The case for the Unfocused

There are days (well, most days) that I can’t focus.

Call it lazy head. It’s at its worst when the work is either way too challenging or not challenging enough.

In the age of quick information, easy access to data and quick answer lookup, learning has become counter productive.

One thought comes to mind and it immediately leads to a deadly chain of information down the deadly well of Google.

It’s just so easy to find information now, that it’s just too hard for me to say NO! and stay focused at the issue at hand be it work or reading or relaxing. My mind just decides to wonder off coming up with a million ridiculous questions that can be instantly answered with a click of a button.

I feel disgusted at how easy everything is today.

I want things to be hard. I want to have to go to a library to research stuff. I want to have to ask. I want to have to wonder. I want to have an-answered questions. Where’s the magic in all this widely available information? At which point does this become too much?

….

Let this post stand as proof of my inability to stay focused.

I started this post writing about my inability to focus and ended it with how annoyed I am with the overwhelming amount of information available to humans nowadays..

 

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Breathing music for air.

I have this very “intimate” relationship with music where i need it in order for me to work and function like I need the air to breathe.

I’m practically unable to do any work or focus unless I have some real rich powerful music playing in my ears. And if that piece of music is not interesting or different enough, the creative part of my brain won’t let my logical part of my brain focus and therefore I can’t get any work done.

While studying at college I would invest an hour or two every week or so to find new music and create a playlist to use later while studying.

After graduating and starting to work, finding new music has become more of a challenge. The entire music scene just sounds oversaturated to me. Everything just sounds the same.

But there’s always that 1 in a million song that has that little something that make me feel like I’m in space away from everything. That one song that just makes you feel different. Different than all those other songs or music pieces that sound, pretty much, identical to something you’ve already heard before.

And with that, I present to you “Piano Jam #1” from Kygo. Most of his music has that Kygo identity but this one is very special.

Dear New Jersey, I hate you.

I consider myself to be very lucky to have lived in a bunch of different places.

Just to put this in context let me name a few, Limassol – Cyprus, London – England, Glasgow – Scotland, Athens – Greece, New York City – NY, Tampa – FL, Toronto – Canada and lastly, Jersey City- NJ.

I always looked down at people with the piss-yellow New Jersey license plate. It is, without question, the ugliest license plate in the entire United States of America, if not in the entire planet.

However, after moving back to the NYC area after a year in Florida, I thought I would give the NJ life a try. I hate living in a concrete jungle like New York City but I want to be near the city enough to be able to work there, go out for food and go see my family in the City. What I hate about New York is that I have to drive around for 30 minutes every time I come back home trying to find parking.

So I found myself a place in Jersey City NJ. The rent here is comparable to NYC but for the price of a NYC studio, I got myself a “luxury” one bedroom apartment with a huge kitchen/living room, huge bedroom, huge bathroom, plenty of free parking outside and a small dog park. I thought this is it. I have made it. I found a place that I like with easy commute to NYC. The only thing I hate is that embarrassing piss yellow plate on my car.

My excitement did not last long. New Jersey, and especially the areas of NJ near NYC, is a dumb.

Let’s go through some of the reasons.

  1. I am spending about $100 a month on Tolls! This should be illegal. It is virtually impossible to go anywhere in NJ without having to pay for the privilege of driving on a damn road! It’s like the taxes we pay are not enough! I get how other states charge for crossing a bridge or something out of the ordinary but these people charge almost every single highway they have in the state.
  2. This place is ugly! And I mean real ugly. It’s like the entire area is under construction for ever. The are no trees planted by the city or state or anything really that would attempt to make this place beautiful or cute. It’s just bad.
  3. Transportation sucks. If there was no free bus from my apartment community to the PATH station, I would have to pay for 3 different modes of transportation to get to work. In NYC you could get an unlimited monthly metro card which would allow you to use any bus or subway or cable car in the city. In NJ, even though they have NJ transit, you have to buy a separate monthly pass for any mode of transport you need to take. So if I didn’t have the free bus from my apartment I would have had to pay for 1 monthly light rail pass to get me to the PATH station, 1 monthly PATH card and 1 monthly metro card. That’s $300 down the drain + the $100 on tolls.
  4. Garbage everywhere. It’s like nobody is ever trying to clean any of those roads or sidewalks. I just don’t get it.
  5. Government services are a mess. Granted, I can get a drivers license for $10 instead of the $75 they charge in New York, but I would rather pay $140 if it would mean I would interact with humans instead of animals. Go to a NJ dmv and experience first hand how it feels to be treated like a pig, for no apparent reason. No smiles, no good mornings no have a good one, nothing. It’s like they hate your guts just because you went there to renew your license.

I could go on forever. But this place makes me feel miserable. No other place on earth made me feel as negative as this place.

I think it goes without question that I will be moving to NYC as soon as my rental lease is up. I’d rather pay more and live in a City with no parking rather than live in a dumpster.

Wow that was some heavy ranting right there.

Teaching Careers in NYC are a Joke.

 

It’s a great day in the fabulous NYC and my wife is pissed because her school is overworking her while only paying her a measly “assistant teacher salary”. Mind you, she’s a lead teacher at that school with a bachelor’s and a masters degree.

So she joined that school as a filler with a $17 (around 34k annually) salary and was promised (it even says it on her contract) to get a raise once a classroom becomes available and she can work as a lead teacher. The principal back then even told her there will be a big increase on your salary from filler to lead teacher.

So before she even started a principal from another school in the same company called her and invited her over for a chat. She offered my wife a lead teacher position in her school. See they had an opening so it sounded great.

Fast forward to today, my wife is still getting “filler teacher” salary and her principal ignored her questions regarding her salary. She’s been trying for the past 4 months to get the salary she was promised when she was hired but to no avail.

Yesterday her principal even told her that she has no time to even bother and look into her salary situation.

So my wife emailed the higher ups directly and here comes the joke of the day. They told her that her principal is willing to give her $18 an hour.. So she gets $1 per hour raise for being a lead teacher, taking care of the entire classroom, writing newsletters to parents, and creating lesson plans every day. Mind you there are days when she gets no assistant in the classroom which means she goes on the entire day without a break from 8am to 5pm. That should be illegal.

So there are a few options for us.

  1. She asks for a better salary with a specific number – let’s say she asks for $21 an hour. A good teaching salary in the city would be around $26 an hour.
  2. She quits –  She tells them she is worth more and will not sit around to be taken advantage of.
  3. She stays there, shuts up and just work for whatever measly salary they are paying her. It doesn’t matter if she has a masters degree – she can still just get paid as an assistant teacher with a bachelors.

See I’m really struggling with this one. In my profession it’s fairly easy to find a job where they respect me as a professional. But for my wife, it’s always shitty schools with shitty principals, with shitty attitude against their employees.

If she quits, we will be losing around $2k a month. If she stays, she is coming home every day pissed with the way her principal treats her (micromanaging her, asking her to mop the classroom, do this, do that) and still feeling like shit for working so hard and not even being paid fairly. According to NYC Department of Education, starting salaries for teachers with a Bachelor’s degree are around $64k. My wife currently makes half that and she has a masters.

The fact that teachers can never find a workplace where they are respected just baffles me. At the same time, it makes me thank god that I did not study to be a teacher.

Chasing Credit Card Points like an idiot!

Long story short, I have way too many cards with way to different benefits from each card and using different cards for different purchases is driving me crazy. But, I can’t stop it. It’s a love hate situation.

So here it goes, before moving to the US I was a very simple guy when it came to financials.

I had 1 checking account and 1 savings account. When it came to paying for stuff, everything would go through my debit card. When I paid for something my balance would immediately be updated to show that charge from my latest purchase.

Now fast forward to after I moved to the US. I quickly found out that in the United States of America, a person with no credit is like a cellphone without a touch screen. Worthless.

I quickly came up to speed with the reality here and tried to create some sort of a credit history for myself. Firstly, I opened a secured card called Open Sky. A secured card is a very funny thing. You give them your money which they keep for security, and they give you a credit card on which the limit is as much as you gave them to begin with. So if you gave them $200, they give you a credit card with a $200 limit. This card offers nothing back in terms of benefits but it’s easier to get than other well known credit cards. Also, even though they offer nothing to you and they are not really taking a risk on you since the credit they extend to you is secured by your deposit, they still charge you $35 a year just for having the card – Crazy.

Immediately after opening that OpenSky card, I applied to Discover. I thought, I have no credit report so even if I get denied this won’t show anywhere. To my surprise Discover approved me immediately – these guys decided to give me a chance with a $1000 credit card. What’s more, this card has no annual fee and it would give me 1% cash back on all my purchases and 5% cash back on rotating categories that change every 3 months. These categories included Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Wholesale Warehouses etc. So I’m paying for things normally and making extra money on the side! Awesome! Sense of regret starts to settle in after I paid that $35 annual fee for that useless Open Sky card.

As my credit history improved, I found I was able to apply and get approved for any card I wanted. I have 2 American Express cards, 3 Chase cards, 1 Discover Card, 1 Bank of America Card, 2 Citi Cards and 3 other retail cards. They all serve a different purpose. For example my Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express earns me 6% cash back at Grocery Stores, my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns me 3% at restaurants and travel (including public transit, tolls, air tickets, rental cars, hotels etc), my Sam’s Club Credit Card gives me 5% cash back at Gas Stations and my Citi Double Cash Card gives me 2% cash back on everything!

Now here comes my big problem.. I can’t handle it all and it drives me crazy.

The fact is, I feel like I have a small amount of OCD and I keep checking my balances to make sure everything is paid and no bills are running late. The big problem here is, I do this every day 🙂 So even if I paid all my cards today, I will still log in tomorrow because by tomorrow I would have forgotten that I paid yesterday.

This gets really annoying when you have to check 10 different cards!

So I decided that I will only use my American Express card from now on. It comes with a ton of benefits such as price protection, return protection, purchase damage protection and a bunch of other benefits. On top of that they have 24 hour chat support which I love and this means that any time I have any questions I can simply chat with them instead of having to call. So all in all their cards are very convenient and this one particular card gives me 6% at grocery stores, 3% for gas, 3% at most department stores and 1% everywhere else. An all around great card.

But every time I use it for gas I feel terrible for losing that extra 2% I would have gotten have I used my Sam’s Club card instead! Or any time I use it at a location that earns 1% I feel bad because I could have earned 2% with my double cash.

What I have to understand though, is that my mental well being is more important that the mere cents that these cards offer. I feel like the fact that I only have to check 1 card at any given point will not only save me time but will also help me monitor my spending better (I won’t have to check so many cards anymore), and will eventually stop me from being stressed and overwhelmed!

So here’s to me using only this 1 card for the next month! Wish me luck cause I will need it !

A new iPad and 2012 iPad keyboard is all I need.

I picked up a new iPad this last Black Friday.

I’m a cheapo kind of guy but I’m also a sucker for a good device.

Back in 2012, while I was a poor student in College, I remover investing 250 pounds on what was known back then as the “iPad 2”. You see my laptop was the heaviest piece of device ever invented by HP. Its weight was something that I was no longer happy to carry on my shoulders from one class to the other. The amount of noise that was coming through that fan of it was enough to make the entire library floor turn towards me and look at me in disbelief as if they were all asking me “really guy? Really?”. But yes, really, that was my laptop.

So I bought that iPad. I was working throughout the summer and decided it was high time I bought something worth my money. And boy was it worth it. I never went anywhere without my iPad from that day onward. Picked myself an iPad keyboard case and there I was studying lecture notes, taking notes on PDF’s, writing reports and essays. This thing was plain magic. And the battery? Don’t get me started on that battery! The thing would last for days! There was also just something magical about that small screen. You can only work on just 1 thing at a time, no keeping facebook open on the side and no having a video playing on a smaller box. It’s just you and the task at hand.

So anyways, fast forward a few years and a number of apple updates and my iPad is useless.. so so slow. I just stopped using it.

Now fast forward to 2017. I have a cheap samsung tablet that I picked from Walmart a year ago. This device is good.. By good I mean satisfactory. It’s very light so you can carry it around but its display is nothing to write home about. I’ve been using it on and off for about a year now and about a month ago I found this great app that I really wanted to try on the big screen of a tablet and not just use it on my phone. So there I am, downloading that app on my cheap samsung tablet. And then here comes my disappointment. This table cannot handle it. It’s just lagging and missing quite a few frames. Of course, what did I expect from a $150 tablet? I started remembering how good my old iPad was but iPads are just cost prohibitive. They currently cost around $320 and I am not willing to spend that kind of money on a tablet.

Black Friday comes and I was still thinking about that app.. I know I don’t have my priorities straight but that’s a totally different story. Best Buy comes up with a $240 price point for the latest iPad. I decided I will go for it. I would buy the iPad today, use it for a couple of months and return it before their holiday returns deadline in January.

This thing is AWESOME! It’s just so clear and fast and fascinating and that app I mentioned before works flawlessly on it! I remembered just how much I loved working on it and with that I remembered how much I used to write on wordpress with it.. So long story short, or long, or super long, I’m giving my wordpress another go. I’m not the best writer, as a matter of fact I’m probably terrible at writing, but I love writing and I should try to keep this up as I did in the old days.

I realized the reason I don’t write as much as I would like to is because I can never find anything to write about. Topics come to me when I’m on the bus or the subway and by the time I get to somewhere where I can focus and start writing it’s too late – I forgot what I was thinking before. So here’s what’s gonna happen from now on – anything that comes to mind at any given point will be written down in a tiny notepad. Then, whenever I have some time I can always pick that notepad up and start writing!

So here’s to more writing from here on!