Seriously, Just Get Vaccinated Already

The only people who read this are friends of mine. And as far as I know, 100% of my friends are vaccinated.

But if you stumbled here from some random Twitter or Facebook post, please get vaccinated.

Look, I get that you may hate Democrats on principle. But there’s no reason to tank the economy and put the health of the nation at risk just because you want to make sure that the magical day you are sure will happen when you finally make $400,000 a year, your taxes aren’t higher.

Just get vaccinated. It’s safe. And look at it this way. If the vaccine ISN’T safe, you’re screwed anyway. Either 1/2 of us will be flesh-eating zombies and take you down regardless, or 1/2 of us will be dead and you won’t have a way to manage taking care of yourselves without any scientists or doctors. So you might as well just join us.

An Olympic Sized Irony

My deep thought of the day.

This is backwards-looking of course. But if the IOC powers-that-be had figured out last year how to test potential Olympic athletes for COVID-19, quarantine them when they got to Tokyo, and accept that they would have to ban all spectators, then a global population stuck at home would have made it the most-watched Olympics ever. Maybe by 25-40%. People would have been arguing on Twitter about archery and synchronized swimming.

But instead, out of safety, the Olympics were postponed a year. And in the summer of 2021, when we can all go outside again and do other things with friends and family, who really wants to sit at home and watch the Olympics? Instead, this could be one of the lower-rated Olympics ever. Tough break for NBC.

A Radical Idea for the MLB All-Star Game

All-Star Games are notoriously boring from a competitive level. In football, there’s no real tackling or hitting. In basketball, no one plays defense. And in baseball, you have the oddity of having the least known players pitching and batting in the most important innings of the game while the stars sit in the dugout (if they haven’t already headed to the airport.)

But that’s fine, because the purpose of these games is that they are EXHIBITIONS that are designed to show off the players’ skills, not games that matter. So if we are willing to consider the Major League Baseball All-Star game a true exhibition, here’s a radical idea to make it more interesting.

In a nutshell: Don’t have a lineup.

Now what does that mean?

  1. Each manager will have their roster of 23 field players. In this proposal, we would keep the tradition that the 9 starters are the players the fans chose, and let them have the grand introduction in the beginning. But after those first 9 batters and one inning in the field, anything goes (almost).
  2. The purpose of this proposal is to set up the highest number of the most interesting matchups between pitcher and hitter. So once the 1st 9 guys have batted, Managers get to look down their bench and send up anyone they want.
  3. We would set some limitations, such as: (a) No batter would hit twice in the same inning. (b) No batter can have a 3rd at bat until every field player on the team has batted once.
  4. Defensively, anything goes. Let’s put together really fun defensive alignments for an inning, such as old teammates playing together, the oldest group possible, the youngest group possible, players from all the 1st place teams, all the 1st timers, everyone with a gold glove, or whatever other combination you can think of.
  5. You could also make it interactive, by allowing fans to use the MLB mobile app to choose the next hitters one inning.
  6. Basically, the idea is to have the most interesting combinations of pitchers, batters and fielders for 9 innings, and make it the most fun for the fans to watch.

So all the stuffy old dudes will read this and say, “No I like it how it is.” And that’s fine. But this seems like an easy way to add some fun to the game.

Tips for Buying Your Next Seattle Home

So, let me share some intel you may not know – trying to buy a house in Seattle is terrible right now. I’ve heard about some people losing 7, 8, 9 bids in a row. That’s brutal.

We were not the unfortunate. We went scared into the home-selling process, and got a bid well over asking and about as high as any reasonable person would be willing to pay. So we were happy with what we got, but then we immediately had to take the money we were overpaid, and use it to overpay for another house.

Our first attempt was an absolute dream home. Truly immaculate in every sense of the word. We would have been able to move in, and not touch a thing for 15 years. The problem – just competing for it was sending us out of our budget. We were able to generate a little more capital by selling naming rights to the baby and peddle MyPillows door to door for 12 years, but end the end we still lost to someone with less financial restrictions. If only we’d have bought Bitcoin in 2010!!!!

But, having been on the winning side when we had the supply to sell, and now being on the losing end when we were the people with the demand, we had a pretty good sense on what to do next. So here’s our advice:

  1. I know it sounds obvious, but know your budget. It’s easy to get carried away because, “it’s only xx more dollars after all. If we can spend x, why not 1.25x?”
  2. If you set that cap, then you can go look at the homes at about 75% of your cap and find the best one of that bunch.
  3. At that price point, provided you find something that hits all your parameters, now you are dealing with the fatter wallet than the other people. You can just throw down a Max bid at your Max budget, and you are going to be competitive.
  4. But the other thing you can do is release an obscene amount of earnest money. Long term it really doesn’t matter. The money is leaving your account on Day 2 or Day 21 anyway. But making that gesture shows the buyer you are serious.
  5. And then of course is the financing. Being completely underwritten is as good as having a briefcase full of cash, and in some ways, preferable to sellers who don’t want to have to worry about a call from the FBI in a year and answer questions about where the money came from.
  6. There are some other gimmicks as well. Some people want a long rent-back. Those who want it REALLY want it, so you might as well do it. Also, you can offer little things like paying for moving or giving them access to a storage shed. At some point, convenience becomes a factor to the seller and the few extra dollars you spend to make their life easier can pay off.

Do you have any stories or suggestions?

Hopes Vs Goals

I’ve been listening to a few more podcasts lately, and reading a few more thoughtful articles about how our mindsets may have changed since February 2020, and how they will change again as we re-enter “the new back to normal.”

Two words that I’m seeing a lot are, “hoping” and “goal-setting.”

Of course, “hoping” is when I do the same thing over and over and consider the idea that something better may happen. I can do the same routine at the gym and hope this week I lose weight. Or I can perform the same tasks at work and hope that I get a raise and promotion. Until recently, I hadn’t really considered how much simply maintaining my status quo makes me rely on hope.

Goal-setting, however, is a powerful thought exercise. If my goal is to lose 20 pounds, I need mini-goals to get there. A goal on how and when I eat, how and how much I exercise, if I walk to the grocery store instead of drive, etc… All these achievable little goals bubble up into a macro-goal that is attained as a result.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with hope when it circumstances that you have no control over. I hoped a vaccine would be discovered, that I’d be able to attend Sounders games again, and most recently, that I wouldn’t be attacked by a swarm of 1,000,000 cicadas. These hopes came true, and I am grateful.

But I’m not going to simply hope for those pounds to fall off. That’s going to have to happen by hitting some goals.

A Proposal: The May 32nd NFL Trade Day

WARNING: Crazy dumb sports idea ahead. Hit the back button if that’s not your thing.

We all love NFL football. At least the stats and ratings say so.

But here we are in late May with no football to talk about. The draft is over. Training camp is still 2 months away. It’s a content desert. Well, I have a dumb idea to fix that.

On the NFL calendar, let’s change June 1 into May 32. And on that day we will have the Annual NFL 32 Team Trade. A made-for-TV, one-hour event. Here’s how it works:

  • On May 31, every team submits 3 names into the Trade Pot. These players must be under contract and not Draft Pick or Undrafted Free Agent from that year’s draft.
  • The draft begins on May 32 (June 1). The last-place team from the season before gets the first choice of the players in the pot.
  • Whichever team has their player chosen pulls the rest of their players off the board and gets the next pick.
  • And so on until every team has lost one player and gained one player. A true 32 team trade.

Yes, I know it doesn’t work. But this is my reminder to everyone to keep thinking creatively. Keep coming up with dumb ideas. You never know where a dumb idea might lead.

We Travelled to a Foreign Country and Didn’t Die

It’s been about a year now since we were introduced to COVID. A very long year.

Unfortunately, people are still dying and masks are still necessary. But I feel like we know a lot more than we did in March 2020.

For one thing, the death rate is not as bad as we feared it could be. And so far, we haven’t seen a predominance of devastating long-term effects on those who got infected and lived.

Also, getting tested now (at least in big cities) could not be easier. You can plan social events and assure your hosts or guests that you are healthy with a simple 20 minute trip to a testing center.

So with this information in hand, we debated and finally decided we could escape the dreary Seattle rain and take a vacation. We immediately ruled out places like Arizona, Texas, and Florida. They are free to live how they want, but they aren’t getting our tourist dollar while mocking the existence of a pandemic. Plus, Kelli Ward, Paul Gosar, Ted Cruz, Dan Crenshaw, and Matt Gaetz are pretty strong reasons not to support a state.

Mexico was quickly ruled out because visitors don’t need to be Covid negative to enter. That left Hawaii and the Caribbean. And we chose Exuma in the Bahamas.

The reasons: 7,000 people on the island, 100 cases, zero deaths. Mandatory testing not just for people flying into the island, but arriving by boat as well. And despite the lack of positive cases, hotel employees still have to wear masks.

The result was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed stunning views, warm weather, lovely beaches, friendly and attentive hosts, and a feeling of safeness that we can’t get at a grocery store at home.

Our fellow guests were all respectful; wearing masks in enclosed areas, standing a few feet away while chatting at the pool, standing 6 feet apart when waiting in line for coffee, etc… The staff was perfect. Wearing a mask for 8 hours in 80 degree weather can’t be easy, but they did it with a smile.

So my personal point of view here as we enter Year 2 is as follows. 1) We need to still be careful. 2) We still need to avoid people, cities and states that ignore the severity of the issue. 3) We can travel to and reward the people in the states who still respect the disease and take the time and care to protect you from it.

I think we can accept the risk of COVID now without fearing it. We know what it does and how we can get it, but we also know that we can stay pretty safe by traveling with those who share a respect for each other.

Stay careful. Be cognizant. Avoid idiots. Live your life. That’s what we’ll be doing the next few months.

What I Learned – Living Through a Pandemic

It was about a year ago when we started to take the pandemic seriously. Sure, the White House continued to say that it wasn’t going to be an issue, but just about everyone who thinks squares have right angles and the world is round saw that there was an issue developing.

Companies began making people work from home, sports leagues began considering what they should do, and other countries to the west, south, and east of the United States considered ways to contain the disease from spreading in their nation.

So here we are, one year later. We all learned some things about ourselves and others. I’d love to hear your lists, but this is what stands out to me.

  1. Working from home is efficient: There are fewer 30 minute meetings that are wastes of time. And thanks to the miracle of “Stop Video” you can get work done during those meetings that are a waste. This alone adds time to your day.
  2. Not having to commute is wonderful: The average person living and working in Seattle proper could spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour trying to get downtown. And it was worse for anyone living in the surrounding areas. It’s like adding a whole extra hour to the day.
  3. However, people are fun, especially the ones who aren’t top of mind: COVID quarantine made me realize that being sequestered made me unconsciously filter my friends and colleagues the same way that Facebook and Google News filter my news feed. It’s true that I text messaged with friends about 2000% more than 2019, but the breadth of the number of people I spoke to narrowed significantly. Without Sounders matches, birthday parties, playing softball and soccer, or going to work, I missed out on hearing what huge swaths of the population were doing. That was a shame.
  4. Even with all the extra hours that I acquired during the day, I still didn’t complete everything I wanted to. I started the year with so many ideas – the book idea, the tv show idea, some startup ideas, learning a new language, studying technical analysis, getting in shape, etc… Some of these things I did well on, some I got started on and are in a holding pattern, and some fell by the wayside. So now I realize I shouldn’t listen to people who say, “They didn’t have time.”
  5. I like to cook: Man, I love to cook now. Give me a pile of books about NBA history or a pile of recipe books, and I know which one I’ll get through.
  6. Writing is harder when you don’t leave the house: No matter how hard I tried, I found writing to be more difficult during quarantine. There’s something about having external stimulus through the day to stimulate the imagination, or being able to sit in a coffee shop or bar with your laptop for an alternative work setting, that gets the words flowing.
  7. Twitter is a lens to the parts of the country I never travel: I was shocked this year to see how many people ignore facts, hypocritically contradict themselves from tweet to tweet, and in general, just make the country a worse place. I guess I’ve been lucky that my friends and colleagues are civil, rational people. Even the ones who I disagree with politically are grounded in reality. I had no idea there were so many people who could jump in a lake and swear to God that they never got wet.
  8. This year will not be easy: There’s some relief out there that with the vaccine, life can get back to “normal.” However, we’re going to have to redefine “normal.” It was not normal in previous years to have Congresspeople bring guns to work, people driving pickup trucks waving flags on the street, staying isolated for long periods of time, and implementing permanent work from home strategies. We’re going to have plenty of people who refuse vaccines, so the pandemic will rage on for years, hopefully limiting illness to the people who fail to take any precautions. But these continued illnesses will be a drain on our hospitals, tax dollars, and moral compass. When people without insurance who refuse a vaccine and refuse to wear a mask get violently ill, we’re going to have to suck it up and take care of them. That’s the way my cohort works at least.

I should add that of course I miss people, family dinners, travel, sports, conversation, great restaurants, etc… But I think we knew all that beforehand.

Would love to hear some of the things you learned.

A Super Bowl Chili Recipe

What a weird Super Bowl LIV. No parties, no going to bars, heck there will barely be anyone in the stadium itself.

So what does that leave us to do on Super Bowl Sunday? Well, cook of course.

I’ve been dinking around with my own variation of chili recipes for a while now. So since I already have a pot on the stove and no place to go right now, I’ll spend some time sharing the recipe with you.

First things first… When I say I have been dinking around with recipes, that really means, “I start with a general idea and then throw a whole bunch of stuff in and then can’t remember what I did.”

The General Idea 
I like using two types of meat. Usually, I’ll season a Chuck Roast or something similar the night before and then brown it in the morning. (You know it’s properly browned when you set off the smoke alarm in the house and hear sounds of exasperation coming from your spouse as they open all the windows on a 40-degree day and have to wave towels at the alarm.) But I also add ground beef to fill out the profile. (We have also used ground turkey meat before and no one knew the difference if you want to go healthier.)

But before the meat goes in, I like to chop up an onion and let it brown at the bottom of the chili pot with a little olive oil, some garlic, and a chopped red pepper. I don’t know why I do this. It probably makes no difference taste-wise, but it serves the purpose of formally announcing the official start of the cooking process. We don’t have a royal trumpet to blow which would also serve the same purpose, and be more fun.

Once the big slab of meat has been browned it can be chopped up into bite-sized cubes, and added to the pot with the simmering onion, garlic, and pepper mixture. Then the ground beef goes in. Followed by some beef broth, one can each of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.

Now, this part changes around, and I know it’s not true Texas chili anymore when I do this, but I add a can of black beans. You can also use the bag of black beans which will keep a better consistency. I just like to have some fiber in there. And this next part is total chili heresy so I will deny it if anyone ever repeats it, but I sometimes include just enough red lentils to add depth and texture without anyone knowing they are eating lentils. The addition of lentils also makes the chili officially “healthy” without ruining the flavor. It might even qualify as being organic and vegan with this addition. I have to check the rules on that.

Then come the spices. And I would be lying if I could tell you what the exact mixture is. I have no idea the amounts or ratios of anything that goes in the spice mix. I can tell you that it features some combination of these: Salt (a smoky salt like Applewood is nice), black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, regular chili powder, anejo chili powder, chipotle chili powder, fiesta chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, a dash of 50k cayenne powder, a cumin (up to you on that one), some herbs (usually oregano, basil, thyme), and then the secret weapons: chili cocoa powder and cinnamon. If I’m feeling feisty, I’ll also chop up a habenero and jalepeno pepper in very large chunks so that it can cook in the pot but is also big enough so that if it lands in your bowl you won’t accidentally eat it. 

Then the lid goes on the pot and it all gets to simmer for as long as you want it to, somewhere between 3 and 6 hours. Taste throughout the day, and use any spice in your pantry to make alterations through the process.

Sometimes it needs more tomato sauce or paste to thicken it up, sometimes more broth or diced tomatoes to thin it out, sometimes more spice to fire it up. And if you realize you have made something that will light everyone on fire, add some brown sugar. That will mellow it out and no, it won’t taste like candy at all.

That’s it! Super simple. And because everything is generally in one pot, it doesn’t cause any mess at all! The kitchen is always as clean as when I started. Every time. At least that’s what I think. My wife may have a differing opinion.

Let me know if you have any chili recipes of your own. Happy Super Bowl.