The City & The City

This is a weird one. This post is about not being able to finish this audiobook. I’ve been on a good streak with audiobooks in the past few months, finishing about 2-3 a month. But…I’m not sure what’s happening with this one.

So far, I’ve listened to a total of an hour of the book and I can’t seem to keep up with the story and maybe the narration doesn’t sit well with me, I just can’t keep going. I’m calling quits on this one. 

Before I started listening to this book, I had heard good things about it and China Miéville but maybe I should read the book instead of listening to it. 

For now, it’s going to back to the stack. 

Dividends as income

I wanted to write about this for awhile but I can find a good starting point so today I just sat down and decided to type out what my thoughts are about this topic.

What are dividends? 
In this post, I’m referring to the stock market’s term “dividends” which means an amount paid out to investors who hold shares of a company. Mostly larger companies do this when they’re big enough that their investors have been holding their stock for a long time and this might be a way to keep investors interested in holding it even longer plus it’s a way for investors to gain some money without selling shares.

What am I doing with dividends?
The past few years, I’ve been using 2 main ways of investing my money (outside of a 401k). First, I use Betterment, this holds most of my money since I don’t want to be playing with most of my long term savings. Second, I use Robinhood which holds what I call “experimental” money. I call it experimental instead of play or fun money because even though it’s all dependent on me how I invest this money, it’s still real money! I still want to make sane decisions and hold stock of companies that are valuable.
Robinhood makes it extremely easy to buy and sell stock and best of all, it’s always free! This means buying 1 share or 100 shares doesn’t cost a penny, traditional brokerages charge an insane amount no matter the number of shares being traded.

Dividend as income
Having no minimums or fees on trading, Robinhood makes it very easy to start buying shares of many companies and essentially allowing you to build an extremely well diversified portfolio. 
I started using Robinhood at the end of 2014, so about 3.5 years now. In the beginning, I was just buying a few shares of each company I just was interested in or had some familiarity with and this quickly turned out to be a mediocre strategy. If you ask most people “what is your goal with investing?” I’m sure most will say “make money.” And that’s really why it’s easy to say “well, that should be the strategy, to make money” but I think it’s more complicated than that. 
Seeing your shares rise in value is easy in a booming economy like the past few years but I believe this will start to slow down or some sort of a bubble bursting will happen soon. 
So to think about how to make an income using dividends, I started looking at companies that either pay dividends consistently or pay a high amount of their earnings as dividends. The latter are usually companies that are REITs (short for Real Estate Investment Trust, learn more). REITs pay high dividends and are usually pretty cheap to buy, but the problem is, the share price doesn’t see tech company gains and it’s dependent on the economy since infrastructure and real estate are pretty dependent on how the economy is doing. 
Examples of companies that pay well in dividends and are just household names are AT&T, Colgate-Palmolive, Coca-cola, and many more. These are called Dividend Aristocrats, they’re well-known and large companies that usually align very well with the economy. 

Current status
Right now, I’m able to get about $40 in dividends every month (not an average). The goal is to slowly move this number higher and higher and I’m not sure what the best way to go about this right now as I’m buying a mix of high growth companies as well as REITs which pay a high dividend. 
I’ll post more about this in the coming weeks, please let me know if you’d like to know more about any of this. 

Mid-year check-in, also I’m 28 now

Yesterday, I turned 28. This is the perfect time to reflect on the first half of 2018 and also my past year since I turned 27. When 2018 started, I decided not to start with any resolutions as they most often don’t get fulfilled. I wanted to mostly observe myself and get to know myself better. I guess that has been one of the main things for me this year in my personal life.

I’m happy to report that audiobooks have been a steady obsession over the past 6 months continuing from 2017 as well. This helps me learn about a topic or listen to a fictional story while doing things like commuting on the bus, mundane tasks around the house, and often times relax before going to bed. 

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, one thing I notice is that writing down things like notes, thoughts, opinions, and blog posts like this helps me recenter toward something I much prefer. A stabilizer of some sort.

This post isn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be but this is so far my 2018. 

Also, I got married in April ❤️.

Preview of Free Press

Below is a screenshot of the most recent changes I’ve made to free press to get a single post showing. It’s missing author, date, and other important links but I’m working on that next.

I’ve spent maybe 15-20 minutes just trying to get the line-height correct, but…it’s a tricky problem because I’m sure by now my eyes can’t discern what’s good and bad after looking at this screen. 

Getting started with local WordPress development and a log for free-press development

Over 2 months ago, I wrote about starting work on my own theme. This has been slow going but I have actually learned quite a bit even for being a thing put on the back-burner for awhile. 

First, local WordPress development is easily doable on OSX using MAMP. After installing MAMP, you’ll need to point your “Web server” to a clone of the wordpress download (found here).

MAMP preferences, access these by pressing ⌘+ , 

Once you have the document root set to the proper place, click “OK” and then “Start Servers” on the main MAMP window.

This will open a start page with some info about the local MAMP instance running. Click on “My Website” on the top nav, you’ll be taken to a screen that’ll start the WordPress setup.

After all this is done, you’ll have a local version of WordPress running. Now, to start developing a theme, you’ll need to create a theme inside the wordpress folder on your computer inside the wp-content/themes folder. Themes should not include numbers in the name (according to WordPress docs).


I’ve been very slowly working on the free press theme and today I was working on it and I decided that I should keep a log so I’m not making small posts about all the things I’m learning or running into while developing it.

You can see it updated in real time here: Free Press development log

Chrome console output notes

Below are some cool console.log tricks that I recently have been learning about.

Add CSS using %c

Change Styles: use the %c formatter to style everything that follows.

console.log('%c Hello World', 'color: blue;');
console.log('%c Hello %c World', 'color: blue;', 'font-weight: bold; color: red;');

Each %c acts as a delimiter which means everything following will take the styles added to the next param passed to console.log.

Clear the console

This one just happened for me one day since I use it so often in iTerm2, clearing the console makes it easier to read and digest the console log. To do this just press: Command + K on Mac and Control + K on Windows. Btw, this is the same shortcut for iTerm2.

You can also add it to your code and it’ll work by just adding in clear(). This will help debugging code a bit easier as you’ll only see what your code should be showing. 

Display objects or arrays

If you have an object like below:

user = {
  id: 123,
  twitter: '@usmanity',
  location: 'california'
}

You can print this in an easy to ready format by using console.table() like console.table(user) and it’ll display like this:

Same goes for arrays.

I’ll try to share more tips if I come across more! 😀

Mid-May update

In the past 2-3 months, I’ve been writing way more code and relatively more blog posts than I had before starting this blog. This has been mainly due to my goal of being consistent about things that interest me.

I’m writing this post because I haven’t posted in about 10 days and I was getting anxious to write something. This post is kind of like an intermittent update because I have been busy lately but I think most of those things are not very interesting to post about.

Cycling: I’ve started riding my bike again, after about 11 months of inactivity! My bike was hanging on its hook for so long that it had collected dust on all the components! I had forgotten where my pump was and took me awhile to find it. Below are my stats from Strava for cycling:

Strava stats as of May 16th, 2018

I don’t want to be unrealistic but I do want to ride a couple of hundred miles if I stay consistent.

Books: after finishing The Three-Body Problem, I wanted to read/listen to something non-fiction and I started listening to A Fine Mess by T.R. Reid. It’s a book on taxes and I did enjoy it. I have a draft post about it but I’ll talk more about it in that. I’m also reading a fiction book called Mattimeo by Brian Jacques, it’s a children’s fantasy novel about anthropomorphic mice, second in the Redwall series. After my experience with Watership Down by Richard Adams, I’ve been feeling many different things, like the whole story is so magical and profound yet so dark and simple that it kind of hurts to think about how real it made me feel. 

Code: I’ve been trying to stay consistent about learning Node.js and using it to build something. Also, I’m practicing things like python and javascript when I have some down time, this has been mostly for fun. I’m itching to build something big but I don’t want to misperceive my little bits of new information as newfound confidence.

The Joy of Tidying (and finances): I didn’t really know what to call this part but one thing that’s been part of my everyday thinking has been the notion of “less is more” and also using a recently learned problem solving principle called Occam’s razor to clearly focus on things. I remember when I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo last year, it really opened up a new way of looking at my possessions. It started with just the things I had and how many of them I wasn’t using or wanting yet they all were in my house, taking my room and requiring my time. 
Once I simplified my clothing, books, and other possessions, I started to think of abstract noises and complexities like finances, digital presences, online shopping, and even apps on my phone. This has been a topic of research for me as most people in my generation are dealing with this in various ways, I want to find an approach that’s not Draconian and still lets me enjoy my time with these things and without them. More on this later! 

Apps I use to listen to audiobooks

I’ve posted about a couple of books I’ve recently finished by listening to them as audiobooks and I wanted to share how I go about doing this since buying audiobooks can be pricey (since you can’t find them used or cheaply on Amazon).

Last year, I subscribed to Audible, it was pretty good except when you want to listen to more than one book a month it was a bit inconvenient knowing that you’ve already paid for the month and used your 1 credit and now have to wait till the next month. I was hoping for more of a Netflix experience just because I’ve been spoiled by it.

So I found Libby which drastically changed how I listened to audiobooks. Libby lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library with a few taps in the app! The best part about is automatic borrowing, this works like this: first you search for a book and if it’s not available to borrow (since the local library only has a limited number of digital copies), you put a hold on it, when the hold is ready to be borrowed, Libby will send you a notification/email informing you that the book has been checked out!

Libby is a great option for finding most books and if you’re like me where you’re often waiting for some books to be available to borrow, you can also check out Otto, it’s a $10 per month subscription and it does feel more like Netflix for audiobooks. On Otto, I find books I usually can’t find on Libby or books that aren’t available on Libby right away.

I have stopped using Audible as a primary audiobook platform since it’s very expensive compared to Libby and Otto. 

There’s one more way to listen to audiobooks that’s virtually free, Spotify. There are a bunch books that are mostly books with expired copyrights so English classics are pretty easy to find on here. Some Charles Dickens and even the whole Sherlock Holmes series are available on here but they’re a bit harder to bookmark and listen to since Spotify does everything by track so there’s no spot-keeping of any kind.

Libby: https://meet.libbyapp.com
Otto Radio: https://www.ottoradio.com

Samson’s first swim!

Samson is 1 year old now and for his birthday, we decided to take him to John McLarren Park. If you haven’t taken your dog there, I recommend checking it out! Below are some videos I wanted to share!

Btw, his birthday is kinda made up since we don’t know which day he was born on. We got him when he was 2-3 months old (and super cute) and so we pinned it to be 4/20 🤙🏽.

Swimming for the first time

Swimming across the pond!

The pond is small and so is Samson so this was a big challenge for him! It took awhile to convince him to swim across but after he did it once, he kept going!