A Padlet Prompts Me To Reminisce About Driving

My friend invited me to a padlet titled Driver Wall. I decided to add some writing to the padlet wall. Here’s what I shared…

Driver Wall… I like that idea! If I take this literally, I always wanted to drive. In High School, I took a driver’s education class. This class was offered at the same time as the typing class. Driving was important to me as a 15-year-old, so I didn’t mind missing out on a typing class. Besides, I had great penmanship, and my little sister was super fast at typing. When she wasn’t available to transform a blank green monitor into a screen full of glowing letters, my neighbor was happy to type for me if I mowed his lawn or treated him to a burger.

The driving class served me well! I literally ACED the class, and due to the optional extra credit, I was able to complete the class with 150%… How is that mathematically possible? That’s WAY better than an A+! I shared the wealth of information I acquired with my siblings and friends who wanted to learn to drive. Over the years, I developed the skill of patience, so I ended up teaching my friends’ kids how to drive too!

After 3 decades of driving, I drove enough miles in California that after listening to a podcast about a reporter who gave up her car for 6 months in Los Angeles, I decided living without a car in LA would be a fun challenge. I started walking a lot and taking the Metro Goldline when possible. I had to leave earlier for appointments to account for walking and potential delays.

Yes, most trips would have been faster in my car, but I also loosened the tether my car had on me. I had time to discover new coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores as I walked around town. When I took the train, I could people watch, catch up on my ever-growing book list or whittle down my email inbox. Through the magic of slowing down, I actually became more productive. I actually SAW the buildings and shops I whizzed past for years. I was discovering the city in a brand new way.

It’s been 3 years since I took that nondriving challenge. I discovered that even though Uber & Lyft seem expensive at first glance, it was actually cheaper for me to rideshare than owning a car because I work from home. I was able to work or relax while being driven to my appointments, and as a bonus, most of the trips were tax-deductable. Some friends said taking the Uber/Lyft was cheating, but I saw it as a tool. If I were running late, I would rideshare there and take the train back to my neighborhood and walk back home.

When I noticed hailing rideshare was winning out to walking, I got creative and started a savings plan. If I walked instead of taking a $10 ride, I would transfer the $10 to my savings account. Before I knew it, that savings account was growing week after week, and I was happy to get up a bit earlier so I could get in my FitBit steps AND pay myself for walking!

As I write this, we are 5 months into Covid-19 life. I haven’t left my house much. I’m not driving or getting a Lyft around town. Much of my day is spent in front of a computer screen as I ZOOM to my meetings instead of walking or driving to them.

As I think back to high school, when a typing class was an option instead of a mandatory class, I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice? No driver’s education class is needed to walk or hail rideshare, but it sure is DRIVING me crazy that it took an hour to type this when it would have taken me minutes if I learned how to type!

Plant Based Party For The Planet

There’s no party like a plant-based PARTY!  We are thrilled to support the Plant-Based Party for the Planet: Summer Edition, which is raising donations for two incredible organizations, SupportAndFeed & Reverb.org 

Support And Feed is an initiative created to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond in three ways.

  • Provide support for Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia plant-based restaurants who are suffering as a result of the current pandemic
  • Provide support for vetted charitable organizations & marginalized groups who have been greatly impacted by the crisis, such as children’s charities, homeless & domestic abuse shelters, food banks, family & senior centers, first responders, and hospital workers.
  • To raise awareness and educate on the importance of a plant-based diet for the health of the planet and to influence programs that feed those in need to provide at least 50% plant-based meals.

Reverb.org tackles the environmental and social issues we face, empowering millions of individuals to take action toward a better future for people and the planet by UNITING around the music WE love!

How Can I participate in the Summer Edition of Plant-Based Party For the Planet?

  • Make or order a 100% plant-based meal from your favorite restaurant
  • Take a photo or video 
  • Share on social media from July 24 – 26  and tag #plantbasedparty

What if I missed the Party?

If you find this post after July 26th, you can still play along. Consider incorporating Meatless Mondays into your lifestyle. You can find lots of resources and tasty recipes on their website.

The party always goes on! Support your local restaurants. If you’re looking for a local vegan or vegetarian restaurant near you, Happy Cow is my favorite app when traveling and looking for something new in my neighborhood.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

My dad is constantly reading, and it’s rare to find him without a book in hand. He will pass many of his books onto me. One book was from a series called The Elenium by David Eddings. The central character was named Sir Sparhawk. He was a trained warrior who was intimidating in his metal armor, sitting astride his war stallion. 

Sparhawk had a habit of greeting everyone he met with the phrase, Hello Neighbor. I liked this habit and adopted it into my lexicon. Sometimes, substituting neighbor for friend or brother. 

Growing up in Southern California, our public access television channel, PBS, aired one of my favorite shows, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers was a war veteran, and like his friend, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), they decided to focus on peace instead of war. They appeared as guests on each other’s television shows.

Mr. Rogers’ classic catchphrase was, Won’t you be my neighbor? 

What does it mean to be a neighbor? Webster’s dictionary defines a neighbor as “a person, animal, or thing located near another person, animal, or thing.”

I moved to my current neighborhood about 10 years ago. I feel blessed to be here. I moved into my place in November. If you know me, you already know that I have a tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving Leftovers Party on the Friday after Thanksgiving for my friends & family.

This was the perfect way to welcome my friends to my new home. About 2 hours into the party, my neighbor, Manny, came over to talk about the music level. I asked if it was too loud. He said it wasn’t loud enough and asked if it was okay for him to bring over his big speakers. I liked him instantly.!

The house adjacent to mine was vacant for the first 3 years I lived there. When a for sale sign was posted in front of the house, I was curious who would be moving in. My neighbor Tom is a spry fellow, so full of energy and stories. I love listening to the tales he tells of adventure-filled his life.

One day as I was loading up my car in preparation for an evening event for, The Burrito Project, Tom asked if I needed any help. I invited him to join me, and now he’s a permanent fixture at all our Burrito Project events. 

Tom has a few decades on me but has the energy of someone half MY age. He is usually the one inviting me out for late-night visits to the local karaoke bar. I love this guy. His wife is delightful too. She will knock on my door and bring me a tasty vegetarian meal. I guess they’re doing the neighborly thing and taking care of the single guy next door. 

During the Covid-19 quarantines and curfews, people were losing their jobs. Getting to the store was tricky for those who still had jobs. My neighbors Manny and his wife, Carol, saw a need and went into action. They created a food bank for the neighborhood to ensure everyone had enough food. There is an apartment near our homes, and Many & Carol created food boxes with fresh produce and food staples to make sure everyone living near us was taken care of. As I write this, they have been doing this for over 3 months now.

Even though I’m not really into sports (except for poker), I have helped host the neighborhood Superbowl party. This is a great kickoff for the New Year when all the neighbors get together and enjoy laughter, camaraderie, food, and libations.

I was already grateful to have fantastic neighbors. During Covid-19 in 2020, I have been even more touched by the compassion and generosity of the people who live in my neighborhood. While I was focused on a work project yesterday, Tom asked for my grocery list because he was headed to the grocery store. I am truly blessed!

For some people, a neighbor might be someone who lives near them. For me, a neighbor is someone who is FAMILY! We care for each other; we look after each other, host parties for each other, do favors for each other, and serve our community together.

I have a penchant for sweaters & canvas shoes. I think Mr. Rogers had a bigger influence on me than I realized. I will sign off with a quote from my wardrobe role model. “The greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” Fred Rodgers, thank you for the quote, your life’s work, and your amazing wardrobe.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Beyond Wealth, Wanderlust & CoinZoom!

With all my EXTRA time during Covid-19 quarantine, I found my to-do list growing longer and longer. I was getting so distracted, but I had so much I wanted to do. Ultimately, I was getting nothing done.

I needed to organize my days, so I allocated specific time blocks for reading, exercise, work, writing, and returning correspondences. Of course, I dedicated 30-60 minutes a day to researching cryptocurrency services & projects.

In my mission to find a company that had all of my favorite crypto services, I was introduced to, Beyond & CoinZoom. I love Beyond’s philosophy of helping people “live their best day ever.” Several years ago, I read a book by Matthew Kelly, and I was introduced to the concept of living as the “best version of myself.” These 2 guiding principles were in harmony, so I decided to explore further.

I know these “doctrines” may sound cheesy, but I love the idea of helping others reach their full potential, just as I am on my very own journey to do the same for myself. It’s easy to live the “mediocre version” of me. Living the BEST version of myself takes consistent, daily work! I’m definitely a work in progress!

After meeting one of the founders of Beyond (via Zoom calls), I realized this wasn’t just a slogan but a guiding principle of the company and its leaders. I decided to explore further, and I became even more impressed with what I found.

Beyond is planning to launch a new digital division called Beyond Wealth, not to be confused with Well Beyond’s health and wellness division. Beyond Wealth is focused on bridging the gap between fiat currencies and the cryptocurrency markets. Beyond Wealth will officially launch on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

What excites me most about this company is that they have everything I am looking for. It’s almost as if Beyond Wealth was created just for me! Hmmm… maybe it was? CoinZoom is their partner, a fully regulated digital exchange, and issues their Visa-branded debit card.

Under the Beyond Wealth umbrella, you will be able to stake your crypto, trade your crypto, and even utilize their AI cryptocurrency trading service called Sigma AI. CoinZoom has a utility token (Zoom Token), reducing the already low fees on the CoinZoom exchange. In my opinion, this is the best place to buy bitcoin. It’s even cheaper than my previous favorite service, CashApp. As a side bonus, I picked up some Zoom Tokens when they were 11 cents. It makes me smile when I look at what they are trading at today.

For those who send money domestically & internationally, the ZoomMe feature allows you to send money instantly and for FREE, from one CoinZoom account to another. Think of all the fees which will be saved instead of using bank wires and companies like Western Union & Money Gram. Once the money is received, it can be spent or accessed through the CoinZoom Visa Debit Card.

When the Covid-19 restrictions are loosened up, and it’s safe to travel again, you can sate your wanderlust with Beyond Wealth’s travel portal appropriately named, Wanderlust. This travel portal allows you to book travel for up to 65% off rates found on the most popular travel sites on the web.

But that’s not all folks…

Beyond Wealth also gives you access to their Velocity Nodes. This is an amazing program that I’m NOT sure I fully understand yet, but be sure I will be studying this in more depth. Don’t quote me on this, but from what I comprehend so far, you can purchase or lease a Velocity Node, and you can earn guaranteed residual monthly payments from companies that need to expand their blockchain network. I’ll share more as I learn more…

Finally, they created the robust, Infinite Success App, which can help you share ALL the amazing products and services that Beyond offers. If you would like to join their affiliate program, this app will be your favorite tool. You can invite people to claim their FREE gifts by joining the Infinity Line for FREE. With a few clicks of a button, you can easily send an invitation to your contacts phone or email.

If you have Facebook and would like to join the Beyond Wealth Infinity Line for FREE, you will receive an upgraded CoinZoom account as well as a Visa Debit Card, which you can use to spend your fiat & crypto anywhere Visa is accepted. As a bonus, you can earn up to 5% back with this Visa Debit Card.

Can you tell I’m excited??? I’ll share more as I learn more… You can read more about, Well Beyond & Beyond Wealth here: CryptoBurrito.com

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Luck, Skill and The Gambler

My friend, Brandee, says I’m a gambler because I love to play poker. Although there are luck elements in poker, it’s most often seen as a game of skill by professional players.

When I think of poker, that famous song by Kenny Rogers always pops into my mind. When I first remember hearing, The Gambler, it was sung by my Uncle Jimmy, who was a traveling musician. The 2nd time I remember hearing it was on Sesame Street. The animated puppets were sitting with Kenny Rogers in a train car. The scene always haunted my memories because I was in love with ghosts as a kid.

At the poker table, I would share that memory of Kenny Rogers on Sesame Street, but everyone thought I was kidding around and cracking jokes. This morning I discovered that yesterday. Kenny Rogers passed away at age 81. I did a quick google search and discovered that he really was on Sesame Street. Rewatching the video segment below, I saw that dancing ghost I remember from my childhood. Hmmm… Did that dancing ghost influence me to become a dancer?

This week I ran across 2 poker quotes, which intrigued me. The first one is from Jesse May, “Poker is a combination of luck and skill. People think mastering the skill part is hard, but they’re wrong. The trick to poker is mastering the luck.”

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how 10,000 hours of practice and honing one’s skill can create mastery. Some other theories about mastery have challenged this “10,000 hours” idea, but it seems to ring true in my life and my observations.

The best guitarist I know is a master of his craft. He has been practicing over 3 hours a day for several decades, and it shows when his fingers effortlessly caress the guitar strings creating beautiful music that stirs my soul.

Personally, I can see the progress I’ve made as a singer in the past 5 years. I’m nowhere near 10,000 hours, but the consistent, weekly practice has made it easier to navigate any curve balls thrown at me during a performance. With my continued practice, I can focus on other aspects of the music besides just singing the correct notes at the right time. My subconscious brain is now handling the technical aspects, like breathing, so I can free my mind to focus on the creative elements, which include singing with my heart & soul.

Mastering a skill isn’t hard. It’s more about dedicating quality time to consistently practice, practice, practice, and guess what? More practice! Whether it’s writing, designing, dancing, golfing, yoga, poker, juggling, cooking, baking, singing, playing an instrument, learning a new language (insert your passion), all you need is TIME. Now, finding time in your busy schedule might be a challenge, but then again, what are your priorities?

Many of us may find ourselves with EXTRA time on our hands during this Covid-19 quarantine. What better time than NOW to pick up a new skill? Or, set aside time to practice an existing skill? Or if you’re up for the challenge. BOTH! Skills are an asset you can carry with you for life.

In the 2nd part of Jesse May’s quote, he talks about “mastering the luck.” If you’ve played any poker at all, there is an element of luck that comes into play. Sometimes, you’re on a hot streak, and sometimes, there are no good cards coming your way for hours. That’s just the nature of the game.

One of my favorite quotes about luck comes from the famous golf legend Gary Player (who I’m sure spent way more than 10,000 hours honing his craft). He said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

This quote makes me smile because I’ve seen it to be true in my life. After practicing dancing for years, I was asked to become a dance instructor for an event. That event led to many other events, and I’ve been lucky to travel around the world, as well as land several steady teaching gigs over the past 20 years. Was that luck? Maybe?

I started in the church choir as a teenager, then started taking voice lessons for many years. I was asked to audition for another choir, which led to other opportunities as a paid musician. Was I lucky? Maybe?

Kenny Rogers influenced my life because he shared his mastery of storytelling and singing with the world. In fact, one of my go-to karaoke songs was made famous by Kenny Rogers. I will do my best to honor him when I sing it from now on.

What do you plan to share with the world? How will you influence other people’s’ lives with your craft?

I hope you start and/or continue your journey to your 10,000 hours in your craft! Along the way, as you continue to work hard, I hope you get “LUCKY!”

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Coronavirus, Hand Washing And Developing Good Habits

Happy Monday! Lately, I’ve been living my life with fewer distractions from social media & television (and when I say television, I’m including Netflix, YouTube, and other similar streaming services). Is it my Lenten sacrifice? Maybe by accident. In truth, starting the new Merchant Service Business doesn’t leave much time for distractions.

Although I limit my screen time on my phone during most of the day, some things still sneak through, like the meme above. In conversations with friends over the weekend, the coronavirus seemed to be the topic most referenced in my various circles of friends.

I am starting to notice the impact the coronavirus is making in my everyday life. I’m seeing way more people wearing face masks while out in public. Fist bumps and elbow taps are being used in place of handshakes. I’m intrigued to see how business meeting culture may change in the coming months.

The churches I attend made announcements and recommendations at worship services regarding greeting each other and how communion distribution would be modified to prevent potentially spreading germs. When I went shopping for supplies for last Thursday’s Burrito Project, I checked with several stores, and they were all out of bottled water. There were large empty spaces where I would normally see several pallets of bottled water stacked case upon case 4 or 5 feet high.

As you may or may not know, I teach dance classes. Dancing is very high touch and close proximity activity. Several of the dance studios I work with have added hand washing reminders, and antibacterial hand sanitizer is within eyeshot in almost any direction I look.

Today, I received 3 separate emails announcing the cancelation or postponement of upcoming events during this coronavirus scare. I wonder how many business trips and vacations will be interrupted over the next few months. I know of 2 recent brides who are contemplating canceling their honeymoon plans. Wow! I’m sure the travel industry will be taking a big hit over the next several months.

Except for the newer addition of face masks, there really isn’t much change in my normal, daily habits. I’ve always been a germaphobe, so handwashing has been an ever-present ritual spaced throughout my day. I frequently wash my hands at amusement parks, dance venues, and events like the burrito project and networking luncheons. I noticed that earlier today, and at a wedding I attended this weekend, I asked for permission before hugging someone. (That’s probably going to be happening a lot more often over the next few weeks).

As a germaphobe, I’m ecstatic that people are washing their hands so much more. Like they preach on cruise ships, just a reminder, wash the tops and bottom of hands with interlocking fingers for at least the time it takes to sing a verse from Happy Birthday. =)

I pray your health is great, and your immune system is strong. I think if we follow common sense, this will soon pass within a season. If it lasts longer, we as a community will be more conscientious of proper sanitation, cleanliness, and good hygiene habits.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Marching Towards Spring And Wonderful Things

Today was a beautiful Sunday! It was such a hectic week that I realized I never reviewed the sheet music for the 2 church services I sing at. Normally, the music is emailed to me on Wednesday to review and rehearse throughout the week. It was never emailed to me. With the crazy week and twice-daily conference calls for the Merchant Services company I started this month, I never followed up regarding the missing email.

I was early on my ride to church, so I hoped I would have time to review my music quickly before the service. As luck would have it, there was no more than a moment for a glance. I’m happy to say we had a wonderful morning of music. My brain was hyper-focused, and I impressed myself with my improved sight-reading skills. I’ve had this position as a music minister for over 6 years, and I’m so blessed to work with such amazing musicians. Plus, my Spanish has improved since taking a job where I get to sing in Espanol.

I have a fun cryptocurrency project I’ve been working on this past week. I was able to collaborate with my partners on the project today. I think tomorrow will bring some great results. Of course, I’m not a financial advisor, but crypto is on sale right now. So is most of the stock market. If you’ve been thinking of investing, this might be the perfect opportunity to go on a buying spree. =)

I didn’t get my daily walk today, but I did get a great afternoon with my family. I saw my baby niece. She’s walking and starting to talk. It’s amazing how quickly kids grow up. I spent time with my dad and my brother at a birthday barbecue. I was able to see both of the LA sisters. I helped my dad with some paperwork and emails to kickstart his week. We talked about some business and prioritized our current architecture projects for the week; ADU (1), Dance Studio, ADU (2), Restaurant, ADU (3) & 2nd Story Addition. That’s a project a day. This is going to be a productive week for us.

This week I have 5 leads and 2 appointments for the merchant services company. I’d love to book 12 new clients this month. That’s 3 new clients a week. I know that’s ambitious, but I love challenging goals.

Cheers to your success this week too!

TofuAlan

Leap Day, Fitness Routines and Merchant Services

Leap Day has always been interesting to me. I had a friend in high school who was born on February 29th. When I turned 16, he turned 4. Who gives a 4-year-old a driver’s license? When I turn 48, he’ll ONLY be 12. His children are older than he is now. maybe even twice his age? =)

Routines are another interesting thing. If we aren’t consciously aware of it, we fall into routines without even realizing it. This year I want to focus on implementing conscious routines into my life. I’ve limited my screen time on my phone. I’ve added more walking into my daily life and even started running again. Lap swimming is next on my list. I renewed my gym membership, so now I can get started swimming in March.

I plan to start journaling too. I hope to blog more often here and on my other websites. Once a week seems reasonable to me. I’m excited to improve my typing skills. Oh yeah, did I ever mention I never took a typing class in high school or college? I’ve been putting off writing because it takes me so long to type with my hunt & peck method. However, I must admit that typing “properly” is taking even longer, but it’s fun to see the letters “magically” appear on the screen.

March is going to be a fun month. Along with starting my swimming routine, I’ll be launching my new Merchant Services Company. Yes, this is not a new business for me, but now I’m going solo with my own office. I had a heart to heart with my former business partner, and he encouraged me to go solo. He’s going to keep all of the customers I brought to the table, so this will be a completely new start for me. Last Friday, my application was officially approved, and I’m ready to start saving my fellow business owners and entrepreneurs on their merchant credit card fees.

Some of you might be wondering what a merchant services company does, so I’ll happily tell you more about it in a future blog post. I’m still thinking up a name for the new corporation that will house the merchant services business. Of course, I’m open to suggestions.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Bitcoin Musings, Getting Things Done and Stacking Sats

On October 20, 2019, the 18 millionth bitcoin was mined. It took 3,935 days to mine 18 million bitcoins. That’s just a few months shy of 11 years. As you may or may not know, there will only ever be a maximum of 21 million bitcoin in existence. More than 85% of all bitcoins have already been created. It is estimated to take over 120 years to mine that final bitcoin in the year 2140.

On January 3, 2009, Bitcoin was born when Satoshi Nakamoto mined the genesis block, which created the first 50 bitcoins. Every 10 minutes, a new block is mined, and a bitcoin reward is awarded to the successful miner. The bitcoin reward for the first 210,000 blocks was 50 bitcoin, then it was cut in half to 25 bitcoin.

When 210,000 blocks are mined, a “halvening” or “halving” occurs, which cuts the block reward in half. On average, the block reward is cut in half every 4 years. On November 28, 2012, the reward was cut from 50 BTC to 25 BTC. On July 9, 2016, the reward was cut from 25 BTC to 12.5 BTC. The next halving is estimated to occur in 7 months on May 20, 2020, when the bitcoin reward will be cut from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 bitcoin per block.

As bitcoin gets closer to reaching its maximum mined capacity, it gets harder and harder to reach the final finish line. I’ve noticed this is the same with many of my projects.

Yes, getting started may be the most difficult step for most people, but the initial rewards usually come easily once you get started. It’s reaching the final pinnacle, which can require the most energy and resources; the final mile, the final paragraph, the perfect finishing touch.

I’m currently working through several projects which I intend to complete before the end of the month. I was thinking about the project on my desk. I completed most of it in the first week I worked on it, but it takes a second week and sometimes a third week to complete the final 25% of the project. If I stay on schedule, I will finish this one tomorrow, and then I can complete the final 2 projects over the next 8 days in time to pass out candy on Halloween.

I know I am a perfectionist, so I’m acutely aware of my internal battles with procrastination and perfection. This year has been a struggle, but the philosophy of done is better than perfect has been my guiding light.

I am aware that 85% perfect is usually more than enough for most of my projects to pass with flying colors. Only a small, select few would notice the difference between my 85% and 90% perfect. In the time it would take to go from 85% to 95%, I can usually complete a new project in that same time period. So, for the sake of completing additional projects and keeping my clients happy, I will celebrate 85% perfection.

So, how will I celebrate the completion of my next project? I’ll continue “Stacking Sats” and buy some bitcoin. Bitcoin is on SALE at the moment (hovering at $7,400 per BTC as of October 23, 2019).

What does “Stacking Sats” mean? A bitcoin can be divided into 100 million units. Those units are called satoshis, in honor of Satoshi Nakamoto. Like a penny is the smallest unit of a dollar, a satoshi is the smallest unit of a bitcoin. I’m stacking my pennies so that I can stack sats. Bitcoin, here I come!

Cheers!

TofuAlan