Entries for July, 2011


Kevin Chang: "It's not enough that I should succeed - others should fail."

Posted by roy on July 1, 2011 at 11:25 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Twice this week I've woken up to dreams that have stressed me out, and I'm not one to remember my dreams very well!

In the first dream, somebody was trying to kill me by setting laser traps. I walked through a laser tripwire outside my apartment door and it set off a bomb (I survived, but got incredibly paranoid through the rest of my dream). 

In the dream last night, I somehow went back in time to February 2010. For better or worse, I had lost the last 16 months of my life. Given how tumultuous that period was, I was not happy to find myself at the beginning of it all (although I remember having one thought: "Christ, what stock (that I know about) will outperform like crazy? Answer: TZOO locks in a nice 700% gain). 

But after the intial shock had died down, I started acting on what I knew would be problematic - I got ahead of problems at my old job. I avoided certain people in my life, who I knew would be troublesome. 

But the saddest part? All the great experiences I would have - the people I would meet - they would have to happen again. Sure, it's kind of fun to relive the day ones, but they seemed so ... contrived. 

This seems to be the basis for a great Hollywood drama movie. Would you chase after all the things in life you wanted if you knew the outcome, or would you set a new path for yourself and try to let it happen naturally? (I guess this kind of was the "Butterfly Effect" - although I'd focus the movie more on career choices for yourself)

Anyways... glad I'm where I am now. Wouldn't trade the people and my life for anything... and I'm pretty sure that had I gone back to Feb 2010, I would have accelerated rykorp's inception (although there were so many good things that came from the last few months at MT). 

Posted by roy on July 2, 2011 at 08:41 AM in Personal, Dreams | 1 Comments

Posted by roy on July 7, 2011 at 10:02 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Life just keeps getting busier! Just when I think I've maxed out on how busy I can be... I get busier. 

My memory's been shot lately - I forget random things - names of bands, random factoids. Gotta slow things down. 

Flying out to Morroco for 10 days on Thursday. Exciting stuff. 

Wish I had more time to write. 

Posted by roy on July 11, 2011 at 02:10 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Posted by roy on July 12, 2011 at 11:51 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I read somewhere recently that our generation may be the "generation sharing" group. Sites like AirBnb (share your place), Couchsurfing (share your place for free), Zipcar, and Getaround (share your car) all seem to bank on that concept. 

I signed up for a bunch of these services out of curiosity to see how they functioned. I've done Getaround enough to feel comfortable about writing about it. This review is written from the perspective of a car owner, who is doing the renting. I've yet to use Getaround for renting. 

A quick explanation of Getaround: on Getaround, you can post your car for rent by the hour, day, or week. People request a reservation, then you confirm it. You meet up with the person and hand over the keys. Getaround does all the payment processing and insures the drive for you under their plans. Once it's done, you get the keys back and you're on the way.

Now, let me list the positives: it's a cool way to meet interesting people. The idea that I'm making money from something that I'm not using is a good one. And of course, I'm all the "sharing is caring" meme. If you are doing the renting, it is a fantastic deal. (I'm sure somebody's done the math on it) But, for car owners... not so good. Let me discuss why. 

Listing a car is relatively easy - took me only a few minutes. Once you log-in, you have an option of setting three price points for your car:

  • Price per hour ($3 - $15)
  • Price per day ($15 - $60)
  • Price per week ($60 - $240)

What stood out here was that this site is not targeted for medium-premium cars (for the sake of argument, I'm going to arbitrarily define those as 91 octane gas that cost about $25K - the Audis, higher-end Japanese cars, the BMWs, etc).

If we assume Zipcar has their business economics down, their baseline prices are $8/hour and $66/day. The cars available range from a Toyota Matrix (~$12K), a Honda Element (~$18K), and a Prius (~$20K). So if you drive a 89 octane car, you can charge a higher hourly rate than Zipcar, but a lower daily rate. But if you have a car that's more expensive than those daily beaters, Getaround doesn't make financial sense. 

(Warning: Math is going to get fuzzy here)

If you drive anything beyond a daily beater, then the economics fall down pretty hard. According to this calculator a mid-range deprecation for a $30K car is $4,500/year. Assuming you drive a car about 12,000 miles per year, you're looking at an average of $0.375 price per mile on the car. (The IRS allows for about $0.50 per mile of business deductions, which take into account insurance, taxes, etc.)

So the next question: how far can a person drive in an hour? Assuming the renter isn't just taking the car for a joyride, I would reckon about 15-20 miles per hour. (I had a three hour rental that went about 40 miles). That means you have a depreciation cost of $7.50 per hour. If you rent a car out hourly, you're only making $7.50/hour. And if you set a high rate of $15/hour, Getaround only disperses to you $10.50/hour after fees. I'm barely making any money! 

Before I can throw out the idea of simply raising the rates, one question is in the back of my mind: should people who use these sharing services expect a premium? Clearly, based on the pricing offered by Getaround, they think that cars on the site should be offered at a discount rate to sites like Zipcar and even traditional car rental agencies. 

AirBnb is another interesting case - would you pay a premium or a discount to stay at somebody else's place (with them not being there, of course) over a hotel? I'm not quite sure the answer to either question right now - but my feeling is that Getaround should position themselves by letting premium car renters to offer cars that most rental agencies do not allow. Heck, I rented a Audi A4 a few weeks ago and was charged close to $200/day - I would definitely have paid ~$120/day for a Getaround equivalent. I would have saved $80/day, and the car renter would have made a heftier ~$50 profit for the day (assuming you drove the Zipcar maximum of 125 miles in that day). 

So other minor gripes about Getaround:

  • They do not make it clear that the gas is the renter's responsibility. Sure, it's in the FAQ, but the last guy that rented my car on Getaround (who rented it twice) didn't fill up the tank TWICE. I'm not sure if he's being cheap or if he didn't know, but Getaround needs to put some soft incentives for renters to fill up the tank (like when car rental agencies jack up the price per gallon). I try to fill up the tank before I give the car to my renters - the least they could do is the same when they return it.  
  • Getaround seems to only process payments once a month, and it's not clear to the car owner that's the case. I would expect if they have accepted the payment from the renter, they could automate the payment or send me an email after the rental saying I'll get paid on ___ date.
  • Meeting up with people is a pain. I have to break out of my daily routine, meet them for the keys, then the same way on the way back. All for $7.50/hour? No, thanks. 
  • Most renters seriously request the rental 30 minutes before they need the car. Sure, I'm more flexible on my schedule than others, but what about those with real 9-5 jobs? Pain. 
  • They take a HUGE cut. I think for every $15/hour rental, I make about $10.50. That's nearly 33%! 

What would be really nice is if Getaround partnered with sites like Airbnb - it would be great if they could bundle the rentals together. People on Airbnb tend to plan a little more, and they're most likely gonna need a car, too. 

And of course, the rates. $15/hour is too low as a top-end. I realize they're trying to build a marketplace, and you need to favor the renters at first. (Plus I'm guessing there are some insurance reasons, and capping it at $15/hour helps keep certian cars away) But until then, I had to de-activate my listing - it's just not worth it

Posted by roy on July 13, 2011 at 01:34 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Hey, it wouldn't be a killer trip if it didn't start off rocky, right? 

But in all honesty, it hasn't been that bad of a trip. The flights have passed relatively quickly, but MAN does one event trigger a butterfly effect on traveling. 

My flight to San Diego to Newark was pretty uneventful. They said that I needed to get my boarding pass in Newark... no biggie. I had a two-hour layer, which seemed sufficient enough. 

When I got to Newark, I walked over to the TAP Portugal ticketing area. It looked like there were about 25 people in the line... uh oh, but whatever. I stood at the end of the line - then one of the TAP employees asked me if I was waiting for TAP Portugal - and when I said I was - she pointed me outside the door. Good god. 

There had to been over 50 or 60 people in line for TAP Portugal. I was worried I was going to miss my flight, but the TAP employee told me most of these people were in the same flight, and they would most likely delay the flight. 

Turns out their systems went down, so everything was being done by hand. That must have sucked hard for the agents. Anyways, I got my boarding pass and got to the gate around 630 (flight was at 6pm). We ended up leaving the ground around 730. 

I was kind of stressing my Lisbon to Marrakech part (they again didn't issue me a boarding pass) - I had two hours between those two flights and we were running an hour and a half late. 

As it turns out, we landed one hour before my flight, so I rushed it over to the Marrakesh gate. Odd, there were only like 2 other people there. 

The lady at the gate politely informed me that since the Newark flight was running late, TAP had rebooked me on another airline's flight to Marrakesh - this would be with Royal Air Maroc through Casablanca at 4pm. I figured, "Well, at least I can check out Lisbon, today." The lady told me to head downstairs to the transfers desk, where they would help me out. 

When I go to the transfers desk, they told me I had to leave the secure area and go to the Royal Air Maroc ticket kiosk to get my boarding pass. So I went through immigration control and headed out into the general area. But there was no Royal Air Maroc kiosk that I could find. 

So I head over to the information desk. The super cool chick informs me that cause they run a smaller airline, they don't have people there all day. She then tells me to head back over to TAP and see if they can book me on the Casablanca flight at noon. She points me to customer service. Off I go again. 

I get THERE, and the agent rushedly tells me that they actually booked me back on the original flight (it's about 820am at this point) because the flight was delayed. She gives me a priority boarding pass and tells me to hurry over. So off I go through security, passport control (where the guy gives me a quizzical look and informs me that the departure time for this flight was over half an hour hour ago), and I run over to the gate. It's empty again. 

The agent (who was there originally), remarks, "Oh, they ended up booking you on this flight?" 

Yes, they did. And as it turns out: this flight is delayed indefinitely. 

Honestly, though... not really bothering me. I'm hungry, tired, and I have a slight headache. But right now, all I want to do is get my ass to Marrakesh and take a nap. I've been up for 27 hours at this point - by the time I get to the riad in Marrakesh, it will have been 24 hours end to end. 

My real worry right now is my luggage - TAP hasn't inspired me with great confidence thus far. Well, we'll find out in a few hours!

Posted by roy on July 15, 2011 at 01:06 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

24 hours of traveling, but i made it. i'm chilling at the riad, which actually has some pretty fast internet. 

unfortunately, the airlines lost my luggage. so my first mission? buy some clothes. 

here we go!

Posted by roy on July 15, 2011 at 06:50 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakesh, Morroco is an amazing sight. Thousands descend day and night ... it's like nothing I've seen anywhere else. 


Posted by roy on July 16, 2011 at 05:35 PM in Travel | 2 Comments

Around Zagora, Morocco

Posted by roy on July 18, 2011 at 02:59 PM in Travel, Photography | Add a comment

I don't ever recall having so much trouble adjusting back after a trip like this one. All my Asia trips - I adjusted back within the next day. I slept ten hours (or so) last night, and I'm still struggling through today. My mind is fuzzy, I'm having trouble focusing... ahh! 

Hopefully another long sleep tonight will do the trick. 

Posted by roy on July 27, 2011 at 08:41 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment



Posted by roy on July 29, 2011 at 10:50 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I went in yesterday to get a tooth implant. They put me under a general anaesthesic for the procedure. I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older, or the fact my body is still tired from traveling, but that stuff hit me HARD. 

It's an odd feeling for me (one who hasn't taken drugs): I recall yesterday was a pleasant day, but I only recall bits and pieces (Max, who picked me up, told me to remember 'New Flyer" and "Compressed Natural Gas," which are the only things of certainty I recall). 

It's weird to think a little pill can make you forget so much - but even as I was not mysef, I managed to remain somewhat productive. I did some Skype chats (work-related) to continue my catch-up on all the stuff left to be done, and I made a series of phone calls to deal with personal matters. 

It's nice to know I remain somewhat productive while under the influence. I've learned it's also kinda scary to wake up at midnight with no recollection of the past eight hours - good thing I do everything digitally so there was a trail of activity. 

Now to catch up on real life... 

Posted by roy on July 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

pictures from morocco are up at flickr

Posted by roy on July 30, 2011 at 11:37 PM in Photography | Add a comment

this tooth implant is the most painful experience i've had so far - the pain just gets worse with every hour. i looked at my mouth this morning, and the bone underneath the tooth implant is incredibly inflamed. i may need to get some more vicodin, even though it doesn't seem to be helping much. 

Posted by roy on July 31, 2011 at 09:11 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments
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