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Nelstradamous Predicts: Novel Disease Normality

I can’t resist calling a bold prediction. Much like the concept of climate change 10 years ago was a novel concept. Today I foresee the rise of the quick mutating disease. Diseases like the Novel Coronavirus will not need to be described as Novel in 10 years as that will simply be the implied norm.

It makes sense. The more people the faster diseases can spread and if this round is any indicator, the disease has mutated whether by chance or skill into something which in it’s nature is extraordinarily difficult to quarantine.

With the rise of humans we have several factors which will guarantee this path. First we have the slow homogeneity of plant and animal species. This means diseases which spread need to battle less and less biodiversity which is a natural defense mechanism.

Secondly, the bottom 50% of the world is quickly pulling themselves from the 3rd world to the developing world. This upward mobility is fantastic yet looking at most folks in these categories hygeiene takes a generation or two to catch on. Basics like covering your mouth when you sneeze. This means a cohort becomes well off enough to widen their radius while maintaining poor hygeiene practices while being the most likely to carry diseases from the 3rd world which 1st world immune systems are not prepared for.

Third, technological advancements in science and transportation. Science will always play defense against disease so we can rule out ever getting ahead for too long. Transportation in the other hand is becoming more democratized and cheaper than ever. If Gen X traveled to 8 countries on average and Gen Y travels to 20. Imagine the disapora once Gen Z travels to 50 or more countries in their lifetime. That type of mobility is a nightmare for disease control.

Lastly, consider the impact of population density. Modern big urban cities sustain over 10M lives. Who knows how large that number may grow to in the next decade considering all the best jobs are concentrated within major metros. Seeing the drastic measures China is taking to keep the lid on the Coronavirus, ask yourself if this outbreak occured in New York how would we contain such a problem? Its hard to imagine New York locking down via coercion and fear. It’s very un-American.

Where is the silver lining in all of this? I’d say as of now governments seem to have a pretty good handle on these scenarios. Which I’m very impressed by. Listening if his scary the Coronavirus is it is wildly optimistic to know that it’s being contained slowly and strategically. Silver lining here is human beings survival instinct needs to be tested ever now and then and this test is showing that the alert system is still fully functioning.

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Confesssions of a Sick Dreamer

There are rare moments in life when things align. For the passionate man seeking his passion, life can often feel like one big misfitting shirt or worse yet an itch he cannot scatch.

WHERE MY OBSESSION COMES FROM

For me, obsession is someting I’ve never had difficulty finding. I’m a lefty with electricity flowing through my veins. An eclectic person. And it seems once you find the edge or the fringe, it’s not all too challenging for that place of discomfort for most to feel like home for me. And the longer I stayed the more made sense. While obsession with the pre-popular nourished my soul it simultneously alienated me from the norm.

Now most poeple arrive at an obsession which is commonly held: sports, movies, music, or religion itself. For me being a contrarian runs deep in my DNA. It springs from a seminal moment when I was younger when I was asked if I was left or right handed. I didn’t know the answer because I forgot whether which word mapped to which hand. So I just held up a hand. I let fate take the wheel. I did not know I had picked the losing team. Being a lefty is choosing to be on the team that dies earlier, is fewer, and is unnaturally difficult to write with – especially cursive. And perhaps greatest of all, lets face it life is designed for righties, and rightly so. It is at the end of the day against the grain.

So a mixture of these results in a person who when looking for obsessions tends to lean towards what’s off the beaten path. My whole life the contrarian. At a certain point in my life I believed being different must be good. After all if everyone maintains the same thought that thought is yet another pebble on a mountain yet the pebble by itself carries little value other than validating that you aren’t a trouble maker.

Let us review a short list of my “Lefty Obsessions” that have capitvated me over the years: (1) floatation tanks, (2) early pro-marijuana, (3) startups, (4) bitcoin.

MY DREAMS ARE SICK

Since the Coronavirus outbreak and being under the weather myself just recently I’ve thought a lot about disease – specifically mutations and evolution. I’ve often said the hero of one story is simply the villain in the other’s. Life is sick in this way, the right and the wrong is always a matter of position.

With any obsessions which may parallel a dream you’d like to make true the beginning and end are obvious but it’s everything in between which is nothing but pain and suffering mixed with a few bright spots called success. During this long process a dream tends to undergo heavy spells of mutation or evolution – not unlike this new Coronavirus. These are time when the owner of said dream is typically faced with some very sobering realities about the true nature of life. Dreams live on in conceptual form. The shape they end up manifesting in physical form are called compromise. This why in Silicon Valley they tell everyone to dream beyond big, because by the time all the whittling away is complete what’s left if once grand is typically normal. So if you start if you started with a Skyscraper you end up with a apartment building and if you dreamt of the apartment building you’d be lucky to have a house.

OBSESSIONS ABOUT SICK DREAMS

Lets be clear, it’s hard enough to simultaneously have an obsession that’s worth pursuing which will also have a tangible outcome. I can’t count the number of nights I’ve spend with a joint in my hand going around the carousel wondering (1) if any of this is worth it, (2) why did I choose to be left handed, (3) this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

AFTER THE SICKNESS WORE OFF

I realized when I was sick I start falling back into my old patterns. Checking stocks prices, looking at news, watching a series on the rise of the Ottoman Empire – always looking for an edge in the my Silicon Valley life. But what actually surfaces when you’re sick is that (1) comedy not drama makes you feel better, (2) thinking too much about tomorrow is irrelevant when today is at risk, (3) looking at world news only makes you feel worse.

So after spending the past decade being too wrapped up in the moment and taking everything a bit too seriously perhaps this was the perfect point to draw a line in the sand. What would be next decade look like?

I’m willing to test out a less future obsessed mind. A present filled with worries of a future which may or may not come is of no use no matter how much energy I give it. Right now though I can use my time to simply decide what to do with today rather than decide my entire life.

Right now that means getting back to full health. I do not think I’ll ever be a person without obsessions. Right now there is a target I have locked onto dead center and I’d hoped it’d be travel or a hot girl but at this very second it is not. Perhaps that’s a story for another day.

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Coronavirus Got You Down Lately?

I booked a super early flight out of Vietnam heading towards Taiwan. Then I got my first signal: Sudden fatigue mixed with a sudden need to take a shit. See I was standing in line waiting for what should be a routine ticket pickup. Should’ve only taken 30 minutes tops but in Asia they’re airport ticketing and check bagging systems are all haywire and take twice as long.

I was the 3rd person up and I decided to deal with my body nudging me towards the bathroom. It sat there for a pretty long time really until I felt I had enough energy to drag all my stuff back out there. When I got back in line it was twice as long as when I had left it. Fuck.

There was a white family direct in front of me, highly neurotic. The mom waited patiently in line while the dad distracted their 2 boys outside in the fresh air. 30 minutes passed and they came back in to check on the status. They were shocked the line only moved about 3 spaces. As an entitled American, if I was at full strength I would’ve probably made a move even if only to talk to the ticketing counter to make sure we’d still make my flight but I was in too weak a state to make any sudden demands. Thankfully for my neurotic white american counterpart they went ahead and did it for me… it’s the American way afterall to complain and put your personal needs before those of others.

Apparently, the ticket counter was confident we’d make it. Call it a cultural difference as in America there’s no possible way you’re making that flight. The line itself looked like it still had an hour and the flight was leaving in an hour. That’s not counting the security checkpoint we had to cross then finding the gate. I wanted to make it but I was more focused on staying upright and looking normal for fear of being flagged a flight risk for appearing sickly. Turns out I made the flight no problems guess it all runs on asian time and although a bit frantic for the non innitiated it all somehow makes it on time.

Touch down in Taipei and head straight for the York Design Hotel where I booked one night. It was a concrete box which was measured for space minimalism. Didn’t worry me one bit as I just desparately needed a nap. Damn good one too. I woke up to my taiwanese cousin John asking if I’d like to meet for dinner in an hour. I knew this was one of my uncle’s last nights in town so I had to go see everyone. It was a great gathering, seeing uncles, aunts, grandma, grandpa, and all my cousins. I used all my energy celebrating seeing them that night. Then bam straight back to bed.

When your body feels cold and everytime you sneeze the soft spot on the back of your head hurts that’s a bad signal. I felt the need to close off all the airgaps in my blankets to make it as warm as possible which of course leads to a sweat box. So be it. I need to get over this fast. I looked over my symptoms and my conclusion was I was having caffeine withdrawals. Afterall god only know how many cups of coffee I was having everyday in Vietnam. They make a great cuppa joe in form factors we’ve not been introduced to in the west. This was my sentencing.

The next two days were as follows. Lots of time spent with my Big Uncle who was acting as host and caretaker. Things were up and down. Day 3 I finally decided to go to a clinic. They told me I was running a 100 degree fever which caught me by surprise as I didn’t feel hot at all just the chills. They ran tests on me and truth be told the night before I had trouble sleeping because the thought of having contracted the Coronavirus and giving it to my entire family was giving me nightmares. I knew I’d make it through whatever this illness is but the thought of giving it to my Uncles’ families, my grandparents! God damn that’d be tough to live with.

They took out a swab and in Taiwan people are so polite. The dear doctor was kindly telling me she was gonna shove something up my nose. I didn’t know how to just tell her i don’t care if she has to stab me in forehead just do it I really don’t care about the discomfort at this point. So she went ahead. And I’ve never felt anything to that far up my nose into some weird part of my skull and back out. I waited outside in the sun to warm my reptilian cold skin and made a few phone calls to friends. I felt partcularly bad because I was ment to meet a friend in the Philippines that next day but there was no way they would let me fly with a fever. I apologized, he was very understanding and wanting me to recover quickly. I heard my Uncle calling me to come in get my results.

The doctor brought me back into the room and I sat nervously and what she told me was possibly more confusing than what I expected. She basically said I had nothing besides a fever and diarrhea. I was suspicious about this as I had undergone all of the major symptoms of sickness outside of runny nose, phlemmy cough, or sneeze. Nonethless I was glad to accept a no verdict and grab some meds and get home.

At this point I had being sick down to an art. The apartment I was in had predetermined paths at all time of the day including a little time walk the streets to stay grounded to reality and test myself. Sometimes no matter how badly you want to feel well, only time can heal certain wounds. This was one of those trying times.

The next day I procrastinated in bed before going to National Taiwan University hospital. There must’ve been thousands of patients in that building. I thought it would take all day even with my appointment. I navigated through the hospital with the help of strangers. Finally found my waiting room and slowly sorted out how the system worked.

I was shocked at how quickly the line was moving and by the time my number was called I was in front of a doctor and explaining my situation. He was very understanding and a good listener. He prescribed me some new medication and sent me off. I went out to the main lobby and paid for the service and the medication. All said it only took 2.5 hours which is incredibly impressive considering it looked like hells waiting room in there.

That very next day i was still not better and at this point my paranoia was starting to grow. Could it be that I carried something insidious? How could I have diarrhea for 6 days straight? Today was the day I decided to go all in and eat until my stomach was forced to tell me otherwise. I ate 3 slices of pound cake for breakfast, followed by a big bowl of beef noodle soup for lunch, and 2 giant bowls of rice with dry pork.

The next day – the best news – i didn’t take a shit at all. I think I finally broke this damn case of the runs. Here’s the only strange bit. It’s that night now and I still haven’t taken a shit. I’ve never eaten a ton and not seen it come out. I guess it’s not entirely over but it feels like I’ve finally gotten a small victory.

I hope by tomorrow at the latest I see my first solid shit otherwise I have a whole other problem – I’m not pooping out anything! One day at at a time. Count every win where you can get them.

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Vietnam’s Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hills

The ticket to enter the park runs $33. If you opt for a driver to take you there that’s another $33 per person. If you stay the entire day you will likely spend another $15 on lunch, drinks, and snacks. If you stay for the entire day you can double that.

I preface with cost as it is not cheap. I was fortunate to have a motorbike and Raheem was a chance encounter I had as we were both returning our bikes the night before. He was American but living in South Korea teaching English and in Da Nang for vacation. I mentioned wanting to visit Ba Na Hills and he was game. It was a longer ride and further out of town than I had ridden my first day so I was planning to take a professional bus company but Raheem stated the obvious: let’s ride the bikes out there!

My second exciting challenge on motorbike just arrived. We agreed to meet at 7am to get a jump on the day. Tragically for me I couldn’t fall asleep until past midnight so I woke up feeling like I did back home before work wanting to stay in bed forever.

We grabbed the bikes. One tip is to have your motorbike company install a phone holder on the handlebars so you can see exactly when your next turn is coming. Excellent investment as you don’t need to ride risky holding your phone or stopping periodically to check your location.

The ride out of Da Nang was crowded which took my bike game up a notch. After the crowds disapated we hit a long stretch of 4 lane open road which only we were on. That was fun. That feeling of being on a wide nicely paved straightaway on a motorbike is a special feeling.

If you put directions into Google Maps it will tell you it’s 2 hours from Da Nang. The truth is it’s about an hour. The reason being is you arrive at the bottom of a mountain and take a 15 minute gondola ride to the top. If you actually drove all the way up the mountain it probably would be another hour incline. I was happy we arrived after 1 hour!

We went straight for the Golden Bridge. If you like taking photos and videos this place is heaven. The Golden Bridge is less impressive in person yet more impressive behind the lens.

Ba Na Hills is building out an entire theme park that’s made to feel like a posh Swiss town on top of a mountain. They also have actors which go around like characters during the day taking photos with guests and they put on an impressive dance performance to modern music. It’s a fun little big show.

The food they serve caught us off guard. They had skewers of crocodile and ostrich! Be prepared to spend some good coin there as you are the walking definition of a captive audience.

Like many activities in the SE Asia most ambitious people show up early and fight the crowds then find a hideaway during the sun scorching 11-2PM hours then get after it to close out the day.

We took so many damn photos by the time the sunset we some final shots. Raheem spotted a drone flying overhead so I whipped mine out for one last flight and boy am I glad because it turned out to be the best shot of the day.

I left feeling what every photographer after long long day of shooting must feel: exhausted. But I also knew the feeling of capturing that perfect moment at the end of a long day. That felt amazing.

The ride home was fun. We hopped on our mopeds and blasted down the straightaway and out of the town in the dark of night. I know what my french friend Mark was trying to communicate to me when he mentioned he liked riding at night. It’s something different. Daytime riding is scenic and exhilerating but nighttime riding is spiritually peaceful in nature.

What an amazing day. Raheem ended it with a seafood dinner to cap off an incredible day end to end. I’ll remember this day for so many reasons, many due to the fact that we took so many damn pictures to remember the place by 🙂

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Hacks & Hazards: Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Hacks

After a long tuk tuk ride (45 min) we arrived at the ticket counter. I read many stories stating the entry fee is $20. They asked for $30 and I thought he was overcharging us. I insisted and pulled up articles stating $20 but he showed me the price sheet at $30 which is steep. We hymed and hawed, seriously considering turning back and heading home. They guy suddenly broke said “ok $20”

If you have a drone and its quiet season you may be lucky enough to have a private boat sailing the length of the river to the mouth of the ocean. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver to slow down in certain areas.

Once at the ocean you are dropped off at a floating restaurant. It’s fun for about 15 minutes but there’s no where to go! Ask your driver to take you further out to watch the sun set.

If you have a drone this is a perfect place to fly it! Here’s my footage and it wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular without it.

A drone POV is actually amazing because you cannot tell how dense the forest is nor how isolates you truly are until you see from above.

HAZARDS

If you have a drone be mindful of the homepoint as your homepoint will be wherever your boat/controller are. I got lucky!

It’s quite a poor community so tip the folks that give good service or are genuinely helpful. The smiles or gratitude are worth every penny.

Don’t forget to actually enjoy the sunset! I was so fixated on getting the perfect drone videos and photographs that I realized I barely took the time to enjoy the moment! It’s very special but it’s really only a 1 day experience so don’t get too caught up trying to capture the moment, let it sink in!

I wish in hindsight I had parlayed the trip into staying with a local. That would’ve been a truly local experience well worth it. How many people can say they stayed overnight in a remote floating village to watch the sunrise, sunset with a local family! Homestays are super underrated and many locals are more than happy to have you.

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Hacks & Hazards: Saigon, Vietnam

HACKS

There are super attractive girls here.

If you want a local vibe I enjoyed District 4 the most. Spend a full day there roaming the streets and wandering into new stretches of the neighborhood you will find many hidden treasures.

If you miss home (and you’re Western like me) check out District 2 for the food, people and drinks.

It takes a full 3 days to get into the swing of things. It’s a fast moving city with tons of people.

Use Grab never trust the taxi meters. Added benefit Grab tells you your fare before the ride starts.

Count your change slowly and carefully. It’s common for the taxi drivers to short you especially when you first arrive and are still getting used to the currency conversion 4000:1

Great city if you have at least a week to kill there and don’t like to be a tourist. It’s a city that’s made for it’s people and it can be a lot fun.

HAZARDS

A lot of hustling and scamming. Trust your instincts.

Vietnamese are polarizing in personality. Most of the women are super sweet and friendly. Many of the men think they’re gangsters: smoking cigarettes, tattoos, drinking at all hours of the day, and willing to fight you. I got into it with some of the locals. You may get an occasional angry glare from some of them if you are recording a video and they’re in it unexpectedly.

For a big city there’s almost no parks or green spaces. District 1 is a giant tourist trap. It wasn’t for me but I already booked a hotel.

Brace yourself for non stop cigarette smoking and beer. The smoking is 24/7. Coffee is for 8-10am. Theres plenty of locals hanging out at the cafes having a drink by 10am.

All the major tourist attractions are well outside the city limits so be ready to go in longer bus rides if you plan to sight see.

Drones are illegal here. Allegedly it’s a militarized city.

Taxi cars are often not available unless you’re willing to wait. Be prepared to hop on the back on a scooter via Grab. Nothing can prepare you for your first ride. Hold on for dear life and be ready for a combination of shock, terror, and we as your grab motorbike driver drives the opposites way down a 4 lane road!

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Hacks & Hazards: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

HACKS

Go to the Genocide Museum. It’s somber but they did a very good job storytelling. Get the audio guide for the extra $3, it’s pointless without it.

Visit the marketplaces. There are various ones around town with Central Market being the crowned jewel.

There are many expats living in Phnom Penh due to its affordability as well as it’s culture. Talk to them. You’ll learn so much from them.

Get a massage! It’s cheap like Thailand and all the massages I got were fantastic and far less transactional. I had many memorable conversations with some very down nice masseuses. Perfect place to practice bridging the communiction chasm in a fun way. Lots of laughs and honing your charades skills.

Go to the Olympic Stadium just before work let’s off. Watch the athletes working out, students arrive in cliches, and working class show up. It’s where everyone goes to hang out plus it’s a magnificent place to catch a sunset.

HAZARDS

At no point did I feel at risk but there are signs and the locals tell you to be careful with phones and bags which apparently get stolen by people on motorbikes.

Go to Romdeng if you are an fearless eater. Try the tarantula if you dare!

It can be a bit boring there if you’re unwilling to explore and mix it up with the locals.

Fresh juice is hard to come by in Cambodia. They prefer to mix juice with milk for a creamier sweeter sugary palette. It’s not as thirst quenching as just plain squeezed juice. Odd decision since it’s always baking hot.

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2020 Decade Predictions

A month abroad will start to rewire many thoughts. The biggest changes are from being exposed to so many other cultures and daily living. Most importantly, it gives relative position to my +30 years in San Francisco, USA. Here are some thoughts…

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change will win believers with time. We’ve done too much damage to our environment for the reprecussions to not continue surfacing over the next decade. We also don’t have the know how to reverse or affect the climate holistically for the better.

The climate change disaster may bring people back from feelings/emotions to science/facts. America has been devoid of logic for too long and it will come to bite us. I digress but at the moment the USA is on a fantasy float. I fear the crash because hitting reality will be like getting knocked unconscious by Mike Tyson and hitting the earth face first.

Climate change will destroy large chunks of biodiversity leading to more restrictive gene pool with missing links in the circle of life and life as we know it will be more susceptible to disease without the diversity.

Lack of biodiversity will not remerge naturally but can be frankensteined back with science. We will bring back species but it will lead to as many issues and will not happen at the right pace nor scale to solve issues in the decade to come.

Extinction events occur regularly without front page news. It takes years of research to know all the parts of the circle of life major mammals have on the ecosystem. We do not have enough time to understand what impact in the circle of life these insects play before they go extinct. The circle of life is far too complex for us to piece together because we think linearly. Our brains are designed to compartmentalize, they not designed to understand the whole.

TECHNOLOGY

The rich and intelligent will continue to take a greater percentage of wealth as technology is a winner take all game. This will be accelerated with AI and machine learning.

The blockchain will be one of the few tools to rebalance power back to the individual. It accomplishes this by restructuring control fundamentally from a pyramid shape to a circle.

Space race will come back to the forefront. Young kids will once again dream of growing up to be an astronaut over say an athlete. This is telling because life on Earth from a quality of life may continue to ride but beyond the measured metrics I believe true quality of life to be decreasing in the 1st world.

Virtual Reality will begin to take mind share from physical reality. It’s too powerful and inticing. It will be especially interesting to those less mobile: elderly and the young. It’s a portal device which teleports to user into a different world. While it will never replace the sensory depth of the real world it will quicky exceed the real world in novelty, choice, and accessibility. Note if minecraft style virtual reality spaces are community built upon blockchain type technologies Bitcoin will rise as a universally accepted form of payment.

DISEASE

Coronavirus going around right now in Asia but it’s already spread to nearly every country I’ve looked up. People often ask can we scale? I think the answer is yes but at the cost is heavy. When it comes to infectious disease it’s terrifying.

There are only a few isolated cases in SE Asia but thinking about the density of people in China and India alone make you shiver over the thought of how fast a disease like this can spread give it’s characteristics of being transferrable before symptoms show.

I’d diseases with pandemic capabilities become more of a normal occurance in this next decade. Like the weather extremes which suddenly beecome the norm within a decade, I believe this decade to become a time where new terrifying diseases become far more frequent. This will also prevent freedom of movement as countries will lock down far more often and people will be more fearful of travel.

DRUGS

People will start using psychedelics more for understanding, creativity, and humanity. Science is now discovering what many “bad people” have known for decades. It started with pot. It will soon be mushrooms, LSD, and other forms of mind opening substances.

If ever the “music stops” people will take pause to ask the really important life questions. Fun may be overtaken by purpose. The importance of self acceptance (from within) will be more desirable than acceptance from peers.

SOCIAL MEDIA

It’s already permeated society. It’s effectiveness and mind control and time consumption is undisputed. The question is what comes next? I believe this era of social media will be looked back on as a dark time in the history of this tech. Much like cigarettes as Benioff states.

That said I think there is a second act for social media which will resemble something much healthier. Much more of a utility than an obsession. This will be a golden era for social media. As of now, folks are simply trying to experiment with it without fully grasping the consequences.

THE CHINA CHALLENGE

The dream for upward mobility lives is in full force within China. We had an American Dream which has all but faded for those born in the states. That mentality is an immigrant mentality in the states and it’s sad but true as the deck is stacked high and hard against normal people. The American Dream is rarely found in America but when it is it gets promoted widely so everyone still believes it’s true regardless of the statical improbability. The irony is the American Dream has moved and now lives in China.

America has way too much dead weight. The strong much pull the weak but we’re reaching a point were the benefits of being productive are not that much greater than being unproductive. The spoils of having it good for too long. We lost our fangs. Too many systems are broken including social security, medicare, welfare, homelessness, depression, and addiction.

FREEDOM

There’s a thread I love r/latestagecapitalism which I couldn’t agree more with but I think the same ethos is true of freedom. We’ve reached some strange form of late stage freedom where it’s run amok.

Freedom without logic and reason is a wild west. The term anything is possible used to be used a positive. Now it has become a circus. Logic need not apply in 2020. The wild thing is it used to be that freedom was more black and white. Todays world seems to be generating additional linkages of freedom but in my opinion like many American endeavors we’re placing our fight energy in all the wrong places. Our wins are all about feeling good yet don’t fundmantally change much and are always narrow minded.

Seeing Americans running wild with freedom is American to its core but should be ask if there is such things too much freedom? Food for thought: the homeless people on the streets (many with mental illnesses) have more rights than I do. I can’t take a shit on the street and not end up in handcuffs. I can’t bite local store owners without meeting a policemen. I can walk down the street with a small axe swinging it indiscriminately at nearby objects without getting institutionalized. Yet this is the norm in San Francsico.

Freedom’s limits will be severely tested in this decade as people pushing it’s limits are also taxing the hell out of the system. The differing ends of freedom also create a type of freedom inequality which is rarely discussed. If you think income ineqaulity is bad wait until freedom inequality arrives. It’s far more complex are it’s not linear as freedom has far more dimension than money which is quantitative.

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Rick & Bonnie: Digital Nomad Grandparents

Rick is a remote worker that’s a designer at an engineering firm. He’s been remote traveling for the past 3 years with his wife Bonnie. What a cool couple. These two nailed the digital nomad life in a way most of my peers have yet to perfect. You don’t always meet grandparents with more Instagrammable lives than their kids!

Rick grew up on a remote farm in Canada. The closest city was 40k people and that was “big time”. He spent much of his adult life in Texas and started his family in North Carolina.

I was very impressed with how modern he was. Our conversation kicked off as he admired my digital nomad setup with my bluetooth keyboard and phone stand.

His wife Bonnie was an absolute sweetheart. I hope to grow old together with a woman that emanates her style of quiet optimism and such a sharp listener asking me about tiny details I barely recalled mentioning. Hell, I could benefit a lot from being more like her!

Rick and I shared our techie job patterns and lamented the analytical future obsessed direction our brains tend to drift towards. But that’s the brilliance of traveling. It allows even a hard wired neurotic brain like mine to settle in on the present physical space and time.

We talked so much about the different places we’ve been…

How long does it take for you to feel immersed in a place? 3 days for me. Day 5 tells me if I want more or I’m ready to leave.

What places have we been that come to mind first? For Rick & Bonnie the Camino de Santiago; Tsibili, Georgia; Turkey river where Europe meets Asia. For me, Cambodia takes the cake.

We shared how much goodness we’ve found on the road. The part I liked most about our discussions is how traveling to other parts of the world – especially those with current or recent hardships – gave us the most perspective.

For Rick and Bonnie being immersed with people from Georgia which is currrently 20% Russia occupied and fighting daily for their independence yet remaining strong and perservering was inspiring. For me it was being in Cambodia which less than 50 years ago underwent a massive genocide. These hardships are etched into the people’s faces permanently and whilst as humans we shy away from hardship where possible it is so instructive and so humbling when reflecting on one’s own privileged, stress free, comfortable lifestyle.

Such a nice conversation with a couple that couldn’t be nicer. I wish we took a photo together or exchanged info as it’s always great to connect with the good people you meet even if the chances of further communication are slim to none. Maybe I should make it a habit moving forward. Like so many intersections in your travel “decision tree”, you never know how one little email exchange may alter your path down the road.

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Hacks & Hazards: Bangkok, Thailand

HACKS

Everything is an incredible value. Enjoy it. Take advantage of it.

Drink lots of fresh squeezed juice. It costs a dollar on the sidewalk. It’s fresh and thirst quenching. In San Francisco would cost me closer to $10.

Bangkok as a whole is incredibly safe.

The rail system is fantastic. Use it. It’s easy to figure out, on time, and clean.

HAZARDS

There’s a plethora of choices for any given activity so try to fight the FOMO because you won’t see it all!

It’s a city which caters heavily to tourism so you get the sense much of it is structured for you which likely comes at the expense of authenticity.

There’s not a single beach in Bangkok proper. Whoops!