updates on my life…

Checking back in again on my monthly status report here.. not much has changed, SF is boring as usual. But there is no shortage of things I have to do.

1) I can’t get a home equity loan due to not being a US permanent resident (strangely I was able to get a mortgage tho?) so I have to rely on making a deposit for my Canadian home using cash instead. I have about $30k CAD in my bank there already so I need roughly $100k CAD ($75k USD) more saved up to get enough deposit for a $600k home in Vancouver. That means I need to save up quite a bit well into next year.

2) My company said I’m performing quite well enough to transition into full time, but while I think being a contractor means I lose out on PTO and stocks, I find the hassle of getting a visa very annoying. It took me 3(!) tries to get my visa last time when I crossed the border. such a hassle… not sure if its worth it.

3) I have to get the insurance company to reimburse me for my rental car accident which I got while driving to the DMV to get my license renewed.. its another big hassle

4) I have to get Walmart to reimburse me for the corporate credit card charges that I filed an expense report for back in January… Citibank keeps calling me, and yes its another hassle.

5) Everytime I take time off work as a contractor it hurts me. But I’ve been having breathing problems recently and had to go see the doctor and again.. its a hassle

6) I cancelled my chase rewards trip which I booked using points because I wanted to transfer the points somewhere else so that I could get a better deal on the trip – it cost me $100 to cancel and the rewards wont be refunded for 2 months. in the meantime I need to book a trip to Korea still so I had to pay that in cash since I’m not going to get the points back in time. So yes.. another hassle

7) I realized that Comcast has been charging me $10 a month to use their modem(!) for 3 years I’ve had to pay that insane fee thats $120 a year. So I have to get a new modem and send theirs back and make sure they dont bill me anymore for that! another hassle

8) I have to get my Google Pixel fixed because I dropped it and cracked the glass on the screen and it interferes with my camera – now you see refractions on the camera so thats another thing to do.

9) I tried transferring some Bitcoin into Bovada to be able to bet on the NBA games that I wanted but it seems that my transfer made it through but they still haven’t deposited that money into my account yet. So thats something else I have to talk to them about to make sure they get my money on time so that I can bet. Another hassle.

10) I have to transfer my webdomain over to a google domain so that I can host my website (this one) on my synology DS instead of using SiteGround so that I can save $100 a year on that.

11) Of course I still have to find a Korean girlfriend to marry, and right now I have only 2 weeks of vacation to go back to Korea. If I can’t find a girl to bring back during that 2 weeks, I’ll have to see who I can find when I move to Vancouver. This is easily the hardest thing to achieve on this list.

In other news.. Bitcoin / Ethereum are at all time highs and I have a little bit of each as hedges. I made back all the money I lost last year from gambling ($8k) with BTC/ETH so that seems great so far! Although I missed opportunities to make more. Stock market is also at all time high so I’m a little wary. I am bullish on TSLA, AMZN, NFLX, NVDA, BABA and FB though. But waiting for good time to get in. Trump’s ongoing antics have been crazy and I think its just a matter of time before he gets impeached. Its been 5 months in and he’s already had a ton of scandals. And finally.. I went on a little bit of a spending / selling spree, sold my Gretsch White Penguin and my old drone and bought my friends Macbook Pro (2016) and the new Phantom 4 Advanced. The camera lens is amazing! see below:

and the Nintendo Switch as well… (was finally able to get my hands on it)

Oh and watch me assemble my guitar in fast time its pretty cool

Back to boring everyday living again…

These days trying to save up as much money as I can to help purchase a place in Vancouver hopefully next year.. ideally I want to 1) get my mortgage down to $200k 2) leverage my current SF home to get a home equity loan of at least $310k and 3) save up at least $60k this year in cash.
I want to take advantage of the US dollar strength because $310k + $60k = $370k which equals roughly $500k CAD which is just enough to get a decent 1 bedroom condo in a decent location in Vancouver. Of course, I want to purchase a home back in Canada for several reasons.

One is that the US is not particularly friendly to immigrants and especially so since Trump took office, and I get harassed every time I go across the border, since I am not a green card holder, and the TN visa is not a dual intent visa which means I cannot apply for a green card on that visa. Furthermore, recent changes to the H1B, the only dual intent working visa, have made it more difficult for programmers / software engineers to obtain. This means that my time in the US is likely limited.
Two is that Canada is the place that I want to start a family and retire anyways. I have often said before after all my travels, is that America is the best place for working due to the high salary and low taxes and low cost of goods; China and Europe are the best places to travel due to all the history and natural beauty; Korea is the best place for nightlife and having fun; and Canada is the best place to start a family and actually live, since it has a combination of European and American culture, the tuition fees are lower, the healthcare costs are lower etc. And Vancouver is unique as the warmest city in Canada as well as being on the lovely West Coast, and having lots of Koreans (Long term workers not just students) there doesn’t hurt my future plans either.
Three is I want to finally be able to purchase my own place with my own money. I always felt like my SF home is kind of my parents home, since they helped out with 40% of the cash. I want to finally purchase a place all with my own cash and call it my own.

So I’m trying to save a lot of money, but of course this being myself I do buy some things still… among the things I purchased recently is the Milkman Amp 1 Watt Plus model. This is a Class A Tube Amplifier that was handmade in San Francisco so I thought I might support a local shop here. But don’t I already have a Class A hand-wired tube amp? Yes I do, the Swart Atomic Jr. But this one has more wattage (10W vs 5W), 12″ Alnico Blue speaker (vs the 8″ Ceramic in the Swart), built in attenuator (goes from 0.5W to 10W) and is better for traveling due to the tubes being covered (the Swart has uncovered tubes which makes it risky to travel with it, despite being lighter).

It definitely has more headroom than the Swart does. I’ve also finalized my pedal board! My pedalboard contains 10 pedals. I’ve gone through tens of different pedals in my career, and I’ve finally settled on this configuration (for now): (from first to last in the chain)
BBE Wah -> Boss Waza Tuner -> Dunlop EP101 Preamp -> Wampler Euphoria -> RambleFX Marvel Drive -> Keeley Magnetic Echo -> Xotic SP Compressor -> BBE Sonic Stomp Mini -> Hermida Reverb -> Boss RC3 Looper
Retired my Maxon TBO9 (served me well) and the Keeley Oxblood Germanium (might use as backup to the Euphoria), and had to get the Hermida Reverb due to the Milkman amp not having onboard reverb. It was a compromise I had to make, the bigger Half Pint model had onboard reverb, but it was also 5lbs heavier.

And I want to get rid of my Gretsch White Penguin and Traynor Amps, even though the Gretsch is a great guitar, it has intonation problems, and is still a bit heavy for my tastes. It’s definitely the best looking out of all my guitars though. So ideally I want to keep the custom Partscaster that I built (Fender Telecaster Thinline ’72 deluxe with Filtertron/WRH pickups) as my main jazz/blues guitar, with the Fender Stratocaster doing rock and blues as well, and the Martin OMJM as my acoustic doing mostly pop tunes.

I’m doing a lot of jazz guitar these days. I love it! Playing a lot of Larry Carlton and George Benson these days. And I also love that John Mayer’s new album (Search for Everything) has great funky jazz-type riffs like ‘Moving on and Getting over’ and ‘Still feel like your man’. That man is a genius. Best album for me since Battle Studies (Continuum obviously still everyone’s favorite). Here is my ranking of John Mayer albums btw (from best to worst) as well as my favorite songs from each album.

1. Continuum (blues/pop masterpiece) – Best song: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
2. Room for Squares (great acoustic pop) – Best song: St. Patrick’s Day
3. Try! (his best guitar album, great blues/rock songs) – Best song: Gravity
4. Battle Studies (more great guitar-pop) – Best song: Friends, Lovers or Nothing
5. The Search for Everything (blends all his previous styles + adds funk/jazz) – Best song: Moving on and getting over
6. Born and Raised (acoustic-folk pop) – Best song: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967
7. Inside Wants Out (like Room for Squares but more raw) – Best song: Victoria
8. Heavier Things (some songs are great, others not so much) – Best song: New Deep
9. Paradise Valley (not many songs I liked from this album) – Best song: Who you love

In other news I’ve also been playing games with my friend, being bored a lot at home these days makes you do that. We still play Far Cry 4 a lot despite it being a 3 year old game just because of how amazing the co-op experience is. I think I have like 30 videos on Youtube of our play sessions together. I even made my own map and published it!

Other games I’ve been playing are the fantastic JRPGs Persona 5 and Yakuza 0. I’ve loved both these series (wayyy more interesting than Final Fantasy XV for me) so that’s no surprise. Also finished Root Letter (it was alright, but the ending was unsatisfying), and both Blazblue Central Fiction (love that series) and Steins Gate 0 (also love that series as well). Also bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda mainly because both of them have co-op but both of them were letdowns for me. And of course still playing Hearthstone, which just released a new expansion (Journey to UnGoro).

Also looking forward to: Fire Emblem Echoes (3DS).. Akiba’s Beat (Vita).. Agents of Mayhem (PS4).. Quake Champions (PC).. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

And that’s the state of my life right now.. everyday work, go home and play games, and save money. Boring existence. When’s my next trip to Korea?

Trump wins the election! against all odds…

I’m still reeling from shock of Trump winning the election. Up until Election night, I was 99% sure Hillary would win, because I believed all the polls, all the forecasts, all the betting websites and prediction websites, and boy were they all wrong.

Let me assure you that 2016 is the year that taught me that underdogs always have a chance. First with Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Golden State Warriors (a 73 win team, the most in NBA history), and losing $2500 on the bet there. Then with Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton (with all the backing of the mainstream media), and losing $5500 on the bet there. In total, I lost $8k this year from betting on the favorites. Had I bet on the underdog, well I would have been a lot richer now. Instead I’m quite poorer than before… but I learned my lesson this year.

Its kind of a lesson we all should learn, really. When someone becomes too arrogant, and predicts an early victory, there’s always a chance they will be humbled. Certainly an $8000 dent in my wallet has been humbling to me. In the future, I will be more cautious of picking the favorite, because you never know anymore. In retrospect though, it makes sense.

Lebron James is a transcendent player, and Golden State relied too much on 3 pointers. Live by the 3, die by the 3 is a common saying. In the playoffs, anything can happen, and it came down to literally the last 2 minutes of the series, when Kyrie Irving hit a clutch 3 and sealed away Golden State’s chances. It was really a 50/50 kind of outcome. Golden State should not have been favored. Just because they won 73 games in the regular season doesn’t predict how they will play in the playoffs. Past results don’t indicate future performance

Similarly, in retrospect, it was easy to see why Trump won (even though Hillary won the popular vote). The polls only polled likely voters, and missed a lot voters who chose not to answer. This so called silent majority went and prevailed for Trump. Hillary was more hated than people thought. And they underestimated just how much people wanted change in America, myself included. People were so anti-establishment this year, especially in the Midwest where many people disliked Hillary ALOT. Pollsters falsely assumed that the same demographics that came out for Obama in 2012 would come out for Hillary but thats just not the case. Hillary doesn’t have the same charisma, and she has too much baggage/scandals/controversy to be the same as Obama. And Republicans have historically had more enthusiasm to vote than Democrats have. Obama was an exceptional candidate who mobilized people to vote, and Hillary just isn’t the same.

So, it was deeply humbling for me to lose both these bets and be down $8000 in the hole (exactly the same amount I won betting on Obama in 2012, what goes around comes around I guess). As for the new President Trump, I do have a few worries about his inclination to repeal or replace NAFTA (thats the agreement that gives Canadians like me a special visa to work in the USA). Because of his anti-immigrant stance, and I am a US immigrant on a US work visa, it does affect me. I hope nothing too drastic will happen, but who knows? Trump is so far the only US president without any prior political or military experience, so no one really knows what will happen. I really do hope that he becomes a great president. I really don’t believe that he wants to start wars or be a dictator like people think. But at the end of the day, life will go on, and the sun will come up again, so we will see. Hey, At least weed in California is legal now!

Edit: I just want to make clear that politically, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Since 2009, I have been a registered Canadian Conservative voter, but in the US, Republicans are sometimes too crazy for me, though I believe in conservative policies. I have always believed in fiscal conservatism and reduced spending, with more individual liberties. Since I have lived in South Korea (a very conservative Asian country) for the past 2 years, I have become more socially conservative as well. I don’t specifically oppose gay marriage or abortion or illegal immigration, but I’m not in favor of those things either. In truth, I don’t really care about any of those things since it doesn’t really affect me. Korea has definitely made me believe in traditional gender roles a lot more than before though, and that has really caused to me oppose feminism these past 2 years. In that sense – Trump winning the election doesn’t really affect me that much – and I don’t really oppose any of his policies, which is why you won’t see me rioting in the streets like some other Californians.

I made a video ranking US presidents out of sheer boredom..