In America for the summer

We’re in America for the summer after wrapping up a frantically paced spring in Manila. There’s nothing like the Tennessee lake and sun to absorb stress and decompress from our metropolitan lifestyle. I’ve been enjoying a bit of a digital diet considering the extent to which I’m connected while in Asia. That means very little internet, minimal Facebook, Twitter or email. I hardly watch any TV when in Manila, and have kept that also to a minimum.

We’ll be relaxing here for a while, and then will head to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida for a couple of weeks in July.

On a completely separate note, here’s a photo I took on the island of Negros, southern Philippines. Surreal sky:

Earning supplemental income: How to make money in your spare time?

Money. As much as I strive to enjoy life without focusing on it, I’m beginning to feel that it’s time to seek out more financial security. The global recession, New Year’s resolutions, and the very lucid realization that I’m now in my 30’s has been the cause of such thinking.

For the past seven years, I’ve lived in Jakarta on a decent salary, with sufficient housing provided, a car that’s paid off, maids that have cooked and cleaned, and have enjoyed much of the expat lifestyle defined by comfort and travel.

On the other hand, I’ve been a salaried employee this entire time, with not much potential to break out of the pre-determined pay scale beyond yearly (very modest) increases. I am friends with many expats making absurd amounts of money; generally they’re working in the oil industry, investments, or other more lucrative fields. It’s not easy seeing how much more they earn, not out of greed or jealousy, but from the knowlege that they’ve traveled the world, and don’t stress about finances in the same manner. Having said that, I’ve never measured a man by his wealth.

In living like an expat, I spend like an expat. Whereas an Indonesian meal may cost less than $1, a decent meal of sushi or seafood will generally be well over $20. I won’t continue with the disparities in lifestyle expenditures, but you get the point. There are areas where I can cut back.

I feel it’s time to start being more financially responsible. Focusing on the basics, saving more money, and finding cheaper ways of enjoying life. Knowing this is a trend around the globe makes it easier, but budgeting alone isn’t enough.

It’s time to seek out other opportunities for making supplemental income. There are two factors that play into this:

A) The very real fact that the life of an expat is transient. I never know when I’ll leave Indonesia, as my contracts are renewed annually. I’ll need another source of income to bridge the gap when I decide to leave and/or switch careers.

B) Budgeting and saving may be sufficient for developing good habits, but it’s simply not enough for things like buying property, a home, or investing carefully, at this time.

It will take lots of research, dedication, time, and money to get some things started, but I believe I have all of those aspects covered. Whereas many of my friends enjoy evenings of leisure, TV, reading, and socialization, after the gym, dinner, and some quality time with Novita, I’m back on the computer in the evenings doing photography, teaching myself new skills, etc. I have no problem dedicating at least an additional 2-4 hours per day to whatever venture I begin.

Now the question is… what should I do? I have a few ideas, and will dedicate another post to them. In the meantime, are there any ways you make additional income beyond your primary job? Do you find that the time you put into it is worthwhile in the end? Do you make sufficient income from it to rationalize giving up your free time?

More to come.

The "I will not post about Obama's inauguration" post

There’s no point. The entire world is blogging, posting, tweeting, flickring, chatting about the inauguration. Why bother to read more here?

So, this post will be about… what I didn’t do during the inauguration.

  • I didn’t go to the Ritz for a $200/person event to watch the inauguration
  • I didn’t ‘not’ miss being in America during these times of excitement.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ watch the inauguration despite having to stay up till 1:30AM and getting up at 6AM for work.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ relish watching old George dubayu leave the stage forever.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ try streaming CNN live via UStream to my iPhone.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ take photos of my TV screen out of excitement despite knowing I’ll likely never use them again.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ follow / interact with Twitter to gain perspectives from the world as a whole.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ feel slightly jealous at the fact that my cousin was ‘dead-center, only 200 meters from the podium’.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ wish I was doing something slightly cooler than laying in bed watching TV during such a prime moment in history.
  • I didn’t ‘not’ feel pride at being an American for the second time in a long time. (the first being the election win)

This article from 'Daring Fireball' pretty much sums up why I've been gushing over my iPhone 3G

From ‘Daring Fireball‘:

Let’s just say it up front: the iPhone is the greatest piece of consumer electronics that has ever been made.

If I could travel back 20 years and show my then 15-year-old self just one thing from the future of today, it would be the iPhone. It is our flying cars. Star Trek-style wireless long-distance voice communicator. The content of every major newspaper and magazine in the world. An encyclopedia. Video games. TV. Etc.

Read the rest here.

Time and memories

My father’s airplane, hanging upside down, was cradled by a gentle nest of tree branches and power lines. The scene proved more than my delicate psyche could absorb having only experienced five years of development in this world.

No one ever survives, my brief knowledge of plane crashes told me, formulated by viewing the height of action TV circa 1983. Half of my entire world revolved solely around this one man, and now he was leaving us?

Moments later, I found myself torn between the confirmation that my hero could survive anything and the brutal realization that I had just learned my first life lesson: we’re all ephemeral and so very fragile.

Amazingly, 25 years later this scene replays itself clear as an autumn morning, reaffirming the formative power of time and memories.

The Monk, my Neighbor, and a Celebrity O.D.

So the other night I pulled into my neighborhood. Driving down the palm lined street, I came to an intersection loaded with people, media vans, and police. I had no idea what was going on, but living in Jakarta for half a decade has taught me to hide my white-ass when I come upon such a scenario. I put up the heavily tinted windows of my Honda, and after I arriving home forgot the entire thing.

The next night, I pull in to my street, and the same thing is going on. This time it clicked – I had forgotten that there’s some Indonesian celebrity that lives down my street. (forgot his name or why he’s famous). I figured he must have been in the media for some reason, hence the crowds.

Turning on the TV, Novita informed me of the real reason. A (singer?) / celebrity, named Alda Risma had turned up dead in a hotel room. Apparently it was an overdose, but the truth has a way of shape-shifting here – foul play has been discussed. In the story I gathered, an unidentified (at the time) man had dropped her off at a hospital, left for dead.

Where does my neighbor come in? Well, it seems that the unidentified man is a monk, whose brother-in-law is my neighbor. Apparently he used my neighbor’s car to drive the woman to the hospital – seems a bit shady.

If anyone has further insight, please share. I do find it morbid that they’ve been showing her body on the news. In a country where the local grocery store plays songs declaring, “Lick my p*ssy” from rap artists over the loudspeakers unknowingly while you’re strolling the cereal isle (Sogo MKG), and sensors huge chunks of nude scenes from R-rated blockbusters, you’d think they’d be less intent on showing death and carnage in its full visceral nature to the 5 year olds at home.

Never a dull moment here, that’s for sure.

Tsunami Survivors Tell Tales

I forgot about this article in the Guardian following the Asian tsunami of 2004. I guess in the pandemonium, I never thought of passing it on at the time, even though this blog was mentioned.

But perhaps the saddest site I’ve visited today is javajive, written by another expat who has been waiting on news of friends in Phuket. At the time of writing this post he’s still waiting, although a commenter on his blog tells of their heartbreak at losing a number of their family to the disaster.

Perhaps the most heart-rending aspect of the site is the pictures of playing children he’s posted, taken only a couple of days before disaster struck. The question one is left asking after seeing them is barely worth repeating. An image grabbed from local TV further down his front page (with caution – it may upset some readers) tempts you to fear the very worst.

I truly hope the tragedy will not be forgotten. Perhaps 100 times as many people perished when compared to September 11, and yet I don’t feel its impact reached the Western world even a fraction as much. Many people I spoke with in the States seemed disconcertingly uninformed, despite their best intentions.

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones.