Tag Archives: Reflection

From time to time, I look back and reflect. These posts are like my journal.

Brazil Now What 9: Sailing

I have arrived at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven for my energy engineering degree.

I have always been interested in sailing but I consider myself a land lover. I thought sailing would remain a dream unfulfilled, but now with the world freaked out by a virus, the ocean is calling.

Employers?

Sailing Holidays, UK

World Sailing, governing body of sport sailing, UK

PR Sailing, Netherlands

Brussels International Sailing Club

Dr. Sails, Barcelona

The Moorings Yacht Charters, Clearwater

Dream Yacht Charter, Surbiton, Surrey

Sunsail Yacht Charter

Nautal, Barcelona

YachtCharterFleet, London

ClickandBoat, Boulogne-Billancourt

Sailing Enjoy South America, Buenos Aires

Ventures Update April 2019, The “Stop Doing List”

695 Riverview Drive

Still renovating, landlording, and taking notes about it for an operating manual. My favorite part is actually selecting the items to install and doing the work.

Here are the pictures from the most recent renovation, apartment B2:

https://www.nathanruffing.com/riverview/march-2019-b2/ 

I’m about to finish another renovation, apartment B4, within the next few days and I expect it to rent quickly. It is pretty much standard.

The next apartment, apartment A2, is more exciting. It will be the “Skunk Works” apartment with several major top-secret design overhauls that take some of my materials selection strategies to the extreme. It is unique, and minimalist but functional with high-quality materials. Should be done by the close of April. Stand by for photos next quarter.

Landlord’s Operating Manual

This is a double-down on the apartments. The manual describes my system in detail. I am looking to make it available to other landlords and aspiring investors.

PI Time
Piano

Kineomen

I remain the Secretary at Kineomen and record a monthly summary for the company.

Kineomen is trimming down to its winning parts.

Simple Kneads Gluten-Free Bread

Great product, great people.

www.simplekneads.com

These are the only money-making ventures that make the cut. I am trimming everything else out.

Friends’ Venture of the Quarter

Check out Travis and Marcus’ Paveway.

https://paveway.io/

They are five years out of the military, and this project has several years of momentum now. Paveway is about business development, and they just put up the website complete with a few blog posts. Read, comment, interact!

Below this point did not make the cut!

“Stop Doing List”

and lessons learned from four years of trying to do everything.

Real Estate Agent

(Maintaining the license!)

I am supporting my current clients, and maintaining the license, but not taking any new clients. I really appreciate all those who took a chance on me as a new agent and I feel fortunate that my clients are happy with their transactions. Real estate really is a lot of work, but it is fun too. Thanks everybody!

This was the most difficult to say ‘no’ to because I was just starting to gain some momentum and the money is great.

Don’t worry, I’m a part-timer for life! Any questions, let me know. Free advice, free guy with MLS access!

Meet Cbus TV

I would love to make this happen, but I simply do not have time. This is not a side-job. This would be full-time. Producing videos is time-consuming. Once you are reasonably good at it, figure an hour per minute of video, and that is if you already know what the content will be.

Clean video requires an hour per minute, PLUS thinking up and planning the content.

Nate TV

I still have the structure, the video equipment, and the editing software. I still have many videos that I really want to make! Down, but never out!

Park City Holdings

This ended some time ago, but I wanted to list it because I learned so much looking into the note business. It really helped me understand lenders’ motivations and value quality lenders as a real estate agent.

Columbus Area Technology Club

I love talking about tech.

Real Estate Agent by Location

This arose from my desire to do real estate close to home, and I hoped to help other agents do so as well, around the country! However, making money by referring is really hard to do. You are like the broker to the middleman and it is too many steps removed from the value creation.

Nate the Columbus Commuter Biker

Maybe with all these projects off my plate I can actually ride my bike again sometimes!

Art Gallery

I’ve dabbled in the idea of transporting art from Brazil for sale in friends’ establishments here in Columbus, but it’s another thing that just takes time time time. I will still blog about it!

Uber Driver

People, my car is just too old and I’m not buying a car just to make $12 / hour!

The Stock Market

Every time I hear somebody talk about the stock market, whether up or down, I am so glad that I have reclaimed the time and energy by not paying attention to that pie in the sky to which I’m always an outsider.

Vino de Coco

I still plan to visit the Philippines. Still.

Market Prediction Results, So Right and So Wrong

Check out this timeline of market predictions. I was WRONG. The guy who was right wishes to remain anonymous, so we’ll call him Sven Laarson.

Nate on 9 Dec 2015, S&P 500 = 2,048

Economists are like weathermen. They are barely better than basic observation most of the time. However, they are paying attention, and when a bad storm is imminent, they are going to see it a few hours ahead—long enough to get inside.
I am staying in cash, so here is a specific wager that I will make up to $1000 so I can put my money where my mouth is. I am willing to bet that we will see 1630 (-22%) before we see 2230 (+8%) in the S&P.

Sven on 29 Mar 2016, S&P 500 = 2,055

Put me down for 2,750 before 1,630. Then we’ll see 1,500 eventually so you’ll get your buying opportunity in the next 30 years. You could miss out though. If it hits 3,300 before the next crash it could never see 1,630 again!

We’re in the first few years right now of the fabled ’15-year bull market’. Could be 20 years. Nothing but up. The dollar will get stronger too (short term, no 15 year bull for the dollar) so watch silver for a good low price to buy on. I’ll start buying at $9 an ounce.

There are less and less obstacles in the way of all markets around the world. Growth will continue even if our local politicians in USA encourage us to vote by convincing us to be divided. Things are going great and America will be made even greater again. The entities involved in the stock market of all entities have no obstacles. The system is built for them and it helps them bring the greatest good to the most people.

Any and every moment could bring a revolutionary invention and it would be available to the whole world within years. With that powering the markets up what could stop our human growth? Almost nothing.

GDP will be measured differently soon to account for all the value we get for free (without triggering a GDP recorded event). E.g. Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, etc. It will show that we are growing at an alarming rate and just not recording it properly. We are accidentally producing less carbon emissions without the great famishes and sacrifices that were warned. Technology. No one needed to force it. The US constitution released human potential. That worked because humans are inherently good. Even in Afghanistan in all out war the vast majority of people just want to work and keep what they earn. With those humans having more access to opportunity than ever in history why would the markets collapse in droves?

It isn’t a deck of cards. It is a rain forest. Very well balanced. Everything is specialized and as a whole the system is diversified (anti-fragile as you say).

Nate on 15 Dec 2016, S&P 500 = 2,262

Sven,

The forwarded message is the bet that I offered you guys almost exactly a year ago (I bolded the bet and put it in red). I’m glad you didn’t take it because I would have lost. The S&P closed above 2,230 on 7 December.

Of note, my man Hussman is especially negative this week:

 See you guys soon,

 Nate

11 Jan 2018, S&P 500 = 2,768

Sven’s hyper-optimistic prediction of 2,750 from March 2016 came true in under two years. S&P 500 up 35% since the prediction.

June 2018, S&P 500 = 2,718

Nate is glad he invested in other things and didn’t short the market, but remains bearish.

I still subscribe to the idea that the longer it takes the worse it will be.

Sven is glad he stayed in the market and remains bullish.

After some discussion, it is determined that since no amount was agreed upon for a bet, no hands were shaken, only pride was won and lost.

11 Oct 2018, S&P 500 = 2,728

I write this post because the S&P 500 just dropped 152 points in two days and everybody noticed it and talked about it. 2,728 only brings us back to July however. and …

Since the day in December 2015 that I predicted down 22%, the S&P 500 is up 33%.

The weatherman is still predicting rain:

https://www.hussmanfunds.com/comment/mc181002/ 

What to Watch 10: Reflection and Rob Morris’ More Freedom Foundation

Nielsen Survey, Reflection on Television
The Ultimate Commuter Bike
To Blog or not to Blog

Rob Morris’ More Freedom Foundation, selected videos

3 Reasons Saudi Arabia Is More Dangerous Than Iran, Oct 2017

How the Reformation Started the Modern World, Jun 2017

9/11: The Shocking Truth, Apr 2017

3 More Reasons Putin Will Never Touch Estonia, Mar 2017

 

What’s Normal, We’re Not

We are truly different. Our everyday lives are different. America is more different from every other country than any other 2 countries are from each other. Here is how:

1. Consumer Culture

Goods are so abundant and cheap that producers systematically create demand with advertisements. The result is bright colors everywhere representing the well-organized system professionally designed to make us want stuff. This is so omnipresent in our culture that we don’t realize that it’s there. Our system of advertisement reaches around the globe now, and it stands out everywhere else it appears (McDonald’s, Coke, Viagra, etetera).

2. Cars

We each have one. We drive mostly alone. Carpooling is the exception. We park close when we can, pay to when we can’t. Cars are our status symbol for which we spend 6 months to 2 years up to a lifetime of income.

3. Strong Institutions and Rule Following

We trust our institutions. From the government to our universities even to our franchises and brands like Coca Cola and McDonald’s. They consistently tax us, educate us, make our favorite treats, always convenient parking, meet and exceed minimum service standards, and a free bathroom when you need it.

We trust institutions over people. We will invest our life savings in a faceless stock in the stock market, but are much more hesitant to invest in a local business whose owner we actually know.

We stop for traffic lights with nobody around. We pay our taxes. Corruption surprises us. The roads are straight, fast, aligned at perfect right angles. We drink alcohol in specific regulated places at specific times. Next time you walk down the sidewalk in Las Vegas and think it’s cool that you can carry a beer with you, remember, that’s the only thing really normal about Vegas!

Some of these things seem unrelated, but I don’t think so. We are unique in having a mostly stable government that is older than the population, and we accept its authority. Most of us arrived since the constitution was adopted in 1789. Name another country in the world whose current government is older than its people. Egypt or China? Mexico? No. No. No. Any South American country? No. Some theocracy? No, not like us.

4. Sugar as a Food Group

You notice it in the people immediately upon arrival at a US airport.

5. Security

You probably won’t be robbed at a US airport, bus station, or in most public spaces. America has never been invaded. We expect security. We expect our government to counter threats, and it does.

6. Air Conditioning

We don’t just air condition for some comfort and relief. We refrigerate our spaces. Nowhere else in the world I have ever been can afford to do this, or has buildings air-tight enough for it.

7. Television

 

For better or worse, our lives are different. We adapt everyday. Adaptation is so ubiquitous we aren’t even aware of it. We are living an experiment from which came many of the greatest improvements in our lives, … but it is an experiment. It has not run its course. The US accounts for just 6.6% of the land area of the world. It has been less than 200 years since the industrial revolution, out of more than 1 million years of human history. As a population, as a culture, we are shocked, adjusting, and changing. We will not live to see the conclusion. The only thing known so far is that we are not normal.

I live in the US, but mostly without the things on that list. It is liberating to at least identify the ways in which we are different. They are the stressors in our lives. To see people shop as a hobby, drive, follow conventions, sip sugar water, follow years’ and decades’ worth of TV series, and refrigerate their living space is like stepping into a hyper-modern future world. You might think I’m crazy, but the reality is: we are.

When I arrived in Germany in December 2008 to backpack for 2 weeks, my first time leaving the country, I was shocked at how un-shocking things were. People were people, living like people. No big deal. I arrived in Afghanistan in January 2011 for a deployment. I remember that of course, but the adjustment there mostly involved the job to do. After a half year there, the real shock was returning home. The colors! The information! Options! What to do?! That returning home shock doesn’t seem to wear off. I have left the country for 6+ months 5 separate times now, to Afghanistan, Japan, and Brazil. Each time I return, I am shocked by how shocking it is to come home.

Over the last year or so, I have spent a lot of time listening to history lectures from the Greeks through today (I recommend The Great Courses, available on Audible, they are awesome). I started with world history for a while, then recently listened to 2 sets of lectures on American history. The shock is the same when learning about history. There is no precedent for America, neither from distant continents, nor from the distant past. America is America. It stands alone.

America is different. America is far from normal. Travel. Travel anywhere in the world, and when you see normal for the first time, remember that you are seeing normal outside the US. Only when you return will you see what is truly remarkable and special. America.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

That is the question.

In this my third year of “blogging,” I have decided that it’s time to discuss “blogging” itself. I have had a website since summer 2013 when my friend Biff showed me how easy it is to do. Most of you have probably not ever blogged and view bloggers as self-absorbed blabber-mouths with an inflated sense of their own importance. Well, actually, maybe you don’t–but that’s how I felt, and so I assumed others felt that way, and that is where I started two and a half years ago…

When I wrote my first post, I can remember clicking the little “Publish” button and waiting for this imaginary something to happen because I had simultaneously spoken to the entire world all at once. I felt like the collective criticism of the world was going to descend upon me and laugh me off the face of the earth. I called my brother and some friends to look at my post just to get some feedback because the anticipation was killing me. Instead of something cataclysmic, nothing happened. I found not only had I not spoken to the entire world all at once, but hardly anyone noticed. This is bad for someone trying to get hits on his website, but for me, I was relieved, and as time went by, I found that I felt more and more free to write what I want and click that “Publish” button. I have come to the point where I enjoy having my website and it has proven very useful. To take it one step further, I will go so far as to say that if you use the internet, you too should blog!–or at least dabble in blogging, or at least have a simple site. The following is why.

  1. A website gives you elbow room on the internet. Let’s face it, these days we all spend some time on the internet. Even those stubborn technophobic Facebook hold-outs who just got a smart phone use the internet. So wouldn’t it be nice to have some of your own space here? “It’s just virtual space!” you say. Yes. Correct. It’s just a virtual internet too, but you’re on it. It must have some value. Own, don’t be a lifetime renter. Having your own personal space, that elbow room, allows you to direct your information seeking efforts so you don’t get lost in the black hole that leads to the end of the internets. If nothing else, you can set up a page with a list of your favorite links as a starting point when getting your news from the internet. Click the link. I do just that with my website.
  2. Having a website gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective on the internet. Ever watch the “behind-the-scenes” of the making of a movie? Seeing it changes how you perceive the movie and you understand it better. Producing video gives you some perspective on what is possible in movies and video production. The same applies to internet information. Once you produce information on the internet you realize how easy it is and impresses upon you the importance of screening the information. Anybody can do it! There is a whole bunch of junk information out there – especially on the internet – and you are much better equipped at recognizing it if you supply some of the junk yourself! I do. Click the link and buy something, dang it!
  3. Blogging gives you a voice. Have you ever played a game where you aren’t allowed to speak for an extended period of time? It’s frustrating, right? Have you ever been frustrated by the stupid things people say in public forums? “I heard so-and-so said such-and-such on Twitter. What an idiot!” Twitter user or not, you’ve seen tweets. You can’t stop them. Twitter is free. You can’t escape them. Tweets are part of the news these days. Don’t fall into the trap of helpless frustration! Believe me, no matter how many followers one has, they are frustrated too. Dear Twitter Idiot, a million people may have read your tweet, but it still only took those million people 10 seconds to read your 140 characters, and they moved on to the next tweet with little more than a nagging feeling of neglect that you didn’t even bother to use punctuation when speaking to millions of people. Dear Frustrated Mute Listener, find your voice! Blabber on! Look no further for an example. This is me blabbering right here! Look! An excessive exclamation point! Where? Right there! You can too. If you are my friend, I will even go out of my way to read and promote your unlimited characters, but you have to take that first step.
  4. You can use your blog to discuss with your friends more efficiently. Whenever I research a subject, I write my conclusion in a post instead of just an e-mail. That way when the subject comes up again, I send the link to my conclusion! You systemize your discussions! Yes, I really do this and it is fun.
  5. A website is an efficient way to communicate and organize. I used my site for an event over Thanksgiving, and it worked great. Facebook works too, and so does group e-mail, but a website has an advantage over each. With a site, you can adjust it after sending the link, which you can’t do with a group e-mail. Some people do not have Facebook, and you can reach those people as well. You definitely want to be able to reach the Facebook hold-outs, they are the coolest people out there. Just ask them!
  6. The internet can be compared to real estate. Many people will say that blogs are out of date and you will not get any traffic. You should use established places like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, et cetera. It is true that you will get more traffic in these established places. They are like a store front in a mall. There is naturally traffic passing by. With a blog you must generate your own traffic organically. However! Space on the internet is like real estate. With a blog you own the space and you own the traffic. You control how your content is displayed and in the event that you do generate traffic, you own the advertising rights. If you are already producing content in any other place you should blog it first then copy paste it to the other established formats. Own your content!
  7. Last and certainly not least, blogging is a journal. Maybe you want to sit down for a few minutes each day / week / month and reflect. Journaling is a timeless activity. I argue that blogging is an improvement on journaling. Journaling is for hermits. In a journal, you may write some of your deepest secrets feeling the security that nobody will ever read it. How do we know that people write secrets in their journal? Because they wrote them down and somebody found their journal and read them, duh! With blogging, hopefully you’re smart enough not to publish your deepest secrets (I don’t recommend drinking and blogging, bad idea). Blogging is journaling with 3.26 billion of your closest friends keeping you honest. There is an imaginary force of motivation knowing that someone might be reading that keeps you to your routine of a few minutes of writing. So thanks for keeping me honest. The best is when somebody in real life tells you he has read your blog and makes some comment on it. It’s kind of a rush. It’s like a tiny piece of that tidal wave of criticism that you felt on day one–but not criticism at all–and you become a little less self-conscious, and a little more bold each time.

To blog! That is the answer.

Nielsen Survey

I was recently solicited to participate in a Nielsen household TV survey. They have a unique way of enticing participation. The first envelope has a lot of explanatory material and a request to participate, as well as–without explanation–$5 cash, a single five-dollar bill. I agreed to participate, so after a few weeks they sent me a second envelope with a “TV Viewing Diary” to be filled out in detail for two weeks; and again the cash–this time the envelope contained six five-dollar bills, $30 cash! I spent the fives on groceries, filled out the TV viewing diary (blank because I don’t watch), and took their TV survey. Now, like Pavlov’s dogs, I am expecting a thank you letter with more cash. I can’t wait to hear from Nielsen again!

At the end of the diary, Nielsen leaves space and asks you to “comment on TV in general.” This is my response:

Except for about two years in the middle, I haven’t had TV in my house since 2003 (for two years my roommates had one). At first I felt like I was missing something and like I didn’t know what was going on. After a few months, I no longer missed it and I gathered from conversations at work and with friends what was in the news and what was going on in various shows. After a few years, I started having the opinion that TV actually prevents people from really knowing what’s going on. I hear conversations about current shows and it’s all sensationalized fantasy.  People’s world view from the news is this chaotic, scary place, when really the world, for the most part, is fairly well-off, happy, and stable. When I see TV now, much of it is shocking and some of it is offensive. I do miss sports and ESPN. I watch ESPN
whenever I can! -Nathan Ruffing

So You’ve Got My Card

So you’ve got my card. Why do I have a card? The real question is, why don’t you have a card? I have one because I am an aspiring adventure capitalist, and I have ideas percolating from 7 1/2 years in the military and I want to  share them and execute the best of them. Here is my story.

This was one of the first paved roads at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2011.
This was one of the first paved roads at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2011.

I am a transitioning Marine Corps Officer and pilot of the mighty CH-53E heavy lift helicopter. I joined the Marine Corps after graduating college, and began my service in January 2007. Following initial training and flight school, I was in “the fleet” from May 2010 until May 2014, and deployed with various units to Afghanistan in 2011, on the 31st MEU in 2012, and back to Afghanistan in 2013. During my service, I have had the challenge and privilege of serving with inspiring and intelligent Marines. As I transition out, I feel an implied obligation to live up to the example that many of them set, and to use what I have learned for good.

This day marked seven years in the Marine Corps for me and we tested this bird up.
This day marked seven years in the Marine Corps for me and we tested this bird up.

During 7 1/2 years in the military so far, it has been busy, but there have been many hours in chow halls, K spans, “at the LSA,” on the boat, and–who am I kidding?–at work, to plan, scheme and dream about what we are going to do after. That’s a lot of talk. Now it’s time to walk the walk.

What is the website for then? Once I’m out, in July 2015, I will need a place to define and organize what I am doing. I want to share my ideas, network with people around the world, establish business relationships, sell products, and give friends and acquaintances a way of following my whereabouts, failures, and successes.

Currently the site includes a summary of my only real business venture (695 Riverview Drive) and some posts that are basically just my musings. On the near horizon, I am in the process of investing in a start-up gluten-free bread company organized by a fellow transitioning Marine Officer. It is an exciting opportunity and an endeavor for which two families are moving across the country and risking it all to ensure its success. I look forward to posting about it. I also plan to post a first-year summary of my apartments at 695 Riverview Drive.

Comment on the site, or e-mail me! nate@nathanruffing.com