NevBlog.com was born on November 17th, 2004 (almost TEN years ago!!) to keep track of my financial situation.
It was never meant to be read by another human being other than myself.
Now why would a blog be so important for me? It’s for a simple reason: I FORGET EVERYTHING.
Ask me what I did in March 2006….and I have no freaking clue.
However I can just go to the sidebar of my blog and click on the March 2006 archives….and INSTANTLY it all comes flooding back. Simply reading a few sentences or seeing some images from that time allows me to instantly recall everything that was happening around that time.
For this reason, my blog acts as my surrogate brain. Retaining all the memories I would otherwise surely forget.
So for keeping my brain alive, thanks NevBlog :-)
The stats below don’t tell the whole story, but starting sometime in 2005 I installed Google Analytics, and here are the stats from a blog “nobody was supposed to read”:
For starters, it’s cool that OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE have viewed something I created. Maybe I should put a badge on NevBlog saying “Now seen by over 1.5million people!” :-)
Here’s some fuzzy math on how many cumulative hours have been spent on my site:
(1,664,333 visits) x (99 seconds per visit) = 2,746,149 hours of NevBlog-viewing time!
Perfect weather…….. “What’s the password to the wifi?!”
That’s how most of this trip I took with Noah went.
We took a two week “workcation” to Thailand. Basically the idea was: Sit on a beach, do work.
I’ve done it before and it’s a great way to work!
The only problem is you have to go with people who are ALSO under the impression they’re going on the trip mainly to work. Otherwise they’ll drag you into traveling around all day (total 1st world problem).
Here was our trip Itinerary:
Flew from Austin to Houston to Japan (had AWESOME sushi), then into Bangkok for two days.
Took flight into Ko Samui and ended up staying there for a night (I loved the vibe of that island).
Took a ferry ride into Ko Tao, it was a backpacker kind of town. Did some awesome scuba diving there (apparently it’s famous for that).
Took a long boat ride + bus to Krabi to hang out with Edmund (who we met through AppSumo).
We got setup with scooters, a secluded beach resort, a bungalow on the beach, and all the food & drinks we could order (all for $93 for 3 nights for BOTH people)!! This part of the trip was so awesome.
Flew back to Bangkok for a few days.
(I’ll elaborate more with recommendations later when I’m not half-delirious writing this).
So anyhow, here’s a summary of the trip in pictures:
The first day on the beach on the Ko Samui island I made my goals so I could clearly work on a set number of things and not get too distracted:
In Bangkok we totally randomly met up with Nomadic Matt. In case you don’t know Matt’s site, he travels around the world and gives advice on where to eat/stay/travel. In fact, every time I researched an island to stay on, I would Google the island with his website after it in order to get his recommendations, like: ”Ko Tao Nomadic Matt”.
Here’s Me, Matt, and Noah having a beer in a very westernized area of Bangkok:
Thassalotaflights! Something like 32 hours of travel time each way:
Relaxing on Koh San Road (where all the backpackers hangout), waiting to get my foot massage:
Know those “riots” going on in Bangkok? We went to them, and they were very very peaceful. It was more like a market or festival than a “riot”:
To avoid the jet lag getting me the first night, I downed a couple of these “real” Red Bulls. They’ve got some kick to them!
ASIAN FOOD EVERYWHERE:
This was us at 5:30am catching the SuperBowl at a nice hotel in Bangkok that had the game playing. It was full of Americans (the very few other Americans we saw on the entire trip):
Noah working diligently during the SuperBowl:
Drinking custom-made fruit smoothies for about a dollar a piece:
One of the “rioters” :-P
Meow meow meow:
Ordering food on the beach while working in perfect weather:
I REALLLLLLYYYY liked the vibe of Ko Samui. Next I come to Thailand I’m going back. It was touristy enough to where there were a lot of nice hotels and restaurants and things to do, but NOT so touristy it ruined the mood. The water was so perfect and calm, you could walk in the water over a 100 meters and still stand up till your waist:
I had to put this in there so I remembered…..
The guy who drove us to the airport had the sickest bus I’d ever seen! It had huge subwoofers in the back, it was pimped out with gold mirrors and rims, and that sound system inside sounded amazing:
Relaxing in the pimp bus:
Headed out on a ferry to Ko Tao Island:
Perfect breeze and weather for a ferry ride. It was 100% foreigners:
Noah wore that Taco Shirt LITERALLY the whole trip except the last day!
Lol…..Noah was messing with the hotel in Ko Tao when he booked, and said it was our “anniversary” so this is how we found our hotel room!! Hahahahahah
Lol….I walk in the hotel room to find Noah working from a bed of roses:
In Ko Tao we met up with an AppSumo fan Edmund who owned a bunch of business in nearby Krabi (hotel, hostel, restaurant, travel agency), and he showed us around:
Ko Tao was cool……but most of it was foreigners. So you’d see scooters zipping everywhere, but it was all white people on them:
Edmund scoring us some kebab skewers for a snack…..LOVED the cheap road-side food in Thailand. Actually much prefer it to the nicer restaurants:
Discovered a random Mui Thai gym in Ko Tao….it was all foreigners:
Crossfit??!?!? In Koh Tao?!??! Very random:
This is how I woke up to work:
Working early morning (still getting up at weird times with jet lag):
THIS is what a workcation is supposed to be!! Beach, good food, maybe beer, fast wifi, perfect weather. It got even better later on into the trip because we weren’t even at a resort:
We ended up making friends with the owner, he was actually American!
Of course you gotta get an off-road scooter:
Scooter trip around the island:
Parked and walked down some steps:
….and found this random beach for locals:
I brought my Martin Backpacker guitar and we played a few tunes on the beach (Edmund was formerly a rockstar the band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus):
Great views that pictures don’t quite translate:
Chilling and working:
Working from a restaurant thingy on a cliff:
View from the resort balcony where we were working:
Took a ferry outta Ko Tao:
Sat in the “VIP” section of the bus there which no one knew about…..so for the same price as everyone else, we road in style in our own section of the bus!
Arrive in Krabi…..this is the road we’d drive on everyday with those cool Avatar-looking mountains in the background:
Here were the scooters we rented for our entire stay in Krabi…..TWO of them for less than $18 total. Mine was the sky-blue one with random logos all over it. Fortunately both me and Noah have our motorcycle licenses AND both have scooters back in Ausin, so we’re experienced. But it doesn’t really matter over there, they’d give you a scooter in two seconds without asking if you know how to ride one!
Scooter crashes by tourists are so common, they call the road rash you get a “Thai Tattoo”:
More coconuts for me!
One of Edmunds businesses in Krabi was a hostel with a really cool vibe to it….so we spent time working from there:
Noah took over job as bartender:
Lol…..this random poster on the wall of the hostel always cracked me up!
This is at our bungalow on the beach in Krabi where we stayed a few days (which was AWESOME by the way). One day I was shaving my beard, and decided to see what a goatee on me looks like:
Scuba diving in Koh Tao:
Doing a quick re-fresher of how to not die in the ocean before going scuba’ing in some world-famous waters:
One of our dive locations:
Before taking the plunge:
IMMA SCUBA DIVER!
Workcation scenes: Me working from a beach:
Hammock and the “restaurant” area for the bungalows we stayed at. There were just 4 locals who lived at the resort and did all the work/cooking. So peaceful. One day we saw a total of only 9 human beings:
Chillaxing. That weather was utterly perfect:
Photos we HAD to take before leaving this beautiful location. Me relaxing by the ocean:
Noah chilling by the ocean. The water was so warm and mild and non-wavy you could sit there comfortably:
Aaaannddd of course I have to end off the album with a couple of Handstand pics!!
By the way, the reason I do these “I just took a vacation, here are my photos posts” is for my own memory. I forget EVERYTHING, but if I see a picture of the event I can recall it perfectly.
So this is my way of keeping this memory alive!
Hope you enjoyed the pics and got a sense of the workcation.
If you want to do your own workcation, based on our experience (of this trip and others), we know there’s some factors that affect this:
Have solid goals of what you want to get done during the trip, and tell others so you’re accountable.
Other people you go with should be on the same page of wanting to work at least 4-6 hours a day.
Don’t be moving so much….it disrupts the whole working and “resetting” process.
The goal of the trip is NOT to travel around and be a tourist….it’s to work. Of course there’s a mix of touristy stuff and sightseeing thrown in, but it needs to be a good balance.
Don’t drink too much alcohol or party too late except on designated days. This throws off the whole work schedule.
Having a perfect breeze, comfortable accommodations, fast internet, good local food, and preferably a beach nearby is optimal.
In the future we might do a workcation where we take a bunch of other people along with us. Whatchya think?
It’s FRIDAY!! In college that used to mean soon as it became dark outside I would get jitters to go out. I literally had to go out on the weekends. Hanging with friends, frat parties, clubbing, bowling, art gallery opening, picnics, meteor watching parties, house party…..I ALWAYS had to do something on the weekends, I literally could not stay home or I’d get jittery.
This was probably a remnant of my childhood since my parents were very socially active. I remember through elementary school, middle school, and high school, it was pretty much the norm to attend at least 2-3 parties over the weekend plus other activities.
Friends at school would tell me their family just, “stayed at home and got a movie from Blockbuster and ordered a pizza.” This was LAME I thought, since that was never a normal thing for my active family.
Even after college I kept that pace up…..actually I increased it.
Remove the classes + add some income = party time!
Now all this partying wasn’t just drinking and crazy stuff. A lot of times it was cool events and social clubs and entrepreneur clubs and tech meetups, but it was still an active social life.
However, now that I’m 30 (almost 31), it’s slowed down a bit.
People always say “As I get older I can’t drink as much” or “As I get older I can’t go out as much.”
…..I understand that, but I don’t think it’s fully a function of age.
For the drinking part, physiologically you CAN drink as much when you’re older, but the increased fat, decreased muscle mass, age-related problems, medications, and decreased frequency of drinking (aka lower tolerance) causes this for the most part.
For the going out part, I agree some of it is a decreased stamina issue as you age, but I think a whooollee lot of it is a DESIRE issue.
Let me nerdily calculate this out for you:
Let’s assume I entered college at age 18. I was in college for 5 years (slow track for me).
How many times do you think I went out?
45 weeks a year I did at least two events (extremely lowball figure) = 90 x 5 years = 450 times.
After college from age 23 till 26 I went out 5 days a week probably 45 weeks of the year. 45 x 5 x 4 = 900 times.
From age 26-30 went out maybe 400 times.
…..ok, enough fuzzy math (and notice I was only account for 45 weeks a year not 52….I assume all those numbers are WAY more especially during the crazy holiday times.
THE POINT OF THIS IS:
By the time someone with a reasonably active social life is 30, they’ve been “out” over 2,000 times!
That number kinda blows your mind right??
When I was 23 if someone said, “Hey let’s randomly go out to 6th St!” (austin’s party area) I was sooooo down.
But at age 30 if someone said, “Hey it’s Tuesday let’s randomly go out to 6th St and get drunk” I would probably say ::in nerdy excited voice:: “No thanks I’m gonna sit at home and get some work done then read, then blog, then play with my 3D printer.”
That’s not always true, but it happens more and more frequently as I get older.
But it’s NOT a function of age, it’s a function of experience.
Those two things just happen to correlate to each other.
To prove this….see if you know someone who missed out on much of their youthful freedom. Maybe they got married crazily early then got a divorce when older, or always lived at home with strict parents, or had to provide for their family and never got to play.
When these people get older then all of a sudden come into freedom, they start going out with the youthful exuberance of a 21 year old, even though they’re weirdly old to be acting like that. But eventually they get over it….like after going out 2,000 times :-P
Anyhow, there was no real point to this email other than to present an alternative view of this.
So if you’re not going out as much, it’s not because you’re old…..maybe you’re just not as EXCITED for the same old stuff anymore. And maybe other things in life become more exciting.
So get this, a few weeks ago I took a 3D printing class!!
I haven’t learned any new skill in a while, so I thought this would be a fun nerd-activity.
I’ve been fascinated by 3D printing since around 2007, but only now are 3D printers become semi-reliable enough for home use.
Anywhoozle…..I Googled “3D Printing Class Austin” and found a place called TechShop that holds them:
This TechShop was connected to a Lowe’s hardware store, and you can pay a monthly membership to use all the high end machine and manufacturing tools there like this:
The class I enrolled in would teach you how to use a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer. You can see the Replicator1 (left), and Replicator2 (right):
Our instructor mainly showed how to use the cool-looking Replicator2:
The first step was to learn the software, so we all downloaded pre-existing .stl files from the internet and loaded them into the 3D printing software. Here’s the little toy octopus gettin ready to print:
Once the file is sent to the printer, it starts printing out small layers of PLA plastic less than 1 millimeter thick. Once it’s done with that first layer, it moves up and prints another layer. It does this hundreds of times until a full object is printed out!
Here’s the printer in action using orange plastic:
After about 15 minutes of printing a REAL OBJECT WE DOWNLOADED FROM THE INTERNET CAME INTO EXISTENCE!!!
Now I’d been wanting a 3D printer for a long time, and after taking the class I was dead-set on getting one….so I made a quick internet order for a MakerBot Replicator2.
I ordered a couple of spools of plastic filament and the MakerCare Insurance (because there’s like a 99% chance something WILL go wrong with the machine in less than a year).
I’ve also started downloading the printing software and experimenting/downloading objects from the internet.
The first thing I want to print are these 3D shot glasses which would be impossible to create with a lathe or laser cutter:
I also just for fun wanna print a gun….now keep in mind it’s just a mold of a gun made out of shitty plastic with no moving parts….but the CRAZY thing is the file I’m printing from actually includes all the parts to make a gun (assuming you had a high-precision metal-printing 3D printer you could possibly make one):
I also downloaded a bunch of other random cool stuff from Thingiverse for free.
I dunno exactly where 3D printing will go…..but the ability to create and print out highly complex objects from your home is going open up a WHOLE new plane of creativity like Apps did to smartphones.
It’s so cool to imagine that from my apartment I can manufacture things. I mean….crappy things for now, but the technology will soon get better-and-better to the point where we’ll all be able to print out highly complex objects, machines, and circuitry. SOOOO FREAKIN COOL!
Since I left college I’d always been trying to learn something new at all times….and lately I haven’t, so getting this excited about something new is very refreshing :)
You see, last Friday night in Austin, I spent a nice evening with a special someone. We took her dog out for a walk around the Capitol building, and just 5 steps from home, a random dog runs out of the alley across the street and starts attacking.
In one second, the night transformed from a pleasant evening out, to breaking up a dog fight. This random pit bull started tearing into the chocolate lab we were walking…..instinctively going for the jugular.
The pit bull had a dog harness on, but no leash attached. Whilst he was in full attack mode, I grabbed him by the harness and pulled him off the other dog.
NORMALLY this would be enough to break up a dog fight, but BOTH dogs came with the pull. This meant the pit bull had latched on so hard, the other dog got dragged by the neck.
I tried my best to break the pit bull off. I tried to choke it, hit it, gouge it’s eyes out…and eventually wrestled it to the ground in a choke-hold with it’s locked-down jaws just inches from my face (in hindsight, that wasn’t smart).
After roughly 45 seconds of watching this pit bull randomly started attacking our dog, we got it to briefly let go and got our dog out of his grip…..but the next thing I know MY hand is fully in his mouth!
I recall him chomping down for about 5 full seconds before somehow getting him off.
Lots of cursing was involved. Apparently that didn’t help much.
The dogs owner appeared from the same alley, awakened by the quarrel, and got the dog on a leash.
By this time my right hand had a bunch of holes in it, including one where I could see bone through the top of my hand.
I grabbed the camera in my pocket with my left hand, and made damn-sure I got video evidence of what just happened.
Here’s that fucker and his dog:
So immediately an ambulance is called, and within 5 minutes I’m being taken to the hospital.
I could tell the paramedic on duty almost thought my little “doggy bite” was comical compared to what he’s probably seen already on a Friday night. But my hand felt like it was on fire….and more importantly, I just got bit by a dog that sleeps in an alley and has a homeless owner.
This means potential RABIES (100% fatal once you get it).
At the hospital they cleaned my wounds by shooting saline directly into the wounds and letting it bleed out. Someone told me, “There’s a realllyyyy small chance this dog has rabies, but there’s a 100% chance it has bacteria on it’s teeth.”
For this reason I couldn’t get stitches on any of the puncture wounds (only one of the punctures actually needed it). Instead they have to sit open, because animal bites apparently have a HUGE chance of getting infected.
The pressurized saline cleaning hurt like hell, so they drugged me up, and gave me topical anesthetic which was injected directly into my hand around the wounds.
I also got another shot in my arm. I have no idea what the hell that shot was.
Here’s the main bite hole that I could see my bone through:
The police came and filed a report, the hospital drugged me up with pain meds, anti-biotics and sent me home. The girlfriend lovingly took care of me and her dog for the next few days since I couldn’t do basic things like tie my shoelaces or put on my watch (not to mention the pain meds made me a useless lazy ass).
Come Sunday I went for a checkup and to get a rabies injection.
LEMME TELL YOU WHY YOU’LL NEVER WANT A FUCKING RABIES INJECTION:
Apparently all you gotta do is “…get a few shots.”
It goes like this:
1st Injection = 1 injection + 1 vial of anti-globulins directly into the wounds.
2nd Injection = 1 injection in arm 3 days after bite.
3rd Injection = 1 injection in arm 7 days after bite.
4th Injection = 1 injection in arm 14 days after bite.
No problem with the followup shots (other than the fact I was gonna be in India for them). They are regular shots and easy to take.
The main problem was on the 1st injection day, when the nurse told me, “We just have to give you this…” and she held up a vial of medicine.
Whatever. No biggie.
But then this lady comes back with FIVE FULL NEEDLES OF MEDICINE. Apparently “one little vial” fills up five needles.
Then to top it off, this anti-globulin medicine has to be DIRECTLY INJECTED INTO THE WOUNDS.
This means if the bites go into your skin, the medicine has to be injected alllllll around the INSIDE of the wound.
This. Was. Fucking. PAINFUL AS SHIT.
Sorry for all the cursing, but it was nothing compared to what I was yelling as the doctor stuck my (already incredibly sensitive) hand about 10 times with a needle.
It felt like I was being tortured.
Compared to what injured war veterans go through, or people with true illnesses….this must have been nothing. But until this point in my life, I can’t recall anything that hurt so god damn bad.
The pain meds wore off the second that needle hit my hand.
SO HERE’S SOMETHING INTERERESTING AND KINDA FU**CKED UP:
1st hospital visit including ambulance ride = $661.
2nd hospital visit for 1st rabies injection = $7,500 !!!
Now I’m fully health-insurance’d up. But $7,500 to get some shots??
I asked the lady for a breakdown of costs, and apparently the vial of anti-globulin stuff (they injected directly into the wounds) cost $7,000!!!
Plus I still had to get 3 follow-up shots that cost $315 per shot.
Already this damn dog had cost me $9,000+ …..the dog he attacked had to be treated and put on rabies quarantine (another $1,000+).
And this includes NON of the cost of inconvenience…..including me not finishing a product I could’ve promoted through AppSumo to 700,000+ people before I left for India.
I HATE THAT DOG.
Then it took about 3 days of jumping through hoops, calling doctors, and calling the state health department to find similar medications I could take in India.
Each followup rabies injection in the U.S.A. cost $315 to get.
In India….the same (but generic brand) vaccine cost me $7, and $3 to have a nurse inject me.
Granted the quality of medical facilities and procedures is different….it’s still shocking to know this 2-week rabies injection series could have been given in India for about $100 vs. $9,000+ over here.
If I didn’t have full coverage, it would’ve made more financial sense to buy a ticket to India, stay here for two weeks and get the injections!
Alright, enough complaining.
But if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t updated or responded to an email in a while, it’s because:
1.) Of this stupid dog + rabies injection stuff. (if you DO get rabies, it’s a 100% fatal disease….so I was taking this pretty seriously).
2.) I’m in India for the whole month. WiFi is still hard to come by here.
Have a great day, and don’t getting bitten by a homeless guy’s un-tagged, un-vaccinated, aggressive pit bull.
P.S. Stupid dog.
P.P.S. I’m in India where the bathroom situation is a “bit different” than what I’m used to. Let’s just say I’m right handed, but can only use my left. I’ll leave it at that and let your imagination do the rest. Gross.
For the 1st part of my 30th birthday, I went to the F1 races, then Noah threw me a surprise party that night.
For the 2nd part of my 30th bday, I went to Cuba (actually Noah planned this whole trip too…..that was damn nice of him eh!)
Cuba was appealing because it’s this weird “time capsule” of a place. The United States has an embargo against Cuba, so Cuba has very little importing options….not to mention it’s a communist country (well….I guess technically it’s “socialist”). This means the government can strictly control the imports, exports, the currency….and thus, the people.
For example, for the locals of Cuba:
…they are not allowed to leave Cuba.
…they are not allowed to use the internet.
…they are not supposed to get close with any tourists.
…they are not allowed to openly talk bad about the government.
…all sorts of other stuff.
There’s also not a lot of industry going on in Cuba….this means most of the local population is quite poor, many of them making something like $13 to $18 U.S. dollars A MONTH. That’s right, A MONTH.
A doctor in Cuba, even a surgeon, gets paid only $40 A FREAKIN’ MONTH.
Almost hard to believe.
The way they survive on this small sum of money is because Cuba has two currencies (both of which outside of Cuba are worth nothing).
FIRST CURRENCY is called the Cuban Convertible Peso, and is roughly 1-to-1 with American dollars. Tourists use this currency, and prices everywhere are pretty decent with this currency. We could eat a nice lunch, complete with beers, for 6 people, for about $30 to $45. Not bad. Unless you’re eating at the really nice tourist-y places, you probably won’t spend a crazy amount on food.
SECOND CURRENCY is the Cuban Peso, and is for locals only. Tourists aren’t supposed to use it, and the locals aren’t “supposed to” accept it from tourists (notice the “supposed to” in quotes). This currency is 250 per 1 American dollar. My friend heard that you could buy things RIDIIIICCCULOUSLY cheap in local areas if you somehow get a hold of this currency.
He found a place that would let him get some, and he decided to change just $20 U.S. Dollars. The lady at the front asked him, “Ummm….are you SURE?” He agreed, and got a HUGE STACK OF $5,000 IN LOCAL BILLS. It was like a giant strip-club stack of $20 bills!
Whenever we went to local places that accepted this currency, this is what we spent:
4 bowls of ice cream at a sit-down ice cream parlor (4 scoops per bowl) = $0.20 USD total
Bottle of rum + mixers = $2.90 USD
Personal pizza = $0.15 USD
After paying with local currency at every place possible (sometimes convincing is needed), my friend still had $10 USD in local currency left over!
However almost everyone we spoke with about Cuba told us the local currency was useless for tourists. It worked well for us because 3 of us were brown, and my friend using the currency spoke very fluent Spanish.
However this local currency only worked in certain places, definitely not everywhere. I still ended up spending about $2,000 in six days (about 20% was skimmed off each money exchange, and much of it was to pay for the big penthouse condo we rented).
One of the greatest parts about living in a society that’s “slightly less than 1st world” is bribing (well…presuming you’re rich in that country….otherwise it sucks for you)!
Anytime there’s a long line at the airport, it “can be solved” with some monetary lubrication.
Anytime you need a table at a restaurant with a huge wait…..no problem.
BEST JOBS IN CUBA:
In a perfect society, I’d think doctors, teachers, and businessmen should make the most money…..HOWEVER, in Cuba, we found out one of the best jobs to ever have is a bartender in a touristy spot!
The bartenders sling drinks all day, and get tipped in Cuba Convertible Pesos (about 1-to-1 with American dollars). This means they can rake in $150+ a day. And when you consider the average Cuban peasant makes something like $13 to $18 a MONTH, that’s a helluvalot of money.
The next best job is a taxi driver. The government “owns” the taxis, but the drivers get to keep much of their tips. Someone shuttling around tourists all day can make decent tips, and support an entire family pretty well on that job.
It was interesting yet kinda sad how a bartender or taxi driver make literally 100x what a doctor makes.
The country actually felt VERY safe. I have a reasonably good “Spidey Sense” of what situations will get me into “fake” trouble (ex: security guard telling you to stop doing something), and what will get me into “real” trouble (ex: going to jail in a communist country).
….and I gotta say, Cuba was pretty safe. Since their criminal justice system is so harsh on crime, there is very little of it. I heard pickpocketing and petty crimes are reasonably common, but serious crimes are not.
Actually in Mexico and China I’ve felt MUCH stronger security presences than Cuba. I really expected to see armed guards everywhere around Cuba, but alas hardly saw a single one. Even the police officers seemed chill and nice, and about 80% didn’t even carry guns.
Pretty much everywhere we went, the vibe of the country was “super chill”. It was very safe.
GETTING INTO THE COUNTRY FOR U.S. CITIZENS:
Pretty much any other country in the world can openly travel to Cuba with no issue. However Americans can’t legally go “just like that” because of the embargo we have against Cuba since 1962. But there are many options to go:
GETTING A VISA:
American Citizens can go to Cuba legally if they have family members there, going for diplomatic reasons, going for foreign aid reasons……and the most common is “cultural” reasons. This is for students and tourists. There are many tour companies that will charge you money and get you a “legal” visa to Cuba…..but I’m almost certain some of these are scams, read the next way of entering the country:
U.S. citizens can “try” this little stunt if so chosen:
Get a flight to some country such as Mexico, Belize, Guatemala …wherever. Then fly to Havana, Cuba from there. Your passport will get stamped on the way out of the country, however, Cuba stamps only the Cuban visas (which any person can buy at the airport for $25 each). This visa is just a piece of paper that’s NOT affixed to your passport.
This means for Americans, they stamp the paper on the way into the country, and the way out of the country. So your passport is untouched.
For example, one could “just hypothetically” do this:
Go to Cancun, Mexico.
Buy a flight to Cuba.
At the airport, find a place to get Cuban visas. They’re $25 each.
Fly to Cuba, have a good time.
Fly back to Cancun.
Fly back to the U.S.
From what I understand through research and talking to many people who’ve done something similar, the U.S. no longer takes the Cuban embargo ultra-seriously.
THE TIME-CAPSULE EFFECT:
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Cuba right now, is the “time-capsule” effect the American embargo has on the country. Essentially they have a bunch of old cars from the 50′s rolling around, no internet and very limited cell phone use.
I can go to a rural farm in India, and the farmer will be text messaging his kids. However in Cuba I hardly saw ANY locals with a phone. The only phones I saw being used were carried by hustlers, tourists, or students.
It was also almost wholly “brand-less” when driving around. No billboards, no overt advertisements except inside the actual establishments.
You’ll definitely need to know some Spanish if you visit. However you can make it around the tourist-y areas ok without it. All 6 of us on the trip spoke and understood at least A LITTLE Spanish. Two people with us spoke damn-near fluent, so that helped a ton for using local currency, getting information, and exploring areas where tourists don’t go.
CULTURE & MIS-INFORMATION: Initially I thought we’d see propaganda everywhere, kind of like I’ve seen in China….but to my surprise it was shockingly little. Instead the people are left relatively ignorant of the outside world through not being able to leave the country, no internet, and mainly: Very little access to outside information.
Their bookstores only sold American literature if it was something like an old classic novel (Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway etc). There were a lot of books about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. But completely absent were any new releases.
Almost no Cubans have ever left the country. Almost no information about the outside world is easily seen.
THE CONTINGENCY PLAN:
After researching Cuba, it turns out things were pretty safe. So here’s how I rationalized it:
98% chance things would all work out completely fine and we’d all get home safe.
1% chance of us getting stopped for questioning….perhaps get a small fine.
1% chance that I somehow end up in a Cuban jail with no way out.
In the REALLY OFF CHANCE that I (or someone in the group) were to end up in some really deep-shit trouble whilst in Cuba, I made a small document called “The Contingency Plan.”
I sent the document to two close friends who I trust, and also know my family & friends well enough to get things in motion.
The document contained certain contact information, and also instructions on where to find a small envelope which contained some bank account information. This bank account had immediately access to $200k in cash…..so if by some REMOTE CHANCE I didn’t arrive back home from Cuba…..the contingency plan would kick into gear and be well funded.
After going on the trip and seeing how safe the country actually was, I probably wouldn’t deem a Contingency Plan necessary for the next trip……but it was nice to know I had backups coming for us in case something happened.
SCREW ALL THIS WRITING, HERE’S SOME PICTURES!
Here’s some video highlights of the trip (me and my brother bought a $60 guitar in Cuba and made VERY good use of it)!
Not fully sure about the name yet, but for now they’re called The Neville Letters.
I’ve loooong wanted to make a physical snail-mail newsletter I send out once a month.
There’s something so intrinsically satisfying to me about writing something, then printing it on paper. As I hold it in my hand, I think, “I….Neville Medhora…..MADE this thing.” (I say it in my Caveman Voice)
THE REASON IT’S PHYSICAL AND NOT EMAIL OR WEB: For YOU.
When I just write something and hit “Publish” ….and it’s free …and I don’t really know the people I’m sending to…. the content is gonna be different.
I’ve always wanted to send “Things” to people, not just words. I personally love sitting in bed with a physical book or newsletter and marking it up with a pen. I take away MUCH MORE than a simple email to me.
The reason is UNDERSTANDING.
If I just say, “Hey, you should tell a story in your copy to increase conversions.” ….that’s sort of lame, and won’t stick in your head.
IT’S MY FREAKIN JOB TO BURN LESSONS INTO YOUR BRAIN, so for example…..I’ve always wanted instead to send a box with a crappy little stuffed animal in it, and say something like:
“This stuffed animal rabbit was found on Howland Island towards the end of 1937….just 6 months after Amelia Earhart’s famous disappearance. Howland Island is over 1,700 miles away from the Hawaiian Islands, making it one of the most remote places on Earth.
Humans had never visited the island till a search crew landed on it’s beaches.
What you’re holding here is not just a small, grey, stuffed rabbit with it’s eye poked out. This rabbit was believed to be in the plane of Amelia Earhart (the first woman to fly across the Atlantic) when her plane crashed somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle.
This rabbit found on Howland Island was the exact type Amelia Earhart use to fly with as a good luck charm (confirmed by her parents). What you’re holding in your hand is believed to be the ONLY PIECE OF EVIDENCE ever found of Amelia Earhart’s wrecked plane.
…..now look again at this piece-of-junk stuffed animal. You thought it was a 25 cent item at a garage sale. But now it’s priceless. It’s value went from 25 cents to something that would fetch over $1,000,000 at a Sotheby’s auction.
THE STORY BEHIND IT.
DAMN that was good!
I made up the whole thing about this stuffed rabbit being found, but that person would now fully understand the value-adding power of a great story. Physically holding that rabbit in your hands will make a HUGE difference in the way you grasp the concept of how stories can work. It will be the difference between “understand the concept” and “A light switch in your brain turning on.”
I view it as my DUTY to press these lessons into people’s heads……and using a physical medium is still far more powerful than our current experience on the internet.
I think that’s worth a whole helluva-a-lot more than $100 every month.
My plan is so ultra-super-duper-hardcore burn ONE main lesson into people’s brains with each newsletter.
The lessons will primarily be in the kopywriting world……but in my mind, kopywriting and business are the same thing.
THE REASON I’M CHARGING: REASON #1.) It’s like….work and shit to send these out. I’ve long run a drop-shipping business and know it’s a pain in the ass to keep track of physical inventory and all the random real-world things that happen to a package.
REASON #2.) FOR YOU TO LEARN BETTER. I was long a believer that all my products should be cheap as possible. Lemme tell you, I HAVE CHANGED. It has absolutely zero to do with making more money, and everything to do with PEOPLE WHO PAY FOR SOMETHING VALUE IT MORE.
….and the MORE they pay, the MORE they pay attention.
I have seen this countless times now…..most poignantly with AppSumo tests we’ve done:
Let’s say something like the wildly-popular and helpful SumoBusinessBlueprint. We sell it for $69. People LOVE it, they LEARN A LOT from it, and many go onto create businesses from it, or at least change their entire mind about how to start a business.
But we’ve tried tests where we sold it for $18 also. It sold well at the lower price, but the engagement was low, the people learned very little since they didn’t value it (not everyone, but there was an extraordinarily noticeable drop in interaction), and people thought it was “just ok”.
We then tried selling this product for $1. Yup, just 1 buck.
I thought it was going to be the most AMAZING deal people ever got, and they would all love me.
You know what happened?
THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS WERE THE LEAST-MOTIVATED, MOST-BITCHIEST, WORST CUSTOMERS WE EVER HAD!
That stupidly low price did many things:
De-valued the whole product (when did you think something that was $1.00 was EXTREMELY valuable to you)?
Attracted basement-bargain hunters.
Made the course a total “impulse buy” which people could grab ….and then never use.
Lowered the ratings on the course as these non-perfect-customers would say, “This sucks I want a refund.”
We tried this on several courses, and the shitty results were consistant.
The craziest thing was…..when we price-tested higher prices (particularly $89), the satisfaction rate went UP! The higher price scared away the bargain hunters and impulse buyers….leaving us only with people serious about bettering their understanding of starting a bid-naz.
ANYHOW, If you can come up with a better name than “The Neville Letters”, lemme know. Current ideas I have are:
The Kopywriting Kronicles
Neville Medhora’s Kopywriting Letters
If you would like to start getting The Neville Letters in your physical mailbox, you can signup below. The 1st edition is ready to send out (I actually already sent the 1st two copies to Noah, and my good friend Ryan):
I’m EXCITED AS HELL ABOUT THIS! Hope you come join me on this journey.
It’s exactly $100/month (not $97, or $99.99 to help convince you buy….just plain-old $100).
You can signup below (make sure to enter your correct shipping address at checkout):
[NEVILLE'S LETTERS SUBSCRIBES ARE CLOSED RIGHT NOW!]
Well this certainly was a cool way to say “Thank You”!
Got this email sent to Noah and I recently from Rohan V:
To the Brothers,
Thank you, sincerely. Let me explain. I’m currently trying to deliver free education to 20 million people in Sri Lanka and I’ve learnt a ton from both of you, as well as acquired a metric shit ton of awesome knowledge via the ongoing @appsumo deals which will hopefully directly translate into both meaningful and lasting change for an entire nation within my lifetime.
I just wanted to reach out and scribble these sentiments down because sometimes it really is the simplest things that matter the most.
To the hustle compadres!
P.S – Had the attached done, hope you get a kick out of it!
He then attached this drawing he had made of us….HA!
He got the original image from a thumbnail of one of our Sumo Dojo videos:
I thought this was a pretty great way to get someone’s attention. I’m guessing he had that Simpson-ized drawing done for just a few dollars, but it made all the difference (so much so I wanted to share it)!