My Family Blog 

 

Saturday
May122012

The Deliberate Power Outage

I have found in the past that when a storm comes and we lose power it is a fairly intersting time for the family. We grab flashlights, light candles, and then (miracle of miracles) we sit together in the living room and talk to each other. This always ends up being a blessing.

My suggestion to you is that you pick a day a month when you cut the power to your house deliberately, and the reap the benefits of the timeless "people sitting together around a fire" event that inevitably follows. Imagine back before electricity - it should not take much imagination to see that people in older times got more interaction with one another. These days (to personify an inanimate object) the television seems like it expects to have people's attention most of the time, and it usually gets it. Passively sitting in front of the tube seems like a birthright to the kids - and that is an awful thing.

Instead, cut the power once in a while after dark. If you have kids, it will unnerve them a little bit. That's a good thing. Give them a candle, and then spend an hour sitting together in front of the fireplace. Talk to each other. It is the best use of an hour that you can imagine.

 

 

Wednesday
Jul062011

San Francisco vs. Austin

I just spent a week in San Francisco California. I love the place. 

The climate is near perfect. There is abundant opportunity, especially if you are an entrepreneur. Plants grow like gangbusters. You can expect 70 degree temperatures in the summertime. Architecture and public spaces are some of the most remarkable in the world. 

The problem that I find is that the intense competition for these resources nullifies much of the attraction for living there. Real estate prices are sky high. Parking is nearly impossible during business hours in SF. Among the people that I met on this trip that I was able to speak candidly with, the pattern was that they aspired to escape from CA and settle into 'normal' lives with a family to raise kids.

I am in Austin, TX as I write this. Sitting on a shaded patio in the spacious garden of the home that I own. We grow our own vegetables here, have plenty of space in the home for 2 parents, 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat. If I wanted to replicate 1/2 of what my family enjoys here in Austin we would expect to spend $2M or more just to get started. That seems an unreasonable proposal to me. 

My conclusion is that as much as I would like to live in CA, for the time being, Austin TX is the place to be.

Austin:

Good entrepreneur culture. I would estimate that we are vying for #2 spot with the MIT/Boston area (behind Silicon Valley).

Great food culture: we have 5 farmers markets in town, and some of the best restaurants in the US.

University and Culture: The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the US. It is a magnet for performances and cultural events - that although they are fewer than you can get on the West Coast are surprisingly frequent and varied when considering the population of this area.

Cost of living: Comparably cheap. You can own a 3000 square foot home within 10 minutes of downtown for less than $300k. Enough said.