Category Archives: General

The Election

At this point I’m not that interested in what the pollsters got wrong and theories why Trump was elected. I’m very bothered by the reports of harassment carried out in Trump’s name by bigots emboldened by the election result. On Tuesday night my wife repeatedly asked “are there really that many racist people in America?”

I don’t believe racism was the priority for most Trump voters.

I give most of the Trump voters the benefit of the doubt — my instinct is that they voted out of: party loyalty, dislike for HRC, the establishment, desire for non-progressive supreme court judges, and the magical return of ‘good’ jobs. Despite anyone’s reason for voting for Trump they did so in spite of his hostile rhetoric, and looked the other way.

Trump’s campaign was built upon scapegoating the most vulnerable for America’s problems, and taking the country back from “them.” While he was quick to speak out on behalf of Mike Pence for being confronted at a Broadway play, Trump has done little more than shrug when it comes to sticking up for hundreds of Americans being harassed and intimidated in his name. I was anticipating a strong denouncement from him last week during his 60 Minutes interview. This is what we got:

When we interviewed him on Friday afternoon Mr. Trump said he had not heard about some of the acts of violence that are popping up in his name… or against his supporters.

Nor he said had he heard about reports of racial slurs and personal threats against African Americans, Latinos and gays by some of his supporters.

Donald Trump: I am very surprised to hear that— I hate to hear that, I mean I hate to hear that—

Lesley Stahl: But you do hear it?

Donald Trump: I don’t hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…

Lesley Stahl: On social media?

Donald Trump: But I think it’s a very small amount. Again, I think it’s–

Lesley Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?

Donald Trump: I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together.

Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims—

Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it — if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.

Compare that to how McCain shut down this BS in 2008:

I mistakenly believed that Trump’s behavior would disqualify him. His voters compromised on decency.

When it comes to these views I will never understand the amount of capacity attributed to immigrants, poor and powerless to conspire and execute complex ploys to ruin the country they live in.

The only good thing that may come of the election is that people like me will be moved out of complacency to help our neighbors. I’m looking for a positive way to help out in Queens. In the meantime, I’ve put this together a small fundraising project along with my friends at Studio Rodrigo called

I hope it helps.

Fake Shoes

Esha was looking into sourcing some some stuff from Alibaba, so I got to looking around the internet for how-to guides and insights. In my search I got sucked in to the world of fake shoes.

Chiefly, the repsneakers subreddit — these dudes scour Chinese websites and create detailed reviews examining every little detail, and how they compare to real shoes.

My fake Pirate Black 350s
$50. Fake Yeezy Pirate Black Boost 350s I’ve worn for ~2 weeks

If you don’t know anything about this whole streetwear / sneakerhead thing — these brands release limited amounts of product and limit the amount an individual can buy. There’s a whole secondary market of waiting in line, buying, and reselling for profit. For instance, the hot shoe is Kanye’s YEEZY Boost 350. It retailed for $200, but is sold out and goes for nearly $1000 on Amazon.

$50. These aren't as popular as Yeezy's. If you can find them, they go for ~$200

$50. These are NMDs — not as popular as Yeezy’s. This colorway is hard to get. But others are readily available

The repheads develop relationships with the suppliers. “Did you see David’s 7th batch” “Is Jessie answering messages?” “Have you seen Eva’s new pics?” … they know there is no “David” but the supplier has taken on this handle and become their own mini-brand with distinct reputations. Some of them work with the suppliers to refine and develop the details on each new “batch.”

Insider lingo and acronyms:

  • LC — Legit Check, having the group check to see if they’re getting ripped off by a reseller of retail sneakers
  • QC — Quality Control photos … users ask Chinese suppliers to send them verified photos of the actual shoes they’ll be getting, usually via WhatsApp
  • W2C — Wanted to Cop
  • TD (turtledove), PB (pirate black), MR (moonrocks), OT (oxford tan) — the various colorways of Boost 350s

Ordering is reminiscent of the wild west days. You might get a confirmation number, it might work, you aren’t really sure when they’ll arrive, if they’ll get shredded by customs, or if there is any recourse if the shoes are messed up somehow. The anticipation of what will show up and when is half of the fun. People get pretty worked up about the customer service they’re receiving and how soon they’ll get their illegal shoes being shipped from the other side of the world, showing how much we’ve come to expect from e-commerce.

Sometimes they don't ship in a box. Just wrapped in plastic
Arrived like this

For the price, the shoes are fairly comfortable. I suspect the retail versions are a bit better, but not enough to justify the cost. I’ve only seen one other person wearing 350s in the wild. A few people on the street have asked me about my shoes, and I tell them they’re bootlegs. Most people have no idea what the shoes are in the first place, but my heart does race a little bit if I’m approaching a group of high-schoolers.

TD Boost 350s

These TD Boost 350s came with some Tommy Hilfinger socks and a fake receipt
These TD Boost 350s came with some Tommy Hilfinger socks and a fake receipt

They seem like regular old shoes once you get them. Looking at the logos printed on the side really puts in to perspective that all things are hand made — by someone, somewhere. There’s no Adidas machine spitting these out. Now, if you so desire, you can have anything you wanted produced in a factory if you bother to send a few emails.

The fact that we’re now so connected that a high school kid in the suburbs can negotiate textile swatches with someone on the other side of the world over text message is a mind boggle for sure.

Sellers modify the logos — but they arrive w/ real logos
Sellers modify the logos on their listings — but they arrive w/ real logos

doodl club

I’m excited to launch a new side project —

doodl club zine

I love zines. They’re satisfyingly simple to create, not too precious, and plain fun. As a young adult they were a window into other worlds, and an influencing factor to my ending up a designer. I’ve been making them for my entire adult life — as glorified newsletters, self-promotional mailers, art, and to collaborate.

Matt Cassity Zines
Some zines I’ve made.

A few months ago, I sent a zine to all my pals w/ kids. I thought “kids love getting stuff in the mail, and they might enjoy these fun little drawings.” When I saw an instagram Kristen posted, I was like “oh — these could be coloring books!”

So it’s pretty simple! Cool little coloring zines for cool little people. Subscribe and you’ll get a new coloring book every month.

Two Goals:

  • Find 1000 subscribers interested in: zines, obsessive drawing, exposing kids to art, off-line activities, and finding something delightful in the mailbox
  • Make the process easy and beneficial to the artists — everyone will be compensated for their work, and the process is hassle-free with creative control in their hands

I was lucky to get the terrific illustrator Jim Stoten to do the first issue. We met a year or so ago, and he’s super nice. His work is so confident and it’s easy to get lost in all the detail he creates:

doodl club Jim Stoten

Please help me out and subscribe, gift, or tell yr friends about — Issue One is ready to ship.


Some faves from my zine collection:

Andy Rementer ZinesAndy was the best section in The Artist’s Guide, and I’ve been following his career ever since. His zines are always really funny.

hit BookHit Book was a zine-making party organized by Kelly Rakowski and myself. A bunch of friends would get together and we’d spend an afternoon creating a zine on a single topic using stacks of old clip art books and making drawings. I love looking at the evidence of how much fun it was.

Wayne White ZinesAfter designing his book, Wayne White surprised us with a package of his early homemade comic booklets. They’re each a little treasure.

Cheetahs Never WinI met Steve Reeder at a graphic design conference in 2002 and we’ve somehow kept in touch ever since (thanks internet). His comics are excellent!

What I Know About Money

I’ve read and listened to many books about building wealth. The big lesson is — no matter what, take charge of your money! The mistake most people make is thinking:

“I’m not rich, so I just won’t deal with my money, I’ll figure it out later when I have more.”

No. Do it now. You’re not poor, but you are thinking poorly.

Time is an incredible resource when it comes to growing wealth. Every day you wait is counting against you. Taking a few days of your life to research, learn, and institute a plan will pay off 1000-fold down the line.

Ten years ago I forced myself to listen to The Millionaire Next Door. It was incredibly boring, but the “think like a millionaire” premise stuck with me. The book surveyed 100s of millionaires and discovered the average millionaire: has a median income of $131k, does not have a flashy / high-consumption lifestyle, and employs unsophisticated investment strategies based on consistent saving.

If you need help getting started with your day-to-day money management, I Will Teach You To Be Rich outlines the steps to automate your finances and start saving. The gist is that you take the time to set it up once and you don’t have to fuss with it ever again.

Someone summed up the book thoroughly. Print it, read it, do it.

Be free of debt — an old book says “the borrower is slave to the lender.” Put everything you can towards the smallest debt you have (while making minimum payments on the rest). Keep doing that until you’ve paid them all off. While this may not make mathematical sense with various interest rates factored and what not, psychologically you get a boost by paying them off.

(via get-out-of-debt expert Dave Ramsey & his debt snowball method)

Budgets — I don’t even attempt one! The monthly strategy is simple:

  1. Automatically deposit into your retirement savings
  2. Automatically deposit into a savings acct for any specific goals
  3. Automatically pay your expenses (rent, util, phone, credit cards)
  4. Spend the rest

This is referred to as “paying yourself first.”

Saving for Retirement — 401k & IRAs are retirement vehicles, or savings accounts with special tax benefits. You can put in regular old dollars — and you can put stocks and mutual funds in these accounts. The only hitch is you can’t withdraw money from them until you hit 59.5 yrs old. If you dip into it (like in case of some major emergency), you’ll be hit with a penalty.

401ks — are typically offered by your company and allow you to invest in a limited range of stocks and mutual funds. If your company offers a match on a 401k — do enough to get the match. Why? Free money. (I’ve never had a 401k.)

Roth IRA — open one with an online brokerage (Vanguard / TD Amertirade / etc… google “Roth IRA”). Roth IRAs are good. You pay your taxes on the money first then don’t have to worry about it when you take it out at retirement age. You can put $5,500 / year in a Roth IRA. You are not allowed to contribute to a Roth if you make over $129,000 / year ($191,000 jointly), but there are other IRAs you can look into.

Again, you put stocks or funds into your retirement savings:

Stocks — are shares in an individual company. They are the riskiest investment and it’s very hard pick winners that will outperform the market as a whole. According to A Random Walk Down Wall Street, the majority of finance experts that devote all their energy and time to beating the market average fail to do so. But it’s fun to try! I own them as a hobby / gamble. Buying stocks is as simple as entering a ticker symbol into your brokerage account.

I get my stock tips this way: my friend listens to his dad talk to his broker on the phone then tells me what he says. I invest some money that I could lose without crying or going hungry and watch it go up and down. I plan on leaving those alone for at least 5 years. My strategy is buy and hold.

My experience is that just about any established company (that’s not retail) goes up if you just let it sit there. I’ve never sold any of my stocks, and I’m generally pleased with their performance.

Stocks I Own:

  • ABB / ↑779% / something to do with supplying equipment to companies that drill for oil / on a tip from friend’s dad
  • AVAV / ↑60% / drones / bought about a yr ago
  • APP / ↓30% / american apparel / was a cheap stock and I figured what the hell
  • BAC / ↑189% / Bank of America / bought low when it was in the toilet thanks to a story about $5 atm charges and the occupy protests
  • CBI / ↑170% / builds big civic infrastructure things / friend’s dad
  • FB / ↑120% / facebook / because I missed out on apple and google bought during the two dips after the IPO
  • PHOT / ↑64% / they sell equipment and loan money to marijuana growers in Colorado / kind of a goof stock
  • RPC / ↑87% / another oil services company / friend’s dad

The ones with really high percentages — I’ve owned a long time (buy & hold).

Funds — are collections of stocks. Since there are lots of different company’s stocks bundled together, the risk is spread out and lower.
Often you have to buy into a fund with a minimum of $1,000. There are two major types of funds:

  1. Index Funds — are a collection of an equal number of stocks across the entire market (or defined pieces of the market). The idea is you are investing in the market as a whole, and if you stay in long enough will earn the historical stock market average of 12%. They are also referred to as “passively managed funds.” (VTSMX is an example of one)
  2. Mutual Funds — are also called “actively managed funds,” because, unlike index funds, a manager picks and chooses a group of stocks they believe will be winners. Since the general consensus is that it is impossible to beat the market, coupled with the fees taken by the manager, and the tax fees associated with the back and forth trading done inside the funds, they are not seen as the best option.
  • Watch Frontline’s The Retirement Gamble to learn more about managed funds and how much they can cost you over time (real info begins at 20m).
  • If you’re looking for one stop shopping, look at Vanguard’s targeted funds that automatically re-adjust based on your age.

Fund I Own:

  • VTSMX / ↑22% / vanguard total stock market index / a little bit of every stock out there

Over the long term (since 2005) I’ve had an excellent return on my investments … even though in 2008 all my gains were lost and I was in the negative. My money did the work for me!

If you want to skip all the research and just get started, do this:

  1. Open a Roth IRA with an online brokerage (use Vanguard for this example)
  2. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $458 ($5,500 ÷ 12 mo)
  3. Once you have $1000 in your account, buy into the Vanguard Target Fund based on your age
  4. Make it so your monthly contribution automatically buys more of that fund
  5. Let it ride

… This way, it’ll buy when the market is high and low, which is called “cost-averaging.” If you do just this, and only this, for the next 30 years and the market averages 10% you will have $904,059. Behold the power of compound interest!

Spend a day, or a few hours a day, until you get your money in order. Even if you can’t afford $458 / mo right now (I can’t), get something invested.

And generally — remember, your income is your strongest wealth-building tool. Make it a priority to live on less than you make.


Esha and pals threw a big NYE party upstate. The theme was #hallowthanksmaseve — all four holidays in two hours. We all survived.

I don’t have any new resolutions, just old ones that are carrying over into the next year.

Yesterday I noticed the theme for the FEAST site was borked, so I switched to WP’s 2014 theme. It was time to “shut it down” and make it clear we’re no longer hosting FEASTs.


It’s almost Christmas!

Favorite Apps
Google Now
I’m most delighted by Moves and Now — they’re passive and collect / present relevant information. I don’t have to push any buttons…a UX miracle.

Google Keep
Google Keep syncs my lists between computer and phone. I think of it for throwaway notes and info: grocery lists, daily to-do, thoughts, etc.

I’m currently on the search for a tagging / file system for links, text and pics. First it was delicious, then I migrated to gimmebar … which I like, but doesn’t always work like it should. I just don’t know. People swear by Evernote, it seems bloated and I don’t have the patience to figure it out. I just do not know.

Best Mobile Game
Badland $3.99
I was looking for something “atmospheric” and kind of weird. This was it, and I played the whole game. When I’d play for an hour before sleeping, I’d feel dizzy when I closed my eyes.

The game thing got started when I installed Candy Crush after seeing so many ppl playing it on the subway. I uninstalled because I couldn’t stop playing it. It was so dumb and frustrating.

After seeing kids dressed up in pixelated costumes at halloween, and overhearing more than a few kids (and geeky adults) talk about Minecraft, I checked out a documentary about it. The movie is about building a business, and kind of about the background of the game. They make a lot of money. Seems like they’ve merged SaaS and gaming? I installed the game and it made my computer run hot. Which worried me — is the game more powerful than all the fancy graphic software I run?

I’m not into gaming any more.

Based on a recc from Bob Odenkirk I watched The Royle Family. I suspect it’s an acquired taste. Tasted good to me.

We’re watching The Wire again! It’s my third time, and Esha’s first.


We gave out $60 worth of candy in two hours. One piece at a time.

“Say trick or treat” … “say thank you.” — said practically every parent that shuffled their kids to our doorstep. Parents: brief your kids before they go out. It makes no sense to go through this process over and over.

The costumes were lame, tossed-on, store-bought things. Most common were Disney princess (Ariel?) and some grey and red superhero. Very few kids w/ face paint. I didn’t see even one paper bag head. A lot of the parents had excellent costumes though.

I was more annoyed at parents collecting candy on behalf of infants than I was at uncostumed teens with shopping bags.

    Parent presents me w/ open bag, “trick or treat”
    Me: “Who’s that for?”
    Bag holder: “The baby.”
    Me: Looks at sleeping baby in stroller, “The baby has to ask for it.”

A funny thing (that I probably did as a kid) was the candy analysis while walking away. “Yes, Nerds!” or “sort of look at the generic lollipop and dump it back in the sack w/o comment.” A neighbor appeared to be giving out bags of Doritos.

Favorite Jokes:

  • Asking a dog if it was dressed up as a dog.
  • Calling kids a similar costume Hey Tiger (giraffe), Hey Spiderman (Superman), Hey Chewbacca (werewolf)…
  • Giving the Angry Bird kids Swedish Fish. Nerds for the geeky kids.

No Reward

I spent a few days helping Jenn get her Kickstarter campaign ready to launch. I pitched in with project management and light tasks —

  • Setting daily goals
  • Logistics for the launch party
  • Copywriting and building the page
  • Outreach strategies
  • Tracking tools
  • Writing targeted boilerplate emails

The campaign features lotsa rewards and styling on the page — we were very weary of losing our data. Occasionally I saved a PDF as a backup. Below is my wireframe sketch of what the backend / page builder could look like. I am sure much of this is already in the pipeline.


Week one has been a success. Early backers had backed other projects, so getting people to create an account is the first barrier. About half came on board for the campaign. I’m curious to learn more about the how and why people decide to give. I am also surprised / bummed out at the # of close friends who haven’t pledged. I’ve been reading up on links from the search “kickstarter psychology” and haven’t yet cracked the code. This Freakonomics podcast offers some good insight:

…what you tend to find is that people are more driven out of pure self-interest. And what I mean by that is that people give because it gives them a warm feeling …  if you want to induce people to give more money, you should really now be appealing to “hey here’s what this can do for you,” or “if you don’t give today this will actually be taken away and you will no longer be able to use it,” rather than appeal to, say “you know what, you can help this poor person over there.” I think fundraisers for years have gotten it wrong, that they need to appeal more to the actual donor rather than the recipient of those dollars.

SOMA (I backed them!) did a good post-mortem and shared a lot of their resources.

The problem I wished I’d been able to sort out earlier was estimating the cost of producing the rewards. My “pledge policy” is to choose a non-material reward or no reward. I would rather my money go towards the project than producing chotchkies. I started mocking up a rewards calculator, then found this one.