Graduation

I pulled the trigger and had my last day at Stripe a couple weeks ago. It’s been an incredible ride and it sounds cliche, but literally life-changing for me.

I’m trying out retirement life and last week was mostly my first week settling into it. The week after I quit, I headed to Phoenix and Vegas with a bunch of the old crew to celebrate. As we get older, these types of trips seem more and more special and I’m glad everyone was able to make it.

I’ve also started up a vlog at @owiblabla where I’ve got an episode on my actual last day of work and I’ll have both Phoenix and Vegas up eventually. I don’t actually care that much if it becomes popular, but I’m going to make them as if they’re for a general audience as a bit of a creative constraint and see how it goes.

In talking about transitioning into a post-work life, I’ve mentioned that it feels a lot like graduation. There’s a big unknown ahead of me now and I’m excited about exploring it and seeing how it goes.

<3

40

Last week I went to a surprise birthday party for Andrew in Oklahoma City. Also took the opportunity to swing by Dallas and visit Oriana and Kevin and meet their new pup, Potato. Short video of the trip:

Everyone was not sure why Andrew likes the OKC Thunder, but we conclusively determined this was because of Durant. I bought a Seattle Supersonics cap specifically for this trip and gifted it to Andrew before I left haha.

This is a weird feeling milestone. Most of my friends and I are turning 40 this year (or shortly after). 40 always seemed “so old” and now that I’m about to hit it, it kinda feels like it is, but also it’s not? Perhaps some of this is due to me not having kids of my own - I suppose “being 40” as perceived as a child was always the “adult with children” age. When I look back at all my friends from this trip, we don’t really seem that old to me, although we all agreed that we now can’t “act young” and invincible anymore. We can’t eat whatever we want, there are some knees hurting, etc. etc. But it was also obvious we also have more resources now than when we used to take group trips back in the day. We had a box for the game, a nice hotel suite to hang out afterwards, etc. etc.

It was really great seeing everyone. I joked that this was basically a high school reunion for many of us. It’s so cool to just snap into being comfortable with good people that you’ve known for over half your life even if years go by in between. The whole trip was really refreshing and lovely.

Later this month, Jonney and Kate will be getting married and I’m looking forward to catching up with another mix of friends in Houston! A month after that, I return to Houston again for:

This next year or so will likely be a milestone year for me too in various ways. Here’s to 40 and beyond!

Whew

Well, 2022 has been a year of settling in with change. Moving to Seattle has given me many “firsts” - first time moving to a new city, first time in a long time of living alone, first time voting outside of Texas, etc. etc.

Before I get into anything else, I’ll start out with a set of videos starting with my actual move from last October:

After that, I spent most of the winter/holidays alone (intentionally, since I did a lot of travel before the move), but I met some new friends and we had a wonderful New Year:

March and April were busy with back to back visits from friends and family:

Which is also when I unfortunately finally got Covid and had to skip out on some further trips/events. But, I managed to survive!

I’m looking into taking some time off of work this summer with plans TBD. I feel like life in America/the world right now is just filled with back to back traumatic events and we’re all gaslighting ourselves into somehow still being productive and moving forward.

In many ways, I feel like America is moving backwards and that’s tough to see from someone who grew up with seemingly unstoppable progress. I know I took that for granted now and I’ve typically been an optimistic, but it’s hard for me not to be pessimistic about the country since 2016.

In contrast to so much of what’s happening elsewhere, my personal life has been going well, which brings on some amount of guilt and feelings of helplessness. I’m hoping I can resolve a lot of that positively in the coming months/years. There’s still a lot I’m thankful for and potentials I’m excited about, so we’ll see…

❤️

The end is near

I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the state government in Texas. While a difference in opinion of policy is one thing I can generally live with, it has been increasingly obvious that Republicans across the United States and particularly in Texas are attacking the right to vote. Then, they use the reduced accountability to enact unpopular policies.

Perhaps in years past, I could give the benefit of the doubt in that we disagreed with election procedure rules, but the latest batch of proposed bills are so obviously anti-voting it is beyond the pale. In a historic year for a multitude of reasons, cities like Houston increased voter turnout by running 24/7 voting locations and offering drive-through voting. In Austin, we’ve used mobile voting centers that went to churches, parks, libraries. All of these demanded the same voting requirements as normal locations and no proof has been presented that these led to significant amount of fraud.

In the past legislative session and the current special session, Texas Republicans are trying to ban all of these efforts in addition to other election changes in the name of “election integrity.” On top of that, AG Paxton outright insinuated that if they had not blocked efforts to make mail-in voting easier, they may have lost Texas in the 2020 Presidential election. While Republicans, including Trump, love to conflate ballots and ballot applications, we were talking about applications in Texas. In order for these to have been used, these voters would have already had to be registered, submit the application to get a mail-in ballot, then fill out the ballot and return it. The clerks merely wanted to pre-emptively send the applications, making it easier, particularly for the poor or elderly to request a ballot. The issue here is not that these votes would have been from illegitimate voters. The right for these citizens to vote was not questioned. While the Texas courts sided with Republicans here on what clerks were allowed to do, this was not an effort to prevent illegitimate votes. It was a legal maneuver to suppress legitimate votes.

Texas voter turnout is, by most metrics, horrible. Despite record number of voters in 2020, it still stands at bottom 15% when compared to other states. About 40% of elligible voters in Texas don’t vote. There’s a plethora of low-hanging fruit we could implement to dramatically increase voter turnout. Instead, Republicans are committed to implementing further voter restrictions that have an outsized negative impact on urban voters. That is anti-democratic, not the America we should be striving for, and outright despicable. When those in power are no longer accountable to voters, the whole system falls apart.

I’ve loved Austin, my home and neighborhood, and many people here that I’ve known for most of my life, but I’ve had enough. I will no longer share my financial success with a state that is outright oppressive to its citizens and rigs the game in order to avoid accountability. Texas has shown it is afraid of the will of the people and so I will no longer entrust it my taxes. Godspeed to those sticking it out and fighting the good fight.

I have weighed various options over the past few months. This past week, I visited Seattle and pulled the trigger on a house. It’s exciting and bittersweet at the same time. I’ll be moving later this year and would welcome visits - I’ll have plenty of space for guests!

2020

Since 2016, I’ve had the juxtaposition of many aspects of my personal life going rather well, but watching the nation around me succumb to the whims of a maniacal TV host. I will not enumerate the atrocities of the Trump administration or the multitudes of lies and character failings of this self-obsessed psychopath now, but I do want to reflect on these past few years and this election.

2016 and the following years were a wake-up call to me that progress is not guaranteed and the America I thought I knew did not exist. Perhaps most disappointing, I saw the complete failure and hypocrisy of the American Christian culture that I was immersed in through many of my adolescent years. Say what you will about picking the lesser evil in 2016, that’s no excuse to double down on supporting a blatantly evil man as it became increasingly apparent there would be no surprising positive changes in character. The campaigning and businessman Trump was not simply an act.

Regardless of how the election went, we’re barreling into further disaster. COVID infections are back on the exponential growth and this administration has literally given up attempting to contain it. We may very well be past being able to at all. The stock market seemingly isn’t aware we’re in a pandemic killing 9/11s worth of Americans every few days. It along with the economy in general are a ticking time bomb.

This election brings relief. At least we’ll have an Executive willing to govern instead of just shooting for TV ratings, but 2021 will not be instantly rosy or easy either. Biden/Harris is inheriting such an utter mess.

I had hoped 2016 was a fluke and surely Americans would realize their mistake. Perhaps the America I thought I knew was there, but just slipped a bit? I couldn’t fathom how a significant number of Americans could see these last four years and decide that, yes, now I will go out and vote for this man. Trump ultimately obtained record numbers of votes. The Republican party came away virtually unscathed in their complicity. 2016 was not just an accident and election night was heartbreaking in its lack of an immediate repudiation.

I went to DC in 2017 to protest the inauguration and to be on the right side of history. Someone had this poster and it still resonates with me.

As the disappointment of having to be dragged through a nail-biter of an election due to a broken system fades, I have to acknowledge that millions more Americans voted against Trump than for. There are incredibly heroic efforts of many Americans to resist this heinous administration resulting in dramatic shifts in states like Georgia. Despite the failures and ineptitudes of the Democratic party, we beat the fucker and come January, he’ll be leaving the White House like it or not. We’ve got our FIRST WOMAN VP! First black VP! First Asian VP! There is hope to be had here.

I’ve realized that the America I thought I knew was a fantasy. But, there are still inspirational heroes here and many of them already knew my America wasn’t reality and fought to make her better anyways. If they haven’t given up, my privileged ass certainly has no excuse to either.

<3

Becoming

I just finished watching Becoming, a documentary about Michelle Obama’s recent book tour. It really puts the feels on ya.

Regardless of whether you agree with the policies of various leadership, it’s really hard to deal with the juxtoposition of someone so poised and strong yet loving with leaders who are so blatantly dishonest, arrogant and spiteful. We took a huge downgrade and I hope we manage to course correct, at least a bit, this year.

Similarly, it’s been odd handling personal success contrasted to general calamity in the world right now and with America showcasing a complete lack of competency and leadership at its highest levels. We have 9/11 numbers of deaths every other day due to COVID-19 in the US right now and we have officials shrugging about that and claiming that more lives lost is an acceptable cost of business. “All lives matter” huh?

Even though he broke my Taytay mug, I’ve been committed to helping Sam develop his King TISA brand and created some mugs for his side business of wedding people.

A few weeks ago, before all the COVID-19 terribleness, Viraj invited a bunch of to Houston with no specified reason. We figured there’d be a big announcement like maybe an upcoming little Viraj or something, but no, it was nothing. I suppose it was nice to have done that before having the option taken away, but man, what a cocktease.

In other news, right before everything started to shutdown, we got a bunch of solar panels installed and activated. You can see our power generation on this public report page.

Well, here’s hoping for a better 2021.

Called out

This past week, President Fuckhead got impeached, so I guess we have that going for us. Here’s to 2020 and America not making me feel like I should leave.

I also went to see the most hyped movie of the year on opening night along with a theater full of adoring fans. I also went to see Star Wars. The Alamo Drafthouse put me on blast due to my movie-going decisions:

If you’re like “oh well, that could be any Oliver, you’re just joking around.” Well, let me tell you, I have receipts:

Yes yes, I was so committed to this endeaver, I went to two different Drafthouses in one day and drove all the way to Lakeline for Cats. What did I think? Well, Cats was all kinds of creepy and certainly had moments of horrible CGI, but otherwise was just the musical IMO. This moment, gives me all kinds of confusing conflicted feelings:

Am I a furry now? I think I’m angry? I’m really confused. Please make it stop. My head… my… heart?…

After the movie, I walked out all alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
let the memory l̴̛͎i̵̻̓v̶͉̊e̴̞̚ ä̸́̏g̸͌͝a̵̋͊ḯ̵̕n̶͒͌

A magical and scrumptious Phoenix

Why hello there, interwebs. Long time no see!

First off, I must say that I realized earlier this year that 2018 was the first year since 1999 that I didn’t make a single blog post. I’m honestly a bit sad by that, but it’s too late to fix that without cheating. I’m not really saying I’m above that, but I’ve resisted the temptation thus far. :) If a post in 2018 somehow magically appears, you can take this as ratting myself out that I cheated.

On to happier news, I just got back from a trip to Phoenix where we pigged out and played a lot of Magic! I didn’t take many photos, but I thought this one aptly captured the essence of our trip:

We went back to Binkley’s and Pizzeria Bianco and they were both still fabulous. We played a bunch of Magic team events and the last team trio we did, I had the most nuts mono-red deck I’ve ever played in a sealed event:

Nuts mono-red team trio

The rest of our pool wasn’t too shabby either - Mark had a pretty ridiculous UW artifact/enchantment deck as well. Unfortunately, we had to take an intentional draw in the last round to make our flight back, but think we had a really good chance to 3-0 that side event.

Thanks to Andrew, James, Josh, and Mark for the company and some fun times!

You may or may not see me back here soon, we’ll see how I feel… but at least I’ve got one entry in 2019 to kick this stuff back up. Here’s hoping 2020 will be so fantastic it’ll renew my blogging spirit. Toodles!

Christmas in India

Last Christmas, Viraj decided to get married on the other side of the world, so a few of us gave up time with our families to go to his stupid wedding.

Tonight, I finally went through my video from the trip and so now you too can see our Christmas in India…

Vines

Vine died a whiles back, but I was out of the blogging mood, so I never mentioned it, but I put my old archived vines here.

They’re nearly all of dogs and/or grumpy Orianas for who knows what reason…