The Book that Cost Me $61,202.95

Okay, flashy title, I know. But it’s true. This god damn book will cost me $61,202.95 over the next 51 years, paying $100/month. Here’s how I justified the expenditure:

We all know at least one person (or maybe we ARE that person) who is always worrying about not having enough money. Here are a couple facts to keep in your back pocket which will end the pity party with a hefty bitch-slapping of real life:

If you earn more than $52,000 USD per year, you belong to the richest 1% on the planet.

If you earn at least $28,000 (that’s the typical income for working individuals in the United States), you’re in the richest 5% of the world’s population.

Even someone living below the US poverty line, earning just $11,000 per year is still richer than 85% of people in the world.

There are 1.2 billion people in the world who earn $1.5o per day or less. Do they survive on $1.50 per day? Not really. They die regularly. People in this income bracket have a pathetic life expectancy of only 56 years, compared to our mighty 81 year Canadian life expectancy.

How should we feel about this? We should feel really fucking lucky. We should wake up every day and scream for joy. If you’re having trouble feeling grateful for things in your day to day life, hopefully this post will help you be grateful for your lunch, your shirt, your parents, and your bed.

If your feelings end there, fine. Just by being more grateful and less of a cunt, you’re make a positive difference in the world. Go get ’em tiger.

If you’re still reading, maybe you’re a little pissed off and wondering, “What should we DO to fix this fucking shit?” Well, we shouldn’t give our spare change to that cocksucker outside the LCBO. Unless he sucks our cocks for the change. Assuming he’s mentally sound enough to string together a semi-coherent sentence, that motherfucker has access to all the social support he needs. Even the crazy ones have people hunting for them in vans when it gets cold, to try to keep them from freezing to death by offering blankets and an optional ride to an albeit packed and shitty homeless shelter. But it’s still shelter, and there’s still food, even if it’s shitty food. I’m not saying the bum has a good life, but I am saying he doesn’t deserve our charity dollars above what we already pay in tax to keep our not-so-shitty social support systems running.

What we should do with our spare change is send it to those poor disease-ridden fucks starving and shitting themselves to death in horrible places without a god damn hope in hell.

We should send those guys a little bit of money, regularly. And because we’re lazy cunts, we don’t even have to think about it. There are people out there who love to think about this shit all day and will take our money and stick it where it counts most.

One such organization is GiveWell (UPDATE: For Canadians, Charity Science is a better option for tax reasons). They highlight charities that are thoroughly vetted, evidence-backed, and underfunded. They find charities that are powerfully effective in helping the ultra-poor, by turning pennies into fucking miracles, but are not all that sexy from a marketing standpoint (AHEM! Breast cancer, child cancer, cancer cancer… these orgs don’t need your charity bucks, send that cash to the Malaria-ridden sub-Saharan Africans instead).

So what did Ryan Lowe do (other than refer to himself in third-person)?

Like ripping off a band-aid, he clicked on the GiveWell link and then the Donate button, afraid he was going to chicken out the entire time. Then he entered $100 next to the line that says: Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion. Ryan likes not having to research shit, and he trusts that GiveWell is going to do a better job allocating his money than he could possibly do himself.

He then picked Every Month for how often he makes his donation.

He entered his name, addy, and credit card info, and typed his daughter’s name as the person he’s dedicating the donation on behalf of. That made him feel all good inside. Like the world is gonna be a slightly better place for his little girl to grow up in.

Then he held his breath and clicked the Donate button.

Here’s Ryan’s confirmation email if you think I’m full of shit:

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Ryan has always felt like a little bit of a cunt for not doing more to help those who have fucking nothing. Now Ryan feels a whole lot better about himself, and probably won’t miss that hundred bucks anyway… especially now that he’s decided to only have one beer at a time.


Back to First Person and Some Math:

Stats at the beginning of this post were stolen from this book. It cost $2.95. If I live to the average Canadian age of 81 I will make 612 more monthly donations of $100. That adds up to $61,200, plus the book price for the total $61,202.95. Hopefully our fucking dollar evens out a little to make this whole process more bearable. But if it doesn’t, fuck it. I lucked out by being born in Canada and I know what it’s like to shit myself for days on end, and I don’t like it. If that’s how people out there are dying, I’ll gladly part with $100/month to help make it stop.

UPDATE:

GiveWell donations are NOT tax-deductible in Canada. However, Canadians can set up regular contributions through Charity Science and 100% of the donations go through to the Charities. Also we don’t get boned on the US dollar being so high.

I have cancelled my GiveWell contribution and set up a Charity Science contribution (for $100 CAD/month), which will be buying mosquito nets to cover children while they sleep so mosquitoes don’t give them god damn malaria.

Here’s the nice card they send when you donate:

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Please Stop Storing Photos on Your Computer!

I can’t believe how long it has taken me to finally figure this out. This morning my dad sent me a link to a free, cloud-based photo album and I was like, “Holy shit. I need this.”

I’ve been using a combination of iPhoto and Apple Photos (I don’t know what the difference is) for storing all of my photos, since the beginning of time. I’ve never liked it because having a lot of photos and videos on my computer slows it down. Storing photos locally on your hard drive is also risky because there are lots of ways of losing them forever (theft, damage, accidental deletion). A better idea would be for your photos to automatically back themselves up to the cloud (remote storage, which is much safer and just better).

Enter Google Photos, with unlimited storage for all of your high quality photos and videos. For most people, including myself, the free high quality option is more than good enough. If you want to have higher than high quality, you can select original resolution and pay for the additional space as needed.

So how do you make the switch? Google provides free photo backup software to do all of the importing for you. I’m doing it now, and it’s chugging through over 50,000 images and videos. This is going to save my computer a LOT of storage space.

When the import is done, I’m going to delete all photos and videos from my computer and enjoy the speed increase.

Thank you Google for solving yet another of my problems!

Why Do I Drink?

Why do I drink?

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to really think about it, so here’s a quick list of my reasons for drinking, off the top of my head:

  • It’s fun
  • Everyone else does
  • Why not?

This is more of an exploration of my own thoughts than anything else. At some point, back in high school, I began drinking at parties. It was very much a coming of age thing, as well as a social thing. Not everyone drank, and it felt good to be a part of the group that did. College was essentially the same story. My friends and I “knew how to party” and that felt like a good social space to exist in. I definitely don’t regret any of my younger, stupider years.

The problem is now I’m old(er). I’m a father. My hangovers are brutal. After my bachelor party, I wasn’t back to my normal self for 4 days.

I’ve never been the type of person to do a “cleanse”. I don’t believe in that shit. Either do something full-time or don’t. The accomplishment of not drinking for a month doesn’t substantiate any gains in my mind. There’s no permanent change, just an intermission in the shit show.

I much more like the idea of the “One or None” drinking pattern. I don’t know if I could do it, but I like to think that life would be better if I took it on. One or None is just like it sounds. You have one drink, or none. All you’re guarding against is the landslide of one leading to 10 without that being a choice that was ever made.

I won’t be thinking of this as if I’m doing it for a month. I will think of it as if I’m doing it forever. This is now my way of drinking. Either I have a single drink, or I don’t. And of course I can cheat. A litre of beer is still just one beer if the cup’s big enough. But I have to drink it before it gets warm. Sadly, this will still prevent me from drinking as much as I currently do. And also I may very well decide that I hate life without drinking and go back to how I was before. But I don’t think I will.

Being a dad makes other things more important than partying. Morning things. Like being able to keep your eyes open at 8am on a Saturday while your daughter hits you in the face with a fly swatter. I personally feel like triple the bag of shit when I’m hungover and trying to be there for my kid. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers quit all substances right after he had his first child, and now I get it. I just don’t think it’s realistic for me personally to quit drinking altogether. I still fucking love drinking.

Here are 4 benefits in taking the One or None approach:

  1. You still get to fly under the radar in most drinking situations. Having only one beer isn’t going to rustle anyone’s feathers and result in you having to defend your reasoning in front of an angry mob of drunks. Unless you’re somehow the first male to get bum-pregnant, it’s socially impossible for a guy to get away with drinking water at a party.
  2. Sometimes you just need a drink, and you still get to have one.
  3. No more worrying about whether you’re good to drive or not. I will admit that I’ve flirted with this line and I’m not proud of it.
  4. This should have been point #1: NO MORE FUCKING HANGOVERS. My wife says the best she’s ever felt was the year she stopped drinking while pregnant and into breastfeeding newborn Isla. I haven’t been anywhere close to that sober in my adult life. I’m curious to see what it’s like.

How to Cock Block Your Own Stress

Probably the most personally satisfying discovery I’ve made this year is the Stop Loss technique, courtesy of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. A “Stop Loss” order is an investing mechanism that allows a person to sell her stocks if their value drops to a specific price established beforehand, thereby preventing further soul-crushing losses.

The example in the book is an investor putting a -5% Stop Loss order on every stock he purchases. So if the stock drops by 5%, it’s sold immediately. This automatically guards the investor against total devastation, and is something I should have done years ago when I purchased $1000 of Zynga stocks, like an asshole, on a whim.

At the time, Zynga was making some really addictive smartphone games, so I was hopeful for the company’s future. I bought at $14/share and within a few weeks the stocks were valued at $3/share. Steve Jobs basically said “We’re not supporting Flash technology anymore” and Zynga was fucked. Their whole company was Flash based. So when I eventually sold my Zynga stocks I had lost $800. A Stop Loss order could have automatically ditched my stocks as soon as they dropped to $13.30/share and limited my losses to $50.

Now, if I buy stocks, I set a -5% stop loss order immediately. Then, if the stock goes up, I change the stop loss to 0% + $20 (the cost of the buy and sell transactions). This way I never lose more than 5%, and if I’m patient (and a little lucky) I can also set up a position where I can’t lose any money at all.

Stop Loss is sexy for investing, but it’s MUCH more valuable in cock blocking day-to-day stress.

Here’s how that works:

As soon as a problem presents itself, I decide beforehand how much of my own personal happiness I’m willing to lose while trying to sort it out. The shocking thing is: if I decide ahead of time how much stress something is worth, I realize NOTHING is really worth very much stress. It’s much harder to get full-blown-scream-cry-into-a-pillow stressed when I’ve already decided how emotionally invested I’m willing to get.

Here’s a real life example where I didn’t do a very good job of it:

My email recently stopped working. Client emails weren’t coming through, and my hosting provider (eHost) fucked me around for a full WEEK without fixing anything. I spent hours on the phone to outsourced fuck-parrots in India who just kept repeating, “Well sir, it seems there is no email here.” Yes, I got really fucking stressed out. This is probably what triggered the search for a way to stop feeling like a tightly wound ball of shit.

I found peace by making a decision: “I’m going to switch hosts. Any emails I missed, people will either follow up again or think I’m a dick and take their business elsewhere.”

The stop loss comes in with consciously deciding not to care anymore about the lost emails, the damage to my reputation, or anything else even vaguely related to the problem. The stop loss order sounded like this in my head, “I’ve already stressed out too much about this, so I’m done. Anything else that happens relating to this will either sort itself out or not, and I don’t care either way. I’m not willing to feel any worse about this than I already do.”

It felt good. I started to feel better and better, and eventually I felt awesome again. God damn eHost was out of my life, and the problem, though I was still dealing with it (because it takes a while for a new email with a new provider to take effect), no longer bothered me.

A trigger had switched in my brain.

This type of thinking comes up in a podcast between Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins on Achievement Versus Fulfillment. Tony says he uses a “90 second rule” to deal with problems as they come up. It’s simple – he faces the problem, feels it fully for 90 seconds (stress, anger, sadness, whatever), then decides on a solution on the spot. The decision represents the end of worrying. It’s done. Time to move on.

Problems often feel like they’re important and should be worried about. It feels like the right thing to do. But I would argue that the right thing to do is to strategically set a mental “Stop Giving a Fuck” point which, once reached, triggers a solid and satisfying “I don’t give a flying fuck” response.

What is your take on this? Comments are open… now.

I’m Putting On My Big Boy Pants

It’s finally happening, I’m putting on my Big Boy Pants and doing the work that I’ve been putting off because it’s intimidating because I know it’s important and I’ll fucking love it.

As far as I can tell, the game we should be playing right now is the content creation game (content = blog posts, photos, videos). It’s one of those small things we can start doing now to really help our future selves. It’s like investing a small amount of money every month for retirement, only better. I think it goes something like this:

Creating LOTS of content leads to creating GOOD content.

Creating GOOD content leads to people LIKING your content.

People LIKING your content leads to a BIGGER audience.

A BIGGER audience leads to MONETIZATION potential.

I want to build an audience and increase the money I make through the internet. Right now I make $200/month from straight up Google Ads on my YouTube videos, and another $800/month from slightly fancier affiliate links in the same videos.

This is what it’s going to look like when I put on my Big Boy Pants:

I’m going to write, podcast, and shoot video about whatever I want.

This is absolutely the wrong way to build an audience. The common wisdom is to choose a niche, something that has a narrow focus and can be dominated by hammering away at that one thing. The niche method is proven to work, and if you want to know more about the right way to build an audience online, have a look at Pat Flynn’s material. He makes a shitload of money through his podcast/blog and he is also not an asshole.

The problem is I don’t know what one thing to create content around, so I’m going to do it backwards. I’ll write broadly and see what trend emerges. My goal is to be as honest as possible, so you can be right inside my brain with no filter. Adopting a rigid truthfulness is difficult but worth it in the long run – have a listen to Lying by Sam Harris if you need convincing.

So here’s my blog on doing it wrong and hoping it will correct course somewhere during the journey.