I just found out that May 22nd is Gout Awareness Day. I guess they really have a day for everything. Now they just need a “Gout Awareness” Awareness Day lol.
As many of you know I suffered my first gout flare up a little over a month ago in Vietnam when I was eating fresh fish everyday. Many fish contain a chemical called purines which the body processes through the kidneys as uric acid. When there’s more uric acid than your body can handle (due to purine overload or kidney problems), it can pool in your big right toe and this creates crystals that causes pain that I’ve never knew existed. Holy moly!
5 weeks later I am fully recovered and able to do things like running, squats and lunges again. And it feels great! To help my audience prevent a gout flare-up or to manage the symptoms during one, I put together a last minute video about gout so everyone can be free from gout.
Keep in mind that gout is hereditary but things like nutrition and lifestyle can cause flare ups. Your best bet is to live healthy and prevent it from happening in the first place!
I’m sitting in the hospital waiting room in Nha Trang, Vietnam to get x-rays and blood tests to see what’s wrong with my big toe on the right foot, and on the TV screen I see a list of medical-related video links.
“Endoscopic carpal tunnel release.” I’m guessing this has something to do with carpal tunnel syndrome and repairing the tendons by releasing the stress?
“Proximal humerus percutaneous aiming system technique.” This sounds like a kill feature in one of Iron Man’s latest armors. “Activate humerus percutaneous aiming system.”
While I don’t know what some of these words mean, none of them sound good. They all sound like medical procedures to repair or fix a body part that is no longer working properly or is broken. Kind of like my big right toe.
I’m 35 and I just found out that I had my first onset of gout. My blood results came back and I’m above the normal range for men (not scarily above, but comfortably above). They say symptoms first appear in men 30-50. Well I had all the symptoms and let me tell you that this was one of the most intense pains that I’ve ever felt. It was so bad that I needed wheelchair service from Vietnam Airlines. I could not put any pressure on my foot.
Intense joint pain – it felt like I had a broken toe
Lingering discomfort – 3 days later and I still can’t walk properly
Inflammation and redness – my right foot looked like a tomato
Limited range of motion – I couldn’t move my big right toe more than 10 degrees
They also call it a disease of decadence or “King’s disease” because “people have incorrectly linked it to the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford” (link). And this makes sense because I have been living like a king these past 6 months on the beaches of Thailand and Vietnam. While I haven’t been drinking too much alcohol, my diet recently spiked in seafood during my time in Phu Quoc. The overload of purines from seafood likely caused my big right toe to blow up like a balloon and heat up like a heat pad.
Fortunately for me, while gout is one of the most physically painful things I’ve experienced, it is an illness that can be managed through diet, hydration, vitamin c, and exercise. I am looking at this as motivation to get myself into even better shape to minimize another attack. There are silver linings to everything in life.
Finding out that I am now in for lifelong battle with gout is a stark reminder that my time on earth as fully-functional, healthy being is not going to last forever. My youth and relatively good health, will slowly crumble away like removing pieces from a completed puzzle. New health issues are certain to arise in my future and I’ll think to myself, “remember when I just had gout?”
Our greatest assets – youth and health – are fleeting, a slowly but surely diminishing resource. Every second alive we are one step closer to our inevitable deaths. The grim reaper is coming for all of us. As my brother once told me (I’m sure he heard this from someone else), “we are all dying the second we are born.” The cruelty of existence. Sigh.
This is a why it’s important to never lose focus on the present because this is all that’s guaranteed. Minimizing stress and maximizing health and happiness should be everyone’s goal. The less stress you have, the longer your life expectancy is. The more you exercise and focus on having a clean diet, the longer your life expectancy is. And if you’re healthy today, be grateful and be thankful and use it. Don’t waste it sitting in an office 60 hours a week. If we weren’t supposed to travel, we would have roots instead of feet!
To have a career, or live in a city, or to be in a relationship that isn’t making you net happier will slowly kill you. Health above wealth, experiences over appearances. And as my friend Alicia said:
Every time I check into a new hotel in Phu Quoc, the front desk receptionists always ask “when is your wife arriving?” or “where is your girlfriend?” or “you’re here alone???” in a shocked tone.
A lot of people ask why I sometimes feel the need to post my opinions on marriage & long-term monogamy and it’s because this opinion is underrepresented (WHY DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO POST YOUR ENGAGEMENTS AND MARRIAGES. It’s the same thing lol). Every day we see engagement and marriage posts on our feeds which are openly applauded and accepted (despite the inevitable failure of over half of them) but few people are openly sharing the other lifestyle, the lifestyle of “there are reasons and benefits to be happily single and avoid traditional relationships at all costs.” Unlike people in a relationship who become dependent and almost feed off of their significant other’s scent, I am in complete control of my happiness (and my daily moods). That and I have my dogs to provide actual unconditional love. Romantic love is extremely conditional. Gain 100 pounds of fat or lose everything at the casino and you’ll see how conditional love is.
And this goes for both women and men. With gender equality existing in places like America which enables women to be financially independent, they no longer need a man to fulfill that traditional gender role of “providing for the family.” They can provide for themselves. And this is a beautiful thing. After living in Asia for 7 months, I’ve seen traditional gender norms almost fully intact.
My point is – we need to normalize that it’s OK to be single and it’s ok to have casual and mutually respectful relationships. Personally, I have never had sustainable happiness in a long-term relationship before and a lot of it has to do with traditional relationships limiting my freedom (“don’t text her, don’t look at her, don’t do this, come with me to this party, I’m in a bad mood now we are both in a bad mood, etc”). You ”love” someone but you’re telling them what they can and cannot do lol. That doesn’t sound like love to me. That sounds like self-inflicted imprisonment.
Do you have any idea how liberating it is to not have to worry about someone snooping on my phone and finding something that I didn’t want them to find? Nobody is perfect. There is always something to find if you go looking for it.
It is absolutely normal and OK to be attracted and want other people than your significant other. This doesn’t lessen your love for them. It just highlights your humanity. Yet society says this completely normal thing is wrong and evil and invalidates your love. Unlike the married, I have the freedom to do what I want and not suppress my wants and desires (“I want to talk to that girl at the bar and buy her a drink but I can’t because I’m not supposed to”) lol.
You can love both your parents. You can love multiple friends. But you can’t love or want more than 1 person? Please. You want to try new foods. Try new jobs. Try new hobbies. Travel new places. But god forbid you want to have sex with someone else. The expectation that you are supposed to have sex with and love 1 person your entire life is so absurd that it’s laughable. lol.
Personally, I’m simply not willing to compromise any degree of the happiness I’ve created for myself just to be in a relationship (“I must just deal with some drama because this is what I’m supposed to be doing”). Many sheeple accept mediocrity from their relationships because they are 18-40 and a relationship is the “ultimate prize” because everyone around them is doing it. As they get older and time becomes more of a premium, they learn that they shouldn’t put up with anything but the best. Until then, many people think marriage is some sort of personal validation or badge of honor. It’s not. I see it as some sort of jail.
“Humans are born free and any perceived limitations will ultimately make us want to rebel against them!” -KarelDonk
And many of you will think “you just haven’t met the right one yet.” There is no “right one” and when finding this unicorn of a person becomes your ultimate goal, you lose focus of the present and just enjoying someone’s company without any expectations. And ask all the couples you know that broke up, got divorced (which is about to happen en masse) about how it went after they thought they “met the right one.”
Ultimately I believe it comes down to human nature. Many of us are more selfish than we are willing to acknowledge and selfishness is one of the worst things in a relationship (for the record, I am selfish af but I care deeply for my close friends). For a relationship to work long-term it has to truly be selfless with completely open communication. Many of you share things with your best friends that you’d never tell your wife/husband. The only chance your relationships has to survive is to SHARE EVERYTHING – even the truths he or she may not want to hear (“so there’s this younger girl at work and I think we are developing a connection.”)
And do I want kids? Absolutely. If I can find someone with my lifestyle, co-parenting is an option. But so is surrogacy and adoption and I can be the best single dad just as I’m the best single dog dad. And a child does not need a mom and dad to thrive so stop with that traditional thinking. There are many same sex parents (2 moms, 2 dads) and single parents that are crushing it. Likewise there are many traditional parents that are always fighting and have created a chaotic environment for a child to grow up in. Personally, I know many single moms that are amazing. I really do think a solo and happy stable household is better than a chaotic, constantly fighting undersexed mom&dad.
Anyway – stay woke. I’m going to enjoy this fresh passion fruit juice and continue to check into bungalows on the beach single. 😁
I was working out at the gym and it just hit me: I figured out how Instagram can fix Instagram.
Defining an “influencer”
First, I want to define how I am defining “influencers” for the purpose of this article. I do not consider actors, actresses, reality TV stars, athletes, musicians, etc. to be influencers. Yes, they are influential but they would be famous with or without Instagram. They achieved fame via TV, radio, YouTube, etc. and use Instagram as an amplification platform.
I am defining an “influencer” as somebody who built their audience specifically on the Instagram platform. I estimate that 90% of Instagram influencers are fake. Don’t believe me? Plug in your favorite influencer’s names in this link and if they score anything below a 70, they did something to their account. Then, plug in a real celebrity’s Instagram and you’ll see a huge difference (usually 85+).
What can brands do?
Many brands also question the effectiveness of using influencers and this is more because of the influencers they’re choosing to work with versus the influencer industry itself. If brands focused on using authentic, verified influencers, they would have a much better overall experience by achieving better ROI. It’s important to always validate the authenticity of your paid influencers using readily available third party tools.
One of the biggest complaints that the IG community has about Instagram is that many of the “influencers” use a method called “follow/unfollow” to build their audience inorganically. Here’s how Instagram can put an end to it, if they really wanted to (they should want to because it dirties the platform).
Analyze user behavior
The first step would be to run a deep analysis on user behavior. Look at the accounts who are following 100s to 1,000s of accounts a day and put them in the “follow/unfollow user” bucket. Real talk – who really needs to follow that many people in 1 day? Nobody.
The second step is to take look at the users who are following a more reasonable number of accounts per day. I would guess that the average person (not using growth software) organically only follows anywhere between 1 to 25 people a day.
IG Follow Credits
Once Instagram has analyzed this data, they can come up with a daily follow cap. Maybe this number is set at 25. This means that an account can only follow 25 other accounts per day. They can create a new virtual currency called IG Follow Credits. Everyone gets 25 credits a day for free (1 credit equaling 1 follow). They expire daily so you either use them or you lose them. They don’t accrue. This is the same as Tinder Super Swipes…just because you didn’t sign in for a week doesn’t mean you magically get 35 super swipes when you sign back in … you get 5.
Should a user want to follow more than 25 accounts in a day, they would have to purchase more IG Follow Credits at increasing rates across tiers. These credits could be sold starting from $.01. For example:
So if I wanted to follow 445 accounts in a day (after using my 25 free daily follows), it would cost me $27.75.
With this approach, influencers that are using the follow/unfollow method would have a financial barrier of entry to overcome and this would almost guarantee the end of the strategy overnight. Of course there will be those that might find it worth paying for the additional follows. This gives Instagram a new revenue stream.
Why should Instagram do this?
One of the most disheartening feelings for an authentic Instagram user is when they get followed by a bunch of accounts and they think that their content is finally resonating … only to see their follower count quickly decrease because they were followed/unfollowed by software. Because the follow/unfollow strategy works, Instagram users are incentivized to either jump on board or sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else get “famous.” This has created an untrustworthy platform for both users and brands and I believe it’s Instagram’s responsibility to fix it as quickly as possible.
I still think the best way to fix Instagram would be to completely remove follower count from the profiles. It is simply a vanity metric and not an indicator of how valuable so that account is because it is easily manipulatable.
I want to start by saying that I absolutely love Ariana Grande. I think she is one of our generation’s most underrated and talented singers. For those of you who didn’t see her incredibly on-point impressions on Saturday Night Live, I implore you to go to YouTube and watch them. You’ll be amazed. But at the same time I need to talk about my issue with the super popular song 7 Rings. I had no problem with the song until I listened to the lyrics and heard this line:
“Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms”
Admittedly I’ve been a little out of the American pop culture loop as I’ve been living on the beaches of Thailand but when I first heard 7 Rings, I was into it. I quickly Shazam’ed it and thought to myself “of course it’s Ariana.” The girl is on fire. 7 Rings is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a long time. It sounded really familiar, and that’s because she samples My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music (and I’m sure in 15 years somebody else is going to sample 7 Rings).
The meaning of the original My Favorite Things is about finding happiness from simple things : “raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…these are a few of my favorite things” None of these items cost a lot of money and many of them are free to enjoy.
Ariana’s version has creatively (and obnoxiously) flipped the meaning of the song with materialistic items that are only easily attainable by the wealthy. According to Wikipedia, “Louboutins can sell from $495 and up, with crystal-encrusted pairs costing up to $6,000.” For the average American, a pair of Louboutins is simply out of their means.
First, let’s establish a few things. Ariana Grande’s net worth is estimated to be $50 million in 2019. If she stopped working today and never earned another cent, and assuming a very conservative 5% average annual growth for the next 30 years, her $50 million would become worth over $216 million in 2049. In other words, she is incredibly wealthy. The average American on the other hand, has an annual income of $59,039.
“Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms”
A pair of $495 Louboutins costs 0.00099% of Ariana’s net worth. Using math, it is the equivalent of the average American spending $.58. The point is, when Ariana Grande wants to buy Louboutins, it’s cheaper for her than for the average American to buy a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee does bring many people great joy – a hot cappuccino during a New York winter or an iced latte during a Thai summer does put a smile on my face, but these are affordable pleasures that most people can afford and enjoy. These are the simple pleasures that she should be bragging about, not a pair of $500 shoes. Or, she should brag about buying a Facebook share in 2011 that’s worth more than 4x more today. She should brag about the piece of property she purchased in 2013 and how it’s value has increased by 30%. Don’t equate happiness to shoes. Because it isn’t true and it’s setting a bad goal for your fans to aim for that a majority cannot afford.
It’s been proven that long-term, sustainable happiness does not come from material items, but instead it comes from having more time,and I would have to agree from personal experience. When I was living in NYC making a deep six-figure income, I also had to deal with a lot of pressure to continue performing. Due to my career choice (which was client-facing), I had to do a lot of entertaining which meant many late nights at lavish restaurants, bars and clubs. To many people, this sounds like a dream life, but it wasn’t healthy. While I was getting fat pockets, I was also gaining weight. Even though I could afford whatever material items I wanted, I knew I wasn’t happy. Living on the beach in Thailand without the time demands and performance pressures of a full-time job has made me infinitely happier. I earn a fraction of what I did when I was living in New York City, but I find my personal happiness comes from things that cost nothing or close to:
-unlimited vacation days
-spending time with my dogs
-a fresh coconut
-foot massage on the beach
-delicious (and cheap) healthy, organic food
I do believe for many of you, a similar lifestyle would bring you far more happiness. If it wouldn’t, why do so many people escape to tropical islands as soon as they get the chance to?
As many of us get older, we will come to the realization that time and living in the moment are what bring us the most joy, not shoes. I used to define the 1% by how much money somebody made but now I define it by how much freedom somebody has and only 1% of us are truly unplugged from the corporate matrix that society told us is the way to go. Many of us are sheeple, too scared to take the risk and lose stability to exchange for the reward of establishing our own schedules, our own hours, our own income.
I have an issue with 7 rings because, like many of today’s empty, vapid songs, it perpetuates the belief that happiness comes in the form of not only material things, but expensive items of luxury. And that’s totally OK if that’s what makes a person happy and they have the financial flexibility to do so. But unfortunately, 99% of Americans cannot afford these items without going into debt or making a significant dent into their net worth. A majority of people will never experience the lifestyle that she’s bragging about: “my receipts be lookin’ like phone numbers…bought matching diamonds for six of my bitches.” By the way, an American phone number is at minimum 7 digits (not including the area code) so she’s referring to spending at least $1,000,000 and up to $9,999,999 (which I do believe is an exaggeration on her part).
I would make the argument that the Ariana Grande song is irresponsible as it encourages financial irresponsibility (financial stupidity) and sets the benchmark for happiness as expensive shoes. For the urban youth that finally has $1,000 extra dollars in their pocket, Ariana’s song motivates them to spend their money on something that almost immediately goes down in value after purchasing it. The responsible thing to do would be to tell her audience that happiness comes from financial freedom (which is really what she’s saying) and the path to financial freedom (for most people) is learning how to manage your money when you first have some. This includes making wise investments such as a diversified stock portfolio and/or investing in real estate.
Perhaps the lyrics should be:
Yeah, breakfast in Thailand and dishes of pad Thai
My investments in real estate just doubled
Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for all the gains
Buy myself all of the best investments (Yeah)
Been through some bad shit, I used to be sheeple
Now I’m unplugged like Neo from the matrix
Rather spend time on the beach not office
No full-time job I just do what I want
My smile, stop watchin’, my day, is flossin
Make big investments, the beach, is poppin’
You like my fruit? Gee, thanks, just bought it
I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it (Yeah)
And just so you see the lyrics I wrote work out, I’m debuting my non-singing voice for you. Awk.
My first personal investment was in Facebook when it first IPO’ed. Since then, my investment has more than quadrupled into a nice Thailand retirement fund by itself. My next move is investing in rental properties in Florida. Not only will the principle go up in value, but I’ll have positive cash flow from my renters. This means I’ll have increased financial flexibility and freedom. Can the same person that invested their money in Louboutins say the same thing?
I checked the YouTube comments on the original song My Favorite Things and it looks like I’m not the only person who made a similar observation about this song (but of course I had to write a whole blog post about it and record my own version of her song because I’m extra).