Category Archives: Personal

It feels good to be getting stuff done recently!

DAMN it feels good to be getting stuff done recently!!

I’m not saying I’m working a lot more than normal, but I’ve been gaining “momentum” once again (I scheduled my 2013 too lax, and barely got anything done).

There are literally days when I work at home and watch YouTube and read Digg the ENTIRE….ENTIRE….ENTIRE DAY.

It almost amazes me how I can waste that much time.
It’s almost…….impressive!

Anyhow, here’s some things I’ve done this year that have helped me get my mojo back, perhaps you can pick some lessons (my favorite is the last one):

1.) I took a Thailand Workcation.  
This was mixture of play and work.  But the main objective was:


“Do work, by a beach”.  

That was the motto of the trip:

2.) Scheduling creative writing times with other bloggers/entrepreneurs.  
Simply being around other people who are working towards similar things really helps.  On some Wednesdays I invite a couple people over to have “Creative Writing Time”.  The rules are you have to be WRITING something:

Here’s me, Noah Kagan, and Ryan Holiday in a pool (even thought it’s 50 degrees outside):

3.) Keeping accountable with other entrepreneur peeps.
My friend Billy from Forever Jobless and I are meeting with a select group of people every month, and the lessons learned are awesome.  It almost makes you wanna do a lot of stuff before each call.

4.) Co-working when I’m not being productive.  
Simply working around another person makes me more productive.  I dunno why, but it sure works!  I just call people up and see if they want to work.

5.) I put up a giant mirror in front of my workspace.  
Instead of a guitar sitting right there, I now see my monthly/quarterly goals staring me in the face.  Sure kicks me back into gear.

6.) Using Self Control App.
But I think one of my FAVORITE new things I’ve tried, is nuking the time-wasting sites I use.  I do this using Self-Control App.

I added a blacklist of: Digg.com, CNN.com, Facebook.com, and Reddit.com.

When I click the “start” button on SelfControlApp, I can no longer access those sites for a certain amount of time (I’ll generally put it for 5 hours).

However I can still access Gmail, Google Docs, Aweber and all the other useful things I use online:

So….. 
If you haven’t been all that productive lately, at least one of these might help push you in the right direction!

Have a happy Thursday :)
Neville – A very lazy man

P.S.  Oddly enough this Wednesday I spent from 7am till 7pm fiddling around with WordPress stuff.  I actually had a lot of fun doing it!

It reminded me of college when I took computer science classes (which I got kicked out of the first year) and would sit at a coffee shop with headphones in and work on my laptop till 6am.

It’s weird how THAT sounds fun to me!
#letsgetnerdy

Thailand workcation

Beautiful beaches….
Sunshine……
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:
thailand

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:
thailand

Thassalotaflights!  Something like 32 hours of travel time each way:
thailand

 

We were greeted by a hologram in Japan:
thailand

 

There were lots of stray dogs I played with…..good thing I’m fully vaccinated against rabies!
thailand

 

Relaxing on Koh San Road (where all the backpackers hangout), waiting to get my foot massage:
thailand

 

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”:
thailand

 

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!
thailand

 

ASIAN FOOD EVERYWHERE:thailand

 

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):
thailand

 

Noah working diligently during the SuperBowl:
thailand

 

Drinking custom-made fruit smoothies for about a dollar a piece:
thailand

 

One of the “rioters” :-P
thailand

 

Meow meow meow:
thailand

 

Coconuts…..my FAVORITE:
thailand

 

Ordering food on the beach while working in perfect weather:
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

Ko Samui:
thailand

 

I had to put this in there so I remembered…..
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

Relaxing in the pimp bus:
thailand

 

Headed out on a ferry to Ko Tao Island:
thailand

 

Perfect breeze and weather for a ferry ride.  It was 100% foreigners:
thailand

 

Cool scenery:
thailand

 

Noah wore that Taco Shirt LITERALLY the whole trip except the last day!
thailand

 

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
thailand

 

Lol….I walk in the hotel room to find Noah working from a bed of roses:
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

Discovered a random Mui Thai gym in Ko Tao….it was all foreigners:
thailand

 

Crossfit??!?!? In Koh Tao?!??!  Very random:
thailand

 

This is how I woke up to work:
thailand

 

Working early morning (still getting up at weird times with jet lag):
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

All three of us working for a few hours:
thailand

 

In Ko Tao there was this RANDOM ASS taco shop we stopped by, and it ended up having the BEST tacos I’ve ever had!  HIGHLY recommended:
https://www.facebook.com/kohtaotacothailand

 

We ended up making friends with the owner, he was actually American!
thailand

 

Of course you gotta get an off-road scooter:
thailand

thailand

 

Scooter trip around the island:
thailand

 

Parked and walked down some steps:
thailand

 

….and found this random beach for locals:
thailand

 

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):
thailand

 

Great views that pictures don’t quite translate:
thailand

 

Chilling and working:
thailand

 

Working from a restaurant thingy on a cliff:
thailand

 

View from the resort balcony where we were working:
thailand

 

Dasch meow??
thailand

 

Took a ferry outta Ko Tao:
thailand

 

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!
thailand

thailand

 

Arrive in Krabi…..this is the road we’d drive on everyday with those cool Avatar-looking mountains in the background:
thailand

 

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”:
thailand

 

More coconuts for me!
thailand

 

One of Edmunds businesses in Krabi was a hostel with a really cool vibe to it….so we spent time working from there:
thailand

 

Noah took over job as bartender:
thailand

 

Scooterizing:
thailand

 

Lol…..this random poster on the wall of the hostel always cracked me up!
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

Scuba diving in Koh Tao:
thailand

 

Doing a quick re-fresher of how to not die in the ocean before going scuba’ing in some world-famous waters:
thailand

thailand

 

One of our dive locations:
thailand

 

Before taking the plunge:
thailand

 

IMMA SCUBA DIVER!
thailand

 

Workcation scenes: Me working from a beach:
thailand

 

Hammock’ing:
thailand

 

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:
thailand

 

Chillaxing.  That weather was utterly perfect:
thailand

 

Photos we HAD to take before leaving this beautiful location.  Me relaxing by the ocean:
thailand

thailand

thailand

 

Noah chilling by the ocean.  The water was so warm and mild and non-wavy you could sit there comfortably:
thailand

thailand

thailand

thailand

 

Aaaannddd of course I have to end off the album with a couple of Handstand pics!!
thailand

thailand

thailand

 

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?

Do your damn work

I wasted many-a-day postponing answering to every comment in this post, so finally I just recorded it the whole time.

This is about 4 hours of time condensed into a 1 minute.

Whilst answering the comments I researched random stuff, goofed off a bit (you can see I watch a YouTube video or two towards the end), and trudged through writing comments and emails.

When people say, “MAN I wish I could do what you do and work from wherever and still make money!!!!!” …..they don’t see the more boring side of it.

Show some fucking passion poster

Posted this on the blog, and two weeks later this randomly shows up in the mail!

show-some-fucking-passion-poster2

I love it!!

Happened to have a leftover frame that was the right size, and hung it up in my reading room:
show-some-fucking-passion-poster1

Thank you random poster people that sent it to me :-)

Guessing this is you??
http://gfda.myshopify.com/

Sincerely,
Neville

 

P.S.  I got to play with Google Glass (and take selfies of myself in them).  Cool technology, will pass on this 1st generation of them for now, but the 2nd and 3rd iterations will be AWESOME.

google-glass-selfie

about alcohol

I wanna talk about alcohol.   

I recently had a small “discovery” about myself which has drastically cut down on my alcohol consumption.

And just for fun, I’m going to write this email, whilst drinking a beer!
Cheers:
——————————————

So here’s how I’d normally drink alcohol:

IF I’m at a party….
–and–
IF they are serving alcohol…

I will normally drink.  

There’s no real rhyme or reason to this.  I’ll simply have a cocktail or beer out of habit.

Now my problem is I drink FAST.
If I have a drink in my hand (whether it’s a beer, martini, or CocaCola), I’ll keep taking sips until it’s finished.

When I’m done, I’ll get another.

I could finish three drinks before someone else finishes one, and not even realize it till it “hits me.”

I went to 9 weddings in 2012 alone, and I want to share with you a common theme:

1….) I would show up to the wedding reception where there’s always an open-bar starting around 7pm till dinner starts.

2….) I would load up on free drinks, and by dinner time, be kind of buzzed (let’s not use euphemistic words to hide the truth here ….I’d be kinda drunk by this time).

3….) Every drink I take lowers my ability to keep up conversation and be “sharp”…..so I’d be bit dull by the time dinner starts.

4….) Since I’ve been drinking, I’m SUPER hungry by dinner time, and I scarf down the meal and whatever leftovers I can get from others.

5….) So now I’m at a wedding, can barely stand up, feel bloated, have to take a huge dump, feeling cranky, and can no longer make witty conversation.  I just wanna leave at this point.

OK……so by the end of a wedding I’m feeling like crap all because I had too many drinks too fast in the beginning.

This was shockingly apparent to me when I was at a wedding in Cancun (the 4th wedding of that year).  I drank before the dinner started, then scarfed down three plates of food (they flew in a chef from Goa and the food was incredible)….and I felt so bloated and full that I had to go back to my hotel room to throw up.

I ate SO much food I literally couldn’t keep it down.

This was my body’s way of saying, “OK YOU DUMBASS YOU NEED TO SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.”

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that story until now.
It’s incredibly embarrassing.

SOoooo I ended up making a “Wedding routine” I started following with great success for the next round of weddings.  Perhaps you can use this advice for parties you go to:

1.) I would not have any drinks till AFTER dinner.  Because of this I could keep up great conversation and have a good time without an impending crash.

2.) I would only eat HALF the dinner portioned to me (to avoid feeling so full).

3.) Sometime late into the dinner or after, only if I felt like it, I would start having drinks with friends.  Having a few drinks helped me have more fun on the dance floor.  Several times I simply didn’t feel like drinking at this point because I was having a lot of fun and didn’t want/need any drinks.  It was liberating.

THAT’S IT.  That simple change of “only drinking after dinner” completely changed the outcome!!

Such a stupid little hack changed everything!!

Now that routine worked well for events like weddings, but I frequently go to tech meetups and events, and they’re often held at bars.

The WHOLE point of these is to meet other nerds and have cool conversations.  But with every drink I have, my intelligence goes down.

So one day I was talking with a shy-yet-incredibly-intelligent friend *cough cough* STEVE *cough cough*

….and we were talking about drinking habits.  He asked me one question which till this day I cannot get out of my mind.

This is almost verbatim what he said:

“I don’t understand why you drink.  You’re already outgoing, so why do you need alcohol?  I’m super quiet and nervous at parties, so if I have 1 or 2 drinks, it actually loosens me up and I have a better time.  So the alcohol serves a purpose for me.  But for you it doesn’t.”

–my friend Steve

HOLY FREAKIN CRAP.

I had never ONCE in my life asked the simple question:
Will this drink make my time here better or worse? 

This led me down this path of thinking about all the other hidden invisible scripts I (and others) follow in life.

Go to party with drinks —> You drink. 

Go to college —> Then get job. 

Party is invite only —> You can’t go

It seems that we all follow these invisible scripts for seemingly small things.

So remember in the beginning of this article I said “I’m going to write this email, whilst drinking a beer!”

That wasn’t a joke.
I am sitting on my couch with my Macbook Air and a Blue Moon beer on the table.

But here’s the thing…..
I was feeling lazy and un-creative before.  I was tickled by the idea of drinking a beer WHILE writing an article about drinking, so I did it.  And the beer served me.

Actually the beer isn’t near me anymore.  I only drank half and put it back in the fridge.  Because instead of following the script of “Have open beer —> Drink it”….I’m asking if the beer is serving me or not.

It served me when I started.  And now that I’m done, I don’t want anymore.

I’d like for you to identify one invisible script you do on your own, and how you’ve changed that behavior (or plan to).

I love hearing stories that have TINY changes that product BIG results (so I can emulate them).

I’m particularly interested to hear about changes in your relationship, work, or habits.

Leave a comment on my blog about them (you can remain anonymous or change your name if you’d like).  I will be selecting 5 commenters to send a NevBox to in the mail (anywhere in the world)! (remember each NevBox cost $97 and I have to physically ship it to you via snail mail…..and I’m no longer selling them).

So go comment with a SMALL change that’s produced BIG results for you, and I might be contacting you to send you a NevBox!!!

I wanna kill this dog….

Catchy subject-line right?

Damn straight.

And it’s true.  I’m going to kill this dog:
dog-1

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:
dog-2

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:
IMG_5391

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. 

Ok…cool….not bad.

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.

GET THIS:

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.

-Neville

 

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.

Cuba

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).

BRIBING. 
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.

SAFETY:
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:

GOING QUASI-ILLEGALLY:
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.

 

 

LANGUAGE BARRIER:
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)!

http://youtu.be/-eRVn5Kib5s

We got Simpson-ized

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!
-
Rohan Vimalachandran

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!
Simpsonized Neville and Noah
He got the original image from a thumbnail of one of our Sumo Dojo videos:
Before being simpsonized
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)!
Thanks Rohan!

My Zero G Experience

Well….I went on a Zero Gravity flight!

It’s a flight where you get on an airplane (a full-sized 727) and do parabola maneuvers that make you weightless for 30 seconds at a time.

It was kind of like skydiving, I always knew I wanted to do it.

Basically the plane does maneuvers like this:
Zero G Parabola Flight Path

Now the VERY FIRST THING everyone wants to know is “HOW MUCH DID IT COST??”

Well, here’s the after-tax price on my credit card statement:
Zero Gravity Flight Cost

$5,197.00 total cost. 

So yes…..this wasn’t a cheap little adventure (you can take a whole family on a vacation for that much money)…..but it was a “once in a lifetime” unique thing.  Plus when I go to space, I’ll have some experience :-)

So I’ll describe the whole day with words & pictures:

At 8:30am me and two friends (Steve and John) went to a Marriott where the ZeroG people were holding an orientation.  They have Dramamine and some other anti-nausea medications freely available (after all, this thing is nicknamed “The Vomit Comet”)!

Zero G Flight Orientation

After watching some videos and a light breakfast, they tell you to use the bathroom since there’s no bathroom on the plane (since regular airplane bathrooms tend to “spill over” when you do weird parabola maneuvers in them).  Gross.

One of the things I blatantly ignored was them discouraging you from bringing a camera.  They said in the air it was “very clumsy” to fiddle with a camera.  I still brought one anyway and put it in my flight suit (which you get to keep)!

They were gonna have a professional photographer onboard, plus a couple of high def video cameras to record all the floating.

Apparently this Marriott had Zero Gravity already!  ;-)

 

Soon after the orientation, they bused us to the airport:
Zero G Bus Trip

 

Everyone on the bus was pretty excited and ready to go floating!

 

We got down and saw the plane.  It was a full size plane, much like something you’d fly from Austin to New York in:

 

I naturally had to get my world-wide famous handstand picture pose.  This one was timed pretty well!
Zero G Flight Handstand

 

Here’s a picture of John, TAKING a picture of him throwing a phone in the air:

 

Everyone boarding the plane from the cargo entrance (the whole thing is actually a converted cargo airplane):

 

A group photo of everyone going floating that day. I stuck my tongue out like this  :-P

 

Me, Steve, and John walking Armageddon style towards the plane:

 

There were about 40 regular airplane seats in the back, and you can see the main floating area with padding the whole way around:

 

When we completed the takeoff and got to cruising altitude, they let us hang out in the main floating area.  Sitting like this was MUCH more comfortable than regular old airplane seats!

 

Since the plane must first do a high-gravity turn before low-gravity, they HIGHLY SUGGEST you lay down and stare at one spot on the ceiling for this part.   We would pull 1.8 G’s on this maneuver, so my 170 lbs body felt 306 lbs.

It just felt like a lot of pressure on your body, but not extremely uncomfortable (although anymore G’s and it would be uncomfortable):

 

Me jokingly falling asleep:

 

This is me in Martian gravity.  Our first parabola was “Mars gravity” which is 1/3 your weight on Earth.  The next two parabolas are “Lunar weight” where you weight 1/6th your weight.

This part was really fun!  You could jump & flip…..but when you hit the ground it didn’t hurt. You also would still come back down, whereas in Zero G you never fall back down without a push:

 

This was my first FULLY WEIGHTLESS picture.  It was fun just rising up off the ground with literally a tap of your finger:

 

John got these two great pics of him floating an iPhone.  He was actually trying to play Hangtime….a game he developed which got banned from the Apple App store.  You throw your phone high as possible and try to see how long it can “hang” in the air.  This is a CLEAR loophole :-)

These pics are particularly great since John is CEO of Mutual Mobile (a 250+ person company here in Austin):

 

John playing Hangtime as Steve flies around:

 

Everyone just flying around the cabin:

 

Another Superman pic:

 

Just hanging out in Zero G:

 

Eating a water bubble.  It seems so nice and spherical in the air….so it looks like a solid.  But don’t be fooled!  If you miss with your mouth, it WILL splash all over your face!

 

SO before I went onboard the Zero G flight, I thought THIS is what it would be like floating in Zero G for the first time:

 

However I quickly found out it was more like this the first couple of times we went weightless (30 seconds at a time):

 

After the 6th zero-g parabola I think it was much better…..but at FIRST you definitely have a difficult time controlling yourself.  Simply pushing off the floor with LAUNCH you upwards towards the ceiling.

Plus you’re often bumping into other people who change your trajectory.

I remember one time I just curled up into a ball and floated around the whole 30 seconds.  I would get bumped, pushed, nudged….around the whole area by other people or the walls.  It was fun to feel like a ping-pong ball!

 

After the  flight was done, we found out why the plane wasn’t flying in a straight line…..THESE goofballs were driving ;-)

 

I got one last pic in the plane….of course a full-gravity handstand:

 

The second thing after the “how much did it cost” questions….is “did you throw up in the vomit comet??”  The answer is: YES!

“THE NICEST VOMIT EVER”
I’m not sure I’ve ever been motion-sick before……but I know if I ever DID get motion sickness, the LAST thing I’d do is start doing flips, handstands, or achieving terminal velocity.  However that’s EXACTLY what I was doing the whole time.

For the last 3 parabolas I could feel a small part of my stomach go further and further up my throat each time.  By the last parabola, I could tell something was gonna give.  I grabbed the little air-sickness pouch they give you (everyone keeps one in their flight suit pocket), and wee bit of vomit came out.

HOWEVER it was the “nicest” vomit I’ve ever had!

Normally if someone vomits, it’s either because you’re violently ill, or very very drunk.  Both are not good feelings.  However, this was rather….dare I say…..pleasant?

I balled up the pouch when done, put it inside another…..and felt ok after that.

I kind of ignored feeling a little sick on the last few parabolas because I didn’t wanna waste my weightless time.  Only 30 seconds each, 16 times total (8 minutes of weightlessness).

If I ever do this again (or go to space), I’m going to take the anti-nausea medication they give.

By the end of the flight, I’d say at LEAST 50 percent of the people felt A LITTLE worn out or nauseous.  Not necessarily throw-up nauseous, but if you think about what your body just endured for the first time, it makes sense:

You were weightless for the first time in your life with NO visible reason why.  You endure 1.8 G’s for 30 seconds at a time, then go weightless and do flips & tricks for 30 seconds…..then you repeat that SIXTEEN TIMES!

By the end, it’s not TOO surprising your body is probably saying, “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!!??!?!”

————————————————————-
“SO, WAS IS WORTH $5,2000.00 ?”
If you’re actually INTERESTED in this kind of thing, and you can easily afford it….then go for it.

If you’re either going to spend your hard-earned $5,200 on a car down-payment or $5,200 on this…..perhaps the car payment might be better.

However I wouldn’t recommend saving up for years for this.  ONLY if it’s easily affordable AND you really wanna do it….would I recommend.

 

SOME OF MY VIDEO:

 

A little side note:
I checked to see which astronauts were currently in space at the time of my Zero G flight (August 18th, 2012).  There were SIX humans in space….all aboard the International Space Station.  I checked their names:

people-in-space

Not a single Indian person…..nevertheless a Zoroastrian……so that means on August 18th, 2012…..from 12pm to 2pm ….

I WAS THE ONLY WEIGHTLESS INDIAN PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE!!

Only Weightless Indian Person In The Universe