Fiji: The Real Deal

Wednesday, October 16 2013, 7:17am (or with the IDT, Tuesday Morning)

It is Tuesday Morning….again. Yesterday was Tuesday as well, but that’s what happens when one is cruising over the 180th Meridian. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me talk about Monday afternoon which was two days ago…even though today is Tuesday 😉

I enjoyed the morning at the beach and did a bit of writing and reading. My flight was at 2:20, and they ask that you be there 90 minutes prior. I arrived about 2 hours before, simply because I didn’t have anything else keeping me at the hostel. Posted fare to the airport was $14 FJD. I tried negotiating to $10, but eventually acquiesced at $12.

My bags were too heavy due to the fact that I insisted on lugging my huge tripod around for some nice shots; my checked luggage was 22kg vs. 15 and my carry on was 12kg vs. 7. I ended up paying $38 FJD for the difference. I grabbed lunch which was chicken curry. It wasn’t the best, but then I’m not a big fan of spicy food AND it was airport food after all. I went through security and into the small, one flight-at-a-time gate. It makes sense because most people depart Nadi via small boats headed to nearby islands. My flight was full except for a few seats and was a small approx. 20 person unpressurized prop plane. The flight was beautiful if not loud, and offered panoramic aerial views of the largest Fijian island Viti Levo. After about an hour we took a stomach churning descent over the even more luscious island of Vanua Levu which is home to Savusavu known as the “hidden paradise of Fiji”. The “airport” here is just a tiny runway with a small gate. I met my driver Junior who told me that it would be about an hour and a half drive to my embarkation point (which was much longer than I was expecting)!

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Life Lessons Learned from Hang Gliding


As you may or may not know, I’ve been taking hang gliding lessons for the past few months. Because my time in Northern California is quickly coming to a close and it will be much more difficult to learn how to hang glide back in Michigan, I took a half day vacation this past Tuesday and headed down to Milpitas; I had two of the very best (and longest) flights that I’ve had to date. I was at the top of the 50 ft training hill all morning and learned a ton about steering and pitch! Being in the air for 20-30 seconds gave me much more time to try new things and to get feedback.

I was with two other students and while they were flying and hauling the glider back up the hill,  I considered some of the many parallels between hang gliding and life in general.

It’s hard to recover from a bad launch: When you launch a hang glider you’ve captured a lot of energy. Ideally a pilot uses this energy to navigate and stay aloft for a while (my instructor doesn’t even take out his glider if he’s not going to stay up for at least an hour). When I have launched my glider when it wasn’t balanced I always end up taking much shorter flights because I have to spend a lot of my energy correcting the glider in the air vs. doing it correctly on the ground. In life and business, I’ve found that doing something successful on your first time out of the gate is really important. When I bought my first house I paid fair market value. I also didn’t have to do much to the property except move in and get some house mates. This positive experience is responsible for my continued interest because it did something far more valuable than making money: it built my confidence such that I believed that I could do it successfully. Now when I purchase a property, it’s almost always below market value and has a 5 or 6 figure rehab budget. This type of project would be terrible property to start one’s real estate investing career one. Thus far I’ve been training on a 330 sqft glider. I’ll work my way down to a 170 sqft one. In life it’s important to aim for a perfect launch and to do that you should set yourself up for success by starting with training wheels.

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Why You Should Do Mazes Backwards

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published May 6, 2012

It’s easier that way. I promise. If you’ve been doing mazes from the beginning, you’re not guaranteed to ever make it to the end. But if you start where you want to end up and then work your way backwards, you will absolutely find the steps you need to take to get from where you are, to where you want to be.

This concept is vastly under used…instead of deciding at what age you wish to retire, and then working backwards to figure out what you need to do in order to get there, people meander there way through life turning, right, left, and then backtracking because they weren’t really sure where they were going in the first place.

Companies without an idea of what company they want to be in 20 years continue along with business as usual, making linear progress instead of exponentially changing the way they do business.

College grads escape academia only to wander through 40 years of pointless hops through the corporate world.

The solution for all of these: figure out where you want to be, what you want to be, and who you want to become. Then backtrack.

Why I Write

This was written in response to clarify why we were writing Synergasm. Tim mentioned that we were quite different individuals, but did have some overlap. He also mentioned me wanting to try to start figuring out how to fix our education problem in America. This was my response.

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published April 5, 2012

Tim was close, but my life goal is to solve the education problem in America…not just start, but actually solve it! How am I doing this? I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post soon! After the meeting that Tim and I (and his wife) had we all decided that we needed to write more often. I told him that while I had the best of intentions, I didn’t feel that I always had something to say, and I wasn’t going to write just to write…I needed it to be about something. Also, with a busy schedule, sometimes it’s difficult to find the time. This was one problem that I felt confident I could overcome. Tim mentioned polyphasic sleeping, and it’s something I’m going to try: staying awake 22 hours in every 24 hour period by taking 20-30 minute naps every four hours! I’ll start posting more about they why and how behind that in upcoming posts, so stay tuned! It promises to be an interesting journey for us all!

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College Education: Why we Need a New Signaling Mechanism

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published February 21, 2012

Where we’re at:

Take a look at any industry and you’ll notice that all products are on a spectrum that  separates luxury from commodities: Macs are luxury goods, PC’s are commodities. Ivy League schools are luxury goods; state schools are commodities. Craftsman tools are luxury goods. The Wal-Mart version are commodities. You get the picture…

Why is this important? Where they fall on this spectrum determines how much people are willing to pay for that product. This is largely due to how much society in general values the product as a signaling mechanism. Want to appear hip? In tune with the young crowd? Buy yourself a Mac! This works for a while; early adopters to a luxury good are often rewarded with the prestige that surrounds that product. Because others believe that you take on the same traits as the product you’re consuming, you’re willing to pay a bit more for the product…to credibly signal that you do indeed possess those traits. The iPhone was like that for a while, and it worked quite well…until everyone and their uncle bought an iPhone. Now the awkward two-finger typer who doesn’t know the difference between Notepad and a C prompt is just as likely to have an iPhone as the guy who jail-broke iOS 5. Alas such is the way most signaling stories end. Read More →

The Future of 3D Printing

Old Synergasm Post

Originally published January 2, 2012

Imagine that Apple has just released the iPhone 16; instead of the crazies lining up the night before outside of the Apple stores, they instead sit behind a computer waiting for the clock to read 12:00 AM. As soon as it does, they click the link on Apple’s website that downloads the CAD plans to their 3D printers. The 3D printer then begins laying out the different materials (pulled from your personal store of the most commonly used elements from the periodic table) and “prints” the new iPhone in layers. So how far away is this technology?

While 3D printers have been around since the ‘80s; they’ve been known as rapid prototyping machines for sometime and have largely remained in the domain of model shops that could afford their large price tags. What appears to have been happening though, is that with their rise in popularity, they’re beginning to transform from solely being prototyping machines to being considered for use in “additive manufacturing” The Economist contrasts this to the “subtractive manufacturing” that occurs today.

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