.

C) The purchasing power of the rich has grown over time while the purchasing power of the poor has declined over time.

D) The real income ratio between top earners and bottom earners has grown larger over time.

It’s not necessary that all of these are claimed when one says “the rich are getting richer…,” and not all of these are myths. Indeed, right at the beginning Dr. Horwitz noted that (D) is true. If all one means by “the rich are getting richer…” is (D), then it’s not a myth, pure and simple.

But what about (A-C)? Let’s reflect on these claims a bit (we don’t need hard data for this, per se, but we can discuss those in the comments, if necessary).

The point of Dr. Horwitz’s argument was to show that these are untrue. It’s obvious that (A) is untrue. The poor have a larger dollar amount listed on their paychecks now than they did in the distant past; but this is largely uninteresting, since what’s important is not merely how much money one has (i.e. it’s largely worthless by itself), but its value as a means of exchange for goods and services. That is, what’s most important is the purchasing power that money provides. With greater purchasing power comes greater ability to relieve oneself from dire conditions. (C) is the interesting claim, but unfortunately, Horwitz focused only on (B).

Is (B) untrue? Well it depends on whether we’re talking about households or individuals. Horwitz’s argument essentially boils down to this: 1) real income has risen for everyone over time and 2) most of those who start off poor end up rich, therefore 3) the the poor are getting richer. If we’re talking about real household income, the argument is unproblematic. But the number of single income households has declined drastically since the 70’s. Adding another income stream to a household (which also happens when people get married) will increase real income for that household, even if real individual income remain stagnant, which is precisely what has happened over the last forty years. In other words, households have a higher real income, but it has also required more hours worked per household.

But what is omitted from the presentation is the most telling. Purchasing power is dependent not only on how much one earns, but also on the cost of goods and services. While some goods have come down in real price over the past forty years (e.g. computers, and certain foods), others have risen quite rapidly (e.g. housing, education, gas & electricity), leading to an overall higher real cost of living. On top of that, credit was introduced as a means of enabling those whose wages plateaued to have at least the sense that their purchasing power was growing. We all know how that turned out, though. The real cost of goods & services purchased with credit went through the roof after compounding interest paid on those goods & services. What’s the result? At best, the working class has endured purchasing power stagnancy; at worst, they’ve suffered a decline. On the other hand, rich households (i.e. households who own large shares of a company or companies) made far more money as a result of stagnant working class real wages (less or stagnant wages = less overhead = greater profit) and investment in the booming credit/financial industry. (C) is pretty much true.

So if one means (A) or (B unqualified) when one says “the rich are getting richer…,” then, yes, it’s a myth. But if one means to claim something like (D), (C) or (B – with the proper qualifications), it’s not nearly as easily dismiss-able .

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Pick Yourself Up

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After reading this, I couldn’t help but laugh a little to myself. While I can certainly appreciate some part of Palin’s message about providing a positive message to young women caught in such a difficult situation, and I share the desire that something as awful as abortion could someday find its way back out of our society, I can’t help but wonder how someone like Palin can’t see her own hypocrisy.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where a young woman who has a child can continue, under the difficult circumstances so prevalent among single mothers, to properly care for her child while pursuing her own ambitions or even more modest aspirations of a better life for herself and her child through education  and consequently better employment opportunities.

The hypocrisy comes from the conservative attitude about providing access to these institutions for the poor. From one side of their mouth, they preach the “she can do it” mantra, while on the other side they take away all the help and support. This is a typical paradox of conservative thought; consistently seeking to put the onus of responsibility on the individual while failing to provide equal access to the basic institutions of social mobility.

Would that we lived in a world where the financial means of your parents wasn’t the greatest indicator of your own chances for success, I myself would adopt a great deal more interest in placing accountability on the individual. We fail to provide a fair means of overcoming the hardships of poverty, however, and still there are those that want to punish the stragglers of society.

Seems that fault and responsibility are important right up to the moment that someone actually has to assume responsibility; then all that ever matters is fault.

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