America: What on earth have we done?

Shell-shocked.. I set an alarm to check results around 1:00 AM, but fell asleep feeling good from the promising early results. Needless to say I haven’t slept since. I wanted to try and organize the mess of thoughts cracking my head open right now.

First.. to my friends who immigrated to the US to better your life, to those in marginalized communities, those with disabilities, sexual assault survivors, the LGBTQ community, those born with the deck stacked against them,  the Muslim community, the Hispanic community: Take strength from the fact that the result of this election will not set back the progress that has been made. The rights of you and your loved ones that you have fought for over the last hundred years will be defended with all this nation has. I understand how easy that is for me to say.. I am a straight white male who is probably insulated from most of the negative ramifications of last night. Still, for whatever my voice is worth, understand that I (and much of America) will do whatever it takes to support you

(Edit: I was given some advice saying this section came across as a bit insensitive. Fair point. Things are scary and promises have been made that would clearly make things worse. I only mean to say that the majority of voters who voted against Trump and what he stands for will do everything they can. Apologies.  http://www.cracked.com/blog/dear-white-people-stop-saying-everything-will-be-ok/ Illustrates what I mean)

The Fear: 

Having said that, this dementor-esque darkness is not likely to lift any time soon. The fact that a man can admit proudly to sexually assaulting women, spit on fallen war heroes and their families, evade his taxes, stiff small business owners that work for him, dismiss the contributions and value of the scientific community, insult everyone who doesn’t look like him, treat women like objects, and all the rest(and there is a lot more), was just elected with absolutely no experience or subject matter expertise to the highest office in the world is nearly incomprehensible. Our national dialogue has turned toxic and I can’t even begin to imagine what parents everywhere are telling their children (especially daughters).

Worse still is the fact that the GOP held on to the House and Senate. If any of the horrific legislation that Obama has vetoed over the past eight years (defunding Planned Parenthood, teaching creationism, slashing environmental protections etc), is close to what we can expect, this is going to be a huge step backwards for the US and the world.. The final nail in the coffin being the potential impact on the supreme court that will likely last decades.

For the first time, young people, the “optimistic idealist class”, genuinely feel like the world will not be a better place 30 years from now than it is today. Our vision of the future was ripped apart by a coalition of mostly rural, old, white men. To those who voted for Trump or a third party (same thing), either as a big FUCK YOU to the “political elites”, or as a rejection of Hillary, all I ask is that your try and understand the real life long term damage you have likely just caused for millions of Americans. Sadly, you will probably only show regret when this impacts you (it probably will) directly, but I would be wrong for not asking.

As a person who spends all day thinking about how technology can improve people’s lives, this election also serves as horrible wake up call that the dark side of the technology we create can dramatically outweigh the benefits of technological progress. Similar to Brexit here in the UK, misinformation and misleading propaganda were used to create hugely influential, and overtly political,online  echo-chambers that have no accountability or standard for accuracy. It is shocking how quickly these tools were used to disseminate what previously would have been considered extremist opinions and bring them into the mainstream. This could be a full post by itself, but the instability this creates should be terrifying to everyone.

The Hope:

I’ll admit that finding anything to be hopeful about this morning is tough. A long night of panic has left me feeling like throwing up, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, feeling somewhat hopeless. Still, there are some things worth acknowledging. First, as tough as this is, I do congratulate many folks who feel like Donald Trump was their only chance at having a voice in a world that had basically left them for dead. My whole personal political philosophy is built off the simple idea that a person has no control over the situation they were born into. While this is the foundation of the relatively liberal political views I have, it applies to all people, including those in America who globalization has not lifted up. While there is no question that much of this campaign has been the result of xenophobia and playing to people’s inner fears and prejudices (Note: Illegals are not stealing your jobs..), we can’t just sit back and assume that half of our country are racists/rednecks/etc. While open borders and free trade create substantial overall economic benefit, some areas will lose badly as a result, and the disenfranchisement that this brings can be absolutely devastating. This combined with the feeling that your voice is irrelevant in a system where one’s influence is directly correlated to one’s wealth is enough to make Trump’s angry populism appealing. So, I am hopeful that we can use this moment to bring opportunity to all those who feel forgotten.

Second, against my better judgement I am hopeful that Donald the President will be a better man than Donald the Candidate. His victory speech was uncharacteristically reasonable, and he genuinely appeared to want to work for all Americans.. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL_wh-d1pP4) This might be naive of me, given everything I laid out above, but I hope some part of this was an act and that Donald in the White House will be a different sort of man.

Third, I am lucky to know so many people on all sides of the political spectrum who will do everything in their power to create the right future. Despite the dark side I discussed, I believe technology will empower us with accurate information and enable us to demand accountability in the long run. If we play our cards right, this will enable permanent progress downstream. The passion that so many of my friends and acquaintances have shown this election is not going away because Donald Trump was elected president.

So maybe I am being an insensitive optimist, but I still have hope that things will be ok. In the words of our President, “Whether your chosen candidates win or lose tonight, let’s all agree, not only to stay engaged, but to push ourselves to do even better.. no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.”

Keep fighting everyone. Love You.

All the best from London. Time to work.

Kyle

  • Feel free to reach out to me to discuss anything I said above.. I know I am barely scratching the surface of the feelings of many, but I had to get something down on paper. Happy to talk with anyone who needs it.. Close friends or not, let me know.
  • I wrote this quickly after a long night of stress, apologies if I worded anything wrong or missed key points 🙂
  • Comey  I hope you are happy
  • http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/its-going-to-be-okay.html   Read this post. Will make you feel better.
  • This is what the election would have looked like if only millenials had voted:

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Rules I Made for Myself

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”- Søren Kierkegaard

Thats one of my favorite quotes ever^    Kierkegaard explains it by having us imagine a man standing on ledge of an extremely tall building. The man looks over the edge and feels fear. Part of this fear is the natural fear of falling we all get in high places. Fine. The other part of the fear though, is the fact that at any moment the man could throw himself off the building. He has absolute freedom to do whatever he wants at any given second, and at this second, one of those options is to just jump. That’s enough to make anyone anxious.

I don’t like this example for its rather grim nature. I like this example because I think it shows how powerful Kierkegaard’s message is. I bring this up because I have been pondering this quote a lot lately. One of the strange things about graduating is that you are no longer on a relatively straightforward journey. Life is no longer a safe path that can always be returned to if one gets tired off trailblazing. Things don’t start and end on schedule. Everything is unpredictable. At any time, you have an infinite number of decisions that can take you in an infinite number of directions. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

I realized that a large part of this anxiety was that I didn’t have a strong framework for deciding what road to take. I mean yes.. I went to Sunday school, I have some goals that can be worked towards, society obviously endorses certain things, and some general concepts of what I should be doing.. but I definitely didn’t have anything comprehensive, and that meant I would be overly influenced by my surroundings and day to day choices. Fine in the short term, but much too risky in the long run.

So… I decided to make my own philosophy to follow. A framework I could constantly revert back to, and course-correct against when necessary. I never meant to share this, but thought maybe the collective wisdom of the internets might help me improve my framework. Or at the very least, tell me which of my ideas are stupid… This is an early draft, I have a lot of refining, grouping, editing, simplifying, etc to do.

Note: Some of these are Kyle originals, some are based on things I have heard from others, and some are blatantly ripped from people I respect or trust.

In no particular order:

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Life Rules Draft 1

Don’t choose between idealism and realism: Being realistic is simply figuring out the optimal way to move towards an ideal.
Never break more than one law at a time:
Be suspicious of beliefs in yourself and others that map to self-interest: Humans are masters at post hoc rationalization. Try and remove yourself from the situation.
Everyone is the main character in their own story: They have families, tragedies, pain, dreams, thoughts. Assume their story is a harder one to survive than than yours.
Know how little you (and everyone else) knows: The world is full of complex, fascinating things that almost nobody really understands. Embrace that.
Take care of yourself: Brush your teeth, eat some healthy food, exercise, rest (almost) every single day.
You can always leave: Nobody is stopping you from walking out the door. Reinvention can be a good thing. Nobody was meant to do one thing. The average person has 14 careers.
Eat more blueberries: Tasty and healthy is not too common.
 
Remember how much is out there: Even when it consumes you, your own reality is a microcosm of the greater world.
Avoid binary absolutes: Saying you are purely pro-life or pro-choice is absurd. Same goes with economic philosophy, self-defense, and pretty much every other massively contentious issue.
You can’t win them all, but you can definitely lose them all: try and steal a couple W’s
Collect experiences… not things:
     Experiences: The more you do the more you know about yourself. My guess  would be the average person has done 1% of the things they realistically can do given their life. When in doubt try and bump that number up. That said, don’t forget to keep doing the things you enjoy.
      Not Things: Buying something nice might give you a short term neurochemical boost… Experiences create expectations, actual experiences, and memories which sustain high levels of happiness over time.
If you do buy things, be cautious: Cautious of brands, cautious of quality, cautious of whether this is something you really need or something your current environment is telling you need.
Embrace change: The scope of human knowledge has progressed a lot in the last few thousand years. Most of the foundational belief texts/systems of our world (religious, philosophical, political, etc) were created by people who know significantly less than we know now. Don’t disregard the wisdom they might hold, but recognize that very little is timeless, and above doubt.
Spend time with your close friends: They are hard to find and harder to keep.
Keep reading:
 
Bullshit is obvious: Don’t sell yourself as something you’re not.
Be good on balance: Nobody is living a life without negative impact. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the computer you are reading this on.. they all have enormous negative consequences on the world. Try and minimize your negative impact but focus on maximizing your positive impact.
Nobody chooses the situation they were born into: 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. If you were born into more than this, then that is almost 100% by random chance.
Nationalism has done a lot more harm than good: People are people. Love your country, but don’t use love of your country to bring down others.
 
A changed mind is better than a stubborn one:
 
Contribute time and money often: If you can’t at some points, give extra when you can. Research who/what you are helping
and.. that’s it. I want to get it down to 10 eventually. Stay tuned. Don’t judge plz thnx.

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Anyways… Life updates. Where have I been? Good question internet. Answer is.. I have been physically unable to type after work. For the last month I have been having awful hand pain that is either a back/neck issue, or something carpal-tunnel-esque  in my hand. Not ideal since I type things all day errr day. But regardless.. I owe you some posts. Fair.

I also have some pretty crazy news that will be shared in an upcoming post. Hint: Page URL is about to make a lot more sense again 😉

Feedback welcome.

Kyle

 

 

Modern Art and Underground Steampunk

Hi Friends.

Happy Summer! Three day weekends make the world go round. This has been a particularly good one and I would be honored to tell you about (part of) it! Activity level was out of control: Karaoke bar in Tenderloin-> Ferry Building Farmers Market->SF MOMA-> Yerba Buena Gardens-> Jungle Book-> Chinatown->Whitechapel-> Bottlerock 2016 all mixed in with some otherworldly Warriors ball.

Since my charter here states I should be sharing the best experiences in SF (subjectivity… yadda..  yadda… I know), I felt compelled to tell yall about SF MOMA and Whitechapel. That said, Bottlerock was amazing, and you must see The Jungle Book. #WhatWouldMowgliDo?

SF MOMA

$308 million later.. It is open! As you probably have seen on every lamppost advertisement west of the the Mississippi, the new 250,000 sq ft Modern Art Museum is now open. Oh and yes, you heard right, Odesza did play the opening. So anyways, Chantal and I went early to avoid the masses, and spent a solid chunk of time exploring all 7 stories of MOMA.

Consensus: Go. SF MOMA 2.0 is a massively spectacular testament to the art gods. A majority of the art inside is super-sized, and the vastness of the new spot is perfect place for it. Everything gets the space it deserves, and the walls never feel crowded.

Plus, while MOMA has all of the classic big name modern artists, it also has a lot of weird, thought provoking pieces that keep you entertained the whole time.

 

Oh and they had an apple. A big apple.

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For those prone to seizures, I highly recommend the room which had this in strobe lights:

But actually, it was really cool.

Bonus points, when you are on the roof of MOMA, there are three full size Waldos on nearby buildings.We only found two but thoroughly enjoyed the search process.

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Also, those ages 19-24 get discounted tickets ($19), so for SF it is actually reasonable. Go in the summer and spend the rest of the day at Yerba Buena Gardens where live bands often play!

Whitechapel: The Steampunk Bar

To be honest, very few popular bars in SF are places I would want to come back to. They tend to be the manifestation of all my frustration with San Francisco. So, it is always a cause for celebration to find somewhere unique and interesting!

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Whitechapel is a Gin bar in the Tenderloin. The premise is an abandoned 1900’s London underground station, that was turned into a secret Gin clubhouse.  This was started by the same guy who started Smugglers Cove (https://weissworld.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/wait-thats-not-travel-finding-life-in-san-francisco/), so you can imagine the theme is incredibly well done. You feel like you are emerging from some sort of time/reality warp when you first walk in and see the high curved ceilings, the exposed brick, and the vintage London underground tiles that were imported during construction.

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The drink menu is HUGE with over 100 drinks, and the gin selection is overwhelming. In fact, at 37o different gins, it is the biggest gin menu in the country.

Also fun, the other two rooms have related, but distinct themes:

A traditional British gin bar theme

This place is a bit expensive at about $12 a drink, but definitely worth checking out. Also, we didn’t try it, but the internets claim that the food is out of this world as well.

Thanks world. Stay tuned.

Kyle

Bonus picture of the Weiss family doing a silent disco at Bottlerock 2016.

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Bands seen include Misterwives, X Ambassadors, Andrew Mcmahon into the Wilderness, The Lumineers, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

 

 

Coachella 2016: This is Happening

Coachella-2016So. Coachella. “Isn’t that that thing where high schooler’s wear flower crowns, so that they can get Instagrams of Kylie Jenner eating a Watermelon while some coked out dude in a backwards hat stands above a DJ booth telling people to “go crazy right now.?” Yes. Yes, very much so. But in between bros obliviously wearing headdresses and “H&M <3s Coachella!”, something wonderful happens at the Empire Polo Grounds that makes mid-April the best time of year.
I’ve been to a fair amount of music festivals and concerts, and there is something fundamentally different about Coachella. My hypothesis is that it has to do with escapism. The combination of the location, weather, camping (we don’t;), and outfits all blend together to give Coachella a fantastical otherworldliness that is only closely comparable in my mind to Disneyland. As you are walking in, something changes in the air and suddenly skipping makes a lot of sense, while shoes make almost no sense, and everyone is your best friend until they explicitly prove otherwise. The uninitiated tend to stare at the lineup and become overwhelmed by all the small bands they haven’t heard of, and immediately put off attending the festival for another year. Those people are thinking about it all wrong.  I could dislike every single name on the poster, and Coachella would still be one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year. Not only will you get transported to another planet, but that planet is designed for the sole purpose of maximizing the joy of its inhabitants.
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You never go full hardo…….
And then there is the music. Oh my gawd the music.. In a world where big festival lineups get more and more similar every year (simply is not enough acts out there to sustain the festival boom), Coachella always manages to feel fresh and original. Being the first major festival has its advantages, but Coachella serves as a proving ground for a lot of new/reunion acts, and that makes everything feel momentous. Some acts blow everyone out of the water: Sia, Arcade Fire, ACDC, Flume, and some just completely blow it: Drake, Thomas Jack, Outkast. Then the surprises.. You never ever know who you are going to see when you go to a show, and the constant guessing, rumors and speculation make everything more remarkable. I have seen R.Kelly perform with Phoenix, Jaden Smith with Lido, Panic at the Disco with Halsey, and barely missed Gallant with Seal. For better or worse, there  is something surreal about seeing these unique moments in music history.  Plus, the sheer variety of artists means that in a single day you can find yourself dancing to folk music, indie pop, rap, reggae, and big room house. Fun fact: my phone tells me I ran 42 miles last weekend, most of those were probably in the various funky dance parties that occurred.
For us, as soon as the lineup drops in January we  have massive (500 song+) playlists ready to go in preparation. Finding randomly awesome artists in the months leading up to April is a part of the experience in its own right. I even religiously follow a forum on the Coachella site, where a group of strangers try and figure out the set times and stage choices before the lineup comes out. I honestly think watching those guys try and piece together the puzzle based on historical data, poster placement, leaks from bands and insiders and the type of music itself is fascinating. I hardcore geek out about this stuff all the time. Future best friends pro tip:  If you want to make my day ask me to hangout and talk shop.
Ok so who won this year?!
Best Shows:
CHVRCHES:
2016+Coachella+Valley+Music+Arts+Festival+T4gprO4aVI2x If you know me you know these guys have been one of my favorite bands for years. I have seen them five times know way too much about them. Still though, this was something different. Chvrches at sunset on the main stage felt epic. They have stripped a lot of the excess out of their sets, and what remains is a much more powerful and massive performance. Lauren Mayberry  completely owns the bigger stage, and people were going insane.  Also.. If you are reading this today (4/23) check them out on the youtube live stream for weekend two at 6:10 tonight.
Lido: Unsurprising that the dude who made this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0z6KnDNyag  would crush it. A week before Coachella he announces that he is just going to drop his new album instead of his normal concert. Turns out his new show is him putting on a one man show that involved running from piano to keyboard to mic to harmonica and syncing everything up to a video in the background that he was  simultaneously directing and participating in. One of the most talented performers I have ever seen.
Gallant: Go see this man sing. One of the most astonishing voices you will ever see. One of those shows where you see it and you know right away that you are watching a future household name. Hear Seal and Gallant going at it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqXNuTpO0Fo
Other Amazing People:
Of Monsters and Men: Dark and Huge, far cry from Little Talks days
Matt and Kim: Probably the most fun set of the weekend. You think you are too cool for them.. You are wrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbjGfw52rR8 that is what you missed for the Do Lab.
Rufus Du Sol
Lapsley: She sings both male and female parts.. pretty cool
Despacio: Just go. Hard to explain.
Skip
Thomas Jack
RL Grime (toooo crowded)
Anyways… I could go on and on but the moral of the story wouldn’t change. Coachella is the best. Music peoples, ask me about StageGage, a project I am working on that should launch in about 20 days!
See you next year.

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P.S. Attending Claremont McKenna has allowed us to go to Coachella for the last four years, and the squad of Emmett, Nick, Tim,  and Kyle has held strong this whole time. Nowadays the fam has expanded to include Garrett, Chantal, Audrey, Nik, Cece, Julian, and others but the core squad has kept coming back. Shoutout Choy for hosting all the hooligans.

Wait thats not travel! “Finding life in San Francisco”

Hey.

Yep. Back at it. Probably completely compromising the little integrity this “travel” blog has left by writing about my current home of San Francisco. Apologies. but… I think that there is enough in this city to qualify it as an adventure, and I like writing about adventures.. So here we are. I will probably give the site a facelift soon and make it less Denmark focused, and more “life” focused, but baby steps….

Last Season On Blog

Ok so quick review before we jump into things. In 2014 I had the chance to go live with an awesome family in Copenhagen for a Semester. I was determined to get as much as possible out of my time abroad, and to document as much as possible. And document I did.. I wrote over 50 blog posts on this thing, and had maybe the best time of my life. Read it to learn more! PSA: I write with a satirical/sarcastic voice, so try not to judge me if I sound like an arse. Sorry mom. Brag: The blog now has 15,000 lifetime views! Thanks guys!

Fast forward to last summer and my friends and I closed out college with a trip all over the world.

We went from San Francisco -> Barcelona (grandpas boat) -> Amsterdam (yikes) -> Copenhagen (yay!) -> Thailand(paradise) -> Laos ->Cambodia -> Thailand (full Moon Party!)-> Malaysia -> Australia (actually I was the only one who went to Australia. Was visiting my awesome girl friend/life coach/adventure buddy Chantal who was studying abroad in Melbourne)->SFO (shave beard and sleep)

I also wrote a bit about that trip on here, see the PG version below.

Nowadays I work at a pretty awesome tech company called Intuit in Mountain View (an amazingly boring place given that it is the heart of the tech world). Since you haven’t heard of Intuit, think TurboTax, Mint or QuickBooks. We make those things! I have the coolest job I could imagine, being a  Product Manager. I’ll write about this later, but I get to work with developers and designers to create and test super cool new features/products for QuickBooks Payroll. Pretty amazing job that I am lucky to have .

So What Now!?

So now I live in San Francisco, and to be perfectly honest (warning: controversial opinion), I don’t absolutely love it yet. Thats not to say I hate it by any means, it is amazing in a lot of ways, but on balance it is not my favorite at this point. I am going to write a full post on this feeling at some point, but the sparknotes are important for understanding the direction I am playing with for this blog.

My issues with San Francisco can mostly be traced to the rapidly changing demographic makeup of the city (also the hills.. damn these hills). As you probably know, Tech and Finance have completely taken over this city. Individually, most of these companies are great, they make amazing things, and employ the most intimidatingly creative/brilliant people on earth. Collectively, they have created a monster. This monster has  rapidly homogenized (and not in the cool Scandinavian sense), and gentrified SF. Fun fact: rents have risen 40% since 2010 and evictions are up 38%. Point is, the city has basically turned into a whole city of Kyles. Scary.. I know. Go out on a typical weekend night, and most bars will be packed full(line outside too) with some variation of  male, econ major, 20-30, white, 6 ft 1, button down, etc etc. Aka, the mean tech/finance/consulting company employee (who are the only ones who can afford the stupidly high rents in this place). Now thats not to insult that person (I am basically that person!), but to explain the uniformity of the city.  Now, I don’t need to explain why diversity is important, but the lack of uniqueness in SF can be suffocating coming from the wonderfully eccentric and diverse world of Liberal Arts College . Life in the City can feel bland, narrow, and slightly devoid of meaning.

Well that was dark^. I’m fine guys. I promise! Sorry for going all ‘Catcher in the Rye’ on ya. I will expand on that in a full post later, but the flip side of it is that the whole city hasn’t quite gone to the dark side. There are still amazing/thought-provoking/eclectic areas, establishments, and people all over this city. Upon realizing this, I have taken up a personal quest to find them and experience them. Hence.. This blog. Trying to shine light on some of the cool/weird/fun places, and document them for yall.  San Francisco is full of awesome hidden gems, and I intend to find them all and give them to you. Also.. I just like writing and blogging works well with how my brain works.

Anyways..

Some recent favorite spots!

1. Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park: Super cool spot with all sorts of cool plants and ponds and bridges and Koi! Biked here this weekend han solo and loved it. It was built in 1894 as part of the Worlds Fair.. Thats.. Old.

2. Pläj: Scandinavian Restaurant.  Very fancy themed spot with amazing food and all sorts of Scandinavian delicacies and decor. Obviously I was in love with this place. So much Danishness.

 

3. Smugglers Cove: Right next to Pläj. Pirate themed bar! Three stories. Awesome drinks. 200+ types of Rum. Drinks on Fire. Overall super weird place that breaks the typical SF bar mold in an outstanding way.

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4. Ebisu: Could be the best sushi spot in  a city full of sushi.  Longtime favorite of the Evett family. You have to go all the way to the Sunset to get to it.. but sooo amazingly delicious. No reservations so prepare to way in line or do what we did and just be there obnoxiously early.

Thats all the places for now! I am getting sleepy and it is a school night.. But, let me know if you have any place I should check out, or anything that should be written about.

Goodnight and Go Warriors!