Scottrade My Way To Riches

Well, I finally did today what I have been thinking about for a long time. I opened an account with Scottrade online today with the hopes that I too can cash in on the amount of money being made in the markets. Every day I read the financial news and see how much cash is floating around out there and how the world economic markets are amassing fortunes for individuals and I wanted in. I funded my account with a small amount of money with the idea that the less I have invested directly in the market, the less I may lose. Of course, the less I have invested, the less money I’ll make, but I put in what I was comfortable with for now. I realize that for every equity trade I execute, there will be a $7 commission I will have to pay (still the cheapest of the online brokers), but I plan to stick with various mutual funds to safeguard my cash and hedge any risk from a global economic downturn (as is predicted by many in the near future). I have paid attention the past few years to stock recommendations in BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications, but now will finally have direct control over what I buy or sell. My decisions will bring me fortune or frustration. Like it has for so many other people, picking winning stocks may become a game to me. And as with any sport, you win some and you lose some. After years of sitting on the sidelines, I am ready to get off the bench and play.

Ten Days as a Father

My daughter is now ten days old. Yet, it feels as if she has been here longer, perhaps because she must be watched by one of us almost every minute of the day. She is healthy and is doing well. I expected her to be able to do more, but then I realize that she is only ten days old. I’m sure the talking and moving and laughing will be here soon enough. Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time since she was born and my wife will stay at home alone with her, something she has never done, not only because she has never been a mom before, but because as a doctor, she has hardly had the chance to sit still for the past several years. Staying at home with or without a baby is new to her and the next few weeks could be challenging for her, especially given that she sometimes feels only like a milk factory.

My ten days of fatherhood so far have been interesting. I have tried to help out as much as I could, although I do not have a mother’s touch, not to mention any food, but I have also in some ways tried to continue on with life as I knew it. I want to go to the gym, spend some time reading what books I want, get out to the City, watch some tv – all things that I used to do when my wife was at home or busy at work. Now, however, I can’t just do what I want. Not only would it not be fair to my wife to leave her with the baby full time, but because I have a responsibility and a privilege to help. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to help and do what I can, but I am beginning to get a glimpse of what my life will be like as she gets older and demands even more time and attention. Looking back I know that my parents made sacrifices for me, and now it is my turn. Life is not always about me. I am a parent now and with that comes the obligation to raise my daughter. I am just glad that I do not have to do it alone. Click here for an updated picture of Hanna Mei.

She’s Here!

After forty weeks of preparation, excitement and nervousness (at least for me), I am happy to announce that my beautiful baby girl is here. She was born on Friday May 18, 2007 at 6:55 pm. The labor was long (and as we were told many times, “they don’t call it labor for nothing”) and did not look fun or comfortable, but my wife stuck it out and did a great job. We named her Hanna Mei Sanchez. Surprisingly, she was a big baby, 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches long. She is healthy and is doing wonderful (she even let us sleep last night). I was happy to see that she has her Mom’s eyes and nose and maybe her cheeks. We’ll see what part of me crept into her. She also had a head full of dark hair and beautiful eyes. We came home on Monday the 21st, our three-year wedding anniversary. I think it has hit me by now. I’m a father. Wow. I must enjoy every moment because the time will fly. Click here for a picture of our little Hanna taken Monday night.

Nichibei Exchange

Since I left Japan almost seven years ago I have been fortunate to live in areas where there are large amounts of Japanese. Last September I discovered a group in New York that has been meeting for over twenty years now. The group, called The Nichibei Exchange (Japan-U.S. Exchange), meets about once a month (or more if they can get the speakers) in midtown for presentations on various topics. Attendance is free and the only common thread among the diverse group is that everyone shares an interest in Japan. Among the group are lawyers, bankers, journalists, artists, authors, students, public relations professionals, consultants, and even a few Zen Buddhists and Japanese gardeners, among others. I have been impressed with the group since I discovered it and was again impressed last night when the founder and managing principal of Japan Intercultural Consulting (click here for bio) spoke to us regarding recent trends in U.S.-Japan HR training and practices. Her thoughts were relevant and practical and the participant’s questions and comments were insightful.

Of course, not being one to walk away from opportunities, I also spoke with a few people afterwards, including the General Manager of HR for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and a Japanese lawyer at Morgan Lewis. I sent the HR Manager my resume this morning and he said he’ll be in touch should a specific need develop. It’s likely nothing will come from it (and I like the position I’m in now), but you never know which contacts may be helpful in the future. Of all of my favorite speakers at Nichibei so far, however, I must say that I enjoyed the author of Shutting Out the Sun the best. His insights into modern Japan and attention to detail were truly fascinating to listen to. The only downside I can see to attending Nichibei regularly is that it makes me want to go back to Japan. And given that I’m not in a position to pick up and do that quite yet, Nichibei will have to suffice for now.

A New York Point of View

It’s interesting living in New York. Like so many other large cities, a large number of people that you meet here are not originally from here, like myself. Yet, once someone has lived here even a short while (including, unbelievably, summer interns), they believe they’re a New Yorker. And that’s just it. Once they start calling themselves a New Yorker to distinguish themselves from all of the obvious tourists, they become almost oblivious to everywhere else, as if other places no longer matter (and take my word, once you have lived here a while, most other places really don’t seem to matter). The only other places in the United States that seem to get any respect from New Yorkers are Washington D.C. and California (the SF & LA California, not the Redding and Fresno California). The remaining people and places in between in this country are merely a part of Flyover Country (Sorry, Yuan).

Now I admit that after living here for three years I do feel in many ways as if I have more in common with people my age living in London, Hong Kong, Paris or Tokyo than in Des Moines, El Paso, Charleston or Butte, despite the linguistic or cultural distinctions, but that is not the point. New Yorkers who live in Manhattan even go as far as to call those that live off the island and commute the Bridge and Tunnel Crowd, referring to the means of transportation used to travel onto the island. Many of these people are the type that know they could take their education and New York working experience to a great job in Dallas and afford to buy a huge house rather than continue to pay their $3800 a month rent for a one-bedroom apartment on East 48th Street. The problem, as these people see it, is that they would then have to live in, say, Dallas, and that would just not cut it after living in New York.

In a sense, I share their sentiment, for I too felt long before I moved here that New York was the place to be and there was no substitute for the city, its people, or its opportunities. But I knew when I moved here (and yes, despite trying to convince my wife otherwise, I am part of the Bridge and Tunnel Crowd) that I would only be here long enough to get through law school and build a foundation that would launch my career. I’m happy to say that law school is now behind me and I hope that the foundation I am building will stand the test of time and open doors for me in the future. All I know is that whenever it is that I leave, I will miss this city for what it is, warts and all. 

Golfing With Daddy

On Saturday I had some spare time and I sat down to do what ten years ago would have been absurd to me. I watched golf on television. And I enjoyed it. While I would like to become a better golfer, the reality is that the sport is expensive and can be very time consuming. I have only golfed a full eighteen holes once in the past eighteen months, but have managed to get to the driving range twice (followed by the same number of blisters on my hands). I respect the sport and even find watching it on television to be exciting, especially in a close match in the final two days of a tournament. Today, one of the partners at our firm that I occasionally work with is out golfing with some clients. As a lawyer in New York City, whether I like the sport or not, I need to improve my game if I want to stay in this industry and not be too humiliated. Golf is not an easy sport and I respect the game and its stars. It says a lot that Tiger Woods is the highest paid athlete and one of the most recognizable people in the world. In general, I have very few regrets in life, but in retrospect, golf is one of those things I should have done more of when I could have growing up.

And on a different note, no, still no baby yet for us. She has her parent’s stubbornness and refuses to come out and be “born.” Just when I had accepted that she was finally coming and was hoping to take this week off work, she taunted me and made me get up early on Monday morning and head to the office. But hey, it’s still early in the week. Maybe one day I’ll get my baby girl to enjoy the game of golf. With some patience and dedication, I can perhaps raise the next Michelle Wie.  

Mother’s Day, Again

Mother’s Day has not been the same for me the past thirteen years. Ever since my mother passed away in 1994, I have had no mother to celebrate on the second Sunday of May each year. I have had a stepmom, but it is not quite the same. The Mother’s Day cards I have sent in the past decade have mostly been to my Grandma on my mother’s side. This year, for the first time since 1995, Mother’s Day is beginning to take on a whole new meaning. Granted Mother’s Day did start to look different after I got married because even though my wife was not yet a mother, at least there was a woman in my life that had the potential to be a mother. And it was on that special day each year that I tried to celebrate her.  This weekend is the amended due date of our first child and is also Mother’s Day. If the baby decides to come this Sunday, my wife may be the recipient of the most exhausting and most beautiful Mother’s Day one could ever ask for. I hope the baby comes this weekend, as my wife is finally, at an amazing 38 weeks pregnant, starting to become tired. I hope the baby is healthy. I hope the baby is as beautiful as her mom. Happy Mother’s Day, both to my one and only mother and to my one and only wife, the mother of my first child.