5 Small Occupying Moments of Our Week (05/07 - 05/14)

Ivan here.

This post is late and it’s all my fault. Just know that Jennie and I are grateful to all the readers who’ve been checking back daily for updates. In our attention deficient world, that’s about as rare and precious as true love. Thank you. Our hearts are aflutter.

These days I’ve been up to my ears in finance prepping for my third and final CFA exam in June. There’s something about derivatives and credit default swaps that brings out my inner sociopath. I may be one failing score away from cranking up the chainsaw and chasing a hooker down a flight of stairs (see: American Psycho)

But it wasn’t all work and no play (Jack would be a very dull boy). Last week, Jennie and I managed to spend a few quality evenings out on the town. We saw real people doing real things that had nothing to do with helping textbook millionaires select the most tax advantaged vehicle for their investments.

Editor’s Warning: Reading over my moments in the edit, I was also more irritable than usual.

1. Don’t Just Play For Yourself  

Last Thursday, Jennie and I went to Blue Whale Jazz Bar in Little Tokyo to see a jam session featuring students from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. These were young musicians hand-selected by the great Herbie Hancock to study jazz on full scholarship for two years.

So, how were they? If you want my honest opinion, it was like listening to an old man fall down a long flight of stairs. Lack of talent wasn’t the problem. In fact, there was probably too much talent on the stage all at once. Every musician in the ensemble (especially the drummer) was too busy showing off how great they were that they forgot to play for each other and have fun.

At least that was my takeaway. It’s also a personal reminder to get over myself and really pay attention to the people around me. To live in the moment.

2. Give a Damn (or GTFO)

I have a love-hate relationship with The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. On one hand, they have a decent selection of pulp sci-fi and mystery books. On the other, it’s always packed with tourists who are just there to take selfies in front of the book arch. Because apparently that’s what people think books are for nowadays - decoration.

The arch of who gives a shit? Get out of my way.

The arch of who gives a shit? Get out of my way.

The staff are also some of the most disinterested, too-good-for-this-place, Jack Keroauc-type wannabes I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. If they’re really that bored and world weary (from World War 2 presumably), they should go bake on a beach somewhere until they develop a personality. Life’s too short to move through it without ever giving a damn about anything.

Some would call what you did typing.

Some would call what you did typing.


3. Lalala [Can’t Hear You] Land

Most people in Los Angeles refuse to take the bus. I’ve heard many excuses for this, ranging from not enough routes to long unpredictable wait times. All of which are fair - but it’s also a Catch-22. There’s not enough funding for new routes because everyone drives, which causes congestion and leads to slower buses and longer wait times. So you end up with a clownish situation where everyone is always in a hurry and stuck in traffic at all times.

But I think there’s also an unspoken reason why people don’t ride public transit: poor people. They're dirty, they smell funny, and most of them are minorities. No one comes out and says it. Everyone just drops hints about how “dangerous” public transit can be and won’t fess up to what they actually mean.

What gets on my nerves the most is that the majority of these people would self-identify as liberals, which these days seems to mean having the right opinions and saying the right things. Which goes to show that it’s prettier to think so than to do anything about it.  

This only strengthens my opinion that what you say you believe means jack squat. Why don’t you show me?

4. Scorecards

Last few weeks was a rough patch for Jennie. She had a product and website launch at work and for 3-4 nights in a row she was up until 4 in the morning picking up the slack for other people. She’s an expert at this by now. I've given her eight years of practice.

Warren Buffett says there are two types of people in the world: ones with inner scorecards and ones with outer scorecards.

The type of scorecard you have boils down to a choice of:

  1. Being the world’s greatest lover, but having everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover

  2. Being the world’s worst lover, but having everyone think you’re the world’s best lover

You’d think everyone would pick the first option, but that’s not the way our world works. There’s a good percentage of people who would rather look the part than be the part.

So you always end up with a “group project” situation where for every person who does the work there are four others who will be busy making themselves look good. Next thing you know, one of them gets a promotion or becomes President of the United States. All because they sipped the right cocktail (there's a pun intended here) or can relate to how well Tom Brady throws a football.

5. Time Horizons

But time is the great equalizer. You can always tell how full of shit someone is just by waiting a while. Same goes for this blog. We’ve got big plans for it. Jennie and I know it’s not even 1% of where it needs to be, but rest assured that we plan on still being here in five to seven years. 

We’d love for you to stick around.

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue.
— Jeff Bezos