I So Called It

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Three days ago, I wrote about the current housing slump. A day ago, Standard & Poor’s published the latest Case-Shiller Index showing the US housing market has only gotten worse. Interestingly, Dallas has fared the best out of the 20 cities in the CSI-20 composite index followed by Denver.


What’s So Special About Owning a House?

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The more I think about it, the more I dread ever owning a house. A recent article in The Economist talked about how real estate is a more volatile asset than most people think. Just look at the recent housing bubble as shown by the Case-Shiller Index:

Case-Shiller Index
That looks like a bubble to me.

How did this happen? Economist Paul Krugman says that part of the housing mania came from “ketchup economists:”

In the case of housing, buyers do carefully compare prices — with the prices of other houses. That is, they make sure that two-quart bottles of ketchup are the same price as one-quart bottles. As we’ve seen, however, they don’t do a very good job of checking whether the overall level of housing prices makes sense.


Vote With Your Wallet

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We pay a lot of attention to elections where we voice our opinions by voting. But there’s a more important form of voting that happens everyday. When I spend money, whether I know it or not, I’m often supporting not only a good or service but also a set of principles and values.

One example is grocery shopping. Michael Pollan writes in his book Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Shopping in the organic supermarket underwrites important values on the farm; shopping locally underwrites a whole set of other values as well.”1. Buying a dollar of organic produce means one less dollar for the non-organic food industry. It’s a vote for one over the other, and vice versa if you buy non-organic over organic.


You Are David Xia If…

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  • you suffer from withdrawal when you don’t have access to a pool
  • at restaurants that display calories on their menu, you divide each dish’s calories by respective price and order the one with the highest quotient
  • you are physically capable of drinking three beers, eating an entire quart of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, and watching an entire season of 24 in 17.6 hours
  • your idea of fun is -22°F, five meters of snow, > 14,000ft altitude, and avalanche risks
  • you’ve been asked if you’ve been “raised communist”
  • you’ve mixed two packs of instant ramen with hot tap water in a plastic ice bucket while staying at a $50/night motel and ate it with your bare hands

I Miss My Senior Year Roommates

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Here’s a video of my roommates during our senior year at Columbia University. The first part shows Raul calling CAVA after Jason had burned himself while cooking macaroni and cheese. The second half is me antagonizing Jason and David during their midnight snack of whipped cream and bananas.



The Importance of Defining Your Words Aka Being in the Same Ballpark

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It’s important to define our words. I once dated a girl who told me three months after we first started seeing each other that she was still in “dating mode” and wanted to be “non-exclusive.” I thought about it and said okay. Well, first I sighed and said, “Excuse me. I have to go to the bathroom.” I thought we were on the same page.

We weren’t. We weren’t in the same ballpark. We weren’t even in the same fucking sport. I thought non-exclusive meant we could still date other people. Call me old-fashioned. For her, non-exclusivity meant she could go with me to a party, ignore me once we arrived, hit on all my male friends, get their numbers, sit on their laps and whisper, “Oh, your major is (insert whatever). That’s sooo sexy,” and hit on strangers in the street. Guy with greasy ponytail standing outside a sketchy bar? Fair game.


Laughing Gas Kills Brain Cells? Shit

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Many grownups who have long since graduated from school have told me that once you leave an academic environment and stop doing homework, you become worse at studying for exams. They’ve told me to take my GRE or GMAT or the dozens of other useless tests out there just to get them out of the way. I think they mean that once you get a job and join the rat race, you don’t really need to think anymore. Let’s face it, most jobs just don’t require that much thinking. If you’re doing groundbreaking research in string theory, I’m very happy for you. But I’m talking about the other 99.99% of the people on the planet. The first couple of months of a new job might be challenging because you’re learning the ropes, but after a while, your day-to-day tasks become mechanical and don’t require much more than a pulse.


I Have No Debt, How Un-American of Me

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I recently got off the phone with the debt collectors of the Federal Perkins loan I borrowed for college. I shudder when I think of debt collectors. Sure, developed countries’ attitudes and policies surrounding debt has improved a lot since Charles Dickens’ time when debtors were simply thrown into the slammer, but I still shudder.


$600 Bongs, Pot Butter, and a Frozen Corpse

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Just came back from a 1.5 hour local hike. I love how the mountains and trails are so close that I can climb up to summits that overlook the entire town and come back in less than two hours. The weather is surprisingly mild during the day. Even though today’s cloudy, the temperature is around mid-forties. Of course, if you’re running up steep ridges in heavy hiking boots with a fleece on, it feels much warmer.

I’ve stayed in Boulder for almost a week now, enough time to get a sense of the town’s unique traits. Although Boulder is situated at 5,430 feet (1,655 m), the change in altitude from New York City’s sea level wasn’t drastic enough to make me feel anything. Here’s some more fast-facts about Boulder according to Wikipedia:

  • Population in 2008: 94,268
  • one of the most liberal cities in Colorado
  • “a choice destination for hippies in the late 1960s” a 2007 estimate stated “median household income in Boulder is $50,209, and the median family income is $85,807” although this might be skewed by the student population of UC Boulder