Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life: What is the cost per day to owning a car (Take 4 of infinite)

Purpose: There was a period of time that I lived in the city and did not own a car. I have always wondered what are the cost benefits of not owning a car. Besides the cost of the car, I also wanted to include gas and insurance.

Assumptions: Cost of the car is the total cost. This includes tax, fees, paperwork, registration, and basically anything to the one-time payment to purchasing a car. If you do not know how much those are, the cost of the car alone will probably be around $20-21k depending on where you live. The metrics that I have provided are from a 2012 Honda Civic which is about 10 months old. I did not include any other maintenance costs at this time but given a 10 year period, this cost should be negligible. I used 10 years because I figure almost all car models should be last at least 10 years. Calculating months, I assume month is approximately 30.42 days or (365 days / 12 months).

Estimate corrections: The car is newer so will be slightly more gas efficient than older cars. Gas efficiency is mix between regular mode and gas efficient mode. 80% of trips are within 15-30 miles; 20% 120 miles; about 2-4 trips over 500 miles.

Conclusion: The metro is approximately $2.50 / trip or $112 / month (45 trips to break even) or about $1350 / year, so commuting would save approximately $4000 / year. Living expense is much cheaper outside the city. On rent alone, I save approximately $800 / month or $9600 / year. Also, I expect my car to last more the 10 years (hopefully, 20 before any major problems occur) so effectively the final cost will be $6.58 less per day after 10 years. If you expect about $1000 in maintenance, then add approximately $2.80 per day.

Car: $24,000
Expected life: 10 years (~365 * 10)
Car per day: $6.575

Insurance (comprehensive): $1600 / year
Insurance per day: $4.38

Miles per day: 35 miles / day
Gas efficiency: 35 miles / gallon
Gas usage: 1 gallon / day
Cost of gas: $3.50 / gallon
Cost of gas per day: $3.50 / day

Total cost / day: $14.45 / day
Total cost / month: $439.52 / month
Total cost / year: $5,274.25 / year

Costs do not include repairs, oil changes, and other maintenance costs.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quote: I'm not actually funny. I'm just mean and people think I'm joking.

I'm not actually funny. I'm just mean and people think I'm joking. ~ source

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life: Not So Friendly Friendship (Take 3 of infinite)

Among the types of friends that I have, there is one that is particularly fascinating yet painful which is a friend that is blunt in their opinion of you. When speaking with this particular friend, I become highly defensive by deflecting fault with a joke or a return jab at their own flaws. My ego becomes hurt and I start a journey in self discovery.

In one instance, we ended up discussing about recommendations on LinkedIn. I do not go out of my way to request recommendations, so I figured that was the reason that I do not have any. Although, I do have one but that one person made it seem too over-exaggerated for a random person that did not know the person so unfortunately I have hidden that one. Bluntly, my friend said it was because I did not impact anyone on such a level that they will go out of their way to write one.

Ouch. Instinctively, I became defensive and mentioned all the standard reasons to why recommendations are inflated on the site. But, the damage is done because there is some truth behind it. I work extra hours, work hard, and go out of my way to help people. So even though it may be against standard trend, probability says that I should have affected someone by now.

There was another discussion where I mentioned that I could be good at something if I wasn't always so distracted by family, work, myself, etc. And my friend just simply said that I just was not dedicated to it. Although fundamentally true and that I would still assist the family before my interests, his words still stung.

After a few days, I feel that I have become more driven and focused on the things that are important to me. Whether his words were correct or not, they gave me a clearer perspective on the choices that I made. And with the stronger resolve, it has made decision-making much easier in life.

So I am glad that I have a couple friends that take me out of my comfort zone. Although I do not wish to have anymore brutal truths, I have found that I seem to grow faster under such situations.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Life: Learning from the negative (Take 2 of infinite)

"Be thankful for the difficult people in your life, for they have shown you exactly who you do not want to be."

I was taught that you could always learn something from anyone. I was constantly reminded in my youth that no matter who I was around, I should learn the good things from good people while learning to avoid bad things from bad people. Of course a little generalized, but the point made it through to me. So stumbling across this quote one day just reminded me the many advises my mother gave me that I did not really take to heart in my more immature days.

I cannot say that I was fortunate or unfortunate. Compared to the friends I have made, I say that that I may have been more unfortunate; but compared to most of the world, I am quite fortunate. Of course, I have jumped between these two things quite often without a satisfactory answer. One day after conversing with a friend about his inability to identify his passion in life, I thought on some of the things I said that helped me enjoy life. I found that there really is no need to identify if my past was fortunate or not. I learned from my past and the only waste is if I didn't take anything positive or negative out of the experience.

There is no reason for me to compare my past life with others. We have all walked different paths. Paths that no other person can fully understand. I look at my friends, each with their own goals or lack of goals. Friends with a harsher life who enjoy life; friends with an easier life who are lost; friends with harsher life living in self pity; friends with a good life still continuing the good life. The only commonality is that the ones doing "well" are those who have embraced their past. Albeit, the last part may be more difficult for some than others. But you cannot change the past, so you cannot just be stuck in self pity.

I digress from a couple points I wanted to make. To the parents, no matter how much I complained about my mother repeating herself and mocking her by repeating the same thing but with a different attitude, I was still listening. Do not give up on keeping your stance. You do not need to answer why or how. The constant nagging, reminder, and repetition are what drove me to understand the full weight of such values when something in myself just clicks with realization that truth behind such values. Someday, I imagine I will also be repeating these same things to an immature version of myself and wonder how my mother ever had the energy to put up with me.

The other point that I constantly wonder about is if I can learn the empathy and kindness that I have without such experiences with "difficult" people. Compared to most people that I am around, I have probably more than average share. I also notice that people in similar situations also tend to have higher empathy. Can someone have the same level of empathy without such "difficult" people? Do these "difficult" people come from the lack of others like themselves? Can I teach them empathy without the use of another difficult person?

Interview: My Take on Answering Oddball and Riddle Questions in the Interview Process

My Take on Answering Oddball and Riddle Questions in the Interview Process

Recently there has been a rise in the use of out-of-the-box thinking questions which I used to only find at larger corporate interviews a decade ago. Now there is even an article on the top questions.

The trick to answer these types of questions is very similar to the other questions in the interview that are not technical in nature. Although it may sound technical (a question that has a right answer), your answer should be based on what the interviewer is looking for.

I do not mean give the answer that will get you hired, but to understand the real question beneath the interview question. Is the interviewer looking for someone that is more forward-thinking, detail-oriented, or imaginative? How you answer the question should sell your views in what type of person they are seeking.

For interviewers, I find they use these questions because they are simple but have an infinite number of answers. Interviewers who are using the question to understand how you think will ask questions to either in attempts to focus your answer or challenge your thought process. Others who use the question as a warm-up question, as an ice-break, or to lighten the mood will be less attentive or allow you to answer in full. Once I recognize the latter, I will try to wrap up my answer as it would save us both time but more importantly the interviewer wants to move on with the interview process.

Before I start to answer, I like to ask questions but limit the number of questions. This means avoid asking for details if the interviewer knew that detail could answer the question themselves, do not be redundant with your questions, and stop asking a specific question if the interviewer has declined to respond. Stay positive and ask only questions that will greatly enhance your answer. Think out loud.

The only exception to this is if the interviewer is extremely detail oriented. They are usually very easy to identify because they are very meticulous in the order of questions, organized binders/folders/pens/resume, and very formal. In this case, you have the option to try to be also detail oriented.

If you are truly stumped by the question, all questions and problems can be broken into smaller manageable parts. For example, "how many windows in NYC" can be broken down to number of windows in a block then broken down to number of windows per building. Then build back up, take the number of windows per building multiply by number of buildings per block.

For extra bonus, prepare some short riddles of your own to ask. More likely than not, the interviewer also enjoys these types of questions. Be sure to be able to answer them though. I have withheld the answers for a day or two to let them think on them. That way they are forced to remember who I was so they can ask for the answer.

Unlike my reasons whether these types of questions should be asked, these types of questions are great opportunities to outperform the interview process for those who know how to answer but are weaker on the technical questions.