Moontower #68


A little personal journal entry kind of post today (feel free to skip below to the links if you prefer).

Seven years ago today was a Friday. July 12. My 35th birthday. If it was a year earlier we probably would be pre-gaming for 80s night at DNA Lounge, but this year was going to be a quiet birthday.

Until we decided it was too quiet.

You see, we were just 2 days away from our first child’s due date. As a present for my birthday, Yinh gave me a Scrabble keychain. The “Z”. We were naming the boy Zakary. (We like to go to rock shows and we had recently seen Zakk Wylde at the Independent. Our Zak’s middle name, Myles, is named after a singer that Yinh in particular loves. Hint: he was actually in the movie Rockstar with Mark Wahlberg). Anyway, back to our quiet night. We were bored, in waiting limbo, and I really can’t remember who suggested it…”Let’s just call the hospital and see if they’ll take us”. As if you were trying to fit in a haircut before lunch.

So we called.

Turned out it was a slow night in the maternity ward. Come on down, we’ll induce you. We were going to celebrate 2 birthdays tonite at the SF baby factory, the CPMC on California St.

I’ll skip over the details. Zak wanted his own birthday. The following day, after an unplanned C-section, we heard his voice for the first time as the doctors lifted him up and out. That first cry is the greatest chord, forever seared into memory.

Summer birthday kids carry their own private pain. No narcissism Munchkins from Dunkin’. No “let them eat cake” moment to preside over in 3rd grade. But I’m not bitter. 7/11 gives out free Slurpees on 7/11. So take that non-Cancers. (That joke is for my lovely mom, whose birthday is 7 days before mine. The growing family birthday heritage might have Zak feel like we handed him a have-sex-in-October-baton.)

So Zak is 7 tomorrow. One of his teachers once described childhood as something to be thought of in sevens. The early period ending at age 7 as kids start to realize there’s a bit more to how the world works then what daddy says. The latest period, ages 14-21, being a tranche of its own for reasons we can all relate to.

If 7 is the end of an era, it explains some personal wistfulness I’m feeling. I often think of Paul Graham’s essay Life Is Short:

“You only get 52 weekends with your 2-year-old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times. And while it’s impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter what your lifespan was.”

That’s a good way of putting it.

7/12/2013 (That’s a paleo cake Yinh made me. It’s 2 days before she is due to give birth)

Less than 24 hours later, life is forever changed.

7 years later, Zak modeling for the unibrow-paternity-test.

So I guess I’m 42. Hitchhiker’s Guide called the number 42 “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”. That’s a lot of pressure for the next 365 days when I own that number.

Happy birthday to the July and summer birthdays on the list!

We owe everyone else 6 Rice Krispies treats each for those K thru 5th years.

The Money Angle

Joachim Klement has a free newsletter that covers a single investment-related topic each day. I like this one in particular which confronts some dissonance we feel between the stock market’s recent performance and the “real economy”:

One of the constant surprises for the general public is how different stock markets and the economy can behave. It’s not just that stock markets are forward-looking. Sometimes there are striking differences that cannot be explained with that effect alone…

He shows how the composition of share market caps do not reflect GDP sector weighting in the real economy.

And this difference in composition means that what is good for Wall Street is less and less relevant for Main Street. In other words, propping up the stock market does little if anything to prop up the economy. And propping up the economy does not necessarily mean that stock markets will rise…If you think of the stock market as the economy, you are clearly making a big measurement error.

Check the full note. (Link)

Li Lu (some refer to him as the Warren Buffet of China) wrote about the history and context of China-US relations which is broadly enlightening on the subject of geopolitics in general. I jotted some takeaways that stood out to me. (Link)

Last Call

  • Larry Brilliant, a top epidemiologist who helped to eradicate smallpox and advised on the movie Contagion, tells us how we are doing on the CoVid. What’s ok to do, what’s not. It was a worthy read to see where we stand. (Link)
  • From Dave Perell‘s weekly letter:

    The Chinese term 報復性熬夜 translates to “revenge to stay up late,” where people who can’t control their daytime life delay their sleep to relish their night time freedom before bed.

    Who else feels seen?

  • This satire vid will make you laugh. But it’s an uneasy laugh when you realize that lying is probably a Nash equilibrium. (Link)

From my actual life 

I was up until 4am. We celebrated with cousins yesterday. It was the rare warm California night so the kids made the most of it. While not quite Tik-Tok worthy (see vid), it did inspire the post-kids part of the evening. I ended up listening to Dark Side Of The MoonWish You Were Here, and then The Wall. And when The Wall ended I immediately re-listened to it.

I haven’t listened to The Wall end-to-end since HS when the movie was basically on loop in the background at my best bud’s house. So how was it?

Nothing short of self-care.

If you are even a casual classic rock fan you already admire the hits from the album but you’re tossing away so many delicious parts of the animal. I recommend slowing down. Set the table. There’s a lot to savor. I know many of you use the Calm or Headspace apps. Just reminding you that Pink Floyd guided meditation has been around for almost 50 years. Goes well with chocolate.

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