April 1, 2020

Learning to love (monitors) again

In July of 2018, I sold everything in my apartment. Goodbye, Things” to the Ikea desk, bed, and dresser. Goodbye to the lounge chairs, kitchen table, and all the books on the bookshelf.

I even sold my Apple Cinema Display. I’d had this glorious piece of metal and glass since 2008! It traveled with me from my high school bedroom, to dorms in college and to an off campus house and to a new apartment every year for nearly 10 years.

Every time I placed it on a new desk and plugged in my laptop, it glowed. Every pixel, every time.

But my Osprey Farpoint only had room for my 13″ MacBook. So one morning, a guy in a hoodie showed up at Next lobby in River North, gave me $150, and in turn I gave part of my heart away.

Goodbye Things,” I thought. I’ll never buy a monitor again,” I thought. This 13” laptop is all I’ll ever need,” I thought.

And the laptop has been totally fine. It’s not a huge screen, but it gets the job done. It’s simple having one computer, with no accessories, able to pull up Gmail in Ketchum and in Nong Kiaw and everywhere in between.

Then, last week, the F” key fell off the laptop.

When we got back to SF, I started using Elizabeth’s bluetooth keyboard. I might as well hook into her work monitor if I’m using her keyboard,” I thought.

I forgot how wonderful having a widescreen monitor for programming is. I can have the terminal, the code, and the browser all up on one screen without having to context switch.

Who knew keyboards were gateway drugs?

So I got on Letgo yesterday and found somebody selling an LG Curved Widescreen Display. We’re moving abroad,” he said. Somebody else was selling an Apple Magic Keyboard/Mouse.

I bought it all and spent the afternoon jogging from the ATM to Russian Hill and back.

Before the guy gave me the monitor, he said, One last hug,” as he squeezed the screen extra tight. His girlfriend looked at him, smiled, and said, It’s time for it to go.”

I wiped everything down extensively with Wet Ones, placed it on our kitchen table desk, and fell in love.

The goods

March 18, 2020

Hey Alexa, Pause The Economy”

Elizabeth and I were FaceTiming with Jane. She asked how we were doing.

We’re fine. We came to Whistler at the beginning of last week. Instead of flying back to SF on Sunday, we decided to stay. A lot has changed since last week, and snow-capped Blackcomb is a better view than the apartment building across Turk St.

We chatted about her dad’s text: Jane. The economy is collapsing.”

I’m actually quite optimistic.

I’d choose this Let’s Shut Down The Factories And All Stop Going To Work For A Little Bit” recession 10/10 times before I’d choose the Whoops We Accidentally Misallocated $1 Trillion Into McMansions” recession or the Damn, Bombing Everybody’s Bridges For 5 Years Had Consequences” recession.

To my knowledge, we’ve never actively shut down the economy like this before. It’s great for the dolphins in Venice and everybody’s lungs in LA, but it’s terrible for restaurants with rents due April 1.

Proposal: we pause all interest accrual and rent payments while everyone sits at home.

  • Cookbook shouldn’t have to pay rent to its landlord. The landlord shouldn’t have to pay Chase for the mortgage. Chase shouldn’t have to pay interest on its capital.
  • Delta should be able to park its unused planes without servicing its corporate debt.
  • The Vancouver Hilton should be able to close its doors, and its private equity owner shouldn’t have to make debt payments.
  • The hostess at Avec shouldn’t have to pay rent to Centrum Management.

Top to bottom, a moratorium on rent and interest accrual. For 6 months. Tack the payments onto the end of the terms.

These massive $700 billion liquidity injections scare me. It’s like pumping gas into a car with no wheels. I’m in favor of mailing checks to all the service workers who are now out of work, but the idea of economy-wide UBI is misguided. Toyota and GM aren’t pumping out cars. Restaurants aren’t pumping out meals.

I don’t understand enough about credit and deflation to know if flooding the market with $USDs while production grinds to a halt is a good thing in the short term, but it seems like a recipe for hyper-inflation long-term. Lots of money chasing fewer and fewer services.

We should be gracefully winding down the economy, not throwing money at the wall and seeing what sticks. The stock market didn’t collapse because we were massively misallocating capital. We all just stopped going to work, which is okay.

Let’s hit pause and slowly turn things back on as they come online. This wound will heal.

March 17, 2020




March 5, 2020

~2,412 people in the U.S. have SARS-CoV-2 (as of 3/5/2020)

South Korea is doing the best job testing for COVID-19.

They haven’t shut down internal migration like China (which leads to undiagnosed patients stuck inside apartments) and they’re offering exams in clinics and drivethroughs.

They’ve tested 140,000 people, resulting in 5,766 detected cases and 35 deaths. (So far.)

This implies a blended death rate of 0.607%.1

With 11 deaths and 154 reported cases, the U.S. has an implied death rate of 7.14%.

Countries Source2

Either the virus has mutated, or we’re vastly under-reporting the number of cases in the U.S. Proof we’re under-testing, and thus under-reporting, is that the U.S. is an extreme outlier in tests coming out positive:

Testing Source3

If COVID-19 has an actual death rate of 0.607%, and the U.S. has already recorded 11 deaths, then the U.S. should actually have around 1,812 active COVID-19 cases at the moment.

The average age of a population could affect the death rate, though. Countries with younger people could fare better than those with older people, like Italy.

42.3% of South Korea’s population is over the age of 60, compared to only 32.4% in the U.S.4

The death rate of patients 60 years old and older ranges from 3% on the young end to 20% on the oldest end, compared to only ~0.3% for everybody under the age of 60.

Based on stats I’ve seen in China,5 patients older than 60 are responsible for 81.0% of deaths. Thus, the proportion of the population that’s above-60 accounts for ~81% of the death rate potential.

If there are relatively 30.5% more people aged 60+ in South Korea as compared to the United States, then we should expect the death rate in the United States to be (1-0.81*0.305)*0.00607 = 0.457%.

And if the death rate in the U.S. is really 0.456%, then the number of implied cases (based on 11 deaths) is 2,412.

  1. Note, this number is likely low because there are still active cases in critical condition that will likely eventually add to the death toll. But it’s an optimistic and fairly realistic number to use.

  2. The median age in South Korea is 52.5yo vs. 44.3yo in the U.S.

  3. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/5/21165973/coronavirus-death-rate-explained

March 3, 2020

Working from home

Per Square’s new COVID-19 policy, Elizabeth is working from home today. She’ll likely be working from home for about a month.

I did this for over 5 years. I don’t miss it.

It’s nice to eat leftovers out of the fridge and it’s nice avoiding the twice-daily walk-bus-bike time suck. But at home, spurts of productivity come and go. It’s tough maintaining productivity for 5+ hours at a time when the couch is right there.

On Monday, after landing at SFO around 6:30am, we went home and dropped off our skis. I didn’t want to walk 40 minutes into Industrious. Taking the bus felt meh. I wanted to lay down and close my eyes.

Then, the thought of a Noah’s bagel and cup of hot coffee started nagging at me. I thought about smelling the beans, toasting the bagel, and opening my laptop at a table in the common area. Those thoughts dragged me out of the apartment and downtown into the office.

I’m glad I went.

There’s a lot of talk about companies mandating work from home because of this coronavirus. There are so many advantages to working remotely. But working from home isn’t the optimal version of working remotely.

When 6pm rolls around, and I’m at my kitchen table, laptop open, emails in my inbox, I struggle to close the lid to my computer. I’ve heard it’s helpful to end the work day by putting the computer on a shelf, leaving the apartment, taking a lap around the block, and coming back inside after resetting.”

This never really worked for me. The kitchen table was still where I was supposed to be working. As long as I was near it, I felt the guilt of needing to work.

I hope everyone now working from home” figures out ways to get out of the house and find productive routines.

February 28, 2020

Almost out of stock

After our 5am flight landed in Salt Lake City this morning, we headed into Industrious downtown for the wifi and coffee. An array of just-add-water Milk Labs oatmeal cups were spread out on the counter. The almond flavor is my favorite.

I decided to grab an extra cup for tomorrow - in case we need breakfast before skiing. This is typical behavior. I take oatmeal cups home from Industrious in preparation for waking up on a Saturday and needing a quick breakfast.

Then I chuckled to myself. I never completely run out of oatmeal cups. When I’m down to one in the pantry, I’ll bring another back from the office. Is this psychotic?

I do this with everything.

Like any good guilty-of-trans-pacific-flight-carbon-emissions millennials, Elizabeth and I have been filling up with rice and dried beans at Rainbow Co-op bulk bins. We never run out of black beans because we buy more black beans when we’re running low.

In 10 years, I think the beans in the bottom of the glass jar will be 10 years old.

Why don’t I wait until we’re completely out? There’s not a real risk of running out of food. We’re surrounded by Trader Joe’s and corner stores and farmers markets. I have this mental construct that it’s nice having a padding of supplies … just in case.

Just in case I decide to eat three cups of oatmeal in one morning?