Apr 1, 2022

What I'm Up To - Vol. 57

Here’s what I’ve been up to since Vol. 56…

Left to right: Ukrainian, US, and Russian editions.

1. “I need ammunition, not a ride”

In the first 24 hours of the invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky captured the spirit of Ukraine with that now-legendary quote. He is single-handedly changing my perception of celebrities turned politicians. I’ve been alternately horrified by the invaders and inspired by the defenders. We can all pray that the conflict ends quickly. News from the front lines of the toll on Ukraine and its citizens gets grimmer by the day.

Our KW team, as usual, has mobilized around the world to shelter refugees and raise funds to support Ukraine. One of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, posted that he was donating all his royalties from Ukrainian and Russian translations of his books to support Ukraine.

With a nod to Ryan, Gary and I are donating $8,500, the combined royalties from our Russan and Ukrainian editions, to SunflowerofPeace.com.

2. Horns Up

Boise agent, Jill Giese, visited early in March. Wendy invited her to spend a weekend with us at the ranch after discovering this was on her wish list. We actually stayed in one of Jill’s rentals when we took a family vacay in Boise (see Vol. 2).

Spotted these red deer sheds on our final tour.

We did all the usual ranch activities – coffee at sunrise, firepit for star-watching, cookouts, and long walks. It was nice to recharge after an exhausting run-up to our annual convention in February.

3. 'Olelo Kama'ilio Luau

Brandon Turner, the longtime host of BiggerPockets, hosted an amazing dinner party in Austin. Brandon and his wife, Heather, have been hosting these in Maui for a while. He flew in the culinary crew from Kiawe Outdoor and hosted at a local Airbnb.

The sommelier and owner, Yeshua, delivered each course with a story about the ingredients, the wine, or the recipe. “Talk story” ('Olelo Kama'ilio) is the Hawaiian tradition of slowing down and sharing stories with friends. It’s kinda intentional and casual at the same time.Hawaii is the only state that neither Wendy nor I have visited. When we do, we will be looking up the folks at Kiawe for another round of Talk Story. Thanks again to Brandon and Heather for including us in a special experience.

4. Yard Sale on Diamond Peak

For spring break, we took the family to Lake Tahoe for a week of skiing, hiking, and, for me, reading. This was my first time skiing in about 25 years. Although I managed to avoid serious injury, it wasn’t a sure thing. Getting bored of the green slopes, Gus and I trekked to the summit of Diamond Peak thinking we could handle the 2 ½ miles of blue slopes. While the view was legendary, we were thoroughly outclassed by the steep, narrow runs. I fell a lot but only had a couple of my crashes truly qualify as a “yard sale.” Gus smartly slid much of the way down on his butt, holding his skis.

Wendy and I tested our acclimatization to the altitude with a hike to see Monkey Rock. Most afternoons we visited a local coffee shop, Drink Coffee Do Stuff. I think it was there she saw a waiter with a name tag reading, “[His Name], Tipping, OK.” He admitted to stealing it from a bartender somewhere. Consider this a PSA if you or someone you know waits tables, bartends, or bags groceries. Clever.

Perfect spot for skipping rocks after lunch!

Finally, after nearly driving off the mountain during a whiteout at the peak, we spent our final day in Reno. We got to have brunch with our former teammates, Kaelyn and Brent, and little Wilder, too. We also hit a local escape room, which is becoming a spring break tradition.

5. The Crew Classic

Capping four straight weekends away from home, Wendy and I accompanied Gus to his rowing regatta in San Diego. The Crew Classic hosted over 4,000 rowers on Mission Bay. The course was a new experience for our team – 2,000 yards long with crosswinds and, at times, swells. Gus’s boat came in 5th in the first heat and 2nd in the consolation round.

Wendy and I opted not to stay in the rowing team’s budget hotel.

We set a goal of adding a college visit to all our travels. Wendy picked the University of San Diego, which is easily one of the most scenic campuses I’ve seen. Probably not for Gus, but a nice contrast from the uber-small Sierra Nevada University we popped by in Lake Tahoe. He has his eye on The University of Iowa writing program, so I foresee a trip to Iowa City sometime this year.

6. What I'm Reading

I was away from home for 14 days in March, so I enjoyed ample time to read and reflect. In that respect, March was a five-star month for me.

On the fiction side, my colleague, April recommended She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. She described it as a love child between Mulan and Game of Thrones. Pretty darn accurate. I also gulped down The Thirst by Jo Nesbo, the 10th book in the Harry Hole detective series. The ending included the villain monologuing about how he/she did it. This is a real pet peeve of mine and almost spoiled another great read. You’ve been warned.

For non-fiction, I finally completed Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I’ve been reading this one in small doses since last October. It’s truly one of the best books I’ve read on understanding how we get decisions right and wrong. Kahneman’s research explores how we have two modes of thinking, ergo the title. “System One” is driven by impulse and emotion. It’s fantastic for quick decisions, keeping us out of danger and maintaining momentum. “System Two” is all about deliberate reasoning and logic. Knowing how and when to engage System Two appears to be the key to unlocking anything that benefits from delayed gratification. I won’t lie, this book is a big investment of time. The payoff was there for me.

I got to sit by author, Justin Donald, at the luau. He runs an investor mastermind that costs $50,000 a year, is limited to a hundred people, and has both a low turnover and a waiting list. Justin’s book, The Lifestyle Investor, has been on my to-read shelf for a while, so I took it with me to Tahoe. While the first part is fairly basic, the bulk of the book is his breaking down detailed game plans for everything from negotiating deals to making hard money loans. Wendy ended up reading it as well and we both took several pages of notes. It’s a great book for the intermediate to experienced investor.

Finally, I was hopeful that The Art of Saying No by Damon Zahariades would yield some new ideas and tactics. I found it very basic. Too much time spent on why we fail to say no, and little tactical advice on how to do it. Just say no to this read.

7. What I'm Watching

One of my highlights this month was watching the US Men’s National Team demolish Panama in their second to last qualifier for the 2022 World Cup. That victory effectively sealed their return to the World Cup after missing out in 2018. The US will play England the day after Thanksgiving in what many expect to be the most-watched soccer game in US history. (To be fair, there aren’t expected to be any college football games competing for eyeballs.) As one friend joked, the winner can decide once and for all if it’s called soccer or football.

Station Eleven (HBO) is the best show we’ve watched in many years. Everything about it works–the story, the performances, the cinematography, and, maybe most of all, the score. Be warned some of it is set during a flu pandemic. If you’re not ready for that, I totally get it. Otherwise, it’s a show to be savored. I highly recommend watching the “episode decoded” shorts after the credits. I read the novel by Emily St. John Mandel back in 2015. It was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. While the show and novel diverge, the novel is just as good in its own way.

I enjoyed Zoe Kravitz in Stephen Soderbergh’s latest work, Kimi (HBO).  It’s like Soderbergh watched Rear Window and Blow Out and decided to write a script that same night. It’s stylish but just a popcorn movie.

If you’re a Marvel or a Star Wars fan, you’ll enjoy Hawkeye (Disney+) and Book of Boba Fett (Disney+). Spoiler on the latter – Baby Yoda is back! Wendy and I watched the first season of Yellowstone (Peacock) which is pure drivel and strangely addictive. I really want to know what evil thing Beth Dutton will do or say. And the landscapes qualify as “ranch porn.”

Finally, on the flight to San Diego, I rewatched The Big Lebowski. I laughed so hard, Wendy watched it on the return flight. A true classic from the Cohen Brothers.

That’s it for this month. Please reply back and let me know what you’re up to!

Be well, do good deeds, and eat tacos!