Music: Supply & Demand

Karla and I were discussing the music industry and how it’s been affected by Apple Music, Spotify, and other similar services. The conversation started around an innocent box of CDs that Karla hangs on to for sentimental reasons despite the fact that she was almost every one of those songs available at the touch of a button online. There are formative albums, sentimental albums, gift albums, everyone else had it so I got also albums, et al. But all of these albums have one thing in common, they are owned. The endless supply of digital albums that we “add” to our libraries via digital music services isn’t quite the same.

Most would posit that an endless supply available on demand is a wonderful thing, and for the most part I would agree. Access and availability are great. The internet has fundamentally changed how the world functions. The cost of entry for exploring a new genre is minimal. You are now able to consume an entire album or artist’s music over a weekend, decide if you like it or not, and move from there. Add it to your library (i.e. purchase it) or forget about it (i.e. sell it to used CD purchaser).

The trouble with this is that music starts to become a commodity. The supply of music has gone way up given how easy it now is to produce it. It has leveled the playing field and made it easier to put your music out there whether you’re backed by a big label or not. SoundCloud, anyone? So, what happens to prices and value when supply goes up? Basic economics starts to take its deathly hold on the value of music and effectively decimates it for those that have access to this endless supply.

After reading an NPR article on active listening, I started to engage more actively instead of passively. I’ve been listening to a single artist over the course of a week instead of hours. I started to remember song titles, choruses, and verses again. While I’m not ready to part with the endless supply just yet, I want to be more proactive in giving a more valuable place in my life by treating it the way I did before these services existed. I want to look at the offerings available, “buy it”, then put it on repeat for at least a week to engage it and come to appreciate all the gems that the artist has hidden in it for my enjoyment. As a musician, I would want the same from the audience of my art as well.


We moved. Actually, we bought a house. We weren’t planning on it. We weren’t saving for it. It was basically handed to us on a silver platter. Back in April or May we were discussing our current living arrangements. We were in an amazing apartment with no upstairs neighbors. The upstairs neighbors had moved out in April. They were quite noisy with an even noisier large dog that was afraid of being alone…

Since we’ve rented for quite a long time, that was our first idea. Let’s move out of the apartment and find a rental house to move into. We were getting frustrated with high rental prices, and the thought popped into my head one Saturday morning to see if there were any zero down financing options. Purchasing can be so much cheaper month to month, so we decided to step out in faith, ask the Lord to shut it down if it wasn’t what we were supposed to do, apply for a loan, and just wait to see what would happen. Lo and behold we were pre-approved! Let’s start shopping!

We got plugged in with a realtor that was mediocre. We weren’t crazy about him. The morning after we met him we went out on our own and checked out a place in Aubrey that was for sale by a company called Open Door. They have a pretty slick mobile app that can take your location and give you a door code for a private tour of nearby homes. OpenDoor purchases the homes so they are vacant when you tour. No working around homeowner schedules or dashing around trying to coordinate with a realtor. You can bring a realtor if you like, but it’s not necessary. Perfect.

We walked in and loved every bit of the layout, price, and location. OpenDoor called us later that day to discuss the process. It took maybe ten minutes. We made an offer the next day. It was accepted the day after. Talk about quick! Our house had been on the market for just over a month and we were the first and only offer which is just crazy in the DFW market. We went through inspection, contract, foundation inspection, etc. and at closing we were actually walking away with money. 😲

We paid our earnest money, inspection, and other fees, but we still came out with no money down and zero paid at closing because OpenDoor basically covered all of it. Unheard of.

So we moved. We moved out of our apartment into a home in Aubrey. It has all of the space that we need. It has all of the things that we wanted. It was such a gift from The Lord. It couldn’t have worked out better.

Fluent Forever

One of the reasons why many of us don’t try to learn a new language is because we don’t have the time to commit to months of lessons. We might also think it would be too challenging and complicated.

This infographic aims to dispel that myth and show you how you can learn any language in record time.

If you familiarize yourself with the basics and understand how your brain stores memories. This will unlock the potential to learn a new language at a rate that you might not have thought was possible.

It is definitely worth seeing what you can achieve in a matter of only a few weeks.

I’ve fallen out of practice a bit with my study of Chinese and Spanish, but I picked up skills so much faster than with any other program. Definitely check it out over on Fluent Forever.

The Jesus Story Book Bible

Even if you don’t have children, you should read or listen to the Jesus Story Book Bible every once in awhile. Our son is not even two years old, and we’re already trying to plant some of those seeds of the Gospel in his heart. The way that this version of the Bible depicts the stories we’ve all heard is so poignant. The words cut to the heart in an instant and draw to remembrance the sacrifice that Jesus made because of the heart of his father. Especially during this time of year, I want to remember why Jesus came with the simple and thoughtful story of Christmas.

Buy on iTunes
Buy on Audible


I’ve been a “free athlete” for about three months now, and I’m very happy with the results. As some of you may know, I used to be a pretty avid cyclist. When I was riding regularly, I would clock about 200 miles per week either on my own or with groups. I was in the best shape of my life. I got married and priorities shifted. While I miss riding, I don’t miss the number of hours that 200 miles required to ride. It was great for clearing my mind and creating a space for moving meditation, but I’d created a part-time job for myself.

I forgot how I discovered Freeletics, but I’ve really enjoyed getting back into some form of shape with far less of a time requirement. I started out with the BodyWeight app, then added the Running app later into my training. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I feel stronger and more fit than I even did with cycling. Freeletics is a subscription service, so you’re paying for ongoing updates to the service and the AI that the Coach is built on. You can do the workouts for free without the Coach, but you probably won’t get as much out of it as you could with the Coach. It’s also way cheaper than a gym membership and a personal trainer at less than $7/month.

There’s a phrase in the community that “Coach knows best”, and I can confirm that this is accurate. I’ve always felt challenged by the workouts prescribed and more often than not intimidated. I’ll be honest: it’s hard. If you’ve never trained in this way before, you’re going to hate the first few weeks. You will experience pain, discouragement, and sometimes fear of the workout to come. Everyone says it, and I’ll join in: keep going. There’s a sort of mental wall that you must get over in order to prove to yourself that you’re capable. You’ll know when you’ve crossed it. I was in week four or five before I started to really enjoy the workouts. 50 burpees is no longer intimidating once you’ve done Helios. Every workout since leaping the mental wall has been awesome and well worth some of the initial hurdles.

Check it out here if you want 10% off:

Or here if you don’t want 10% off:

App Store Reviews

Maybe it’s just because I’m a software developer, but it just about makes me cry when I see great apps with terrible reviews simply because the owners that own the app are trying to make a living. If you don’t like how much someone is charging for something at a restaurant, the proper response is to get something cheap and get out or don’t eat there. Those are your options. You don’t give it a one star review in Yelp for its pricing alone, do you?

If you download a freemium app, do yourself a favor and “read the menu”. It’s that little section down at the bottom of the app page that tells you what In-App purchases there are. If you don’t like those prices, find a different app.

App Store reviews should be for telling the developers and the rest of the world that the app works really or doesn’t. An app that performs really well that costs a lot shouldn’t be penalized for the owner’s decision to charge whatever they feel is fair. Find another medium to express your dissatisfaction with the pricing model. If the owner wants to put himself out of business by charging too much, that’s his prerogative. He or she will adjust based on simple supply and demand. Remember economics 101?

Why I Love WealthFront

In the past I’ve been a TastyTrader. While I whole-heartedly agree with and would continue to trade this way given different circumstances, my account is simply not large enough to get ahead of the ridiculously cheap fees. When most online brokers charge at least $5 per trade, TD Ameritrade has graciously provide fees at $1.50 per contract. For a typical vertical spread this means a total of $6. $3 to open the position, and $3 to exit the position. Not too bad as it’s about half if not more than what everyone else is charging. The trouble is that with a “tasty bite” sized account, you just can’t get ahead. If a position go against you, then you lose money. If a position goes for you, you’re basically making peanuts on the dollar as each $15 win actually amounts to about $8.5. Additionally with a tasty bite account, you’re limited in capital. So not only do you make very little, that very little can only be made every so often because you’re limited to how many positions you can open. You can’t open 30 positions that tie up $400 of your capital unless you have enough capital to cover yourself. Even if you can open enough positions, you don’t get $8.5 all up front. You might have to wait many days or weeks if it’s a winning trade.

That said, with a bigger account1, it’s an unbelievably methodical and profitable way to trade options. If you can remove the emotion from it and not treat it like gambling (which can be very easy to do when you get into the statistics of all it), then it’s a winning strategy to stay small and make calculated decisions that will grow your money.

Which brings me to why I love WealthFront. Use that link and you’ll get an additional $5k managed for free. With a smaller account, in my mind, this is the only way to win. Automatically rebalanced, tax-loss harvested, and low fees chargef for ETFs all speak volumes about how WealthFront is committed to the individual investor as well. Rule #1 in investing is “Don’t Lose Money”. Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet, and their contemporaries all follow this main principal. If you lose money, then the effort your money has to exert to gain it back is far greater than simply getting a decent return. Let’s say you have $100 to invest. A 5% return on your $100 equals $105, right? Now let’s say you lose $10 out of your $100, and now you have $90. What’s the rate of return you’d have to get back to that same $105? 16.67% ! Which sucks. That’s more than triple the rate of return if you hadn’t lost any money.

So, what is an investor to do? Let some great software do all the thinking for you. I’m not saying you’ll never lose money at WealthFront or similar companies, and I’m just some guy on the internet making a case for what I use. I’m not an expert, but for my peace of mind, at this particular juncture in my life, taking a very mentally taxing set of ongoing financial decisions out of my brain is totally worth it.

Referral link if you want to give both of us an extra $5k managed for free:

Non-referral link if you don’t care:

  1. Currently, there is a Federal restriction that only allows certain types of margin and leverage for accounts that have a balance greater than $25k. 

A New Project

Based on my last post, I was building out a sub-domain for some more professional posts that are full of computer nerdery. I’ve always been one to tinker, deconstruct, reconstruct, and sometimes blow up things in order to figure out how they work. My very patient wife has taught me that people are not the same as computers and other complex physical objects…

That being said, anything technical is now posting elsewhere. I have a handful of items posted already, but consider it a working portfolio of sorts. There were some programming languages and frameworks that I wanted to use and learn more about, so this is demonstration of that skill set. The top level domain here will be mostly for family related stuff going forward.

The Focus Course Launch Week Case Study →

Shawn Blanc on The Focus Course Launch Week Case Study:

But, to say it was an accident would discount all the work I put into marketing and list building, the years I’ve spent writing for my websites and building an audience, and the hours and hours I put into researching and crafting the contents of the course.

Just because it was a new experience doesn’t mean it was an accident. And neither does it mean it’s not repeatable.

I read Shawn’s detailed part one description of the launch of The Focus Course this past week. I’ve been wanting to create a business like this for quite some time. Learning about some of the details of he did was very interesting. He was so thoughtful and methodical. All of the things that I’ve learned from Tim Ferriss and others regarding educational courses was played out here in an amazing way. As I’m sure Shawn and Tim will agree, the money is not the point. It’s never the point. It’s about the freedom of lifestyle that is afforded.