I just got back from a business trip to China, where I visited Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. I listened to and spoke a lot of Chinese, and while I can't yet get by in a business negotiation without occasional-to-frequent interpretation, I think my interpreter wouldn't have survived if I hadn't been able to get most of what people were saying on my own. Plus, I made a very good impression whenever I dropped some Mandarin. I can be proud of how much I can still converse in Chinese now, almost ten years after I stopped taking Chinese classes. (Thanks Skritter for maintaining my vocabulary all this time!)
But the real demonstration of my language skills was when a guy came up to me to hand me a flyer for a Chinese kung fu club that was just opening up. "Chinese gongfu! Very interesting!", he said.
“对不起，我没有时间。” Sorry, I don't have time.
After this basic response with good pronunciation, the guy was excited by my apparent comprehension, and redoubled his efforts. After a bit of conversation, I decided to tell him I was flying out tonight and so couldn't possibly come see the fight:
Since Max turned one last week, I made a poignant video of poignancy showing him growing up over the past year.
I used to eat food. I still do, but I used to, too.
You have probably heard of Soylent, the liquid meal replacement where you can conveniently get all your balanced nutrients by just drinking liquid Silicon Valley. I mean, you've already outsourced all your other chores to my fellow startups–don't you want to save another two hours per day and eliminate all superfluities?
No? Yes? Well, it's not for everyone, but I sure would like more time for my important stuff, and I've already eaten food tons of times. Plus, if I can have my default meal be a healthy one, I'll sacrifice extra tastiness (which is why I don't eat dessert). I'm in. Forget eating! Yet...
I like Soylent, but it takes a lot of trust in nutrition science to say, "Let's just combine a bunch of individual micronutrients that match the recommended daily allowances, since those are exactly what all humans need, right?" Never mind that some of the RDAs were established by a handful of weak studies–you still have to believe that not only did we get the nutrient levels right, but that those nutrients are all you need, and that they work in isolation, in the specific forms that are included in your Science Drink (which may not be bioavailable or bioequivalent).
Baby Max is four months old today. I posted when he was one month, talking about what a difficult little demon he was, but after eight weeks he magically changed overnight into the sweetest baby ever! We were so surprised the first time he slept 7.5 hours straight instead of waking up every 3 hours, we kept waking up anyway just to go stare at him. "Maybe there's something wrong with him!" But he kept doing it, and now he sleeps from around 8pm to 4:30am every night, wakes up to feed, then goes back to sleep until around 7:30am. It is amazing. And where before he cried a lot, always seemed unhappy, and didn't even know how to smile, now he generally loves everything and will smile his head off if you just look at him.
Here are some more surprises from the first four months of Max.
1. He loves "reading" books.
I had thought that before he could read or understand words, or even be able to visually recognize cartoons of things, he would get bored when I read to him. But even from the beginning, books held his attention and excited him. Thanks for all the books, everyone (but especially Mom)!
When Chloe and I were trying to come up with baby names, every conversation would go something like this:
Chloe: "New baby name idea: Katana."
Nick: "How do you spell that?"
Chloe: "Like a katana, duh!"
Nick: "People don't know how to spell that."
We have reproduced! Max is one month old now. Here's his birth announcement photo, where he looks adorable:
Apart from when he's asleep, this is what he looks like most of the time, though:
I am proud to have spawned a baby infant:
I always love it when people share revenue data for their apps / games / books / works, and it's been two years since The Motivation Hacker came out, so here's another updated graph of ebook sales by platform including the second year. (See also First Year Book Sales and Aftermath: The Motivation Hacker)
Sales again have fallen off more slowly than I expected, although it's finally getting quiet now, down to about two sales a day in March. In total, it's up to 4102 copies, or around 60x how many I was expecting. Cool!
Total reviews climbed from 124 to 275, and sentiment ebbed from 4.5 stars on Amazon to 4.4, and from 3.90 to 3.85 on Goodreads.
At $2.99, I've kept the book as cheap as possible while still in Amazon's 70% royalty split bucket, and I did similarly with the new CreateSpace paperback ($7.99). The total royalties are around $9065.42, bringing my effective hourly rate up to $43.31.
When I was a kid, I didn't work. I got a tiny allowance ($5 per week, or maybe per month), and every now and then I'd age or undergo a holiday, so friendly relatives would send me money. But the only things I wanted to buy were desktop computer parts and video games, and I easily saved enough money for those. Parents took care of everything else–thanks parents!
Later, I was a college student. Sometimes I wanted to buy Chinese food, but that's about it; I still had roughly no spending. (Apart from how expensive school was, but again, I mooched from parents and scholarships–thanks parents!). Still, I felt like I should earn money, so first I worked as a dishwasher for around $8 an hour, and then as an inept ResEd student web developer for maybe $9.50 an hour. Suddenly the savings I had slowly built from that $5 per week allowance seemed meaningless.
Still feeling like I should be doing something career-related, I nepotised into a co-op preprofessional software engineer summer job at IBM. (Thanks Dad!) That was $20 an hour, full-time, with overtime even! After a few months of that, I came back to that student web developer job and realized I didn't care about it at all–I'd written more than my share of abominable Perl forms, and with $13,000 in my bank account, why would I want to get paid $9.50 an hour to write more of them when I had better things to do? I helped them hire a younger minion and lounged around on my coins. The money I had made from the web developer job also never mattered.
After college, George, Scott, and I started Skritter, and apart from rent ($300/mo) and food ($6/day), I had a few other small expenses (lasers, bowie knives, whips, etc.), but really, life was cheap. Skritter survived at first off of the entrepreneurship grant our school gave us (more mooching). I was finally glad I had made some money at IBM, because those savings kept me out of debt until Skritter could slowly become profitable. I could also calculate utility and buy a few things, like a sick office chair and some large computer monitors–they were like like three cents per hour of use!
Across several years of working on Skritter and moves to Costa Rica, Pittsburgh, and Sunnyvale, revenues grew, but my spending habits didn't change–I was still living like a kid who occasionally needed to eat something or upgrade his computer. If I had to buy something, I'd buy the cheap thing—I mean, you gotta save money, right?
It's that time again where I become a better person. Help me out, would ya? Follow this link to give me anonymous admonishments:
Tell me what I suck at, or if I treated you poorly, or if noticed me not being awesome when I could have been. But don't include personally identifying details, so I don't know it's you! (Well, you can if you really want–I promise I will appreciate instead of resenting anything you tell me.)
Even if you don't have any admonishments because of my stunning perfection, you can still troll me; that'd be fun, right?