My New Interest
In the last few weeks I’ve taken an interest in something new: investing and trading. I saw something on the news about this thing called “Bitcoin” that is basically a virtual currency but people can buy real things with it. The reason it was on the news is because its value had been rising exponentially
The Internet Can Be A Scary Place
Knowing what I know now, I can’t believe how much personal information I’ve let slip online. I didn’t realize how easy it was for people to see what you’re doing online until a friend of mine who knows quite a bit more about computers than I do sat down and gave me a little demo.
Tools Of The Trade
There simply aren’t that many tools in my toolbox that I would consider irreplaceable anymore. I’ve been in this industry for almost ten years now and I’ve seen tools come and go. Sure, some tools are expensive or rare, but for the most part, my toolbox has been in a constant state of change for
Comedy, Surfing, and Motorcycles
I’ve been thinking about some of the stuff I want to do this summer. I don’t necessarily mean like new years resolution type stuff or changes I want to make in my life, but more along the lines of things I want to do and experience. One thing I would love to try is standup
In the last few weeks I’ve taken an interest in something new: investing and trading. I saw something on the news about this thing called “Bitcoin” that is basically a virtual currency but people can buy real things with it. The reason it was on the news is because its value had been rising exponentially and suddenly the bubble burst and the price fell from over $200 per Bitcoin down to about $100 in a couple of hours and they had to halt trading. But the most amazing part was that apparently there were some people who had bought Bitcoin a few years ago and paid a dollar each or so and then sold it for over $200! That means if you had put in $1,000 you could’ve sold it for over $200,000!
So, I decided I needed to learn more about investing and trading. I’m not sure how I feel about virtual currencies, but my research did lead me to real currencies. Apparently they can be traded against each other and you make or lose money based on what happens with the exchange rate. I also read about a way to trade it called binary options where you are basically deciding if you think the value will be above or below a certain point as of a certain date, and if you are right you make money, and if not, you lose money. I kind of like how they impose a time limit like that. One of the things I’ve heard that is difficult about investing is knowing when to sell. If you sell too early and price keeps going up, you missed out on profit, but if you wait too long and price goes back down, then you lost money. When an option expires you don’t have to worry about any of that, and then you can buy another one based on what you think price is going to do next. It actually sounded pretty clever. You can read about it here: http://www.financialtradingschool.com/curriculum/binary-options/ and kind of get up to speed if this seems confusing.
I’m not sure if I’m actually going to start trading these yet but if I do I’m definitely going to start small. I’m not really the gambling type, not that trading is gambling, but I want to start small while I figure out what I’m doing rather than go in with a lot of money and lose it all. I’m pretty conservative like that.
Knowing what I know now, I can’t believe how much personal information I’ve let slip online. I didn’t realize how easy it was for people to see what you’re doing online until a friend of mine who knows quite a bit more about computers than I do sat down and gave me a little demo. He used his laptop and a simple program to monitor my internet connection and he was able to tell me where I was going online, what I was looking at, and what I was doing. To be completely honest, that freaks me out…a lot.
Jeff was able to pull all of that information from my computer almost on the fly. He didn’t have to take that information home, analyze it, decrypt it, then tell me what I was doing online…he was able to connect, spy on me, and disconnect without as much as a delay. This freaks me out because I spend a lot of time using my laptop at internet cafes, coffee shops, and even at school. I do a lot of work and research for both school and my job on that laptop, and the thought that someone else could see what I’m doing as I do it scares me.
Luckily, my buddy Jeff was also able to show me how to get around this huge security issue without breaking my back or breaking the bank. Jeff showed me how to set up a VPN connection on my PC to use whenever I connect to any network where someone or something could be monitoring my internet browsing. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, and what it does is add a level of protection between me and the internet. Instead of me connecting directly to the internet, there is a remote connection between me and the internet that encrypts the data both going out to the internet and coming in from the internet.
A VPN almost acts like a ‘middle man.’ In order for a person to connect to a VPN, he or she has to provide a username and password. This unique ID and password is used to encrypt the data going out and coming in from a person’s internet connection, and encrypted data is much harder to crack than unencrypted data, like the kind that is sent when a person connects directly to the internet. A VPN adds an extra barrier between a user and the world out there that’s full of hackers and people who want to steal information from innocent internet users.
There simply aren’t that many tools in my toolbox that I would consider irreplaceable anymore. I’ve been in this industry for almost ten years now and I’ve seen tools come and go. Sure, some tools are expensive or rare, but for the most part, my toolbox has been in a constant state of change for the better part of ten years. Granted, I have more tools now than I ever did, my box seems like it’s just a messy mass of sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers that come and go as they please.
Of course, when I say there aren’t many tools in my toolbox that are irreplaceable, I’m taking about my smaller tools. I have eight shallow drawers full of mid to high grade hand tools that I could replace tomorrow if I had to. Some of my bigger tools, however, I’d be at a loss if I were to lose any of them. I have quite an assortment of pneumatic and hydraulic tools in my box now, but you have to understand…I work on LARGE pieces of equipment. It’s not uncommon for me to need to torque a bolt to 10,000 foot pounds of torque (understand that the average automotive bolt is torqued to around 6-100 foot pounds of torque.
Because of this, I do have a couple of prized tools in my box. Since I realized many years ago, getting to 10,000 ft/lb of torque with a hand torque wrench would take nothing short of a miracle and a ten foot breaker bar, I invested in a Torq/Lite hydraulic torque wrench. I know to many people, a hydraulic torque wrench sounds like an alien concept, but let me explain it. All I have to do is hook the wrench up to an external hydraulic pump, set the pressure, pull the trigger, and voila…up to twenty thousand foot pounds of torque at my fingertips.
This thing has seriously been a lifesaver. I’ve had it for about four years now, I’ve never had a problem with it, and I’ve never met a bolt that it couldn’t work its magic on. The equipment I work on is used daily by people who depend on it to not only be productive, but to be safe. If I don’t do my job correctly, they could get hurt or the machine could break in a bad, bad way. That’s why I made the decision to always get the right tool for the job, no matter the cost. Sure, the proper tool may be a few extra bucks, but if that few extra dollars saves a life or prevents a $10,000 equipment failure, isn’t the cost worth it?
I’ve been thinking about some of the stuff I want to do this summer. I don’t necessarily mean like new years resolution type stuff or changes I want to make in my life, but more along the lines of things I want to do and experience.
One thing I would love to try is standup comedy. I think it would be scary, though, having to speak in front of groups of people like that and have them expecting to laugh at you. I don’t really have any issues speaking in front of groups like at work or when I was in school, but that’s because my goal is just to share information, not to get them to laugh, so as long as they get what I’m talking about, I was successful. But doing comedy just seems so terrifying. It seems like you really don’t have very much time to get people to think you are funny. If your first few jokes bomb, the rest of your set probably will, too. But if your first few jokes are funny and you make a good impression, people will probably laugh at you for the rest of your routine, or at least that’s how it seems from what I’m seen on TV.
I also want to learn to surf. Every time I go to the beach and I see people surfing I always think it looks like so much fun. Actually, this ties in with another thing I want to do, and that’s take a vacation. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone on a vacation and I think it’s about time I take another one. So how does that tie in with surfing? I want to go to a Costa Rica surf camp. It’s like a week long trip where you take surfing lessons but you also get to hang out in Costa Rica. So rather than like just going to a class and then going home like you would normally, you go on vacation and take surf lessons while you’re there.
I’d also like to learn to ride a motorcycle. I don’t know that I will ever actually buy a motorcycle, but I’d like to learn how to ride one if only just to be able to say I can. I’ll probably end up taking a class for this since I don’t have any friends who have bikes. In fact, some of my friends don’t even have cars and just take public transportation everywhere they need to go.
My old roommate from university, Todd, got a DUI last night and he is pretty bummed out about it. I honestly can’t say I feel bad for him because I always have told him he could call me (or someone) if he needs a ride. I don’t drink and would drop anything I’m doing to go and pick him up wherever he’s at. I guess I should mention that besides being roommates we are also pretty good friends and have been for years. We actually met at a job we used to work at. It was one of those kinds of jobs that you take after university because you can’t find anything in your field and just need some steady income until you do. Anyways we have been friends ever since so I’m glad we both had difficulty finding employment right after college.
I was trying to cheer him up this morning by telling him that getting your first DUI isn’t the end of the world. I know plenty of people that have one and while it isn’t good in a lot of ways it isn’t like he is going to end up in jail. He didn’t cause an accident or wasn’t going like 100 miles an hour so yeah. He got pulled over because he forgot to signal when making a turn. He was very cooperative he said with the police and wasn’t that much over the legal limit. I told him there are plenty of good DUI attorneys in Sarasota and he has to retain one as soon as possible. I am no legal expert but I think he might even have a chance of getting the charge dropped. When I told him that he did perk up a bit and said he would look into an attorney when he got back home from the gym. He said he was going there to punish himself whatever that means. That is one thing we don’t do together and that is working out. I kind of let myself go over the years while he is at the gym 4 days a week. He also eats really healthy which means he never eats the kind of food I buy. I in turn don’t eat his fruit and vegetables so it all works out. I do in the near future want to get into some semblance of shape. I am going to be 30 years old next year and I figure the longer I wait the harder it gets.
People like to hold onto things. I think it’s a part of human nature. We assign sentimental value to things that may not even have any use to us anymore.
I know I do.
For example, I still have some things from my childhood that I keep solely because they remind me of a happy time. I probably only look at them once every few years, but it’s fun to reminisce, you know? And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
But sometimes people also hold onto their old stuff that they’re not using anymore, either. It’s not because it necessarily has sentimental value, but just because they are worried that they might need it again at some point in the future. And I have to admit that I’ve done that, too. Let me make a distinction here between keeping something for sentimental value vs. keeping something because you think you’ll need it. They say that a good rule for things like clothes is, if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. I’m trying to adopt that rule, actually. I definitely have some stuff I haven’t worn in over a year that I need to get rid of.
I have more than just clothes, too. I’ve somehow amassed a collection of things that I no longer use but have neglected to throw away. I’ve got an old laptop, some video games, the clothes I mentioned before, and an old cell phone all just sitting my closet taking up space. I know of a website where I can sell my things that I’m going to check out. It’s not like I’m really ever going to use this stuff again so I might as well get a little bit of money for it. It may only be a few quid but that’s better than the nothing I’ll get just keeping it here.
Sometimes I’ve even bought stuff and ended up not using it at all. That’s horrible! I’ve done that with clothes before; I know of a couple sweaters I have that I haven’t even worn. I used to have this thing where I buy nice clothes but then I never think it’s the proper occasion to wear them, and I end up never wearing them. Then I realized I was kind missing opportunities like that, but then what really hit me was when I applied that same concept to my life. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve my life and get to a good place without realizing that the journey is the most important part. It was almost as if I didn’t want to do anything until I got there, like I didn’t feel I was “ready” before that point. That’s another mindset I’ve been trying to internalize, but that’s another topic for another day.
Why are so many people obsessed with their cars? I remember like 10 years ago when the Fast and the Furious movies were popular, everyone wanted to put a spoiler and huge exhaust on their car. I never understood why. Those exhausts made your car sound like a weed wacker, and those huge spoilers had no purpose on a front wheel drive car (the purpose of a spoiler is to increase downforce over the rear wheels and improve traction on a rear wheel drive car). Of course, people added them because they liked the way they looked, and the F&F movies did such a good job of presenting the import scene as being cool that everyone wanted to go out and emulate it.
I drove a Civic and I remember people asking me if I was going to add a spoiler to my car. Nope! Because it’s FWD, and because spoilers are expensive. Oh, and they make you cop magnets. The more you look like a street racer, the more likely the police are going be to think you’re probably doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you know, like street racing.
Now I can’t say I didn’t get interested in cars a bit more as a result of those movies, however. In fact, I did make some modifications to my Civic. But unlike many people, you couldn’t tell from looking at my car that it had been modded. I added an aftermarket intake and an exhaust manifold and made a few suspension mods, but let’s be honest, it was still a Civic and it was still slow, it was just a little bit more fun to drive.
Then again, I realize that a Honda Civic is by definition an economy car. It’s designed to get good gas mileage and be affordable. I got the sedan version because sedans are more practical than coupes (I can easily put a few bags of groceries in the back seat of a sedan, and taking passengers anywhere in a coupe is annoying, and it’s especially annoying if you’re the person in the back seat who has to get out). My car also had great car insurance rates. I did consider getting a new car a few times, but not wanting to have to spend the money on a new car or the increased insurance rates quickly quashed that idea.
Because come on, it’s just a car. And my Civic got me where I needed to be just as effectively as any other car would’ve, except it got me there with better fuel economy.
I look around and I see all these people trying to get in shape. Now, getting in shape is a good goal and I think everyone should try to be healthy, but some of the things I see just kind of make me sit back and think “what are you doing, man?”
For instance, I remember leaving the gym once and seeing this person who had just finished their workout sitting at a table outside having a cigarette. What are you doing, man?
Or it’s like the joke about the people who go to a fast food place, order a Bic Mac, large fries, an apple pie, and then a diet Coke. Cuz you know, after that 1,000 calories you’re about to eat, you’re really doing yourself a favor by having a diet Coke instead of a regular one.
I have a friend who uses all the latest diet supplements. Anything that gets mentioned on TV or in a magazine or whatever, she will use. Right now she’s raving about green coffee bean extract and how it’s the next best thing and etc. She’s so concerned about losing weight and being healthy, but the only thing she does is take supplements. She doesn’t eat well. She doesn’t really exercise. But she tries to rely on supplements to make up for everything her diet and lifestyle is lacking. What are you doing?!
I’ve also seen people who are like that with money. They’ll spend like an hour looking for the best deal on a book online and end up saving like 3 quid, but they don’t think twice about spending 10 times that much on dinner at restaurants a few nights a week. I think you’re doing it backwards.
Alright, I’m not trying to be all critical about this, it just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like those silly credit card ads where they give you a percentage of what you spend back (which is a good deal, don’t get me wrong), and then they say “the more you spend the more you save!” Well, not really, because as you’re getting back less than 100% of what you spend, the more you spend, the more you spend. But I guess that encourages people to use their cards more which makes the credit card companies more money.
Anyway, I’m just an observer of people, so these are some of the things that I notice. I’m sure other people notice things about me that they find amusing or confusing, too.
Sometimes we just need to get away. It can be counterintuitive at first, however, especially for people who are very logical and analytical and focused on working all the time. After all, to them, it doesn’t make sense to “get away.” How are they going to be productive and get stuff done if they’re out on vacation while the rest of the world is passing them by? Think of the lost time!
People like that can be hard to convince (I know, because I used to be one of them!) It’s one of those things where their own worldview is so strong and self-reinforcing that it’s difficult to change. Consider someone who is successful and who works all the time and never takes a vacation. They will probably rationalize that their success is because of their non-stop work. So to suggest to them that they take a break may essentially sound like you are telling them to stop being successful.
The concept of long hours = success is hard to overcome.
I recently forced myself to do so, however.
I’m one of those people who works a lot. I’m so tied up in everything, and I’m very driven to be successful. I don’t like stopping because it feels like I’m being counterproductive. I had gotten to the point where I hadn’t really taken a break in years. I was told that I had to take a vacation or I would be fired. Apparently my boss knew how wound up I was even though I was entirely unaware. Long story short, I ended up spending a week in a tropical area with beaches and palm trees, and for the first few days I was a mess. I was logging in to check my work email every few hours. I was afraid I was missing something. By about the 3rd day, however, I just seemed to “let go.” I enjoyed just relaxing without worrying about work. It was as if I had forgotten how to have fun because I was constantly in serious work mode.
Ever since, I have taken a vacation every year. It’s important to my mental well-being that I can take some time off, and I find my overall productivity actually increases as a result.
This year I want to go to Indonesia. I’ve never been to the other side of the world before, and it’s sunny and warm and I’ve heard a lot about how friendly the people are, and the diving there is supposed to be world class. I’ve been reading a bit about the different islands and stuff there recently, and I want to visit a few places, and I’ll probably spend a few nights at a hotel Bandung while I’m there. I also want to visit Bali and Java.
I’d say that since I implemented my yearly vacations, I have relaxed a lot overall. Even during the rest of the year when I’m in serious business mode, it never quite seems to consume me the way it used to. And I think that’s a good thing.
It has been almost a month since I have moved into my new place and I’m pretty much done unpacking. I am not one of those people that can unpack in a day or two instead I did the important and needed stuff first and went through the rest of it slowly. I have to say I really like this new apartment. I have a couple of little things I want to do to make it better but it is nice. I just ordered some wire shelving from this place so I could organize my office better. Right now that is the trouble room as I have stuff scattered all over in there. In case you are wondering I am writing this from my laptop on the couch. I have my computer in the office but I only use that for work related stuff.
What I really like about this place is the area I’m living in now. Before I was right in the heart of the city and while it was nice it was also too hectic. The traffic around there is terrible and I got tired of sitting in it. Parking was another issue. Without a designated parking spot I would sometimes circle the entire neighborhood for 30 minutes or more trying to find a spot. It wasn’t so bad during the day but if I was coming home later in the evening it was next to impossible sometimes. I remember one night I drove around for over an hour. It was so frustrating. I don’t have to worry about that here as there are spots everywhere. I now get upset if I have to walk an extra 20 feet which is funny.
My friend Kelly is coming over today to see my place for the first time so I need to wrap this up soon. I want to clean up a bit before she gets here. I really just have to vacuum and do some light dusting. The one thing I am still on the fence about is my new floors. They are hardwood and it is the first time I’ve had hardwood floors. I have quickly noticed all the dust bunnies that collect in the corners so I have to stay on top of them. I think overall I like it better than carpet but I’m still adjusting. I know my cat probably misses the carpet but she’ll live.
One thing you may have noticed from reading my blog is that personal improvement and growth are big deals to me. I spend a lot of time both thinking about them and also finding ways to apply the things I learn to my life. It comes from the realization that I can essentially achieve anything I want, which was quite a concept to me considering I spend most of my youth, as well much of my young adulthood, basically letting other people dictate my reality. For example, I never really had much confidence unless other people were acting in a way that made me think I should be confident. I never felt like a “cool” person unless other people were responding to me in such a way that made me feel like I had their approval to be cool. Overcoming this mindset took me a while, too. It’s not the kind of thing you can just get up one day and be like “oh, I’m not gonna care what other people think anymore.” I mean, you can understand that you shouldn’t care, but actually changing your beliefs, the beliefs you’ve had for years, takes some work.
Two of those beliefs that I’ve changed has to do with money. First, I had the belief that most people have that their income is limited to their job. I have a good job, and I get paid a decent salary, but why should I let that limit my income? Why can’t I do something else on the side to bring in more income? This was an idea I had for a while, but I wanted to make sure I was going about it intelligently because I didn’t want to get pulled into some scheme, or make bad decisions about that. So I spent a few years studying up on some possible ways to bring in more income, and I eventually bought an investment property which I rent out to a couple. Once I decided I wanted to give it a try, I looked for the proper place for about 6 months before I finally found one that seemed like it would work. My tax situation has also changed as a result of this, and I had to hire a property accountant Five Dock to help me with the property taxes and other related fees.
The second belief was how much money seemed like a good amount. Let me elaborate. I actually had to change my concept of how much money I felt I “should” make. Most people tend to think they are worth about as much as they are being paid (ok, probably a little bit more). For example, a person making $50,000 per year might feel that’s about what he’s worth. If he feels like he is overworked then maybe he’ll feel like he should be paid a bit more; maybe $55,000 or $60,000. But why not $100,000? Why not $200,000? The idea of making that much money is probably outside of what he imagines to be possible. It probably wouldn’t feel “right” or seem realistic to him.
Have you examined your own beliefs about this?
I have never been big on running, but I think that that may change. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been into fitness for years, just never really from a runner’s standpoint. Here’s my workout history:
In high school I did a lot of pushups, dumbbell curls, and crunches. To be honest, those were really the only exercises that I knew about. But I really enjoyed doing them, and did them a few times per week. I remember at one point I could do two sets of 45 pushups and I thought that was pretty good.
It wasn’t until university that I discovered weight lifting. I remember going to the campus fitness center one day and seeing this huge room full of weights and people working out and I was just like whoa, this is cool. So I started trying to learn everything I could about exercise. I bought a bunch of books and magazines about weight lifting and starting reading a lot of websites about bodybuilding and diet. When I get interested in something, I kind of become obsessed with it! So I started going to the gym and lifting weights regularly, and I loved it. I kept it up for all 4 years of university and into my working life, too. The thing is, though. I never really ran any. I didn’t like running. Lifting weights was fun. Running was hard and tiring.
One of the things you learn in fitness is something called the “SAID” principle, which stands for “specific adaptation to imposed demands.” In other words, your body gets better at what you do, and worse at what you don’t do. So since I was never running, the few times I did try to run, I was terrible at it. I could barely run a mile without stopping!
A few weeks ago I decided to give running a try again. I’m not really sure what got into me and made me want to run, but I did. I didn’t go very far, mind you, but I found that I actually kind of enjoyed it. I also realized that I don’t own a pair of trainers that are decent to run in, so I’m going to have to order myself some decent running shoes. I’ve been looking for some online, and found some decently price shoes at getthelabel.com, so I think I’m going to order a pair from there. I’ve read a lot about having the proper footwear and I don’t think I want to do too much more running until I get some shoes that are designed for it.
I figure I can keep lifting weights, but adding running to my workout regimen a few times a week probably won’t hurt anything. I’d at least like to get to the point where I can run for a few kilometers and not be really tired afterward.