RW160 - The Lap of Luxury

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to the guest room in John's daughter's mother's house where he could just live for the next 15 years and it would be living in the lap of luxury.

Dan had a little crazy day. John is pretty up against the wall, actually, both time-wise and because there is impending doom.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Mastering the Western State Hurricanes album (RW160)

As soon as John is done talking to Dan he is going drive across town to do the final step in mastering the Western State Hurricanes album, which is an involved process and the engineer said he sure could use John's help.

John’s first warehouse loft apartment (RW160)

When John was in his 20s he lived in a warehouse loft in Seattle on 11th Avenue between Pike and Pine, which then was Capitol Hill, but not any part of it that anybody would want to go to. It was just a no-man's-land while today it is the center of the zone. John built that apartment! It was a warehouse two days before he moved in, and they put electricity in it, they put walls in it, and the guy who bought it had bought the building on a 100 year lease for $1 million.

John thought both things were crazy: Why would you lease a building for 100 years? How does someone inherit that? It didn't register with him that the guy who was doing this was already 40 and in 50 years he would be 90 and he could hand it down to a beneficiary who was 40 years old at the time of his death who would live to be 90 also and the lease would still be there. 100 years is a long time! When John was 26 he was like: ”100 years? Well, 100 years from now I will still be living here!”, but also the fact that he paid $1 million for this place: It is a sprawling warehouse with probably six businesses and 25 enormous loft apartments and he probably makes $1 million a month in rent now!

This warehouse loft was a dream style of living for John when he was younger because it seemed urban and you could make the space whatever you wanted. It was completely raw space. If you wanted to create a room over here you just arranged the furniture and you had a new room, almost. You would find some doors in an ally and bolt them together and make an intriguing loft wall of weathered old doors.

None of them had any money, John was making at that point probably $700 a month, but they lived in this place with the bathroom down the hall and walls made out of windows from a dumpster. John had borrowed some guy's shopping cart, filled it up with windows, rolled them home, unloaded them, took the cart back to the dumpster, filled it up with windows, and came back. They built a little frame and built a room out of them that you can hang curtains in and it was John’s bedroom. That stuff was great and John was having so much fun! At the time he didn't think he was having fun, but he thought he was a miserable sad sack.

John buying his first house and making some money from it (RW160)

When John bought his farm in 2007 he had a little bit of money from Long Winter songs getting used on TV. Up until that point he had never had any money! When he joined Harvey Danger he made $900 a month working at the newsstand, Harvey Danger paid him $15.000 that year, and they were feeding and housing him the whole time. It was $15.000 of free money! John was really good at it!

At the back of the venue there would often be a cheese tray, a meat tray, and some drinks, but they were also going to have dinner in a restaurant. John is a bag lady for sure and he always put a bunch of meat and some cheese in a little bag because later you will take that stuff onto the bus, you lay it out, and everybody comes home and be like: ”I wish I had a little piece of cheese!” - ”I got you, man! I got the cheese!”

John didn't spend any money that year and he had never been so rich in his life before! $15.000! In 2001 he made the first Long Winters record with that Harvey Danger money and he bought a van and started the band. By 2006 The Long Winters had become a going operation and it was the great era when people were using Indie Rock music on TV. John's band got a couple of placements and he had a little pile of money like he had never seen before. If you amortize that amount of money over the course of 10 years of John pursuing a music career he was getting paid about $0.11 an hour, but it was money! It had happened! It had arrived!

John immediately put that money into a downpayment for a house. He doesn't even know why, but it just felt like he could buy a house now and he should! He wanted to have his own place, to be able to close the doors and get away from other people and not have somebody banging on the wall and telling him to be quiet. John never wanted to imagine someone could hear him. Hardly anybody ever complained, but the idea someone being able to hear him strumming the guitar was bad enough, they didn't have to pound on the wall!

John bought the farm which was the first place he ever made an offer on. He won it, he moved in there and he basically just started paying rent. The economy crashed and John felt like he had lost a bunch of money because the value of the house went down significantly on paper, but his mortgage payment was the same as he would be paying in rent if he lived in town, so he just lived out there and paid it and didn't think about the house being worthless: ”Whatever, I'm living here! I don't care what it is worth!”

By the time John sold the house this year the economy had recovered, Seattle was booming again, and he made a profit. Interest rates had been down significantly 3.25 points and he could now use the money he made from the sale of the house as a downpayment on another house and the lower interest rates mean that he can get a bigger and more expensive house and his mortgage payment would just a little bit more.

John is going to roll the money from the sale of the old house into the new house and his new loan is going to be cheaper. It is like a brain teaser: If you have money it is easy to make money. Wealth accumulates through property and over the course of ten years his new house is going to appreciate. It wasn't part of a plan, he didn't start off having read a blog about how to become financially independent at old age, he doesn’t have a retirement, he is not able to tuck a bunch of money in a 401K, but all of a sudden real estate was this accidental way where 10 years from now he will be 60 and if his property has appreciated his wealth will have grown!

John is making a living as a podcaster while his money is working for him in the economy, which is astonishing to feel personally because he has a lot of friends his age who do exactly the same thing that he does more or less: They came up in the arts community, they have been making art the whole time, they had periods of success, periods of struggle, they are good dancers like he is, they were peers and pals, but in 2007 they didn't buy a house and in 2019 their financial situations are different from one another in a way that is very hard for them to catch up.

At the time people scoffed at him: ”Oh, you are buying a house out in where? That is not for me, man! I am going to live in my cool apartment downtown and keep on doing my thing! Go out and live in the sticks, if you want!” John felt the isolation, particularly for that to have happened by accident and for most of the time he lived in his house he assumed it was worth less than he paid for it and he was stunned when someone told him he could sell that house for more than he paid for it.

Looking for a house with Millennial Girlfriend (RW160)

When Millennium Girlfriend was moving to Seattle she said he had to sell his house because she couldn’t live in his house and they would have to buy a house together. She loved his house and for a year and a half she came up and said: ”This house is so amazing. Build a life here together!”, but within a week of having actually moved to Seattle she said: ”Most psychologists say that you should never move into someone else's house. You should always buy a house together because the the old house has too many memories!” - ”I don't know. You used to say you loved it here!” - ”Yeah, but I don't want to live in a place where you cleared a drawer for me!” - ”Well, I guess I see that!”

Within a day they were on North Queen Ann‚ looking at white colonial houses in a neighborhood where every other car is an Audi A7. ”How did I get here? I don't want to live up here! This is terrible!” She only lasted a couple of weeks in Seattle, but part of it was: ”You got to sell your house!”

John was ready to do it, but the money he would have made from it would not have been enough and he would not have been able to contribute half of the money to purchasing one of the grand homes that she thought they were going to live in. She was a tech lawyer and had more money than he did. It was a really sketchy proposition because he was going to sell his house and put his money into a house where he will be the junior partner.

John making an offer on a house (RW160)

A few days ago John made an offer on a house. He had been looking at houses very seriously in the last several months since he had sold his old house, the farm. When he first moved into the farm it was pretty confusing living all the way out at 100th street. Last year John’s daughter's mother moved out to 200th, which was 100 more! How do you live at 200th? You might as well be in Olympia Washington or Vancouver British Columbia! In the meantime John got used to being at 200th. It is suburban, but it is still within the inner ring of a city.

He even found himself looking at 300th and he just couldn't get his head around living at 300th because it is two extra more hundred than the first time where he felt like he was too far away. At 300th there are plenty of places to live that are relatively inexpensive, but by the time you are living at 300th you could also just go a different direction and live on a farm.

John exploring the neighborhood and doing his due diligence

A house came available that was not anything like what John was looking for, but it was crazy and intriguing with features that weren't on his list because he didn't even know he could have them. In a moment he made an offer on this house. There was a crazy situation with the owners, there was some drama, there were a few fretful days, and they accepted John’s offer, but in the meantime the craziness of this house started to sink in.

John is not usually somebody who makes an offer and two days later he says: ”Whoa, I didn't mean that!”, but before he had made his offer on this house he had gone around through the neighborhood, talked to about 10 different neighbors, went and sat on the lawn of this house at 11:30pm and watched the stars, trying to get a vibe from the land.

Dan will walk a neighborhood at night and he will do all this stuff before he buys something like a house, but he knows a lot of people who just look at it for 30 minutes in the daytime and know this is the one for them. Then you realize everything that really happens in the neighborhood when you weren't there. Dan made that mistake the first time.

John gets down on himself about not being a good worker or not ticking off all the boxes on lists and stuff, he is pretty harsh on himself for not doing that stuff because in some version of our lives that is the secret to success. Before he even went to the open house he had already walked all the streets of the neighborhood, he had walked from the house to the nearest public transit and back, he had walked to the nearest public park and he spent an afternoon sitting there talking to people.

Anytime he saw someone in their yard, working in their garage, or getting out of a car, he stopped and said in the friendliest way he could: ”Hey, how's it going? I am thinking about moving into this neighborhood. What can you tell me?” and before he even had toured the house he knew all about the Homeowner's Association, he knew that the neighbors all knew each other, and he knew that Bob thought that Cindy was very emotional because of what had happened with Tony.

John had driven up some driveways and had people come out of the house in response to sensors going off. They met him in the driveway in a ”Can I help you?” type of way. He tweeted about this the other day in response to this: The fact that he looks like he does, that he is a middle-aged white guy who is tall and strong and groomed means that he can literally drive up a driveway where the sign says ”Private property! No trespassing!”

John can drive up that driveway right up to the door of their house in the forest, get out of the car, and the person who comes out of the door takes a look at him and greets him warmly like: ”Can I help you?” - ”Yeah, I was just thinking about moving into the neighborhood!” - ”Oh, come on in! Have a cup of coffee!” That stuff is real!

Almost everybody else wouldn't try it because they knew they couldn't get away with it or they were afraid. John is not afraid. Even if they said: ”I am calling the cops!” - ”Great! I would like to find out what they have to say, too!” It is really ridiculous! By the time John made an offer on this house he knew everything about the neighborhood, he knew about the owner, he knew why they were selling, and he knew what the neighbors thought.

The real estate agent said: ”Well, there is a prior approval offer on the house and we have to wait for that to clear and they are not sure if that buyer is going to go through!” Within 24 hours John knew the name of that pre-approved buyer, had met him, and had talked to him about his plans and discovered that he was not sincere about the house. Although John is down on himself about not going down checklists he realized when he made an offer on this house, you couldn't have done more work in the five days prior to know what you were doing and he was very excited about it!

The house has some issues

There are some real issues with the house and it needs a lot of work, but John was excited about that work. It is not crazy like replacing a furnace or a hot water heating system. A lot of the houses in this neighborhood are heated by radiators that look like electric baseboard heaters, but have hot water pipes running through them. It was a style of heating at the time. It is not forced air, but the furnace heats water and sends the hot water around the house. It works great and provides really nice even heat if it still works, but there are an extra couple of things that can go wrong including that there are pipes of hot water running all over your house.

The heating is not the problem, but this house does not have a master bath. The man who built it started to build his dream house, ran out of money, and then lived in it for 20 years having never finished his master bath or the front of the house. The windows never got trim put around them, not just decorative trim, but they aren't sealed against the world.

It doesn't look like a cabin, but it is nice. The owner didn't have the money to finish it and he never came up with it and John would be moving into someone else's unfinished project, finishing it to his own taste, which is a great opportunity, but this was one man's dream house and some of the things he did can't be undone, just the way he designed the house.

When you are architecting a house on a blank piece of paper in the second half of the 20th century people sometimes said: ”What is the deal about right angles? Why is everybody still hung up on squares and shit? What if we just made it not square?”, but in almost every instance when you are building a house that is not square it is wrong in the long run.

Even in the 1980s people still said: "We are not going to build triangles anymore! What if every house had a big round bay window? Not those old-fashioned bay windows that are square on the sides, but a round tower out of glass blocks!” - ”Nobody wants to be in that! You can't furnish it or put a chair in it! All you can do is stand in it and wish it was square!”

If John lived in a Goudie house in Barcelona he would feel differently, but in a lot of those Goudie houses the furniture is built into the wall and you are meant to live there only as a caretaker. You are only passing through this life and the house will stand and you are just a shadow.

In a normal American house where you want to put some couches, chairs, and tables, the walls have to meet in corners. This guy had built this house and he was a bachelor who said: ”What am I going to need more? An extra bedroom or a completely unfinished master bath and walk in closet that is unusable for 20 years? I am going to go with that!” You could gut it to the studs and redo it, but that would be insane!

When John was looking at it he was also trying to put himself into the story of this house: ”Can I live here? Whatever it is I am looking for when I live somewhere, can this be it?” It is going to be a change, it is not like living in him old farmhouse, it is utterly different and that was the point, but what are the boundaries? At what point can John see a real problem and just charge ahead because ”Damn the torpedoes!” and how is that different from a thing where he can see a real problem and he just dives straight into it and then it is a real problem for the rest of his life?

Thinking about cancelling the offer again

The deal was fraught with emotion because the man who built the house died and had no next of kin other than his mother in her 90s who was very emotional about having lost her son and the house was in some ways a personification of him. She is also keeping big bags of rice because it was the kind of rice that he liked, she is not making all the greatest decisions.

Luckily she got some capable helpers in the form of other people in the neighborhood, the people John talked to on the street. Her lawyer is there who has power of attorney, the guy over here is acting as her agent, and they are all just trying to help her because she can't live there anymore, it is too ramshackle, and she doesn't want to sell it, but they were trying to get her to see that this was the time and finally convinced her to sell it.

This is all stuff you shouldn't know about a house you are buying, but John was wandering the streets at night. They accepted his offer and now he is in a situation where the voices have started to comment on his decision making process: ”If you go through with this transaction you have bought an enormous project! You are not going to just move in here and put your bags down and start a happy new life, but you are basically moving into someone else's unfinished dream and now you are the guy who is going to either find the money and the time and the patience to finish the bathroom or you are the one living in a house with no bathroom! You have to fix the windows, pave the driveway, and build a deck, a patio, and a path!”

The backyard is on a steep slope and it is like a death trap. If you step out of the back windows and take 10 more steps you will tumble into a ravine. Nothing is done, it is just a crazy environment, and John is telling himself: ”What did you just do to yourself? This is not necessarily what we set out to do!” He had a list of the 10 things he wanted in a home for a year and a half and none of these things were on that list. The list does not say: ”Pile of sticks that needs to be reworked by an architect and my imagination”, but the opposite: ”I would like a house with a new kind of discipline that I can live in without the howling sounds of unfinished projects!”

Because John has been wandering this neighborhood and knows the story he also has the burden of this 95 year old woman who has lost her son and who had to be convinced to sell this house. Within the real estate business there are all these: ”You have three days to do this and then after that you have six days to do that and if there is an inspection you have 11 days to do this and that…” and at any point along the way the buyer can say: ”Well, we looked at it and realized that the hot water heater is made out of glass and there were a lot of things that weren't revealed and we are canceling the sale!” John could cancel this sale and not have any repercussions.

Dan has owned four or five houses. Your offer is usually contingent upon for example an inspection that you are satisfied with, or a review of other things. Dan actually canceled a homeowner deal when they found a whole bunch of stuff that was wrong with the house. They just said there was too much wrong and that was it. For people who haven't bought a house this sounds logical, but you would be surprised how much stuff isn't logical when it comes to buying houses. One time they read the Homeowner’s Association documents that were very restrictive and Dan didn't like it so they canceled the deal. Typically you can always find a way!

All you have to do is walk into the bathroom and go: ”Well, it says on the listing that it is a two bathroom home, but it is not!” There is only one and the bathroom that does work looks like it was the bathroom in a home where construction had been happening for 20 years. It is trashed! It is a bathroom, it works, but…

For the last 24 hours John has been pulling his hair for a lot of different reasons. He doesn’t like to enter into a contract with someone and then look for a reason to get out of it. If he had gone into the house and found that it was full of snakes he would have no remorse about saying: ”This isn't what you represented it as!”, but the house is still the house he knew it was when he bought it, he just realized that maybe he made a blunder.

It is not a blunder in the sense that the house isn't worth the money, that the House isn't intriguing, that the house isn't excellent, or that he couldn't turn the house into a wonderful place, but the blunder is that John was seeking to buy a house to not do the thing he does in everything: ”Let me take this unfinished broken thing home! I'll buy that for $5, bring it home, take it apart, and maybe I will turn it into a windmill or maybe this is the missing album or the unfinishedness and plotlessness of my life!”

Why would John do this to himself again after months of meticulous work to avoid it happening? He feels bad about reneging a deal based on that realization! Most people would probably say: ”People renege deals all the time, don't buy a house that is going to torment you just based on some feeling of obligation you have to a 95 year old woman you have never met. It is not your fault her son died!”

She doesn't have a next of kin either, she doesn't need money, she got other properties apparently. She should go live in a home and eat jello. No child should ever die before their parent, but if you live to be 95 you are taking a risk. He died tragically, but he was probably in his late 70s.

This is what John does: He takes the responsibility for her emotions, he is worried that his real estate agent isn't going to respect him, he is worried that his family is starting to roll their eyes at him, and there is still a big part of him that does want to move into this crazy house and start working on the unfinished bathroom and trying to devise a way so that people can walk out on the back porch and not tumble to their deaths.

The whole buying and selling of houses is an emotional nightmare unless everything goes right which it never does and it can't possibly! John is living in the spare bedroom of his daughter's mother's house and there is a whole other voice saying: ”Buy a house so that you can get out of here!” Living there is not bad, it is great, but John is living out of a duffel bag!

Buying a house is a long-term commitment because you are going to be there for a long time. It has to be just right! It is not like an apartment where you can get a one year lease and if it is not right you move out. Everything is on you! If you want to fix something, it is you doing it, get the supplies and figure out how to do it, time that you have to spend on it.

The thing about John's farmhouse was that it didn't have a basement. It wasn't built with one, a decision made in 1907. The lack of a basement became a ghoul that wandered the house rattling its chains in the middle of the night because John would sit there and say: ”If I had a basement I would be down there right now sorting through these old cufflinks, but as there isn't a basement I have to sort these cufflinks on the dining room table.” The problem is that John will not finish this cufflink sorting project today. He will be halfway into it and he knows he is not going to get it done today, which means that this sorting of the cufflinks project is going to be here on the dining room table for an indefinite period.

If John had a basement this could be down in the basement and the dining room table would remain clean. After a while, the basement existed in his mind and he knew exactly what it looked like. The fact that it wasn't there became a phantom limb syndrome. It felt like he had had a basement that was taken away and he could still feel it, but he couldn't get there.

He knew where the door to the basement would be in that house. He knew what it would look like, he knew how he had it arranged, how the lock on the door was going to be, but it didn't exist. It was never going to exist! That house will never have a basement! John doesn’t know if that is a peculiar kind of insanity and maybe people do this all the time, but he felt so acutely that he needed a basement and it was gradual over time.

When John started looking for houses now, one of the first three things on his list was: ”Must have a basement, preferably a basement that included some unfinished space!” It is nice if the basement has a little bedroom or a little TV room, but John would like a basement that has unfinished space so that he can have a work room, a place to sort some cufflinks while sitting on a stool in the middle of the night where he is not in anybody's way, nobody can hear him, and he can leave it and close the door and his house isn't an insane asylum.

John rejected great houses in his search because there wasn't a basement or because the basement was turned into a spa or he couldn't use it for his purpose. The house that he made an offer on does not have a basement at all! The hot water heater is in the garage! It does have considerable drama in that it is like being inside a barn. It is basically just a giant room with tall ceilings and when you can see to the other side of the house.

When you are in the unfinished bathtub, imagining that it will one day be a bathtub, you can look through the open bathroom door through the house to the outside. It is a very big raw open space that could be made into anything, but it is not in Pioneer Square or Capitol Hill in Seattle like the warehouse loft from John's 20s, it is in the suburbs on a little plot of land with neighbors around it who look out for one another and the guy next door has a nice polished Airstream in his driveway. It is not everybody's cup of tea, it was built by this one guy and it really feels like a bachelor house. It does not have any gentility at all, but it is very much like: ”A guy lived here and now he sold it to another guy!”

Having to make a decision

John's daughter, who grew up very resilient to aesthetic change, walked around and was like: ”Here is my room! The first thing I am going to do is paint it pink and put a flower on the door. How do you like them apples?” - ”Well, yeah. All right!” The reason that it is so present is that John is right in the center of this. When he gets off the phone he will be thrust into a real moment of decision. What is he going to do?

If he calls his agent and says: ”I am going to pull out of this deal!”, will he miss this house? Will he regret it? Will he carry the burden of picturing this little old lady sobbing in the arms of her lawyer at having to go through the whole nightmare of putting the house for sale again? They shouldn't have marked it as pending as fast as they did, they should have waited a day.

Also, is John throwing himself back into Mr. Guy who looks at houses all day? It becomes its own form of pornography! People get addicted to the kind of looky-loo covetousness of real estate listings and open houses until they are doing it for fun. There are all those television shows about House fixer-uppers and it becomes almost a sex substitute.

John is not looking for houses because he needs a sex substitute, but he needs a place to live. Buying a house is his only method for accumulating wealth so that when he is 80 he is not destitute. He doesn’t want to just take the money that he sold his house for and live in an apartment for a year, he doesn’t want to buy a cool car, and he doesn’t want to travel the world. ”Why not just go to Tahiti for a year?” - ”No!”

If doesn't reinvest the money he made, then he is utterly failing to play the capitalism game correctly as someone with no retirement who pays for his own insurance. The royalty payments from his music are down in the single digits, not like $1, but not enough to live on. Where is the money going to come from? Is podcasting going to be a thing in ten years time? It may be the number one form of media in ten years or everybody will have moved on to something else. John thought that Rock’n’Roll would always be a thing and it bumbles along, but (its importance surely has changed).

Think of all the people who thought that programs would always be coded in Basic! There have to be a million examples in computer maths of people who didn't keep up and who ended up being experts in something that nobody uses anymore. John can't say: ”I have found podcasting and I will just keep podcasting until the day I die!”, unless he will die in the next five years, which hopefully he won’t do!

Dan’s advice

It doesn't sound like John is committed either way right now, but it sounds like he is in a state of limbo, which is the worst part of it because a lot of people want to employ semi-woo-woo problem solving techniques, like put both options in a bag and set it on fire and whichever one you jump to save is the one you always wanted.

Dan is not one to give unsolicited advice or even regular advice, but he is good in doing a project and saying: ”I have a project, and I am going to do this thing, I planned for it, I studied it, and I feel comfortable about it!” However Dan doesn’t like to have to do projects like that. He is not talking about in his day job or work, he is talking about in his home, the place that is supposed to be his sanctuary, your home base from which life springs.

In a situation where there would be 50 things has to do, some of them small, but some of them kind of major, this should be your second home, your project home. Maybe you have a home base already and you get this one and go over there on the weekend to refinish the deck and next week you are redoing the bathrooms. It might take a few weeks, evenings, and weekends. If you don't get to it, no big deal, you get to it next week. There is no real rush! It is your hobby, the thing you enjoy doing, and after a few years of work: ”We did it. The country home is done! We can finally go stay there!” and then you furnish it and you go stay there.

To Dan that is the only way that he could approach something like this. He has been in a project house, a 1940s bungalow style home that had been cosmetically redone just enough to sell it. The house flipper would buy three or four houses on the street and cosmetically redo them to create a sense of: ”Hey look, maybe a new little neighborhood is springing up here! This street is really improving! We should buy a house here on this street!”, which they did. Everybody who had one of these little homes had tons of problems because everything they had done was make it look good. They wound up having to redo cabinetry, plumbing, and electrical. They had to refinish the deck and porch and other things!

It is one thing to have a project, but it is another to have a project that is happening while you are living in it and trying to conduct your life around it. Although John goes on trips quite a bit and sees concerts every single day, doing all this cool stuff, he also works from home. His home base is not just where he sleeps and does his laundry and prepares some of his meals, but he works there and spends a lot of time there. He is not leaving it at 8:00am and getting back at 7:00pm, but it is surrounding him. For Dan that causes a feeling of frustration and anxiety. Sometimes it is not as much of a money thing as it is a time thing. Finishing that tub is not a 30 minute thing, that is not folding laundry, but that is days!

Dan’s uncle was a person who would be inventing something, building something, repairing something, or redoing something in every spare minute. They never had anyone out to their house to repair anything, fix anything, or upgrade anything, but he did it all himself because he could. He was an electrical engineer and he believed that paying someone else to do something he could do was blasphemous, even if it was well outside of his wheelhouse. For example he retiled the entire downstairs himself and it took him weeks because he would do it after work and all weekend long.

Dan could see himself saying: ”I am going to hit all the tile shops until I find a really good deal on the tile that I want and I am going to transport it to my house myself in the truck. I am going to do this and the other thing!”, but when it comes to actually laying the tile, that kind of work really sucks! You are on your hands and knees with your back hurting, you have to saw the tile and measure it perfectly and it is just not fun.

That is something way best left to the pros, even though you could do it. Most people could do it. John might even encounter a lot of stuff that will surprise him: ”I pulled this plank of wood up and underneath it was a problem that I then had to fix!” Dan is worried for John. It might be the perfect house for him, but maybe the state of it isn't what he needs!

John feeling under a lot of pressure

After John gets off the phone with Dan he will drive across town to master the Western State Hurricanes album and he has to go to the pharmacy because he is out of medication. Then he has to come home and make the decision about this house and one of the things that would be nice about real estate is that if you found a place that interested you, you could stop time for five days and not be instantly in a competitive war with all the other buyers in the world who are also being manipulated by real estate agents who live according to a medieval guild of arcane rules in a strange Life and Death real estate agent world.

John is under a lot of pressure, but it is not even an extremely sympathetic position to be in: ”I don't know which house to buy!” A lot of his friends wish they had this problem! So often we feel like if our problem doesn't rank in the top tier of global problems that we don't have a right to feel bad and people are saying all the time: "I know it is a first world problem, but blank blank blank blank” Not really! It is actually your problem, it is a problem that you are having and you should be able to have problems and not have to apologize for global inequality, or apologize for the fact that not everybody has the same problems. This is a real problem for John!

Even among his closest friends no one is really interested in hearing about it. It is not a thing where you call up and say: ”I am having trouble with this girl…” and people go: ”Oh, let me tell you man!”, but John is having trouble knowing about a real estate transaction and he only has four friends who would even be vaguely interested. They are going to say what Dan just did, which is: ”Well, it could be the house for you and I hope if it is you get it, but if it is not the house for you and it isn't the right one I hope you don't get it!” What else can you say?

It is agonizing iternally because John is making a decision about not just where he is going to live, but where his life is going to take place, which is a significant decision according to criteria that he is just inventing. He could live in this house just fine, frankly he could live here in the guest-room of the house where he is living right now. He could live here for 15 years and everything would not just be fine, but if he lived here in the guest-room he would be for all intents purposes in the lap of luxury!

Dan gifting John a Russian watch (RW160)

(Example Search of the type of watch talked about in this segment)

Today John got an interesting package from Dan Benjamin. He opened it and read it and it said John was a sucker. Inside there was a very intriguing watch. The name first looks like it is in Latin letters, it says PAKETA, but when you look down at the bottom the letters are Cyrillic and presumably one of the words is ”Russia”. It probably says Made in Russia, which means that it isn't PAKETA because those are then Cyrillic letters that just look like Latin letters, but it is pronounced RAKETA, like rocket.

It is not a normal watch because rather than have a dial from 1 to 12 it has a dial that goes from 1 to 24. It is a 24 hour watch with a Captive Rotary Bezel and two dials on the side, sent to John by America's sweetheart Dan Benjamin. This is a mechanical watch, but it is not self-winding and you must wind it using the big crown.

The watch is set to 12:07 but it looks like 6:07 because 12 is at the bottom. It is in beautiful condition and absolutely stunning! Whom is a 24 hour watch made for? Submariners? Dan doesn’t know what the story is, but the reason for the Captive Rotary Bezel is that it is organized with shifts: To day shifts and the red section is the night shift or something like that, either for military or for use in a factory. They are Soulviet [sic]! Like if you live in Antarctica. It is a piece of industrial beauty!

Dan put the biggest strap on it that he had because he knew the size of John’s Hulk wrists would be bigger than his. It still barely fits, but John can get it into the first little hole and it is very comfortable to wear. John wears his watch on the inside of his left wrist which he learned from his dad who wore his watch there because as a pilot he could check the time without taking his hand off the yoke of the aircraft.

John has an Apple Watch which does not allow you to wear it on the inside wrist because the sensors don't pick up properly and when you turn your wrist to look at it it turns off because its internal gyros think it is in some different orientation. Now John has a 24 hour watch and every time he looks at it until he learns how to use it he going to go: ”Okay, now what time is it? 14 o'clock?”

John has his computer set to military time, too and he is accustomed to doing that math. It is a beautiful gift! Dan has had this watch for a number of years and the guy he got it from was from Hungary or somewhere Russian-adjacent. He lived in a small town and had found it in a small little watch vintage type store. Once Dan got it he had some work done on it.

It has a lovely vintage acrylic and everything about it is nice. Dan really enjoyed having it, but he wasn't wearing it a lot and since the first day he got it he thought it was something John would like. If John would wear it a few times a year it will be more than Dan was wearing it and Dan hates the idea of a watch that doesn't get worn, it just bothers him.

All of the decisions John is trying to make right now are based largely in matters of style and this is exactly the kind of style that John wants to bring to the world. It is a semi-unreadable vintage watch given to him as a gift by a dear friend across the country, and he is going to basically make all his decisions by consulting the watch now: "Soviet watch, what should I do in this instance?" and the watch will through its semi-rotating bezel or whatever give him the key: ”Magic bezel, where do you stop?”

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