Yet more AirBnb issues

I know you’re wondering why I keep using AirBnb if there are so many issues

It’s basically because I’m homeless and I need a place to stay. Other than a hostel the cheapest hotels are $100-$150 a night. Go to booking.com and check. Pretty much every city there’s 5 tiers of prices. Bottom teir is hostels. Next tier up is $100-$150 a night. That’s $3k to $4.5k a month which is a lot of money. Yes, I’m finally working on settling back down and renting an apartment at which point I won’t be looking to rent short term apartments. In other words I’ll stop using AirBnB. That said wasn’t going to bring up this latest issue .. until AirBnB called. See below (more…)

All of Shinjuku is being rented on AirBnB

So a friend is trying to rent her apartment out while she’s on vacation for the last 2 weeks in June. Her place is behind Kabukicho, nearest station is Shin Okubo.

I don’t usually look over there because I’d rather stay in other places but I checked just for the hell of it …

I put in $70-$80 a night, June 15-30, entire place. Airbnb claimed 300+ places still available and that those were among the 17% left. That means just in that $10 span of price range there are over 1800 apartments available. And, that was limited to the area between Shinjuku station, the Yamanote line, Okubo Dori, and Meiji Dori. That makes it seem like practically all of Shinjuku is being rented on Airbnb

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AirBnB issues in Nogizaka

I’ve ranted on AirBnb issues before but sadly I keep going back because I don’t have much of a choice since I’m effectively homeless at the moment.

I’ve rented about 22 places in the last 3 years. I think a couple were not AirBnB. I haven’t written a bad review yet even though given the rant linked above you’d expect I would have.

But, this last place I finally wrote a bad review. Maybe it was all the pent up rage of all the previous places. Maybe it was the particular response from this landlord. In any case I left a bad review. I can only hope that’s incentive for the guy to do better.

So what was the issue? (more…)

Why does sharing photos have to be this annoying?

So, … some company in the UK wants to use a photo of mine from flickr.

Some people contemplate their navel...

All my flickr photos are CC-BY-SA so they’re free to do whatever they want pretty much.

But, of course lawyers get involved and now they want to send me a licensing form for me to sign. It doesn’t say anything particularly bad, it’s just half the point of CC-BY-SA is “you don’t need to ask because there’s an official license”.

I get they want to make sure it’s not a stolen image and get an actual signature. It’s more that printing out the form, which will cost a few cents and my time to find a printer or put the form on a USB and walk to the library. Then sign it. Then find a scanner and scan it or take a picture with my phone. Then send it back. Is just more than I want to do really. Given they’re not paying me why do I want to spent even 15 minutes dealing with his form?

Even if I just photoshop my signature in it’s still more work than I really want to deal with. On top of which the one scary part is if they get sued about the pic then they’ll pass that on to me. It’s a nothing special picture of some statues on the Louvre so I have no idea what those rules are.

Sigh…. Why does it have to be this complicated.

The Da Vinci Code for Mormons

So somehow I missed this 2013 New York Times article exposing a bunch of issues in the Mormon Church. It was brought up by this really good episode of Reply All.

I’m an ex-Mormon and this episode really resonated in a lot of ways. In particular I guess personally, even though I’m now 100% atheist I’ve defended the Mormon church in the past. I guess I would say as an atheist I believe all churches and all religions are wrong and so I’ve defended the Mormon church has being no different than any other church. By defending I mean when someone makes fun of the Mormon church for whatever (believing the nearest planet to God’s residence is the planet Kolab) I point out how that is no more a strange belief than any other religion’s beliefs (God lives in some alternate dimension we can’t see until we die).

What I find really fascinating though is that people can continue to want to believe even AFTER accepting the evidence their church is founded on lies. Religion isn’t decided by committee by definition. If it was it would no longer be a religion. So for example, at least according to that podcast, some people asked for priesthood for women in the Mormon church or acceptance of LGBT. Doing either of those makes the church no longer the church. It proves even harder the church was never true to begin with.

Let me make it clear. I’m 100% pro LGBT and women’s rights. That’s not my point and is one of the many reasons I’m atheist. My point is if a church has been saying for for hundreds or thousands of years that X is evil because God says so and then changes that to X is not evil they’ve just proven the previous hundreds or thousands of years were bullshit. At that point there’s no reason for the church to exist. Everyone should just leave. If you want a social club with emotional support fine, organize one. But asking a church to change it’s stance makes zero sense. If you succeed you’ve just proven your church is false.

The Unintended Consequences of Cheap Airlines

This is just a very minor thing I noticed but …

I needed to book a flight from Singapore to Hong Kong. I checked and the prices were pretty crazy.

$69 for Tiger (which is rated 1 out of 5 stars) $105 for JetStar (rated like 1.5 out of 5 stars) $520 for Singapore Airlines

That’s it! There’s no sliding scale. The 3rd option is 6x the first option!!! I asked some friends what they would pick. Some said pick Singapore Air because sucky travel experience ruins everything. Others said the flight is only 4hrs so don’t worry about a bad experience as it will be over quick.

I ended up going with Singapore Air mostly because they had a flight time that fit my schedule. I needed to get into Hong Kong with plenty of time to get to the city before it gets dark since I’m going to an AirBnB and not a hotel and it will be harder to find. Too early and I’m stuck with my luggage for several hours. I am cry about the cost but what-cha-gonna do.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point.

The point is, as I was flying from Tokyo to Singapore (different flight) on Singapore Airlines the headphones they gave me were broken. I checked a couple of things and was able to mostly conclude the problem was the headphones, not the entertainment system.

But, … While I was doing that it got me thinking. Because there’s a lower price option I start to feel entitled to better service. If I fly from SG to HK for $520 and something is broken or service is bad I’m likely going to be extremely upset that I paid 6x the price of the cheap airlines and didn’t get flawless service.

Before super cheap airlines when the diff was say 10% it wouldn’t have been a big deal but now ….?

No idea if that will have any real pressure or not on non super budget airlines.

Form Over Function

I recently stayed at an apartment which you can see from the picture is a pretty nice looking apartment

It’s got the fancy show nothing cabinets that hide everything

It feels a little like living in some future sci-fi apartment from Logan’s Run or the Jetsons.

But … after the initial “wow, cool” factor wears off I soon realized whoever designed this stuff really wasn’t qualified to design it. I suppose I’m being harsh but gees, so many things are poorly thought out. (more…)

Can’t Figure Out Where to Be

I can’t **cking decide where to go/be. I feel so stupid to have this freedom and so unable to use it effectively. I’m in Singapore at the moment. In 6 days I’m homeless again meaning I have no place to stay unless I make plans and pick a place!

I’ve thought about doing a vacation place like visiting Bali for a week. What will give me another week to decide yet again, where next. Going alone doesn’t sound that fun to me though I have a friend that’s done it. Could waste time in Australia or go back to Europe for a couple of months just to do it but it feels like I’d just be putting off deciding rather than doing something fun or constructive.

So where to actually plant some roots?

Los Angeles:

I spent 8 months last year back in LA. The first time I’d spent any long time there since 2000. It’s big and sprawling. To visit friends I often had to drive 40-70 minutes. I found I hated driving in LA as well. It was super stressful.

Only good place to live IMO is west side near ocean but LA felt really lonely. No places to get work done. Every cafe was either full or I had to give up my seat in 2 hours to use the restroom. I didn’t feel welcome at most places. Not really sure what that means. Maybe the fact that service workers in the USA all seem to hate their job and their customers. Compare to Japanese service workers. They may or may not hate their jobs, I have no idea, but they certainly don’t let that on most of the time and always do their best to actually provide real service.

I could pick some neighborhood and get an office though that would be lonely as well. Maybe more likely to find collaborators though. There’s a large indie game community in LA as well as a large art community.

Everything closes by 9:30. Want something to eat after 9:30? Fast Food and shitty American convenience stores is all there is. Compared to Tokyo I felt like I was stuck at home after about 9pm.

The weather is awesome and there’s some awesome friends there. My sister and nephew are there as well and my mom for a couple of months a year.

LA now feels like a settle down place as in if I had a wife and kids and lived in some suburb where my life was play with my kids in the yard it would not be bad.

Could live on the east side where all the Asian food is and there’s a few tea houses that are open late but I always feel hated by American Asians. Not my friends of course but just in general.

I tried downtown. It also felt isolating and lonely. Stepping outside seemed scary. Grocery stores seemed far. Again compared to Tokyo where most of the places I’ve stayed in the last couple of years there’s been 3 to 6 24 hour convenience stores with actually good food open 24 hours usually less than 1-3 minutes away by walking. LA has some 24 hour grocery stores but they really aren’t the place to grab a snack. The prepared foods at a 24hr Safeway are pretty horrible. Whole Foods or Trader Joes might be better but they close at 10.

San Francisco:

I have a few friends there but something about those friends so far has not been very inspiring. Sorry, that sounds horrible. Those friends are awesome, amazing and talented but for whatever reason I’m not inspired to be entrepreneurial by them so much. I only say that in comparison to a few friends in LA, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Like I feel like hanging out there is settling for a certain kind of lifestyle which is basically exist and then hang out with friends in a kind of rut like way. I suppose that ends up the same anywhere though. You get a few favorite places and just go there over and over.

SF also has the 2hr cafe problem and not enough of them. The one bright spot is the Workshop Cafe but it’s full often as are many others.

SF is probably really expensive. People say a 600 sq ft apartment for 1 is now around $3000 a month!

Public transportation exists but it feels like ass. Scary people doing scary things. Last time I was a there a group of kids in the back were tearing down the ads on the bus. Ripping up the ads, pulling down the plastic dividers and hitting each other with them. Then getting out their markers and writing on the windows and seats. To a lot of Americans that sounds almost normal and like a rite of passage but having lived in safer places where people actually value the shared public interest it’s actually a very poor reflection on Americans and is one of those reasons that makes me not like my country.

Tokyo:

I don’t like Japanese women. Haha. Actually to put it slightly more objectively if I go on say OkCupid the percent it claims I match based on the answers to questions goes way way WAY down. Like from lots of women in the 80-99% range when in the USA to most women being in the 30-60% range. Of course that might mean absolutely nothing and there are certainly some amazing Japanese women I’ve met. Rather it’s just some small evidence that I’m less likely to meet someone I’m truly compatible with there. Or at least it feels that way. On the other hand I get more attention so maybe that’s means the odds increase in general since I get zero attention anywhere in the USA.

Another thing about Tokyo or Japan in general is applying for a visa will be a PITA. I’ll need to start a company. Which also brings up the number of potential partners and/or employees would seem to be way smaller. The stereotype is that most Japanese want a stable job at a large company. There’s foreigners there but certainly the number of potential candidates is much much smaller than anywhere in the US.

On the plus side I love the late night in Tokyo. I can walk down many streets in Tokyo at 3am on a Monday night and see restaurants and bars busy with people having fun times and conversations. Where else does that happen? No where in LA or SF. Maybe NYC? Although, my impression is that’s a very different scene.

There’s nice, friendly, and safe Starbucks open till 4am. There’s co-working spaces that are 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of anything in LA or SF or SG.

And I have lots of friends there. Or at least enough that I feel like I get to see people socially 2 or 3 times a week which is more than LA or SF. As soon as I think that though I then think “Well I can make friends anywhere. I just have to make it happen” and so I shouldn’t pick Tokyo for that reason.

Kyoto:

I’ve spent about 4 weeks total in Kyoto as a non-tourist. Meaning those 4 weeks I wasn’t visiting temples which is the only thing I’d done the previous 5 or 6 times I’d been to Kyoto.

Kyoto isn’t that small of a city. 1.5 million people is bigger than Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Munich, Brussels, Milan, Stockholm, Prague. Technically it’s bigger than all but 6 cities in the USA including Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco.

But for whatever reason it feels really small. There’s a core area that’s only a few blocks large where most stuff seems to center around. You can bike from one side of the city to the other in 15-20 minutes. Less than SF. If you’re out late a cab ride is unlikely to be more than $10-$20.

There’s a large group of foreign game devs mostly because there’s 3 game companies run by foreigners including Q-Games, Vitei, and 17bit. That means there’s a community that’s easy to jump into.

At the same time Kyoto feels a little like a place to settle down with a family more than a place to be as a single guy. I’d love to be settled down with a family but so far that hasn’t happened. I’ve clearly got some issues there.

Kyoto also seems much cheaper than Tokyo and Tokyo cheaper than SF or LA.

Singapore:

I’ve spent a few months in Singapore. I can’t really say I know it that well. My fiction is that it would be hard to find collaborators. Most people want high paying jobs in finance or IT. Singapore doesn’t have any reputation for creatives whatsoever except maybe in architecture. I don’t know if that has anything to do with reality but it certainly feels that way to me just from looking at what’s on offer in stores, ads, campaigns etc…

It’s also hot year round and everyone is fat. I’m not complaining about fat people only that I can see myself getting fat because the heat means I won’t want to ever walk or go outside and the ubiquity of easy food literally EVERY seems like it would be no time before I’d gained 30lbs.

Singapore also seems boring in some ways. I’ve had some great time there but it really feels like all their is is shopping and eating.

Women wise my impression is I’d be more likely to meet someone there. Then of course I’d probably be stuck in SG. Maybe that would be ok though with an SO.

NYC:

I’ve never lived there and only visited twice a week at a time. I like that there’s public transportation and the busyness of megatropolis like Tokyo but it doesn’t feel safe. Riding the subway in NYC is often depressing and scary. (same in SF actually). At least compared to SG or Tokyo.

There does seem to be a lot going on there related to games and I have one friend there and suspect I’d quickly make more.

The weather sounds like it sucks. Blizzards in the winter. Sweltering heat in the summer.

I guess I’m mostly intrigued as just a new experience to live somewhere new. Of course all my stereotypes also turn me away like I expect all the women want a rich guy from wall street and that NYC will be super expensive. I’ll need roommates and won’t be able to really experience the parts of the city that make it so attractive.

Berlin:

I don’t even know why this is on the list. I suppose I could add a bunch of other European cities here including London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. I have no idea how I’d immigrate but I guess the excitement is just that they’d be really new experiences. Berlin in particular is supposed to be reasonably priced and I got a relatively good vibe while there. If I picked any of those except London I’d have to learn a new language but that’s a also a draw.

I feel like if I had a girlfriend and she was into any of these I’d totally do it. I don’t know why that feels more compelling than just going alone.

I met an American guy that lived in Kyoto for 12 years and his plan is to move to Berlin. Not sure how that’s relevant except as an anecdote that others are excited about Berlin. I’ve heard lots of other people bring it up as one of the places they are most fond of in Europe including lots of Europeans.

Other:

On top of all of that like I mentioned above about “I can make friends anywhere”. When I think how like the nightlife aspect of Tokyo and the co-working spaces another, a more logical side thinks “Why do I care about night life. It’s not like I actually take advantage of it that often and as I age or if I finally meet someone it’s likely to become very unimportant”. Similarly with co-working spaces and cafes. Most likely I should rent an office and once I do that cafes and co-working spaces have no meaning. Of course my impression right now is even an office is cheaper and easier to rent in Tokyo or Kyoto than LA or SF or NYC. No idea how easy it is in Europe. I’d guess Berlin is easy and the rest hard.

One friend said “just pick a place and try it for a year” but like I said previously I won’t plant roots if I don’t commit to a place.

Some people say “make a list”. Well that list is above. It’s not helping.

Anyway I **cking can’t decide!!