California Dreaming?

Another Christmas has come and gone, and for the third year in a row, I have spent my Christmas in California. I must admit,
California could be a great place to live – it’s diverse, the weather is nice, the opportunities are plentiful – and at least 37 million other people agree. My wife wants us to move there. But I’m not convinced yet. We both have family there and it could for us to be closer to family, with our kid coming and all. But I want to be cautious; I don’t want to live too close to family. This last holiday weekend was a perfect example: I spent about 30 hours with my wife’s family and 30 hours with my family, enough time to catch up, talk, have fun, and get out and on with our lives. Through unlimited-calling on Verizon Wireless and email, living 3000 miles away is not what it used to be. As sad as it may sound, I think I have now seen enough of my family to get me through the next year. And before I know it, Christmas will be here again. However, next year we have already decided to think twice before jumping on a plane to California. Maybe for once people can come visit us.

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A Million Bucks

A million bucks is not what it used to be, and it will be even less in the years to come. With that in mind, I have recently decided that I want to be a millionare by the time I am forty years old. That gives me plenty of time. And I don’t mean a million in illiquid assets, either, like having money tied up in my house, etc. I want a million bucks that I can invest and live off of. It’s true that it takes money to make money, and the more that I have, the more I should be able to make. But that is not the sole reason alone for this goal of mine. Sure, it would be nice to never have to worry about money, have no debt, and be able to live nicely (not to mention pay the $7,307 ConEd bill I mistakenly received yesterday). Part of the reason why I believe that having money would be a good thing is because it would allow my wife and I the opportunity to serve others, especially within our church, without the burden of being tied down to a permanent full-time job just to pay the bills. Having the ability to devote one’s life to something they feel passionately about and something that is proven to make a positive difference in people’s lives is what many people dream about. My problem is that the only ways I’ve thought of to make money is to work hard and devote the next fifteen years of my life to the legal and corporate details that tend to not make a positive difference in people’s lives. The irony of this is quite funny.

Tip This!

Why and how has tipping become such a distinctive part of American culture? Contrary to popular belief, tipping is not a custom in every corner of the globe. There are many countries that don’t tip. East Asia, for example, is one area where tipping remains an option, as opposed to almost mandatory, as it is here in the U.S. And where did 15% come from? What’s so special about parties that have more than six people that the restaurant must include an additional 18% gratuity for an already overpriced meal?

Don’t get me wrong, good service deserves its rewards, but those who offer bad service still believe they deserve a piece of the pie. Personally, I am more of a 10% guy unless the service was excellent. The upside of being a cheap tipper is that I save a few bucks, the downside is that I appear stingy, which admittedly I often am. My rant is that there has become this culture of tipping in this country to where a decent tip is no longer optional. Call me cheap, but I liked it better in Japan where if I left a few extra bucks on the table they would chase me down and give it back to me. That is, of course, unless they knew they deserved it.

Is A Name Just A Name?

My wife and I are having a hard time agreeing on names for our future kids. What makes it more stressful is that my wife is almost four months pregnant and that future kid of ours is on its way. We don’t yet know if it is a boy or a girl (notice the “it”), but numerous people think that for some reason or another we are having a boy. Which would be fine for me, so long as I have a girl at some point also. I always thought that I would name my kids meaningful and unique names. I’ve recently began to change my mind. Studies have shown that kids whose names are odd are less likely to obtain good jobs and do well in their careers. Other studies have shown that kids with odd or different names tend to come from lower income families. Part of the obstacle for kids with unique names may be driven by prejudices; part of it may be fear of the unknown. Yet my kids will have my surname, a Spanish name – I wonder how and if that will affect them on paper as they grow older? Nonetheless, I am convinced that I should probably name our kid, whether boy or girl, a name that other people out there have. I guess I’ll save the unique names for our pets.  

A Walk to Remember

A Walk to Remember is already a book (and movie) title, but that is essentially the theme that I would like to use for the (or one of the) book(s) that I write. Ever since I was young I have enjoyed going on walks. It has been a time to think, reflect, prepare and calm down. Turns out that in the space of my short life thus far, I have lived in some very unique areas in the world, providing me with the opportunity to walk, as well as to learn more about me and the ever-changing world around me. My idea is to write about my life, in all of its different stages, from the broader perspective of the places I’ve been and seen on my walks.

I don’t yet know how I will do it or what format the book will take, but I think that I can describe the allure of Japan to a foreigner (See, The Inland Sea), the sandy beaches and vast sunsets of the North Shore, the wonder and beauty of the damp Northwest, and the pace and roughness of Manhattan, all within the context of a walk. A walk through time, perhaps I may call the book. The Walk Continues, maybe. The Long Walk is a good book by Stephen King, and quite a different type of book from the one I plan to write, but a good description for my book. Maybe I’ll call the book, A Single Step, after the saying, “Every journey begins with a single step.” Writing a book is quite a task, but a task that I think I am up to one day. Despite the excitement and fulfillment in my life so far, I just hope life gets more exciting –  if I ever plan to sell any books, that is.