Catalina Island SCUBA Trip + Helicopter Rides and a Margarita

Here is a quick video about our Catalina Island SCUBA trip. Below I’ll just make a few notes about the day, the experience and lessons learned.

Deciding To Go

When we embarked on this journey, it wasn’t because I actually desired to go.

I actually didn’t want to go at all.

I assumed that it would be cold and dark off the coast of Catalina Island. There was a big part of me that was afraid of seeing Great White Sharks too. There is no part of me that wants to dive with Great Whites. Coral Sharks and big Leopard Sharks are fine, but I have no desire to swim with the man-eating sharks.

Also, I was badly out of practice. This was to be my first time diving since we dove in the Similian Islands.

What I love about having adventurous friends is that they push me to do things that are uncomfortable. David put it best: “We dive because we would rather look back at life, saying ‘I can’t believe I did that’ instead of ‘if only I had’.”

catalina island scuba

Visibility

The visibility was great. I feel like I could see 20 – 40 feet. The water was clear and the video doesn’t come close to describing how beautiful the sea is. SCUBA diving allows the diver to see things no one else can describe. No picture actually does this justice.

Kelp

Diving in kelp is a blast. We swim through it, get stuck in it and help your partners out of a tangled kelp situation. I love it.

Cold Water Diving

Because I was wearing a 7mm suit with gloves, booties and a hood, I never felt cold in the slightest. The most uncomfortable part was putting the gear on and the initial plunge. After that, it was great.

At first, I thought the additional neoprene made it hard for me to get my buoyancy right. I later came to the conclusion that my buoyancy problems were due to my inexperience. I hadn’t dived in a long time. I forgot to add air to my BCD so I was heavy the whole time. This was a very rookie mistake and I adjusted for it the second dive.

The first dive we went to 27 meters which is very deep. Even down there, the visibility was great. The second dive we didn’t go so deep. Both dives were beautiful.

Catalina Island Helicopter Company

Catalina Island

That’s it. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

How I’m Running my Crypto Currency Hedge Fund

Initially published May 5th, 2017

Today I developed a cryptocurrency hedge fund strategy. I’m using Coinbase to execute all trades.

Hedge Fund Spreadsheet Viewable to Public Here

Why Bet on the Game

Essentially, this is a tiny portion of my overall investment account. Indeed, I don’t actually call this part of my investment plan. This is just a fun way to stay up to date with crypto-currencies and do a bit of gambling.

Crypto-currencies have the potential to dramatically shake up the global financial system. While studying economics at the University of Nevada, I learned a lot about monetary relations.

I have a perceptions that the financial industry plays an important role in the security and mobility of capital for individuals and companies around the world. Though I believe the institutions are important, I also believe that organizations like these are using their importance to behave sub-optimally.

Hedge Strategy

As I don’t pretend to have any idea of what is going to happen with any specific currency, I’ll just bet evenly across all of those coins available on Coinbase.

I’ll use a risk assessment which is entirely emotional on my part to make decisions on the ratio of cash to coins. I’m sure it would be better to create an algorithm to balance dollar weight average or find some sort of relationship between ‘bitcoin’ tweet frequency and the coin price… but that would take a lot of time and I’m primarily focused on other things.

Assessing Risk to Balance Portfolio

I’ll make fund balancing decisions based on how I feel about the currency market:

  • Low (0% Cash) – When I feel that the currencies are at their historical lowest, I’ll take from the cash and invest in currencies.
  • Medium (12% Cash) – When I feel that the currencies could go either way, I’ll take from the cash and invest in currencies.
  • High (25% Cash) – When I feel that the currencies are at their highest and are likely to fall, I’ll take from the cash and invest in currencies.

When I feel that the currencies are overvalued, I’ll hold more cash. When I feel they are selling for less, I’ll hold less cash. Overall, I’ll hold at least 75% of the account at all times.

Trading Frequency

I plan to trade, at the very most, in 30-day increments. This is a long game. I expect to be holding crypto-currencies late into life so I’m in no rush here.

Here is an example of my most recent balancing spreadsheet:

My Crypto Currency Hedge Fund

In Coinbase I was able to execute two sell orders denominated in USD. Then a buy order for Litecoin. From logging into the platform to deciding on a strategy to executing the orders, this took me about 1 hour.

Some people bet on horses, I like betting on cryptocurrencies.

Dominating Theory

My dominating theory here is that I have no idea what these currencies will do. I don’t know if one has a chance for implosion, or if one has a chance to be the next bitcoin.

If Litecoin or Ethereum grows from $25 per coin to $1000 per coin like Bitcoin did in 2013, I want to hold a few of them.

That is why I’m only betting emotionally. That is why I’ll restrict my buy/sell decision to impacting, at the very most, 25% of the portfolio.

The rest I’ll leave to chance and time.

Updated September 9th, 2017

Well, this thing is looking more like a bubble every day.

I haven’t been keeping track at all since May 2017. It was totally out of sight and out of mind. Today I look at the numbers and my cryptocurrency account total looks like this:

updated crypto currency hedge fund strategy

September 2017 Crypto Currency

So I’ll be selling off BTC and ETH to buy LTC, GNT, TNT, and OMG.

All my BTC, ETH and LTC coins are stored at Coinbase. All my other stuff is on a market called Liqui. To buy GNT, TNT and OMG I’ll need to transfer $380.85 worth of BTC to Luqui. Then I’ll cash out $85.46 from BTC, and $365.65 from ETH. The next move will be to transfer $125.42 worth of ETH to LTC.

Coinbase account after balancing cryptocurrency hedge fund
Coinbase Account – September 9th, 2017

Finally, as you have to buy coins with BTC/ETH on Liqui, I’ll use the transferred BTC to buy TNT and OMG.

Buying TNT and OMG

The price in BTC of TNT is 0.00002980 at the time of writing this.

I’ll buy 0.03587 BTC worth.

Buying TNT - Crypto Currency Hedge Fund

 

The price in BTC of OMG is0.00287464 at the time of writing this.

I’ll buy 0.03587 BTC worth.

buying OMG coin - Crypto Currency Hedge Fund

 

When I first tried, the prices kept going up. Therefore I would put out buy orders and no one would sell as the prices were higher than my orders.

open buy orders on liqui - cryptocurrency hedge fund

So I just bought higher than the market a little in order to secure the coins to the account.

Finally, I need to up my GNT levels by $70.10 worth of BTC (0.01625 at the time of writing this).

Phew. I guess this is why some people call trading a job. I’ve balanced my portfolio. Now time to go outside and forget about this for a few months.

Liqui account balance - Crypto Currency Hedge Fund
Liqui Account Balances – September 9th, 2017

Taking Money Out

The most important thing in bubble surfing is to take money out.

My guess at this point is that I’ll take 10% of the account out each balancing. I’ll put that 10% into index funds or something boring like that.

Today, I can’t pull my ‘USD Wallet’ out. It takes a few days to verify the bank account I want to use to send the money.

Cryptocurrency Codes

Surfing on Bubbles

Please don’t mistake this for a commendation for cryptocurrencies as a way to make money. I believe these prices are ludicrous. I expect this to be a bubble which will certainly pop.

Blockchain technology is no joke. It’s a legit scientific development. It’s a new element that humans have created. I believe a lot of value will come due to the technological leap that is bitcoin. That said, markets grow, bubble and pop because of humans being irrational. High coin prices, I guess, will fall just like the value of Dutch tulips in 1622.

tulip mania - crypto currency hedge fund

January 2018 Order Planning

Since I last wrote this, I made a few moves… but I’m not going to detail that madness now. Let’s focus on the big stuff.

2018 Crypto Currency Hedge Fund 2018 update

The AUM of the fund was $3,107.51 in September 2017.

The AUM of the fund is $9,605.29 in January 2018.

(p0 – p1) / p1 = Growth Rate

(9605.29 – 3107.51) /  3107.51 = 2.09099

So the fund has grown 209% in about four months. Radical!

The core of my strategy is to buy lots of inexpensive coins with the chances that they will become the next BitCoin. The following section is me doing surface research on a few coins and deciding if I will add them to the list:

January 2018 Cryptocurrency Research

AdEx

Maybe the Google AdSense killer. Seems like they have a technology team with actual GitHub profiles. The advertising problem they are addressing could actually benefit from the consensus and mining attributes of the blockchain. Whitepaper seems like it’s legitimate – AdEx-Whitepaper-v.7 (copied from their site Jan 12th, 2018). I like this idea – adding it to the list.

SRN

They want to make an OS, a phone and make it all part of a new blockchain. Dramatically ambitious. The head guy’s website could have been coded in a day and is full of buzz words. They even have Jason Silva saying buzz words on their website. Seems like a respectable marketing effort to me. Pass.

SONM

It appears that these guys are trying to do a very similar thing to Ethereum. The way I understand it is that they want to use blockchain mining to power a distributed computation service platform. Like the silicone valley, pied piper program. Sounds interesting. They raised over $42 million thus far. They seem to have some sort of relationship to Hewlett Packard. I’ll add this to the list.

GUP

Interesting… their app wasn’t working for the first part of the day. Registration without Facebook didn’t work either… That said, they have a very good looking website and their development team looks good. They say they are launching the ‘product’, a matchmaking service of many different types on Jan 18th, 2018. I’ll standby for now and hope to revisit this team later. Reminds me of Earn. Good luck GUP team, but for now, Pass.

AST

This a coin that offers the ability to create marketplaces for tokens? I don’t get it. Seems like a non-blockchain thing.  I don’t get it. Pass.

SNT

This is a mobile application that uses Ethereum to build other application on top of it. To my understanding, why wouldn’t someone just build an Ethereum app? I probably don’t get it… but Pass.

EOS

Essentially the team at EOS is saying that they will build a platform that is like Ethereum but it will operate even faster. SNT wants to do it on mobile. At the end of the day, I’m going to add this one to the fund because I like the way Daniel Larimer talks about latency. Adding this to the list.

January 2018 – Allocating Cryptocurrency Capital

First off, I’ve developed the following plan for coins to purchase/sell and how to do it. Here’s the spreadsheet which will inform my allocation goals:

Selling ETH on CoinBase

11:34 a.m PST – Initiated ETH Sell of .1874 ETH

I should see the USD in the Coinbase wallet next day with Ethereum (so it’s not actually instant as Coinbase suggests). The transfer did reflect on the balances within an hour of placing the order. It appears that CoinBase is executing as a reliable marketplace.

*Does not show up in transactions automatically. I’ll have to check in tomorrow to ensure orders went through.

Selling LTC on CoinBase

11:38 a.m PST – Initiated LTC Sell of 3.27 ETH

I should see the USD in the Coinbase wallet next day with LiteCoin (so it’s not actually instant as Coinbase suggests). The transfer did reflect on the balances within an hour of placing the order. It appears that CoinBase is executing as a reliable marketplace.

*Does not show up in transactions automatically. I’ll have to check in tomorrow to ensure orders went through.

Selling BCH on CoinBase

11:44 a.m PST – Initiated BCH Sell of 0.1722 BCH

When the order initially went through the information said the USD in the Coinbase wallet would appear next day with LiteCoin (so it’s not actually instant as Coinbase suggests). The transfer did reflect on the balances within an hour of placing the order. It appears that CoinBase is executing as a reliable marketplace.

*Does not show up in transactions automatically. I’ll have to check in tomorrow to ensure orders went through.

Sending BTC from CoinBase to Liqui

The following transaction log took place on January 16th 2018 and details a Bitcoin Transaction between my CoinBase wallet and my Liqui wallet.

11:28 a.m PST – Initiated Coin Transfer of .027 BTC

Transferring CoinBase BTC to Liqui BTC

11:40 a.m PST – Liqui still shows a 0 balance for Bitcoin so transaction has NOT executed. It is still ‘pending’ on Coinbase.

11:49 a.m PST – No development – Still waiting. 21 minute transaction time and counting…

11:56 a.m PST – Transfer complete. Now I have BTC in the Liqui account which should empower me to distribute to low list price coins.

Transfer time = 28 minutes | Cost = 0.00103 BTC

 

Liqui Trading

12:01 p.m PST – I started this note while trying to sell 240 GNT coins on Liqui. It’s now 12:27 and the order still hasn’t processed. The platform was glitching out. It appears that GNT doesn’t actually work.

The Next Day – According to my trade history, the GNT sales went through at 20:59 which only makes sense if Liqui timestamps everything with London’s time. If that is the case, the trades were executed within 20 minutes of placing the order.

All the other trades were ordered and executed. Perhaps there is a specific challenge with GNT + Liqui. I’m not sure. Here are some screenshots of the buy/sell orders:

At the end of the day, I could place all the orders I wanted because I simply grew tired of working on placing orders.

Final Thoughts on January 2018’s Balancing

The main goal is to have a small position in a few coins in their infancy. I grow more confident every day that this is a speculative bubble. That is why I’m pulling out a strategic amount each balancing period.

I probably don’t plan to revisit this fund until March 2018 at the very earliest. If you’re in the crypto game, please leave a comment below and let me know what you are thinking.

Our Skoolie is Complete

Today we announce our completed skoolie! It’s done. We hope you enjoy the video.

Final Silicon Touches in the Bathroom

V didn’t think I did a good enough job on the bathroom so she dove back in there to put even more detailed thought into little room of water. She sanded the grout and the ceiling down to a smooth finish, then used the stain to reseal the room. Finally, she went to war with a particularly sticky brand of silicone. It was a battle, but at the end of it, she was able to accurately explain, “the bathroom is done.”

V was happy to use silicone on the final day

Final Skoolie Electrical Upgrades

I upgraded some dangerous wiring I had set up. A few months ago I installed Romex 14/4 on a 20 amp circuit. Thanks to the YouTube community watching our build videos, I was alerted to the fact that my 20 amp circuit breaker is not of suitable restriction to limit the power to NOT burn up the 14/4 Romex, should an overvoltage event occur.

Now the 20 amp tandem breakers have been switched over for 15 amp single breakers. We now have a safe electrical system on the bus.

Final Skoolie Electronic Works

Next, I added a water heater switch to the internal house bus brain. The water heater switch is there for extended departures on the bus. Now we flip a simple switch to conserve gas. Huzzah!

Skoolie Spice Cabinet

We created the spice rack from Christmas tins. V painted the tin and I screwed them into our cabinet walls.

Final Skoolie Touches - Painting the Spice Rack

Easy Peasy.

Final Skoolie Touches - The spice rack cabinet

Look at those Happy Faces

We started this conversion in March of 2017 and it’s now December of 2017 as we declare the project as completed.

The smiles on our faces are testament to the relief we feel knowing this project is complete.

Ian and V are happy to take time away from the skoolie

Though it took us three times longer than we anticipated, we are happy that we can call the school bus conversion project, done.

It will soon be for rent on Airbnb. I will link the listing below once it is live.

Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

V Waves ‘Goodbye for Now’ to the Skoolie

Waving Goodbye to the Completed Skoolie

Brick Mortar Repair – How to Repair Cracked Brick Mortar Joints

Here is a quick video on brick mortar repair. Because I used pre-mixed mortar, the process was very easy and could be done by anyone.

Brick Mortar Repair Supplies

Tips on the Mortar Repair Process

The thing I learned about this is that the SimpleSet mortar requires a large amount of time to set properly. I came back to the project about 12 hours after application and the mortar was not solid when I touched it.

Brick Mortar Repair - The Original Crack in the Wall
The Original Crack in the Wall

So I just waited another day before doing the next layer of thin set.

Brick Mortar Repair - First Layer of Mortar Repair
After wrapping up the first layer of mortar

When working with the sponge, I find that it’s best to have almost no water content in the sponge. Basically, I want to wring out the sponge as much as humanly possible before using the sponge to texturize the area that I filled with mortar.

Brick Mortar Repair - Second Layer of Mortar Repair
Applying the second layer of mortar to the wall.

Overall, I believe this is a great solution to a cracked mortar wall like this.

I hope this helped. If you have any details or suggestions to help others, please let us know in the comment section below.

Brick Mortar Repair - The Repaired Wall
The Repaired Wall

Wrapping the Skoolie Bathroom

In today’s video, I wrap up sealing the skoolie bathroom and I install the towel rack and the toilet paper dispenser thing. It’s a fairly swift video, but I hope it serves you well.

Urethane Application Supplies

Urethane | Brush | Sandpaper | Respirator

Spar Urethane Application Notes

Many tutorials online attempt to make this process seem much more challenging than it really is. I found the process to be very simple.

First I used a large sponge and wrapped the sponge with 220-grit sandpaper. This allowed me to sand the strange angles.

The first application sucked up a LOT of the urethane. The fresh wood inhaled the product so the first layer involved using half of the can’s contents. The second one probably used 1/16 of the can.

Many people talk about avoiding bubbles and doing a very careful job with this. I found that information to be stunting. At the end of the day, watching videos where people used a ton of caution just held me back. The material goes on clear and I didn’t have any bubbles. At first, I worked hard to be very delicate with the material, by the end, I was slapping it on and spreading it out. Both methods of application resulted in similar results.

Testing the Seal

To test the urethane, I splashed water on the wood. If it had soaked into the wood, I would have known that another coat or two would be needed. Luckily, after two coats, the water beaded up and dripped from the ceiling. After I dried the water off, there was no visual sign that the water had penetrated the urethane coat.

School Bus AirBnB – Final Upholstery Project and Driving the Bus to SoCal

When we started this school bus Airbnb back in March, we had no idea what was in store for V and me.

The Bus at Red Rock Canyon

We thought we would be able to wrap up the conversion in about three months. Back in that spring of 2017, we expected to finish the project in time to go on a tour of the country, attending the Burningman art festival in August, spending a few weeks on the road and finally bringing the bus to Huntington Beach where we would rent it out as an AirBnB while we left the country to visit Australia for a wedding and some surf.

If you’ve been following along on this journey via our YouTube channel, you’ll know our plans were laughably optimistic. Burningman came and went while we worked on the bus, then the weeks between the art festival and the Australia trip passed. V actually left me with the bus while she flew out in time to make her sister’s wedding. I was left alone to finish the bus.

So I pushed on for another month or two. Finally, all the systems were in and the bus was ready to go. Again, I had problems with mechanical stuff. The fuel pump needed to be replaced and the bus needed to be registered legally. I wrapped those two projects up in Reno while I watched my parent’s house while they were out of the country.

That’s where this video comes into play.

The first eggs cooked on the bus

What Now

Now the bus will become an AirBnB property in Southern California. That’s the goal.

You see, when I started, I wanted to drive the bus around to national parks and work online from the comfort of a dusty road. Now, I just want to leave the bus behind and start recouping a bit of the investment.

While driving from Reno to LA, I realized the bus has a new oil leak and the power steering leak became progressively worse. It seems that the more time I spend with the bus, the worse the problems get.

Therefore, it makes sense to allow the house to start taking care of its self.

The next few videos will be about getting the bus ready for a vacation rental. Once that is complete, I plan on having a point where we have no plans.

I’ve planned my life out for the last 5 years. It’s time to create an opportunity where I can wake up one morning and think, “Today we are free to do and go wherever it is that we want to.”

Recent Thank You

Mom and Dad -Mom your emotional support has fortified me through some very challenging times. Dad, if you didn’t teach me to build stuff, this project would have been 100% impossible.

Lauren – You’re a best friend sis’. Also, you’re able to sew like a pro, despite being an am. 😀

David Vu – Your excitement to take on business challenges and work with V and I is a life saver.

Scott Siller – Thank you for reaching out via the YouTube comments and supporting me in the Nevada Vehicle Registration process. I was afraid of the process until your calm explanation made it feel like a simple hurdle to jump over.

The Kinsinger Family – Thank you for keeping me at your Thanksgiving dinner. It was an absolute delight.

Quick Check – Ian’s Wikipedia Search Tool

In order to achieve the front end developers certificate from FreeCodeCamp.com, one must build a tool to search Wikipedia. Here is mine:

Ian’s Wikipedia Search Tool – Quick Check

wikipedia search tool
Ian’s Wikipedia search tool

This challenge was very challenging for me in the best of ways. It utilized the algorithm practice that I love with complex new libraries. You could say that I’m learning to love jQuery and AJAX.

When adding HTML and CSS into that JavaScript mess, the project was a real challenge for a junior programmer like me.

Process and Design Notes

I focused on simplicity when designing the front end.

FreeCodeCamp.com stipulated in the challenge that we were to design a button which would initiate the search. I broke that rule. My API calls were triggered by a ‘button up’ event, rather than a button. The idea is that the user gets immediate feedback and thus would find the tool more useful.

If you’re interested in the development process, you can see the different version updates on my GitHub project.

Though I built the button into the project initially as per spec, I removed it towards the end. If a search is triggered by the last button typed, there is no need for a search button at all.