Get Vindictive - Using Spite to Succeed

In the past week there were a lot of changes that happened at my work. My current manager decided to move to a different department in search for a slightly different career path and by doing this a new management position opened up at work.

Joan Cornella
Joan Cornella
To be honest, if my old manager hadn't decided to leave my department, I don't think I would have really given much thought to the position. I figured one day I would probably step into that position but that it would be perhaps a year or two down the road so I wasn't in a big rush. I've been told in the past by previous managers that they think I would be good at it, and personally I do think I have what it takes to do well but that's beside the point of this story.

Anyways, last Thursday my manager brought me into a conference room to tell me that he was leaving our team, and that the Account Director (his boss) had decided to put Mr. J. into his old management role. He was merely telling me of the decision to see how I would feel about this change.

I guess you could say that no one expected my reaction. I flat out said that I would be angry and disappointed with that change and that I would be interested in being considered for the position myself.

Normally you see, I don't react like this at work. In fact, I usually don't show much emotion at all at work, I'm sort of like a robot in that aspect (perhaps that's why I've been told I would be a good manager in the past). But the reason I was so angry and upset with the decision is because just 3 and a half months ago I trained the person that they were going to give the position to. If it had been someone else at the company that had been there a long time I wouldn't have had any issues with the decision but someone that I recently trained made me feel looked over.

Another reason this irked me was that this new person had worked with the Account Director at a previous job and that was the reason he came to the company in the first place. So it felt like a good serving of favoritism was being dealt here.

My manager said that he would let the Account Director know how I felt about it and that he was sure that someone would get back to me on what was going to happen. Later that evening I wrote to the Account Director and gave a more detailed reason as to why I should be considered for the position. I cited that I was the longest standing member on the team in this particular role, I rattled off 4 major accomplishments that I did for our team that were major pain points, and how I mentored half of our newer team members who still look to me for direction.

It didn't work.

Monday I was offered a promotion to Senior Developer but it was still not the position I was after. I'm pretty sure that they knew they were in the wrong, that I had proved myself, but they gave it to their "buddy" because they had already promised him the position. Thus they needed to offer me a smaller promotion since I was already doing the work for that role and because they knew they needed to work on damage control.

It's funny how at this time last week, I wouldn't have cared about reaching that position but now that I was blatantly being passed over for it I just want to raise hell.

Time to Get Vindictive

All the advice I found for what to do if you are "passed up for a promotion" said things like: stay cool, don't make any big decisions, don't vent to your peers.

Joan Cornella
Free Hugs by Joan Cornella
I took the opposite route and did all of those things.

First I talked to someone else at the company that is on a similar level as the Account Director, I explained the changes that had happed to the team and how I felt I was passed up and asked for her input on next steps I could take. She agreed with me that if my goal was to get that particular position it would be worth talking to another group within the company that still had that position vacant.

Then I had a very candid discussion with the Account Manager where I stated that I wasn't happy with the decision, I didn't see a future for myself on the team, and that I wanted to transfer to another group within the company. He wasn't happy with what I was telling him, he tried to reason with me that I was better off staying with the current team yet could not provide me with any incentive besides "maybe in a year we might need a different lead role".

Yeah... And maybe in 4 months I could get exactly the role I'm looking for by switching to a different group instead of hoping the company creates new roles for people. In the meantime the Account Manager could not give me any specific advice on what I could work on so that next time an opportunity like this came up I would be better prepared. I'm guessing it's because he didn't have a reason not to give me the position....

Traditional advice works sometimes but don't be afraid to break it. Instead of playing it cool and "sucking it up" so to speak I decided to get vindictive. Leaving my current team seems like best and most drastic option at the moment. But in the process it made many other people very aware of my aspirations within the company and I'm now currently working towards it.

Like I said, a week ago I wouldn't have cared about the position, but now that I was passed over for it my new goal is to get vindictive over it. I want to get that role elsewhere in the company just so I can go back to the Account Director and tell him to shove it.

Have you ever used spite as your motivation to succeed?

Why I'm switching away from TurboTax this year

This year I lagged compared to my usual approach to taxes. It seems like every year the date that I receive all of my tax forms gets pushed back further and further. I swear that I remember getting my taxes done before January 15th once but now it seems like I can't even attempt to complete my taxes until mid February anymore.

Ryohei Hase
His only wish was to touch by Ryohei Hase
This year I'm glad I waited on it though. Normally, every year I purchase TurboTax and plug away at it myself for a few hours and then "voilà!" I'm done, and hopefully a refund will be coming in a few weeks (except not last year) and not an audit. But this year I have to take a new approach, and if you are a TurboTax user then you might want to reconsider too! You see TurboTax did something sort of sneaky, they changed their software so that the deluxe version no longer includes the forms necessary to enter your schedule D forms for capital gains and losses.

Many loyal customers of TurboTax didn't read the fine print on the boxes about the changes that were made to the software so now when they are in the middle of their taxes find out that they have to upgrade to the next level up of the software. So instead of paying about $48 for the version they thought they needed they end up upgrading to the premier version which costs them $75 instead. The other option they could do is purchase another program from somewhere else and start the whole process over again which is also a bit absurd, no one really wants to go through that all again.

The response from Intuit (the owners of TurboTax) has been that they clearly labeled their packaging - which in all fairness they did. But for users like myself that have used TurboTax for the past decade or more it's like going to buy a Happy Meal and suddenly they say that the Happy Meal does not come with fries and a drink. Sure it may be labeled that way on the menu but when you have been ordering the same thing for forever you kind of just expect it to be the same.

So this year I'm making the switch. I've always wanted to try a different tax software... Well not really, but I did have a little curiosity of what would happen if I did a side by side comparison, not that I want to do my taxes twice in one year. So this year I'm switching to H&R Blocks software to give it a spin. It's actually cheaper than the usual version of TurboTax that I would use coming in at $42 and everyone online says that it's basically the same and that the only reason they never made the switch was because they were loyal to TurboTax. I should also be able to import last years version of my taxes from TurboTax into their software so getting my previous information should be just as easy as before.

So how are you doing your taxes this year? If you are a TurboTax user are you going to stick with it or are you going to jump ship like many others? Is now a good time to invest in H&R Block?

Landlord Hating

haters gonna hate
They see me rollin'
They hatin'
Landlording they tryin to catch me ridin dirty

This one goes out to all the people that live in over populated cities. That means you San Francisco, and I'm also looking at you Manhattan!

Next to bloodsucking lawyers, landlords are probably next in the queue of hated on people in the world. Actually, let me take that back -- everyone accepts lawyers as money grubbing individuals so no one really has to talk about it as if it were something new. And most people don't need lawyers so it's much less of a common ground for people to talk about. But most people have dealt with a landlord in their lives and it seems that lately, the new trend is to hate on them.

Look, I get it. You want to pay the least amount possible that you can for the roof over your head -- We all do! But it's a business son! Simple supply and demand, if people are willing to pay more, then why would I rent for less?

Weird Things to do in Japan

There really is no shortage of things to do in Japan, but while visiting all of the castles, temples, and gardens are nice. To me, they can be forgetful and are not the highlights of my trip, some of my best memories came from the weird things I found that you can do in Japan. Most of these were in Tokyo, not all of them, but I think I started looking for more weird stuff as my trip progressed since those things stuck out to me and less of the standard "tourist sites".

Robot Cabaret (Tokyo - Robot Restaurant - Shinjuku)

They say that it took $10 million to create this club, and it shows. Even the bathrooms of the lounge area are worth visiting! The show has multiple acts, there's cabaret girls, Rock-em' Sock-em' robots, various animatronic mythical beasts that fight each other. I went to the show and I'm still not entirely sure of everything that happened, but it was one of the best experiences I had in Tokyo. I highly recommend it. Please know that you need to get tickets in advance, you won't be able to just show up and buy tickets for the next show or probably even the next night.

Weirdness level: 10 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 10 out of 10

Sleep in a Capsule Hotel (Tokyo)

If you want a cheap place to stay that will be a truly unique experience, look no further than the capsule hotel of whatever major city you happen to be in. When I travel I don't need a lot of amenities for where I stay, it's simply a place to sleep at night. If that's really all you want then this could be a great option for you since that's all you're really provided with. The downside is that at about 5am everyone's alarms start going off in 5 minute intervals. Luckily for me, I stayed here on my first night so I was already awake!
Capsule Hotel ShinjukuCapsule Hotel Shinjuku

Weirdness level: 7 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 5 out of 10

Bunny Café (Tokyo - Ra.a.g.f. - Harajuku)

If you've been away from your pets at home for a while and want some furry companionship, you should consider heading to a rabbit café. You pay for how much time you would like to spend in the cafe and while you are there you get free coffee or tea while you hang out with some furry friends. I believe it was about $8 for a half hour and that included purchasing extra rabbit food to feed the bunnies.

Rabbit Cafe Tokyo
Playing with Josette at Ra.a.g.f.
It was somewhat difficult to find a rabbit café that was still open. I could not locate any of the ones I found online that were in Asakusa, one had definitely been closed and the other I simply could not find. I ended up going to Rabbit and Grow Fat (Ra.a.g.f) in Harajuku which was a nice little place to visit.

Weirdness level: 7 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 8 out of 10

Maid Café (Tokyo - @Home Maid Café - Asakusa)

If paying for a bunny's time isn't your thing then perhaps paying to be someone's master is more to your liking? Maid café's are a place to go to experience Japan's kawaii culture ("cute" culture). When you walk in maid's will 'welcome you home' and entertain you by serving you food, drinks or playing games with the 'masters' who come in the café.

Zee and Aina @Home Maid Café
It's an interesting experience to say the least. people watching in the café is also interesting because of the number of regular customers that appear to come in and partake in the services offered.

Weirdness level: 8 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 6.5 out of 10

Teddy Bear Eco Village (Hida Takayama)

I visited Hida Takayama as a day trip from Nagoya, but I think it can also be done from Tokyo as well. To begin it was a beautiful train ride in the snow and Hida Takayama was a cool little town to walk around with a fresh blanket of snow. When I got there I discovered the gem that is called Teddy Bear Eco Village. I'm not sure exactly how to describe this place, it's like your 80 year old aunt couldn't become a cat lady because she was allergic so she decided to build a teddy bear museum instead. Where she created dioramas of scenes she wanted to act out in her life but never did. There's a teddy bear bakery, a teddy bear mayor, teddy bear Michael Jackson Thriller, animatronic polar bears, and even your standard teddy bear wedding... Well, not quite standard, the bears getting married were larger than me and had their own outdoor chapel in which they were wed.

Teddy Bear Eco Village
I call this look 'Thug Passion' - also note the bear chapel behind me
I think that since I was the only person there, it may have made it more special for me. If it had been swamped with children (which I imagine it is at times) then perhaps it wouldn't have been as strange of an experience for me.

Weirdness level: 8 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 7 out of 10

Cup Noodles Museum (Yokohama)

Just a short train ride from Tokyo is the town of Yokohama. Besides for their great Chinatown they also have both a Ramen museum and the Cup of Noodles Museum. This one wasn't exactly weird, but it was more like a college dream come true to get to actually make my own Cup or Noodles. You buy a cup, decorate it, get to choose the toppings and take home your own shrink wrapped cup of noodles to eat.

Cup of Noodles Museum

Weirdness level: 7 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 8 out of 10

Kigurumi Pajamas (Tokyo)

I think Kigurumi Pajamas fall under the Kawaii or "cute" culture status. Kigurumi is a Japanese name for costumed performers who represent costumed characters, often cartoons. Anyways, onesies are a lot of fun, what kid did not love pretending to be a dinosaur growing up. None.

I got mine from a store called Don Quijote which is a big chain in major cities. That store is full of weird stuff in it's own right so you might want to check it out anyways!

Weirdness level: 7 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 9 out of 10

Onsen - Public Baths (Kinosaki Onsen)

Get naked and bathe with a bunch of strangers. These are separated by gender, but bathing in the traditional way for Japan is really an experience. Onsens are natural hot springs, the ones that I went to in Kinosaki Onsen were outdoors and amazing. But before you just jump in the waters you clean yourself thoroughly before, the baths are merely for soaking and relaxing.

Kinosaki Onsen
In my Yukata in front of one of the main bath houses in Kinosaki Onsen
I also went to an Onsen in Osaka called Spa World which is not that far out of the way compared to Kinosaki Onsen. I highly recommend it as a mid day break after walking around.

Weirdness level: 6 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 8 out of 10

Winter Lights Festivals (Nabana No Sato & Kobe)

Luminaire Kobe
Kobe's Luminaire
Visiting Japan in December means you will probably stumble across various city illuminations. I ended up seeing a few amazing winter lights festivals with the highlights in Kobe's Luminaire and Nabana No Sato. Had I realized each town had some sort of celebration revolving around light displays I could have hit more of them. These aren't that "weird" but they aren't year round so if you can see them you definitely should.

It's  like unlocking rainbow road!

Over 1 million lights in this tunnel
Weirdness level: 6 out of 10
Awesomeness level: 10 out of 10

The Click of the Moment

"I deserve this."

I thought as I clicked the button confirming my flight to Japan. After more than a year without taking a day off of work I had earned deserved this.

Natalie Shau
Lucifer by Natalie Shau
But did I really? What had I done to deserve twenty some odd days half way around the world? All that I had really done was my job.... for a year.... and I was paid for it. It's not like I had adopted a Japanese child and was showing them their culture. I hadn't even adopted a Shiba Inu. Or at the very least I could have held open an elevator door for a Japanese person, but I don't recall that happening lately. Usually I press the door close button as soon as I get in, in hopes that I have the elevator to myself. That way I can pretend I'm at home in my bathroom and do some last minute personal grooming.... Is that another grey hair, they don't hide like they used to.


Well I'm back from my vacation and made it through the holidays. I didn't mean to neglect my blog but that sort of just happened while I was in Japan. But now that I'm back hopefully I'll be able to pick up a regular schedule again.

The thing about changing your environment for a while is that you see a lot of stuff that you normally wouldn't. Hopefully the change of perspective will be useful and you can learn or takeaway a few things from the experience. So here are some things I noticed while in Japan, some things I will miss, others I hope to learn from, and some I hope to avoid!

My new kigurumi pajamas
Almost every night I had had PJ's laid out for me at my hotel. I will miss this part of Japan. I didn't expect that to even be a part of my whole trip but it's just something that happened that I appreciated. BUT, on a side note I bought some new kigurumi pajamas while I was there so even if they aren't laid out for me every night, I will still remember the weirdness of Japan when I put these on before bed.

New Money

I’m glad the portrait of Ben Franklin stayed the same on the new $100 bill. There’s something about his slight, tight frown, the paternal hint of disappointment in his eyes and those pursed, sealed lips that seem to say, “I don’t approve of what you’re doing, but I can’t stop you from rolling this banknote into a straw and ripping a fat rail of white lightning in the Buffalo Wild Wings handicapped bathroom stall, you goddamn beautiful disaster.” 
Via - Streeter Seidell

Culture Shock

Before I begin I have been a little delayed on posting and replying, that is because I'm currently out of the country on vacation, so bear with me for a few more weeks while I continue exploring the world.

Robot Cabaret Show - Tokyo, Japan
Robot Cabaret Show - Tokyo, Japan
I was in need of a change. I was burnt out on almost everything as of late, I was very tired of work and I didn't really have any good reason why. I don't particularly dislike my job like previous ones, so I'm not entirely sure why I was feeling that way. But it had been almost two years since I had been on a real vacation and I even started dreaming about being at work. Everything just needed change.

So I picked to go to Japan for vacation, I'd never been there so that was one of my few requirements. I had looked into Borneo as a possible location but I found that I couldn't actually go up an hug an orangutan in the wild so that kind of turned me off. I was also considering a volunteer vacation to Africa where I would volunteer at an animal sanctuary (see the animal trend here) but after some research I found that volunteering would be much more expensive than just going to Japan so that's how my choice was made.

Are you ready for Dependents?

Dependents by Roland Tamayo
Dependents by Roland Tamayo
For most people, when they think of dependents they think of becoming parents. Usually the typical way to become a parent you have approximately nine months to get yourself as ready as possible to start taking care of a life that is not your own. You can come up with a plan and hope that you're ready but you never really know how ready you are until it happens. Suddenly you come home with a child, there's no instruction manual and even though you thought you knew what you were going to do everything comes out slightly different than expected. Not necessarily in a bad way, but your "plan" didn't unfold exactly like you thought, learning the best way to care for your new child might not even be the same as a previous one. And that's just day to day stuff that I'm talking about I haven't even mentioned how to prepare financially for a baby? Dee over at Color-Me-Frugal just recently became a parent and she has some good tips on how to prepare for a new child. But how ever much you prepare, get ready to be thrown off your game. In the words of a great philosopher:

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson (on how opponents prepare to fight him) tweet this

Okay, okay... So maybe Mike Tyson isn't a philosopher but there's some truth in those words. Sometimes life punches you in the face. Are you ready for it? I'm not trying to compare having children to being punched in the face (even though I think I just did) but sometimes life can throw you a curveball that you weren't expecting.

For the most part, couples tend to plan for children, sometimes they plan out years in advance. But one thing that most people don't really plan for is adult dependents. According to many resources online such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Bankrate, the Baby Boomer generation is ill prepared for their impending retirement needs. Many have not saved enough and they won't be able to work for forever.

So what would you do if you found out that one of your parents didn't have enough money for retirement and was too old to work?

Would you be ready for an adult dependent?

In many cultures it's not uncommon to have multiple generations all living under the same roof. In some areas of the world this might even be more of the standard, where the "sandwich generation" provides for both the older and younger generation at the same time.

With the cost of retirement homes averaging about $50k per year (though this varies depending on location) it's no surprise that the sandwich generation exists! Who can afford to pay for that just to have a roof over their heads?

What if it wasn't just financial assistance? What if your parent needed physical care?

When I was growing up there was a period of time that really stuck out to me. It was the last few years of my grandmothers life, she started to get to a point where she needed more help with every day things. Luckily most of my family lives pretty close to each other so my mom and her sisters took turns going over to her house to help with dinner, groceries, or whatever else needed to be done. But over time there were a few sudden changes that happened rather quickly, the first was when the extra care switched to constant care. The switch from 3 or 4 hours every day to needing to be there 24/7 was a stressful change in everyone's lives. How much help she needed became progressively more and more over a few year span.

The second sudden change was much harder on everyone; my grandmother started showing some signs of dementia. She would get confused and had a hard time communicating, but through the whole thing my mom and her sisters kept her where she was the most comfortable, right in her own house. I really think that keeping her someplace familiar was better for her overall; if she was not in her own house then I'm sure her confusion would have been much worse. It was a very difficult time, but my family choose to make the time to take care of her by themselves.

At the time this happened I was in high school and while I knew it was a lot of extra work for everyone. I never really gave it a whole lot of thought, there were just nights when I knew my Mom wouldn't be home so I had to take care of myself for dinner or whatever else I might need.

I knew what my Mom was helping with but I never really thought about "actually" doing it. It's not whether I could do it or not, it was more of a question of would I be willing to take on these responsibilities for an unknown amount of time. Would I be able to help my parents bathe, be around to help them stand up, sit down and move around the house. Help them make all of their meals, be there in case they needed something in the middle of the night. And throughout the whole time see them slowly deteriorate.

Not until recently had I really thought about the kind of commitment that really was. I don't think I would ever want to leave my parents in someone else's care, I would want them as comfortable as I could make them and I know that would be with family, not strangers. But how would I know if I would be ready to take in an adult dependent? They would probably need more help and more complicated care than babies.

Be stable enough to be flexible

I don't know if anyone can truly say they would be "ready" for something like that because you don't know if it will ever really happen. Right now my own personal goal is to be financially stable enough to be flexible for any situation, no matter what it is. But as for being mentally prepared for taking in an adult dependent, I can't say anyone would know if they are ready. While this isn't something that you can easily plan for, you can try to be as ready as possible. Because sometimes, life will punch you in the face, so it's best to be ready just in case.

Be Weird

Sharon Needles
Sharon Needles by Austin Young
In the spirit of Halloween I thought that I would write about one of my favorite drag queens and season 4 winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, Sharon Needles. There are a lot of styles of drag out there, from glam queens, fishy queens, club queens, campy queens and many other styles. But Sharon always seemed to stand out ahead of the crowd, which is a huge task considering it was a drag queen competition, so over the top is basically par for the course. Her quick wit and consistent attitude to never allow other people to dictate who she was made her one of my favorites early on. Well... That and dressing up like a zombie on the first runway challenge.

Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I'm not normal. I'm a weird guy who likes to be weird because it's fun. I think that being normal is boring, and that's probably part of the reason that Halloween is my favorite holiday, because you get to be as weird as you want and the weirder you are the more people seem to like it.

I think most people that strive for early financial independence are not your typical people. Something in us is wired differently, we don't understand why people want to work from 9 to 5 to 65. If you ask anyone they will agree with you that reaching financial independence early is something that they want in life, but many people don't do anything about it. Many people don't even start saving for a regular aged retirement because they just don't know where to start. I think the biggest reason that people don't strive for early financial independence is because most just follow what they think is normal. Even I didn't realize that early financial independence could come decades earlier until about 5 years ago. Sure I thought you could retire early by cutting off 6 or 7 years, but 20 years? I thought the idea was ludacris, that is, until I read about other people that did it. Suddenly being that weird guy that saved half of his income seemed like a great idea. Why spend 90% of your paycheck when you don't need 40% of the crap that you're buying.

Don't do things simply because that's what normal people do, think about things and decide if you want/need to do them. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the choices we already make because we've never questioned why they were normal. For me I don't think that saving more than I spend is a bad choice, sure I could be living a more lavish lifestyle if I wanted... But I don't think that would make me any happier. That's my weirdness, and I'm not giving it up.

And I leave you with Sharon Needles response to the question, what it would mean to be crowned the next drag superstar:
"Being the holder of that crown would show that you don’t have to fit a certain mold to make it in any industry, or in any desire that you want. And for any gay kid out there, or just weird kid that gets picked on, just know: when in doubt, freak ‘em out; do whatever the fuck you wanna do. And if anyone ever boos you off stage, that is simply applause from ghosts.” - Sharon Needles

Happy Halloween!

How to prepare for financial changes

Incarnation (#100) By Mark Ryden
We don't always get to prepare for major financial changes, things like a job loss or an unexpected medical expense can really throw us off of our game. In these situations it's best to have an emergency fund to fall back on. But occasionally in life we have changes that we can prepare for. Sometimes that might be moving to a new house, having children, quitting a job to go back to school, or perhaps my favorite one to dream about - retirement.

So how do we prepare for an event like this. How do we know that we are making a responsible decision?

Unlocking Financial Independence

When I first exited college I knew that summer/winter/spring breaks as I knew them would never be the same. I could no longer come home for the holidays and party with my high school friends like we had no jobs because... Well, we were going to have to get jobs, and at that point vacations would become a precious commodity. I knew that I had one last free shot at travelling where how long I was gone for would not matter. At that point I didn't really have a job history that mattered, saying that I had worked at a grocery store or at temp agencies simply didn't matter.

Going into the software industry I knew that while I may be able to take a month off between projects (once I had saved up vacation time) was possible, but the likelihood of being able to take off for 3 months and being able to return to a job was a lot less likely.

So I did what any recent college grad would do, I got the first crappy job that I could so that I could earn some money, but I planned to quit it after 2 months. Then I would travel for a while before I had to get a real job.