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Sunday, October 15, 2017

US Life Expectancy Stalls

A quick google search reveals the following details.

US life expectancy is as of 2015 78.74 years. This is completely level since 2012.

In 2011, life expectancy was 78.64.

The life expectancy first broke 78 years in 2008.

The google search only has data up until 2015 and around December 2016, there was a flood of stories talking about the life expectancy declining for the first time in 20 years. I suppose the decline is noticed in a rounding error.

Towards the end of December, the information for 2016 might be released.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Middle Class Houses

I've heard that the current real estate market is hotter today then it was before the financial market meltdown in 2009. In the last few months, I noticed a lot of houses changing hands as well as new homes being built.

However, I noticed something somewhat odd. The houses being built were built for the upper class. Within a 10 mile radius from my house, I see multiple houses being built with price tags ranging from $300k to $500k and up. These are houses that have more room than the average American family really needs. These are two story houses that look like they have 3 to 4 bathrooms and probably 5 or 6 bedrooms. I guess these could be single family houses... with extra capacity for comfort.

But where are the smaller more reasonable single family houses? Where are the starter houses? I don't see those being built.

I keep thinking that the middle class is slowly and consistently disappearing. These large houses are being built and within the same 10 mile radius of my house, there are some really dirty looking neighborhoods that look like drug dealer houses. Houses that look like they are occupied by section 8 tenants.

My generation doesn't buy houses as much as they rent houses. And if reasonable sized and priced homes aren't being built, they won't be buying houses anytime soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Core Values

It is important to have a set of core values. Without having a set of core values to believe in, a man can only believe what other people tell him. He wouldn't be able to tell if a person was trying to feed him nonsense.

These are my core values.

Problems arise when people defer responsibilities to others.

Most government programs exist just because people didn't want to take responsibilities for their own actions.

Why do we have unemployment insurance? It is a protection in the event a man loses his job and needs some time to find another job. However, this is a program that encourages people to live paycheck to paycheck. Before unemployment insurance existed, a man would have to save up a few months worth of savings in the event he got fired.

The same can be said for Social Security. Social Security is a program that gives a man a small income during old age because he might be in no shape to work. This encouraged the baby boomers to spend rather than save. Unfortunately, this kind of incentive diminished the importance of long term planning. And if the parents developed poor long term planning skills, then it is likely those skills didn't get passed on to the children.

Why do we have medicare? It is a protection in the event a man suffers from accidents or gets sick during old age. Heart attacks, stroke, and cancers are more common in old age. Unfortunately, this takes away the incentive for people to focus on health and live destructive lifestyles.

Why do we have Section 8, WIC, child support, SNAP, etc, etc, etc...?

It's all for the same reason. It is to defer responsibility.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Peter Schiff, The Brady Bunch, and 1984

One thing about people that is impressive is resilience. People have an incredible ability to adapt to different situations. It almost gets to the point where, given enough time, a changed situation will begin to feel normal. It will feel so normal that it is easy to forget what life was like before. It is just like in 1984 when Winston walks into a pub to find old people to talk to and ask them if life was truly better before Big Brother took control over everything.

This is why I'm glad we have so much media to consume. We have so many records to get a glimpse of what life used to be like before 2013. A few years back, the actress that played Alice on The Brady Bunch passed away. Around 2014, there were some articles floating around speculating what a live in maid would make in 2014 dollars. Around that same time, there were articles discussing if the lifestyle portrayed in the Brady Bunch was financially accurate.

Peter Schiff discussed this topic on a few podcasts.

I used to watch reruns of The Brady Bunch during the early 2000s on Nickelodeon. From what I remembered, the show took place in the 1970s. The father worked as an architecture and supported a wife, 6 children, and a live in maid on just his salary. They lived in a two story house in the suburbs of  Los Angeles. I think the family even had 2 cars. The wife didn't work from what I could recall.

While it is just a tv show, media does try to keep itself somewhat reasonable. Nowadays, owning a 2 story house in the suburbs of California would cost at least half a million dollars. Far more expensive than the cost of a new house in America (almost $300,000).

As for having 6 children, I think I head my boss had to pay at least $20,000 to get a baby delivered. I'm getting old enough to see my peer group start to get married and have some children. Typically, they marry in the mid to late 20s and have no more than 2 children.

Even buying a house isn't all that common among my peer group. Most people I know either rent or still live with their parents. I was watching an episode of King of the Hill the other day and heard the term "Starter Home". I thought to myself when was the last time I heard the term starter home? Nowadays, if you buy a house, you are staying in that location.

Sometimes I lament about what could be. I'm even starting to see it in my life over the last 7 years. Health care wasn't as insane. A foot long at Subway only cost $5. And back before 2011, you could actually get 3% to 5% rates of returns on a certificate of deposit at a bank.

That last thing hurt so much.

Slow changes will lead to slow adaptations.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

For the love of the world

This happened to me a few months back.

I was commuting from work, and to break up the commute time, I decided to stop at the McDonald's on the way to my house. Tired and sweating, I hopped out, walked inside and ordered a coffee with 2 cheeseburgers.

I ate my burger and sat there drinking my coffee.

There was a family in the booth in front of me with some children eating there meal. There was nothing out the ordinary in the least.

While thinking about the previous 7 years, my gut feeling was complete utter struggle every step of the way. However, in that moment, something felt different.

I sat there in the air conditioned restaurant drinking my coffee. And I thought to myself.

This coffee only cost me one dollar, but just imagine all the steps it took to get in my hands. These beans had to be grown in South America where farmers had to tend the crops and eventually harvest them. Afterwards, those beans would have had to been processed, packaged, and stored on a ship. That ship had to be driven and floated all the way to America where the cargo would be unloaded and probably held in some warehouse before being again loaded on a truck. After several stops, that truck would unload the cargo and the beans would go to a processing plant where they would be ground up and packaged in the McDonald's packaging.

At that point, the packaged coffee would be put on a different truck and then that truck would go make the rounds and unload the coffee at every local McDonald's. From that point, the employees would unbox the coffee, sort it out at the beginning of the day, then wait for a customer to order it. The employee would then open the coffee and put it in the machine to brew, put it in a cup and hand it to me after I gave them one dollar.

Due to economies of scale, supply chain management, logistics, accountants, managers, and every man that was willing to work to make a dollar... I was able to enjoy that coffee.

I looked around me while drinking that coffee. As I felt the cool air conditioning, everything looked beautiful in that moment. Everything was just wonderful. Whatever problem or conundrum that came my way, life was still very good. It was still so beautiful.

In that moment, I thought that I would want to do what I could to preserve this way of life for future generations.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Consumption

Sometimes, there comes a time when a man gets so focused on his goals that he loses sight of the bigger picture. It becomes a pure obsession.

Towards the end of MGS:V, there is a mission called The War Economy. It is the last unique mission of the game. The intro radio has Miller talking and he states that the only objective is to make Diamond Dogs bigger and bigger. And he says the following.

We Fight and Grow. We Fight and Grow. We Fight and Grow. We Fight and Grow.

At this point in the game, you have completed all the story and it just becomes nothing but grinding until the second ending.

And sometimes, that is just what life feels like.

My whole mission just becomes to acquire more dollars, more money, and increase the net worth. Just to Fight and Grow another day. For another dollar. Because that is all that ever matters anymore.

None of my previous loves, passions, hobbies, memories, or experiences matter anymore. The only joy or sense of satisfaction just becomes to accumulate another dollar. Just to Fight and Grow.

And that is what it is like to be consumed.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last time seeing Julia

In the middle of my book, I hit a place where I just wanted to stop writing entirely. I hit a point where I just didn't want to write about because I'd have to relive that part of my life again. The piece I'm working on is aiming to be at least 100 pages in a google doc file and cover 6 years (September 2010 to February 2016). Today, my piece is 73 pages long and I stopped writing when the narrative hit August 2014. I just need to complete another 27 pages and finish less then 2 years worth of narrative. I'll pick it up and complete the work, but recently, I've just gotten that uneasy feeling and I have to write.

February 2014 was the last time I saw her and August 2014 was the last time I ever heard from her. During difficult times in my life, I'd wait for Hideo Kojima to make the next Metal Gear Solid game however, The Phantom Pain was still being developed and it wouldn't be out until September 1st 2015. I still had one year to wait.

Even though August was the last time I ever saw her, she never really disappeared entirely. Until today, there haven't been many days where I haven't thought about her. Despite that, the world never stops turning and operations still have to be carried out. After August 2014, I try to recall some significant events but my memory is kind of blurring all the events together.

When it came to work, the most significant event I could recall was the implementation of a new accounting system and my whole department had to migrate several years worth of data over to the new system. The transition was not as smooth as we hoped it to be and our daily routine was overburdened with an extra 2 or 3 hours of work for at least a few weeks.

2014 and 2015 was a period where our company was expanding and trying new ideas. We started to bring on a business that dealt with the travel industry. I had to figure out how to record the sales and the data I got was a complete mess. Just communicating with these guys involved multiple emails going back and forth just to get the correct data.

In the middle of all this, I kept on thinking about Julia when I was going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning.

In 2015, our company expanded ownership into another country for tax purposes and I had to work with a foreign bank that closed by 8 am in the United States. By the end of the Summer of 2015, upper management came down on my hard for what felt like a minor mistake on a spreadsheet. After feeling crushed after a meeting, I was feeling backed into a corner until I reached a breaking point and I just exploded.

With murderous rage flowing through my veins, I started smashing up office property and I walked into Friday looking like I was about to murder anyone who looked at me the wrong way. I was feeling absolutely psychotic. And customer service was there the previous day when I smashed office property. They saw everything.

Management asked me a question and I stared at them like my head was about to explode with a dead murderous rage in my eyes and slowly creaked my head back to my computer screen. I read them the riot act and said I'd be quitting after April 2016. By that time, if they hadn't fired me before then, I'd have my 100 stacks and I'd pull out of the career completely. Management retreated to a separate office.

A couple days later, it was finally September 1st 2015. Metal Gear Solid V finally came out. It was the only game I ever bought new on release date.

During October 2015, I was suffering from chest pains and went to see a cardiologist. I was afraid that I had heart problems due to stress and lack of sleep. My ekg results came up drastically abnormal. It wouldn't be until January 2016 when I got a nuclear stress test and I found out I'd be okay. There was no blockage around my heart.

February of 2016, I finally had my 100 stacks.

Every since then, I've been tempted to reach out to Julia again. I can't though, I just know that no good would come from it. But the world never stops turning no matter how much I want it to. While Hideo Kojima is no longer making Metal Gear Solid, at least he is still making games. I've heard that Death Stranding has been delayed until 2019 but I'm still eager to wait for some gameplay footage.