Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Everything is connected

Sometimes, things happen connectedly right after one another, like a set of dominoes put into play.

A few weeks back, I decided that it wasn’t tenable any longer for me to take the bus home after my night shift. After seeing someone get robbed at my connecting stop, and the fact that for a few of the nights, it was only me waiting for the bus; it’s the smart move to make. It’s not that I’m scared to be mugged - you’d never go outside if you’re afraid of such a thing living in San Francisco - but rather it’s the additional stress that I can definitely do without. My head is a on a constant swivel during times when I’m at the station alone, stress level elevated.

As I’ve read lately, stress causes an intense burden on the human body, so if I can throw some money at a problem to make the stress go away, it’d be worth every penny.

The solution for my night commute problem was originally to take either UBER or LYFT home. It’s a bit spendy compared to taking the bus, but relative to buying a second car to commute with, it’s far less of a headache and much more convenient, not having to worry about parking and maintaining yet another vehicle. The entire point of this exercise is to reduce stress, remember?

I was ready to execute this plan when I realized my brother is permanently home from college now, so he’s available to do chauffeur duties. Why don’t I pay him the money instead and have him pick me up at work? He’s just starting out working after undergrad, so he for sure could use the extra cash every month. So I broached the plan to him and he was completely onboard, because the additional money allows him to do something he’d wanted to do for some time now: sell his VW GTI for another car.

I’m sure there’s some altruism in there too, and that he loves his big brother.

Anyways, the main reason for him wanting out of the GTI is because he’s getting knee pain from operating the manual transmission, though I’m sure the car enthusiast wont to switch cars simply for a taste of new flavor is part of the mix as well. After we agreed on the arrangement of him doing UBER duties for me, he immediately put in motion to sell the GTI and acquire an AUDI A3 - all within the same day. Three days later, the deals were done, and my brother is driving in his new, automatic gearbox car.

Funny how this was put into motion by me seeking to reduce stress.

Nothing, just a peacock walking by while refueling the car.

I almost bought a car

Last week, that is.

I already have a car, obviously, but the GT3 is used exclusively for weekend fun only. During the work week I take the bus, which has been and continues to be wonderful because I don’t have to stress over San Francisco’s notorious traffic. That said, the changeover to the month of July and its subsequent developments had me looking at cheap lease deals last week.

For the past year I’ve been paying for my brother’s car insurance, because he was still in his last year of undergrad and therefore his income can’t possibly afford to insure a 2018 Golf GTI for his 20 year-old self. I, a maker of decent money, and a proper Asian big brother, stepped in financially for until he graduates and finds a proper job.

Well, those two events happened within the last two weeks, and I suddenly find myself an extra $200 dollars richer per month from now onwards. Coincidently, my own insurance on the Porsche dropped significantly (some $400 less on the six months renewal), so cumulatively I had enough to cheaply lease a second car that will get me to and from work, and also, to and from the GT3 on the weekends. Not caring one bit in how luxurious a car is or whatever amenities it’s got, I zeroed in on a poverty-spec 2019 Honda Fit, leasing for just over $230, with first month’s payment and government fees as down-payment.

I would essentially be swapping an expense for another expense, with zero increase in monthly spending to accommodate the new lease. I was completely ready to execute the plan on Fourth of July (one of the biggest sales days for dealerships), but I made the mistake (?) of thinking it over more deeply, and ultimately decided against getting a second car for commuting.

As mentioned, I have no qualms with taking the bus, so the Honda Fit would’ve been a luxury item, even though I wouldn’t necessary be spending more money per month. Conversely, by not leasing the Honda, I’m pocketing the $250 in savings, and that will first help replenish my emergency fund (see: GT3), and after that, keeping it for some fun experience later on.

Suffice it to say, the early twenties me would’ve bought the Fit, no hesitation. Older and wiser now, allegedly.

Encountered an old-school American hooptie during Sunday lunch.

My brother graduates from college

Yesterday my brother who is 10 years my junior graduated from university, so you can say I’m particularly feeling my age today. Despite my in-jest adverse feelings, I am supremely happy not only for my brother, but for my parents as well: both their sons are now fully adult, and their sacrifice in raising us is at a symbolic and tangible conclusion.

Next step for them is probably retirement soon, so they can do a bit of traveling. Us millennials aren’t the only ones affected by social media and its related ‘fear of missing out’ pangs: my parents get it as well. A lot of my uncles and aunts have retired already, and they spent their leisure time traveling within China and around world. The pictures from those trips gets uploaded to social media, and from viewing them my mom particularly gets low-key jealous of those opportunities.

Now that my brother is finally finished with school, likely forever, I think my parents have more freedom to retire early, should they choose. It’s definitely a decision to think over properly, because the “grass is greener” effect is strong; traveling is immensely rewarding and fun, yes, but what about the rest of the time when there’s nothing to do - no work to go to? I think that’s something to visualize and plan out before taking the step to retire, because being home all the time may not be as ideal as imagined.

But that’s for my parents to figure out. As for my brother, his unfortunate selection of sociology as a major means it’s going to be tough for him to find a solid-paying job. The real-world application for a sociology degree seems quite limited beyond working for non-profits or a teaching position, and we all know how meager those jobs pay. Not to say money is everything, but we do live in San Francisco, currently one of the most expensive cities in the United States, and the world.

Besides, if he’s to feed his car addiction as I have done, he’s going to need to make some money for sure. Congratulations and the very best of luck to my not-so-little-anymore brother.

UC Santa Cruz: a beautiful campus nestled within a redwood forest.