Archive for May, 2013

Turns out my giant mutant size-16 feet make great flippers.

Also, I may have invented a brand new style of swimming. It combines the arm movement of the butterfly stroke and the leg thrashing of a mentally challenged frog. I call it… the G-stroke. Awww yeah.

Pool chronicles, day 4

 You know how some people say their hobby is swimming? Well, mine is “not drowning.” If I try really really hard, I can swim across the pool (so basically 20′) before I lose balance and start gurgling chlorine. Yaaaay…

Achievement unlocked: paddling in place for 15 seconds as long as I don’t breathe or open my eyes. 2016 summer Olympics, here I come!

Pool chronicles, Day 1: scared a bunch of black children with my infinite whiteness; then amused them for 90 minutes with my attempts at floating.

Achievement unlocked: 5 seconds without drowning!

I think I’m becoming a book hipster: just finished reading an amazing book – “The Martian” by Andy Weir, but you can’t buy it anymore because some big studio bought out the rights and the only way to get it now is as an audio book. In other words, nya nya nya nya nya!

The book is about an astronaut who was left for dead on Mars by his crewmates. Only he’s not quite dead – and he’s very resourceful… Here’s a few select quotes if any of you want to give the audiobook a try:
“Astronauts are inherently insane. And really noble.”
“The press is crawling down my throat for this. And up my ass. Both directions, Venkat! They’re gonna meet in the middle!”
“no amount of careful design by NASA can get around a determined arsonist with a tank of pure oxygen.”
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
“Thanks for gathering samples. But leave them behind. And one of your arms, too. Whichever one you like least.”
“I’m turning my pee into rocket fuel. It’s easier than you’d think.”
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”

Want to know more? Go over yonder and download the audiobook while you still can!

Another month, another e-book. I think I’m getting better at this whole productivity thing!

My latest e-book is “Roommate Survival Guide: 33 ways to stay sane and have fun.” The idea had been bouncing around inside my head for a long, long time – ever since I published my best-selling book “Go to college without going broke.” Unfortunately, I’m pretty lazy… I finally got the motivation to put my thoughts on paper after I made a pretty big purchase a couple of weeks ago. There’s no such thing as too much passive income, and the new dent in my budget provided more than enough inspiration to start writing.

What’s so special about this book? Well, as far as I can tell, it’s unlike any other book or article on roommates out there. From what I’ve seen, most of them are filled with generic advice and written by people with minimal (or non-existent) roommate experience. I, on the other hand, have had over 80 roommates over the past nine years. (I move a lot.) Most of the 33 chapters in my book contain some sort of example from my personal experience, followed by a few practical tips.

Like most of my other books (with the exception of “Madmen’s Manifestos”), Roommate Survival Guide is fairly short but highly informative. I could have easily imitated the “For Dummies” series and filled my book with dozens of cartoons, anecdotes and pointless trivia, but I respect my readers too much to waste their time. It’s got condensed information, useful tips, some of my trademark goofy humor, a few useful links – and that’s pretty much it.

As always, I’m giving away my new book for free for a few days. You can download it over yonder all day today and possibly tomorrow. If you like it, please feel free to leave a 5-star review and tell your friends. If you don’t like it – hey, at least you got it for free. I always appreciate any and all feedback from my readers, so by all means feel free to leave a comment, tweet or email me.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy my newest creation!

There weren’t any groundbreaking announcements, but some things were pretty interesting:

  • the weather was ridiculously cold. It was raining, too, which is probably why they opened the doors 30 minutes early at 6:30am;
  • not a whole lot of protesters this week – at least none that made it inside the building;
  • The “Breaking Bad” skit at the beginning of the meeting was comedy gold: Warren Buffett vs Walter White in a battle over brittle distribution. The greatest part was Munger’s “Brittle, bitch!” at the end.
  • BYD, the Chinese electric car company that Charlie Munger praised from the rooftops for years, was never mentioned during the Q&A, nor showcased in the exhibit hall. Oh, the shame!
  • After Buffett’s little speech on the need for better gender equality, Munger refused to comment. Given his previous conservative commentary on gender relations, it probably wouldn’t have been very PC – silence was probably the better course of action;
  • Doug Kass, who is apparently a famous short-seller, was one of the panelists who got to ask Buffett and Munger questions. The first few were fine, but around 2pm he turned his question into a 3-minute monologue about the benefits of short-selling and a lame challenge to Buffett with a complete list of conditions. He blabbered on for at least 3 minutes, wasted everyone’s time and got succinctly shut down by Munger’s “To answer your question – no.” Here is hoping he won’t get invited again;
  • The funniest moment of the Q&A session: a 25-year-old guy from Los Angeles who asked how he could convince people to give him money for his brand new partnership, even though he had no track record of any kind. Laughter ensued;
  • The bookstore in the exhibit hall featured pretty much every book ever written about Buffett, except for his official, authorized biography – The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. Only the old biography, Roger Lowenstein’s Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, was featured. I guess Buffett is still mad at Schroeder;
  • The Buffett worship is turning into creepy idolatry: shareholders could buy boxer shorts with Buffett’s face on them ($5) or a gold coin with Buffett’s face ($850);
  • When asked about IBM’s moat and competitive advantage, Buffett launched into tirade about different valuation methods, etc. He never did answer the question, which only reinforces my belief that IBM wasn’t a traditional Buffett investment. Seems like it was just a convenient, fairly conservative large company that simply happened to match some (but not all) of his usual criteria…

I’m typing this as I sit in the Denver airport, waiting for my flight to Omaha to start boarding. It’s my sixth trip – or pilgrimage, even – to see Warren Buffett at his annual shareholder convention held in his hometown.

I know this airport well by now, seeing as I’ve traveled through it for five years. For me, this convention is a mix of Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, a chance to visit that quaint little town as part of the legion of capitalists who dubbed this annual event “The Woodstock for Capitalists.” It’s a chance to try a genuine Omahan steak, to meet like-minded (i.e., intelligent, curious and money-oriented) people from all over the world and, of course, to listen to the 82-year billionaire investor and his 89-year-old business partner Charlie Munger (also a billionaire) share their wisdom, criticize the bovine excrement that passes for wisdom on Wall Street and answer questions from investors and the media.

All recording devices are prohibited at the event, which creates an aura of exclusivity, even if it must be shared with 45,000 other attendees. The atmosphere, the excitement, the significance of financial revelations and occasional investment tips (mostly on what not to invest in) – all of this keeps coming back year after year…

The first time I heard about Buffett was during his visit to my alma mater, University of Nevada, Reno. Since I was a lazy and arrogant college senior, I disregarded the event, thinking that it was just another fat-cat billionaire reveling in his success in front of a bunch of young, impressionable students. After the event was over, I decided to look him up on Wikipedia… The facepalm that followed was pretty damn epic, as we kids say these days.

I read more about the legendary investor, learned about his Omaha convention, got a ticket on eBay, hopped on a Greyhound bus and spent 37 (yes, thirty-seven) hours riding it until I finally made it to Nebraska. I spent a total of 24 hours in Omaha during that first trip because I had to hurry back for my final exams. I spent most of the ride back typing on my laptop, chugging RedBulls and completing my assignments. I barely made it back in time, but it was so very, very worth it. 

And now the boarding call has sounded, and it’s time for me to go… I may post some updates after the event is done – or I could just hog the precious knowledge to myself as I fly back to Vegas, recharged and motivated after my annual get-together with the world’s most famous investor.