Back in the office after checking out for a couple of weeks…. I wasn’t sure what type of response to expect with my vacation blog post at the end of July. However, it ended up being the most clicked-on blog post since Landmark Links started in 2015 which was a bit surprising. As such, I figured that it’s appropriate to give a recap.
First off, the past couple of weeks were among the most relaxing of my adult life. As previously written, I’ve found it difficult to fully unplug from the daily grind, even on vacation. I had mentioned that my co-workers (and family members) were skeptical that I could pull off not working for 2 straight weeks. I’m glad to say that they were proved wrong. The first couple of days were a bit of a challenge and involved forwarding a few emails off to the office to get the piece of mind that someone was covering for me. Other than that, it was actually a lot easier than I thought.
As we were sitting in John Wayne Airport getting ready to take off for the east coast, I made a decision that rather than just taking a break from work, I would to take a break from social media as well. In order to put some teeth to that, I deleted all of the social media apps and most of the news apps (there are some that Apple won’t let you delete) from my iPhone. Reading articles like this helped to convince me of just how addicting social media can be and I wanted to get rid of as many distractions as possible while on vacation.
So, what did I do for two weeks as this new, analog version of myself?
- Spent quality time with my kids – When at work, I frequently don’t get home until 7 pm or later. This leaves an hour at best with Natalie and less than that with Hayden before it’s time for them to go to bed. Yes, there are weekends but in this age of over-programming and multiple activities, those two days at the end of the week often yield less family time than one would like. That wasn’t the case on this trip at all. I went swimming with the girls and Mrs. Links almost every day. My dad and I were there with Natalie when she caught her first fish and her first turtle when we took her on a “turtle hunt.” I got to watch Hayden go from a beginner at walking to a fairly speed toddler (complete the requisite terror when she headed for something that she wasn’t supposed to get into). I was also there to help make them breakfast every morning and just spend quality time with them for an extended period. It was wonderful.
- Relaxed and read a lot – I tend to get caught up in replying to emails right away, even when not at work. While on the trip, any time that I received an email (work or otherwise) I asked myself if it was something that required an immediate response. If the answer was no (this was the case 95% of the time), I didn’t interrupt what I was already doing to deal with work or other issues. Once I was fully in this mode, it was much easier to stay relaxed. I also read a lot, but in a different way than I normally do. Before I had kids, I used to read a book every three weeks or so. Between little ones, a demanding job and blogging, I had read about 2 books cover to cover since mid-2014 before this trip. However, being unplugged provided me with the opportunity to start reading again when the kids were napping and I had some downtime. As a result, I was able to get all of the way through two books during the trip. I find that reading a book is nothing like reading an article. It’s far more relaxing and allows you to get into a good story over a period of time rather than moving from news item to news item. This type of reading allowed me to unwind even further. It’s something that I want to do more of. By the way, if you are looking for good non-fiction, both Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice and American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road are wonderful. I would put money on both being the basis for a movie in the near future. In addition, I read a physical newspaper almost every morning for the first time in a long time which felt a bit like being in a time warp.
- We made great memories: The quality time that I spent with my family on this trip will be something that I’ll cherish forever. There were great times: Natalie catching her first fish, Hayden basically learning to walk, Mrs. Links and I celebrating our 4th anniversary. There were also some challenging times: namely Hayden on both flights (I’ve put her on notice that the next time that we fly together will be when I take her to visit colleges when she’s 18 after she puked all over on the way home – although I suspect that this will become funny with time) and saying goodbye to our family members after two incredible weeks. These life events – both big and small are impossible to fully when glued to a computer screen or a phone and I’m grateful that I was able to experience them.
I left in late July exhausted and somewhat frustrated with work and arrived back after a few weeks feeling well rested and excited for the rest of the year. After our flight landed, I added my news apps back on the iPhone as well as Instagram but am going to try to go without Twitter and Facebook on there. I’m keeping both accounts and will still check in on my computer but have found them to be a bit too distracting, addicting and generally unnecessary to be tuned in to 24/7. In closing, if you are feeling worn down or frustrated, I’d highly encourage you to take off for a couple of weeks with your family to unplug. It’s good for the soul and everything will (probably) still be there when you get back.
The Price is Wrong: Yes, low inflation helps enable people to buy more. However, this isn’t 2005 and spending growth will remain weak until income gains become stronger.
Limbo: Just how low can the ever-falling unemployment rate go?
Out of Context: Why the popular meme about high household debt is wrong – income has grown more.
The Big Unwind: Most Fed officials support a move towards unwinding the $4.5 trillion balance sheet soon but are divided over further rate hikes this year in the face of slowing inflation and productivity.
Star Performer: Rental housing has substantially outperformed stocks since the 1950s mainly because rental income has been better than dividend income – not due to capital gains.
Looming Threat: How Blockchain technology could have a profound and disruptive impact on real estate transactions and data. (h/t Tom Reimers)
Trailing Off: Multi-family starts are way down after a 5-year boom.
Standoff: The continuing battle over Brisbane’s Baylands development is emblematic of why California has an affordability crisis…….. and why it will likely require some form of state-level intervention to fix it.
Gridlock: Baby Boomers who don’t want to sell are dominating the housing market and not enough is getting built to change that.
Big Brother: The SEC has put crypto currency issuers who do initial coin offerings on notice that they fall under their jurisdiction. (h/t Tom Reimers)
Behemoth: Amazon can now borrow money more cheaply than many sovereign countries.
Charts of the Day
But Did it Work? Residents who set fire to a Costa Mesa duplex said that they did it to ward off evil spirits.
I Thought That it Would Be Higher, TBH: Half of Detroit’s 8 mayoral candidates are felons.
Gotta Hear Both Sides: A woman was caught snorting cocaine off of her iPhone in a middle school parent pick up line because, Florida.
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