Someone stole $100 of ammo from me

My ammunition of choice for self-defense is the Federal Premium Law Enforcement Tactical HST 9mm Luger. Because it’s designed for law en­force­ment, you won’t just find it for sale at your local gun store, so I have to order it online. (If you want to get your hands on some as well, the Personal De­fense HST is effectively the same ammunition, but much more readily available to the public.)

Of course, ordering online means shipping, and my supplier sent me the ammunition via FedEx. The package arrived fine at my condo’s receiving area, but then it went on a mysterious adventure…

Federal Premium Tactical HST 9mm Luger ammunition

 
My condo’s homeowners’ association has been hiring quite a few new people lately. That, coupled with the fact that there is literally a global pandemic right now, and people are trying to streamline things to minimize social contact. The security for package distribution has gone down significantly—not only do the new people not recognize all the residents, but ID checks and signatures are also being waived so people won’t have to interact for as long.

I have no clue what the motive was, but a resident who lives in the other wing of my floor apparently decided that the day after my ammunition arrived would be a great day to take someone else’s package.

Why had I not already picked up my package by the day after it arrived, you may ask? My ammunition arrived on a Friday, but I had an Amazon package scheduled to arrive on the following Monday, so I figured I would just go down to concierge on Monday and pick up both in one shot—for the sake of minimizing person-to-person exposure, obviously. I very rarely do this, but I guess this was a very unlucky time for me to choose to do this.

On Monday, I went down to concierge and let a new guy know that I had two packages. He said that he could only find one—my Amazon package that had arrived that day—and told me to come back when the manager was available again so he could look into the other one. I checked in an hour later upon the manager’s arrival, and he stated that my FedEx package from Friday—the one containing 100 bullets—had already been picked up.

Thus ensued an investigation where the homeowners’ association, concierge, and property management company looked through security footage to find out what exactly had happened to my ammunition. Luckily, I live in a luxury high-rise condominium so the security in the building is extremely tight, and the concierge has strict inventory processes and procedures. So, they were actually able to pinpoint on exactly what day and what time my pack­age was taken; they also easily identified the resident who walked away with my package.

At first, the resident seemed cooperative. By the time we had discovered the package had been given to the wrong person, that resident had already gone out of town. However, he permitted concierge to enter his unit and take the package from his kitchen counter. So concierge went into his unit to retrieve the package… and it wasn’t there.

That’s fine, though—maybe that resident just thought it was on his kitchen counter but had actually already moved it, or maybe concierge just couldn’t find it. We waited until the resident came back from his trip. … This is where things start getting strange.

 
“I don’t have the package, and I never picked it up. What do you want from me, old woman?”

Apparently that was the resident’s response when the manager of the concierge team followed up with him about the package he took that wasn’t his. He had altered his strategy since when we first discovered he was the one who took my package. His cooperation turned into feigned ignorance, and he be­gan acting like he had absolutely nothing to do with the missing package.

I guess we’ll never know why he decided to change his approach, but by doing so, he turned a situation that could be glossed over as a mistake… to a situation that could land him in prison for up to 10 years. As per 18 U.S. Code, Section 922(j):

It shall be unlawful for any person to receive, possess, conceal, store, barter, sell, or dispose of any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, or pledge or accept as security for a loan any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, which is moving as, which is a part of, which constitutes, or which has been shipped or transported in, interstate or foreign commerce, either before or after it was stolen, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the firearm or ammunition was stolen.

Surely, the other resident knew the ammunition was stolen—by himself—because the recipient and unit number on the package clearly was not him. My supplier is based out of the Southeast, so there was definitely interstate transportation. He had just committed a federal offense.

The concierge manager asked me to call the police.

 
An officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department came for a visit to take a report. I gave him a quick summary of what had happened, then referred him to the concierge staff, who had a folder of evidence ready for him.

From here, I’m not entirely sure what happened, because I wasn’t directly involved in the officer’s conversation with concierge. I suspect it was a com­bi­na­tion of unclear evidence, overexplaining, and uncertain recounts of what had happened, but ultimately, the officer concluded that there was in­suf­fi­cient probable cause to make an arrest, and there definitely was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for there to be a conviction.

The main hold-up seems to be that there is no clear proof that the package the other resident walked away with was my package. Sure, the dimensions were the same, and my package was the one that was logged in the system as “picked up” at the same exact moment that he received that package, but all of that is deductive evidence. The security camera wasn’t clear enough that the package in his hands clearly showed my name and my unit number on it.

Regardless, a police report was filed, and a detective would be assigned to the case to investigate further.

 
The concierge company contracted by my homeowners’ association ultimately took responsibility for the error and agreed to reimburse me for the cost of the ammunition. Now that I was made “whole” and it was concierge that took the financial loss from the larceny, they were the new victims in the case, and it would be up to them to pursue further charges against that resident if they wanted.

I’m obviously definitely going to help them out if they need my assistance, in the scenario where they do choose to pursue charges—which I’m unsure as to whether or not they will do. However, the one thing that I am sure about is that I’m no longer going to let packages sit at concierge anymore.

Federal Premium Syntech Training Match 9mm Luger ammunition

Twitch bulletsSince then, I repurchased a replacement set of Law Enforcement Tactical HST ammo, as well as 20 boxes of training rounds. Luckily, both packages are in my possession without incident, the larger shipment of which just arrived today.

If you do end up going with the Personal Defense HST ammunition that I linked above, I recommend going for the purple-tipped ammo pictured above for training—the Fed­er­al Premium Syntech Training Match 9mm Luger.

It’s always a great idea to train with the ammunition you would use in a self-defense sit­u­a­tion, but that can get pricey with hollow-point rounds. The Syntech Training Match se­ries is designed to emulate exactly what it feels like to fire personal defense rounds—down to the velocity, trajectory, and point of impact—but at only a third or so of the cost.

I’m not going to say that this necessarily applies to everyone, but I firmly believe in the idea that people don’t actually rise to the occasion, but rather, fall to the level of their training. Sure, you can get round-nose bullets for cheaper than synthetics, but I think it’s worth the extra bit of cash to provide yourself with the best possible training, especially if it’s in preparation for a life-or-death situation.

(If you don’t understand the screenshot to the right, that is taken from a conversation with one of my co-workers. She lives in Europe and isn’t particularly a gun enthusiast, so she presumably has never seen synthetic ammunition with colored tips, and called them “Twitch bullets.”)

 

—§—

 

Five songs

These aren’t my favorite, but they’re the ones that evoke the strongest memories.

Hearing any one of these brings my consciousness back to an exact moment in time with surreal vibrancy.

This is the story of the past four years of my life, told in songs.

 

Finding Something To Do by Hellogoodbye

I knew it was the right decision.

With a Starbucks drink in hand—a fruity concoction with undertones of strawberry—I hit the unlock button on the key fob twice and watched as the red Ford Focus hatchback lit up the dark to acknowledge my approach. The car was Andrey’s, the CEO of Tempo, and I was using it as my daily driver while setting up a new team house for our upcoming League of Legends team.

My friend and I got in the vehicle, sat down, and closed our respective doors in unison. The tips of the fingers on my left hand absorbing the coldness of my drink, I transferred my overpriced sugar water to my other hand, then to the cup holder. I leaned over and carefully navigated the air with my lips, repossessing my friend’s straw and taking a sip out of her salted caramel frappuccino before she could react. On my retreat, I noticed that she smelled pleasant.

As long as there’s something to see, I’ll see it with you.

My right thumb and index finger began an ascent towards my chin as I thought back to one of my psychology classes where I learned that finding some­one’s natural scent to be pleasant meant that your immune systems were complementary and you’d make healthy children. The thought quickly dis­si­pated and my right hand took a detour, rerouting itself to the car’s ignition instead.

I reversed out of the parking spot and drove towards Grand Oaks, departing the Crossings at Corona and heading back to the team house. My friend and I sat in blissful silence for the mile-and-a-half trip until she reminded me, “the next turn is ours!” I narrowly avoided missing the left onto Prairie Dunes Drive for a third day in a row.

With five Target bags of groceries in hand, I approached the house, juggling the key ring in hopes of unlocking the front door before the tips of my fin­gers turn plum from the weight of tomorrow’s breakfast. As I push open the door, the thought returns to my mind. I knew it was the right decision.

And I swear I’ll always follow you.

The “decision,” of course, was the decision to put my regular life on hold and move from the Chicagoland suburbs to Southern California in 2016 to pursue my hobby as a full-time career. I’m always meticulously careful with my decisions, and I had already been so with this decision as well—but this song captures the moment where the 99.9% certainty became 100.

Another thing to point out here is the recurring theme that the song itself doesn’t necessarily reflect the event—I bet a lot of you thought this had something to do with the friend beside me—but rather, it just happens to be the soundtrack that my mind associates with the par­ticular event.

 

Ride by Twenty One Pilots

The feelings of frustration had faded.

But so had the feelings of freedom.

I squeezed my toes together and curled them inward to feel the individual loops of carpeting rub between them. I was seated at my desk, but now I was looking through my two monitors instead of at them, lost in thought.

A bullet for them, a bullet for you, a bullet for everybody in this room.

Coming back to my senses, I looked to my right at the three-headed tree lamp in the corner, projecting the familiar blistering hemispherical glow on the ceiling, but leaving everything behind it engulfed in shadows. I would normally have the kitchen light on at this point as well, but I had decided a few hours prior that it could take the day off. The uneven lighting cast an eerie mood on a once exclusively joyful room.

Ding-dong.

I stood up, walked five quick steps to the front door, and leaned slightly towards the peephole to confirm my suspicion that my delivery driver had man­aged to sneak in behind another car past the front gate of the community. I was never one to order delivery, but no more roommate meant no more car.

With a brief frisk of the bag, I confirmed my order from Double or Nothing Pizza was correct. Dinner now in hand, I thanked the Hispanic man in front of me and waited for his body to rotate a quarter of a turn clockwise in the dim lighting before beginning to shut the door, as to make him feel like I wasn’t in a rush to part ways. It’s the details that count.

I’d live for you, and that’s hard to do—even harder to say when you know it’s not true.

I can’t give further details on this memory because it involves an incident where the public perception of what happened is vastly different (and milder) than what actually transpired—and I want to keep it that way.

What I can say, though, is that this happened in late 2017, and it was another “realization” moment—a moment where I fully accepted a decision I made in the past and committed to not letting it negatively affect my future.

 

Lost in Japan (Remix) by Shawn Mendes & Zedd

I floored the accelerator… and nothing.

Creeping forward at a snail’s pace eastbound from the intersection of Tropicana and Grand Canyon, I watched the column of drivers in the lane beside me overtake my Chevrolet Malibu. I was being left in the dust—both figuratively and literally, because the relentless construction in my area wasn’t doing much to help the air quality.

And then, blast off.

The navy blue mid-size sedan suddenly revved to 4800 RPM and launched me forward past the empty dirt lots to my right. Jerking my foot off the gas and hovering the brakes, I navigated my way half a mile down and took two lefts, the first onto Fort Apache Road and the latter into the entryway of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

I’m a couple hundred miles from Japan and I—I was thinking I could fly to your hotel tonight.

I stepped out of the Malibu and took a deep breath of crisp, clean, warm desert air. I traded the keys to the malfunctioning car for a Chevrolet Impala. The rental agent explained how I was getting an upgrade, but I barely noticed a difference between the two vehicles. I pulled my seat back, adjusted the rear-view mirror, and drove back to my apartment.

This one is strange, because this is the first memory where the song that triggers the memory wasn’t actually playing during the memory. This particular incident happened in mid-2018, while the song wasn’t released until late 2018.

When I first moved to Las Vegas, I relied entirely on walking, Uber, and rental cars to get around. But, after I moved from my apartment to Tempo‘s new team house in Rhodes Ranch, I purchased a new GMC Canyon pickup truck as my daily driver because nothing was in comfortable walking distance anymore.

For the first three months, I had a free SiriusXM trial, and I heard Zedd’s remixed version of Shawn Mendes’ Lost in Japan on the radio on a near-daily basis. This song ended up becoming associated with the happiness I felt after moving to Las Vegas in general, but more specifically, the sensation I felt when breath­ing in hot, dry air. Having grown up in the Chicagoland suburbs, the hot summer air had historically always been linked with excruciatingly crushing humidity.

They say you never know what you’re missing out on until you experience it for the first time, and for me, hilariously, breathing hot dry air is one of them.

 

Floral & Fading by Pierce the Veil

Why I expected anything different, I’m not sure.

Of course there would be half a mile of traffic. Why wouldn’t there be? It’s here every day.

With the extra vertical boost granted to me by my leveled pickup truck, I looked westward down Warm Springs Road at the rooftops of a seemingly end­less queue of vehicles waiting to get past the intersection of Buffalo Drive. I took a second to look to my passenger seat to make sure my bag of Chipotle hadn’t disappeared. I turned back and faced my windshield to find that, to my misfortune, the traffic also had not disappeared.

I want devil horns; I wanna breathe in your rush; I wanna leap when you want me to fly.

A quarter mile in, the other pickup trucks started off-roading on the unpaved dirt shoulder to get around the traffic. I would’ve done the same, except I needed to go straight at the intersection instead of turning right, so that wouldn’t have helped. I rolled up my windows to stop the billowing clouds of dirt and dust from getting into my cabin, wondering when they would finally add a second lane to this segment of Warm Springs Road.

Close your eyes; picture you and I selling daylight for gasoline.

This one, again, is a little strange and different, because this song doesn’t quite precisely trigger a memory, but rather, a general phase in my life. This phase happened during late 2018 and very early 2019 when I moved out of my first Las Vegas apartment and into Tempo’s team house in Rhodes Ranch, when I had a “lull” period in my life for the first time in a while.

I always like to keep my life active, engaged, and advancing, and I had managed to maintain that throughout a majority of my adult life. Things obviously picked up a lot after I moved to the Pacific Coast, and this perception of “lull-ness” in late 2018 and early 2019 may have just been a problem in a com­par­ative sense—I had just gotten so used to “go go go” that even a little peace started feeling strange.

But even with that in mind, it still felt like things were going a bit too slowly for my comfort. Ever since joining Tempo, I had been in a perpetual state of learning, constantly changing my role within the company and expanding my breadth of knowledge within the esports and gaming industry. However, since mid-2018, I felt like my career had become stagnant, and I felt like I was just doing the same tasks repeatedly without a bigger goal.

While living in Rhodes Ranch, I would drive out to go grocery shopping or pick up a meal from a restaurant at least once a day. This was my way of forcing myself to get out of the house; otherwise, I would just stay in my room all day. (This is still something I do to this day—I drive out and pick up food once a day, acting as my own delivery driver, so I can get some fresh air and sunlight on a regular basis.)

Two restaurants that I visited frequently were Chipotle and Raising Cane’s, both of which were in/by the Arroyo Market Square along the Rainbow Boul­evard exit of I-215. In order to get back to Rhodes Ranch, I would drive southbound on either Rainbow Boulevard or Tenaya Way, then turn right onto Warm Springs Road to head towards the intersection at Durango Drive.

Southwest Las Vegas is still under heavy development, so there are a lot of empty lots, and a lot of these empty lots still have single-lane roads sur­round­ing them. One of these areas was on Warm Springs Road between Tenaya Way and Buffalo Drive, where I probably cumulatively spent count­less hours upon hours waiting for traffic to get through the one lane. This waiting time gave me numerous opportunities to reflect on the state of my life, which is why I associate this song, as well as those moments, with realizing that I cannot get complacent with my life.

Luckily, shortly after early 2019, I got back on track with self-development, and I’m continuing to advance myself to this day.

As a side note, for those who are familiar with the Rhodes Ranch area, I did not want to take Robindale Road because then I would just get in traffic later on, when I arrived at Rhodes Ranch Parkway and would have to cut across three lanes of oncoming traffic from Durango Drive to get to the gate to the community.

 

100 Bad Days by AJR

Will I fit?

I always overestimated how big I was when I drove large vehicles. But that’s a good thing—I’d rather assume I won’t fit and take it safe, instead of leaving a wake of destruction in my path. There was no need for me to drive into the covered entryway of the hotel anyway.

“You should probably just get out here.” I haphazardly stopped in the roadway—”close enough” to the door of the AmericInn by Wyndham in Lincoln, Nebraska—and put the Ram 1500 Rebel in park. There was nobody else around anyway.

“Thanks for the ride. Good night!” she said as she took a hard step down from the running-board-less rental pickup truck.

“Ok,” I mindlessly replied.

As she walked towards the hotel entrance, I slowly drove off, turning onto 84th Street and heading northbound towards my co-worker’s house where I was spending the night. The V8 under the hood roared every time I accelerated, the sound amplified by the fact that I had the windows rolled down. I teased the pedal harder and harder each time, wondering how high I can rev without causing a disturbance in the calm night. The thick, humid air bat­tered my face with parallel force.

A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties.

Is this the end?

I don’t want it to be the end.

But if it is, it was a good run.

Right as I let down my guard… lucky me.

Similar to “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots above, I can’t give further details on this memory, this time because it involves an incident where there is no pub­lic perception. Most people who were involved with it have a good idea of what was going on at this point, but apart from a small group, this entire sit­u­a­tion was kept incredibly confidential.

What I can share about this memory is that it happened in the middle of 2019, where this ongoing incident was consuming a majority of my thoughts. When I was with other people—like the person I dropped off at the hotel—I was distracted enough by their presence that I had a “normal” life. How­ever, whenever I was alone, I had trouble thinking about anything else because I am a very future-oriented person, and this definitely would affect my future.

Well, we’re all still here and alive. The problem was ultimately fully resolved two months later, and it was one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life.

It wasn’t the end.

 

—§—

 

Re: “What would be your version of GQ Sports’ ‘My First Million’?”

GQ Sports has been doing a YouTube series called “My First Million” where they invite professional athletes to share how they spent their first million dollars that they earned in their respective sports leagues—the most recent episode was released earlier today and featured Will Hernandez from the New York Giants.

Now obviously, even with financial advisors, sports stars aren’t exactly known for being wise spenders. On the other hand, it’s almost become a meme at this point as to how neurotically I personally manage my own money. As a result, I’ve had a few people reach out to me and ask me to do my own ver­sion of “My First Million” as if I was also a superstar who had just made my first million dollars.

Those who truly know me know that my answer is actually astonishingly simple—I would save and invest all of it. But that would make for a very boring “My First Million” breakdown, so I’m adding in a few stipulations:

  • I have to use all the money. Saving is acceptable if it is savings with a specific purpose, but I cannot just throw it in a general savings account or investment portfolio and leave it alone.
  • I have to spend all of it on myself. This rule is actually mostly to protect myself from people who may see this hypothetical blog post and ask why I would spend money on this person but not on them.

With that being said, I can come to a few initial conclusions:

  • There is no indication as to whether this is my first and only million, or my first million of many, so I will take the safer route and assume this is the only money I’m getting. This is generally a better approach for superstars to take anyway, because you never know when their careers may end.
  • Because this is a high-profile sports contract, I believe I can safely assume that this income can be classified as employee salary, not independent contractor miscellaneous earnings. Thus, I am only responsible for my own half of FICA tax (i.e., no self-employment tax), and I am unable to take any operating expense deductions from my income tax.
  • I already own a lot of stuff that I want, so a majority of these purchases will upgrades of what I already have, or luxuries that I don’t actually need but would be nice to have.

So, here is how I would spend my US$1,000,000.00:

Federal income and FICA taxes

With an income of a million dollars, I should expect to spend about $330,000 in federal income tax, as well as an additional $30,000 or so in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax (which covers Social Security and Medicare). I have no state income tax because I am a resident of Nevada.

$ 360,000.00

IRA & i401(k)

In the spirit of “pay yourself first,” and for the sake of my future, the next thing I would spend on is my retirement. I have an individual retirement account (IRA) and an individual 401(k) account; IRAs accept a maximum yearly contribution of $6,000, while i401(k)s accept up to $56,000.

As a side note, I know I stated above that this would not be self-employment income, but I already file my taxes as a sole pro­prietor from running my own business and my i401(k) already exists, and there’s nothing I’m aware of at the moment that would stop me from using employee income to contribute to an i401(k), as that kind of restriction wouldn’t seem log­i­cally sound.

$  62,000.00

2-bedroom unit in a high-rise condominium on the Las Vegas Strip

I actually had to think a bit on this one. I know for a fact that I’d like to stay in Las Vegas forever if I’m able to, so I can definitely commit to purchasing a property, but I wasn’t sure what type of property I wanted. I really enjoy the lifestyle of living in a high-rise condo, but I also appreciate the privacy and comfort that a single-family house can bring.

I ultimately decided to go with living in a high-rise. There are some very high-value units available in high-security, all-residential buildings like the Allure, Panorama Towers, and the Martin, and with housing prices already visibly falling in Las Vegas as a consequence of COVID-19, I think I can get a great property for a low price.

Now of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t have any more housing expenses and I can quit my day job. High-rise con­do­min­i­ums on the Strip have sizable homeowners’ association fees, and along with home insurance and property taxes, my monthly expenses will probably still be somewhat close to what I’m paying in rent right now.

$ 450,000.00

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-breeze° king-size mattress

I’m sure you’ve all heard of how you spend a third of your life in bed, so you shouldn’t skimp on your mattress. I completely agree with that, so much so that I decided to actually itemize out my mattress and get the best one I could find that wasn’t completely unreasonable in price. I’m no mattress expert, but Tempur-Pedic seems to have a great reputation for great mat­tresses, so I decided to go with one made by them.

I don’t think I had this problem when I was a younger child, but as I grew older, I’ve developed a strange back pain problem. I’ve tried quite literally 5 or so different mattresses of different brands, firmness, and construction, but none of them seem to be the perfect mattress. In fact, I actually sleep pain-free for the first few nights on a new or different mattress, then my back pain returns shortly afterwards.

My current mattress is a little over $1,000, and I imagine that just buying increasingly expensive mattresses isn’t going to magically fix my back pain problem, but with the great reviews that Tempur-Pedic has, I figured it was worth a shot. My current mattress isn’t bad, though—I’d just use it in the second bedroom of my new condo.

$   5,000.00

Furnishings

I actually own an incredibly low amount of furniture. Since moving from the Chicagoland suburbs to the Pacific Coast, I’ve always minimized my possessions because I moved a ton within Southern California and Las Vegas. But now that I’ve just bought a property, I imagine I can safely assume I won’t be moving again anytime soon, so I can start buying some furniture.

When I get something done, I want it done in the best way possible, so if I’m going to buy furniture, I want it to be furniture that I love. I have a mild obsession over ultra-modern design, so I would actually want everything to be in white leather and glass.

Of course, that’s going to be far more expensive than a boring brown fabric couch, so I’m allocating about $40,000 for the cause. Combined with the little furniture that I do already own, that should probably be enough to fully furnish the two bedrooms, living area, and kitchen.

$  40,000.00

Ram 1500 Rebel

Now here’s where the fun begins.

You may already know that my “dream car” is actually a pickup truck, and it’s the Ram 1500 Rebel. The only reason I don’t actually have one already is because I’m concerned about Fiat Chrysler’s historically catastrophic reliability—I don’t want my truck to randomly break down in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t have the time and money to constantly have my truck in the shop. But, seeing as I’m outright buying this vehicle (and paired with the fact that I just made a million dollars), I’m sure I can afford to get a Ram and pay the extra maintenance costs when the truck inevitably breaks down.

The particular configuration I want MSRPs at just over $60,000, but I’m sure I can get some incentives and dealer discounts to bring that price down. I threw in an extra $10,000 in modifications, like ceramic window tinting, matte black vinyl wrap, metallic gold accents, a conservative lift kit, and meatier tires. I’d just need one vehicle as my daily driver, so I’d trade in my current truck, which knocks about $25,000 off the price.

$  45,000.00

Glock 43

I am a strong believer that you should only buy things if they serve a purpose in your life, so if I already have something, I usually won’t buy “duplicates” unless I have a really good reason to. I don’t think buying another gun is necessary, but I think having a million dollars to spend is a pretty good reason to buy another gun.

Glock 43s are subcompact pistols that are generally used by concealed carriers who want to hide the fact that they have a firearm. The firearm itself goes for around $550, but with modifications, the price can climb pretty quickly. I threw in an extra $450 on the price to account for things like a slide cut, Cerakoting, and custom-colored hardware.

$   1,000.00

Exotic leather goods

I’m a big fan of exotic leather goods, with a particular interest in stingray skin. I have a stingray wallet, stingray rowstone belt, and hornback saltwater crocodile belt, among others.

I’m not 100% certain what exactly I would want yet, but I would allocate $2,000 into buying more exotic leather goods. If you find a good private leatherworker instead of going for designer brand names, you can get pieces made at a very af­ford­a­ble price, so this budget should be enough to get me two high-quality pieces. One of them might end up being another stingray belt in a different pattern, possibly dyed a different color, with a sterling silver buckle.

$   2,000.00

Naming rights to a room in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s new Reality-Based Training Center

Yes, this is technically just a charitable donation to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, but seeing as I made a stipulation that I had to spend the money on myself, I found a little loophole. LVMPD is in the process of con­structing a new training facility, and donors are able to purchase naming rights to different rooms in the building. Thus, this is my way of “buying myself something”—but also contributing to a good cause in the process.

I also know that some of you who know my past history have been wondering this entire time how I’m going to figure out a way to give some of this money to a law enforcement charity… so here it is.

$  10,000.00

Day-to-day miscellaneous expenses

And finally, I’d save $25,000 of the million to cover day-to-day expenses. This covers stuff like food, self-care, health in­sur­ance, and pretty much anything else that may come up in my everyday life. I mostly keep my daily expenses slim, and seeing as I just spent $543,000 enhancing my life and another $62,000 to put into savings, I’d imagine that an extra $25,000 would be sufficient to account for everything else.

$  25,000.00

 

—§—

 

Re: “What is your dream five-car garage?” answered by someone who hates supercars

I post pictures of my truck on my website once in a while, and with my recent ravaging rant about the Tesla Cybertruck, people began to pick up on the fact that I might be a car guy. Unfortunately, they would be terribly wrong, because I just happen to like pickup trucks a little bit and am not really that knowledgeable about cars… but that didn’t stop people from asking me the age-old question, “What is your dream five-car garage?”

When other people are asked this, they list off their five favorite supercars. What’s interesting about asking me this question though, as opposed to anyone else, is that I actually hate supercars. I think they’re some of the most non-functional and non-practical machines in existence, and I would never buy a supercar unless I was provided one such that I could sell it and make a profit.

With that being said, in order to maximize my profits, my dream five-car garage would be a Bugatti La Voiture Noire, Rolls-Royce Sweptail, Bugatti Centodieci, Mercedes-Maybach Exelero, and Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita. At today’s market rates, I would sell all of them for just shy of US$50 million, instantly retire, and set myself up for the rest of my life. … Yes, I literally just Googled “the most expensive cars in the world.”

That would be a very boring way to answer that question, though, so I’m going to follow along with the spirit of the question and give you the per­spective of what five vehicles would compose a dream five-car garage of a not-car-guy and someone who hates supercars.

 

#1. RAM 1500 Rebel

Right off the bat, a vehicle that is notably missing from this list is the GMC Canyon, the truck that I currently drive. When I first bought my truck, I thought it was the best truck ever, then a bunch of problems kept coming up, culminating in me discovering that there’s literally a class-action lawsuit against General Motors in regards to a defective transmission that my truck has. That, combined with the fact that every GMC service center that I’ve been to so far in Las Vegas seems to be wildly incompetent, and, even though I think GMC and Chevrolet trucks have the nicest exteriors, I never want to deal with GM ever again.

Instead, I want to swap out my daily driver with a RAM Rebel. I’ve always been a fan of this truck, and after I randomly got it as a rental vehicle when I went to Nebraska to meet up with Jordan King and go on a road trip to Minneapolis and basically test drove it for 1,000 miles, I received confirmation that the RAM Rebel is an awesome truck.

RAM 1500 Rebel

Similar to my current GMC Canyon, I would probably modify the RAM Rebel a moderate amount—enough to make it stand out from other RAM Rebels, but not so much that it looks like a ricer. I’d start with the functional essentials: a tonneau cover so I can use my bed for storage, bed liner so the stuff I keep in my bed doesn’t slide around too much, and ceramic tint on all windows so I don’t melt to death in the Las Vegas sun.

Something else I consider a borderline essential is a grille guard, which I ideally would get in the form of a full brush guard. I noticed that there aren’t really any grille guards available for the RAM Rebel (and I imagine that you can’t just stick a normal RAM 1500 brush guard on because the Rebel is wider), so I’m not sure how I would proceed there.

As for visual improvements, I’d stick with a conservative leveling kit (I think massive lifts look a bit silly and just put you at greater risk of rollovers); and get my tow hooks, brake calipers, and badges painted in matte gold (I initially thought about red tow hooks and calipers, but I realized that red is a bit overdone).

I’m actually more of a fan of the RAM 2500 Power Wagon than the Rebel, but the Power Wagon is just a bit too big to be realistically usable as a daily driver. Even my current mid-size truck is 220″ long with a crew cab configuration and an additional ~8″ of grille guard; when I park in parking lots, I can usually hang my bed over a divider or something, but when I park in parking garages, I back into the spot with literal inches to spare and I’m still dangerously close to jutting out into the road. The Rebel is almost 10″ longer than my GMC Canyon, and the Power Wagon is almost another 10″ longer than the Rebel… so it becomes safe to assume that I would have a lot of trouble managing the vehicle as a daily driver.

 

#2. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

For some reason, I’m absolutely obsessed with the front fascia of modern-day Alfa Romeos. I love it so much that I almost bought an Alfa Romeo Giulia as my first vehicle back in 2018 before realizing that trucks are far more functional and useful, and got a pickup truck instead.

Even though I would use a RAM Rebel as my daily driver, there are still instances when having a much smaller vehicle is nice. Even in my narrow-body mid-size pickup truck, I’ve still had instances of trouble navigating in and out of small parking spaces in downtown areas of heavily-populated cities with small roads and tight parking lots. So, if I know I’m going somewhere where I know I’ll have troubles, I would use an Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

One of the reasons I’m going with a Stelvio instead of a Giulia is because I’m notoriously bad at avoiding obstacles in the road. That’s also one of the very many reasons why I got a pickup truck—having enough ground clearance and suspension travel means that I don’t have to worry too much about my apparent inability to see what’s in front of me. (To be clear, this is stuff like curbs and dips in the road; I’m not rampaging over literal solid obstructions in my path.) I wouldn’t say the Stelvio has a lot of ground clearance, but it’s definitely more than a sedan, which is helpful.

… And that’s about it. Those are the only two vehicles that I really need—one fun pickup truck and one nice-looking crossover. Of course, if I just end the list here, it would almost be as un-fun as just listing off the five most expensive cars in the world and saying that I would sell them all, so I’m going to continue… but the next one is a little unconventional.

 

#3. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Airstream Atlas Touring Coach

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to work from anywhere I want. A fun fact about me that most people don’t know is that I was considering buying a Chevrolet Suburban, stripping out the second and third rows of seats, and converting the back into a little livable area with a mattress and desk. I would then live in my SUV, traveling the country and avoiding paying rent. I planned on booking an Airbnb once in a while if I wanted to settle down for a week or two, but otherwise, I would constantly be on the road, taking showers at public gyms and eating almost exclusively at restaurants.

After thinking more carefully about it, I realized that that kind of lifestyle doesn’t really fit my personality style. I also discovered how great of a city Las Vegas was (I had been living in Los Angeles prior to that point), decided to make Las Vegas my new home, and also received some housing benefits from my employer that would allow me to break even with housing costs. I ultimately settled down and lived a normal life, and just got a small pickup truck instead.

A part of me still wants to travel the country and live out of a vehicle, because I’m a very curious person who gets bored a lot and likes experiencing new things. I think the biggest part of that lifestyle that conflicted with my personality would be that I would always be going in and out of public places for food and hygiene; because I’m a very private person, I would feel uncomfortable doing so. The thing that would make it okay for me is if there was more to my vehicle than just a mattress and a desk. That is to say, if I lived out of an RV instead of just an SUV, then I think the mobile lifestyle would be fun.

Thus, the third “car” I would get as part of my dream garage would be an Airstream Atlas Touring Coach built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Airstream Atlas

Being a Class B+ RV, the Airstream Atlas would come with a complete bathroom with a stand-up shower, toilet, and sink built straight into the vehicle. I’m actually very comfortable with being in small spaces, so I feel like getting one of these RVs and experiencing something new everyday would make me very happy.

 

#4. Lexus GX

At this point, I feel like I’m really pushing it to come up with more ideas, but the final vehicle that I think is reasonable enough for me to want is a Lexus GX.

Lexus GX

Lexus is famous for its amazing reliability, and I presume it would be nice to have a seven-seater three-row SUV as a family hauler some day. I obviously do not have kids today, but when the day comes and my kids have friends who want to go on trips with us, I feel like there’s no better indestructible vehicle than a Lexus to go on road trips for vacation.

Not only do neither the RAM Rebel nor Alfa Romeo Stelvio have as many seats as the Lexus GX (and the Airstream Atlas is large, but it technically only “fits” two people), but RAM and Alfa Romeo are also both part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group, which has historically been notorious for having poor reliability. And having your car break down while on vacation sounds very not-fun.

 

#5. Genesis GV70/GV80

And now, I am completely out of ideas. I’m not a greedy person, and I find greater pleasure in optimization and efficiency than I do in just having more possessions. Thus, as my fifth and final car, I would get an upcoming Genesis crossover and give it to my parents.

Genesis GV80

Pictured above is the concept model for the Genesis GV80, but I would likely end up getting them a GV70 instead (which doesn’t have a revealed prototype yet, as far as I’m aware), because my parents aren’t like me and they prefer medium-sized vehicles rather than massive ones.

Genesis isn’t really one of the most popular car manufacturers, so for those who don’t know, Genesis is the luxury brand of Hyundai, similar to how Lexus is the luxury brand of Toyota and Acura is the luxury brand of Honda. The “Genesis” name started as a model under the Hyundai make, but it split off into its own make and has expanded to a small line of luxury vehicles.

My parents have great Korean pride, but before Genesis, there haven’t really been very many luxury vehicle selections from Korean manufacturers that they could buy. I realize that this may be bending the rules of the “five-car dream garage” a bit, but I would get a Genesis crossover and just let my parents use it full-time as their daily driver.

 
And that wraps up my five-car garage. It might be strange to most people that my selection of “fast car” was an Alfa Romeo Stelvio, not even a Maserati Levante or a Lamborghini Urus, but I guess that’s the perspective that someone has when they don’t really care too much about exotic name brands or explosively powerful engines.

Honestly, I’d just be happy with a RAM Rebel and that’s it… but I haven’t just gone out and bought one in real life because (1) that would mean trading in a truck that’s less than 2 years old and I’m not rich enough to be able to take that kind of depreciation hit, and (2) I’m still too scared about Fiat Chrysler’s uncertain reliability ratings.

Maybe in about 3 more years when my current truck’s depreciation plateaus and if Fiat Chrysler’s reliability ratings go up, I might actually get myself a RAM Rebel.

 

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I got myself a new stingray wallet

If you’ve spent any time with me in-person recently, you may have noticed that I’ve been using a Louis Vuitton wallet for a little while. The wallet I had in particular was the Louis Vuitton Gaspar Wallet in Monogram Macassar canvas, which goes for about US$500.00 today on Louis Vuitton’s website.

I wanted to switch wallets for a few reasons:

  1. My Louis Vuitton wallet drew too much unwanted attention.

    I’m usually someone who wants to go unnoticed so people don’t bother me, and I failed to realize that having a Louis Vuitton wallet draws at­ten­tion from people who have an interest in designer goods. It also draws at­ten­tion from people who don’t have an interest in designer goods, and they don’t realize that having a canvas Louis Vuitton wallet is probably one of the most entry-level designer pieces anyone can own, so they instead assume that I’m too rich for my own good.

  2. After using a Louis Vuitton wallet, I realized that I no longer want to support the brand.

    Louis Vuitton is an extremely overrated brand for the products they make and the price point at which they sell them. Some people don’t realize this, but Louis Vuitton canvas is literally a cotton canvas that’s coated with a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride, better known by its abbre­vi­a­tion, PVC. The company claims that it’s more durable, but I’ve faced issues of the canvas cracking, while I’ve never faced an issue like that with full-grain leather. Even the quality of the edge glaze is poor and peels off too easily with normal use.

  3. I wanted to use an actual nice wallet, and one that was custom-designed and unique.

    I don’t really spend that much money, so when I do, I like to buy high-quality products that are long-lasting, luxurious, and nice to the touch. There’s no doubting that a nice, well-treated, full-grain leather product is far more pleasant to feel than PVC-coated canvas, so I wanted something made out of top-tier leather. I also wanted something that was custom-made specifically for me so I would know that nobody else in the world has something exactly like mine (which obviously wouldn’t be possible by just buying a pre-made Louis Vuitton wallet).

After making this decision, I had to decide on two things before moving forward: what kind of leather I wanted, and which leatherworker I wanted to make my wallet for me.

For the type of leather, I decided on stingray. Stringray skin is extremely durable, often considered to be about 25 times stronger than regular cowhide leather that most people’s normal leather wallets are made of. Stringray has a very unique texture, and most people don’t own anything made out of stringray. Stringray—especially polished stingray—is also one of the most difficult skins to counterfeit, so it decreases the chances of someone else having a “fake version” of the wallet that I have.

As for the leatherworker, this discovery process basically just involved me going online and researching as many leatherworkers and leatherworking shops as I could find until I came across one that had experience working with stingray skin. I realized that even finding someone willing to work with stingray at all was difficult enough to begin with, as stingray is a tougher skin to craft so most people don’t even try, so finding someone well-versed at it was nearly impossible.

Eventually, I came across a father/daughter/son-in-law family of leatherworkers who run a company called Wilburn Forge. I noticed that they already had some stingray products on their store, and when I zoomed into the high-resolution photos, the attention to detail was fantastic. The exterior was made with polished stingray, the interior was made out of kan­ga­roo, and the whole thing was stitched together with Ritza Tiger thread, allegedly the best thread in the world.

I reached out to Francesca Wilburn-Ritchie and asked for a custom version of the stingray wallet available on the website. I requested black polished stingray, black kan­ga­roo, and black thread; I wanted the wallet to have six credit card slots, two hidden pockets, one cash slot with no divider, and a side-swinging ID slot. The price we agreed on was US$359.00, which I think was an absolutely amazing deal for me.

Because this was a special order with custom color requests, Francesca had to reach out to her leather and skin supplier in Thailand to custom-order the materials, which meant I had to wait almost two months to actually receive the wallet. But, it was definitely worth it. The wallet arrived about a month or so ago, and I’ve been using it since then. It’s actually somehow been better than what I expected.

Stingray wallet

Stingray wallet

Stingray wallet

So, to get the two obvious questions out of the way:

I mentioned that I wanted black stingray, so why is it white? Well, the stingray skin started as all black, but stingray skin has calcium deposits on it, which is what gives it the beady feel. When the stingray is polished, the calcium deposits are sanded down so it’s smooth, and the white calcium gets exposed. The skin is not re-dyed after the sanding and polishing process, which is what gives the polished stingray skin that texture.

What does stingray feel like? The closest comparison I can give is that polished stingray skin feels like flexible glass. It is extremely reflective of light, and when you bend the skin, it literally feels both rigid and flexible at the same time.

Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with my purchase. It’s insane to me that this wallet is literally ~US$150.00 cheaper than the Louis Vuitton Gaspar Wallet, yet it is constructed with incomparably better materials. Also, with both stingray and kan­ga­roo being some of the strongest leathers available (with kan­ga­roo having one of the best ratios of being lightweight and being durable), I can expect this wallet to last basically a lifetime, as opposed to Louis Vuitton canvas wallets barely lasting a handful of years.

As for my old Louis Vuitton wallet, I decided to give it to a family member who is much more of an enthusiast for designer goods than I am, so it’s in better hands now.

 

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