Finding the Harvey Weinstein in Me

As the Weinstein allegations start to go Cosby, I wonder about my role as a man. Am I part of the problem, part of the solution? How do I know, other than boosting my own ego thinking, “I couldn’t possibly be part of the problem!”

When I was living in Vietnam at the beginning of this decade, a friend told me of this story of Weinstein. I didn’t know the person involved, or Weinstein, but should I have done something? What could I have done?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the casting couch. It seems like common knowledge today that women, whether in show business or not, are going to be harassed / coerced / manipulated, but is having this knowledge improving anything in society? In the Vietnam incident, my thought was more along the lines of “Well, I guess that seems to be the price of admission.” I wasn’t happy or being humorous, but that seemed to be it in terms of my involvement.

My sister-in-law is a successful fashion model, and that’s where those thoughts return. While I want to be outraged at what’s going on (to women), at the same time, I just do not want to think about it because I don’t know what I can do.

I feel castrated in my possible reactions. What is the civilized way to fight back, to really have impact?

And yet, I’m not an innocent in this discussion. I have my own story of guilt: 20 years ago in high school, I was going online during the starting days of the internet, the time when people started transitioning away from AOL and finding the internet: Yahoo, Google, Excite. E-Mail was a miracle. This was Web 1.0, the early days of Geocities, where anyone could create his own website and show off a cool animated “hits” counter to show off the number of page visits.

As many teenage boys do, I gawked at the attractive girls in my classes. I had an idea of naming the most attractive girls in my year and putting it on a website for everyone to see.

I learned basic HTML, scanned photos from my yearbook and put it up. Scraping emails from group threads among classmates, I executed my first example of spam / mass emailing / grassroots marketing. I didn’t ask permission from any of the girls, being scared of them (never had I talked to most of them) and their possible responses, yet still wanted the site out there, getting attention.

As that was, perhaps it wasn’t so bad and I started to get some hits. I can’t remember all the details at this point, but I’m sure I continued working on the site, seeing how I could adjust things. Some friends of mine gave feedback, and this is where I made the wrong decision.

A friend mentioned (paraphrased) that one girl had a physical feature that would be great for oral sex. I don’t think I really knew what that meant, but I thought, hey, more content, and something to put on the website.

And so I did. I remember showing the website to my dad at this point, and he made a very astute comment (as usual) that I should reconsider putting comments like that on the website.

But I wanted the attention, I wanted people to visit the site and have a reaction (even though I truly feared a negative one), so I kept it. A few days later, some anonymous students had a negative reaction to the site and I was actually harassed (pretty stressful for my teenage self) for it. I do not know if they were doing so in defense of one of the girls, or some other reason. It does not matter.

I clearly put my need for attention over something that was not nice to put in full public view. It could have affected one of the girls negatively, and it was a form of harassment.

I don’t quite remember what happened after this. I am fairly sure I removed that one comment that was out of line, but probably kept the site up for some months after.

But…”I couldn’t possibly be part of the problem!”

The Post-MBA Guide to Buying a Used CPO Car

So you’ve earned your MBA and now it’s time to start working. Especially if you’re an international MBA, you probably don’t have a car and want to get good value for your dollar. After all, you need to look good, but you have to pay off your student loans too.

That’s what I’m here for: I’ll show you how to buy a certified pre-owned car and get the most bang for your buck.

Why Certified Pre-Owned (CPO)?

Manufacturer CPO vehicles are fairly new (within last 3-4 years) and in very good condition. Manufacturers will add additional warranty on top of what a car may currently have, and because of this, they are incentivized to carefully inspect a car before they certify it in order to end up profiting from the extra fee the customer is charged for this peace of mind. For you the customer, you want peace of mind because you’re going to be working so many hours in your new job, you don’t have time to be worrying if your car is going die out on you as you are stuck in rush hour traffic. Thus, unless you consider yourself a car expert who feels he can rate the internals of a car himself, CPO is a great way to go.

Sound good? Let’s get started.

For more about CPO programs and understanding which manufacturers offer good ones, see this article from Edmunds.

  1. Start with CarGurus. CarGurus can tell you how good the price of a car is relative to the area and similar vehicles. It’s a very good starting point for understanding whether something is a good deal. The only thing where it may lead you astray is if the listing on CarGurus is different from the official dealer listing – for example, CarGurus thinks there are a couple of options that are not in fact, in the car. Just double check. Also double check that the car is in fact manufacturer CPO – dealer listing is the official listing. A used BMW car cannot be sold by a Mazda dealer as CPO. It may be CPO by the individual dealer, but you only want manufacturer-CPO. A BMW manufacturer CPO means that warranty is covered by BMW as a whole and you can go to any BMW dealer for repairs.
  2. Here’s an example search I made for a friend who was looking for Mazda and Subaru crossovers. Here’s a starting link for you to enter in your own information. Remember to select “Dealer” as Seller Type and “Certified” under Condition. All cars that are filtered should be manufacturer-CPO.
  3. Before you begin, filter out (check the box) all the options under Photos in the left column. You do not want to see listings with frame damage or simply don’t have a photo.
  4. You want to focus on the Good and Great Deals. I pay attention to anything $1,500 below Market Value. Depending on urgency and how picky you are in terms of options, you may have to be more amenable to lesser deals.
  5. If you like what the car offers, call the dealer and book a time (ASAP) to see the car. Research the car in advance just so you know what you’re getting in terms of reliability, CPO terms, etc. A test drive really isn’t about seeing if you like the car – it’s pretty hard to judge a car on a 5 mile drive that you will probably drive conservatively. If you see a car you love and it’s a Great Deal, don’t waste time and put it off until a convenient time (weekend, holiday). Odds are it will sell quickly. There’s less dealer foot traffic in the middle of a week, so there’s an advantage.
  6. For the most part, don’t expect to really negotiate unless you have leverage (exact same car within 50 miles, similar miles and options). Most dealers now are on automated pricing in which they have enough inventory in enough areas to understand what they can sell at. The system regulates the pricing.
  7. If the car is listed as a Great Deal, it may already be under dealer cost, so no discount possible – also look up a car under NADAguides to better understand the value of a car. Another thing to look into is the Costco Auto Program. The program guarantees you an easy no-negotiation price for a new or used car. Costco will have partnerships with dealers in your local area. You may not get the absolute best price from Costco, but you will always get a very good price with no work or hassle – Costco is very emphatic about protecting its members from typical dealer BS.
  8. Do check out any student offers (usually a cash rebate from the car manufacturer, not the dealer – it does not affect dealer profits) for new graduates. This may be around $500-$750. You can see a rundown of discounts per manufacturer on CarsDirect.
  9. You’ll need insurance, a copy of your job offer (or pay stubs), and a copy of your MBA degree to finalize the purchase assuming you want financing and the student discount. For F1 Visa MBAs, some car financing units may to offer financing to F1 Visas – check in advance. Toyota does, BMW does not.
  10. You’re more than likely better off not buying any additional insurance / wheels / maintenance coverage. Those are always priced to be profitable (of course). You could negotiate it (there may be tips online) if you want to see how low they can go. Expect the car purchase to take 5 hours if everything goes smoothly – most of that is due to financing.

If you’re wondering, I followed these guidelines myself and purchased a 2013 BMW (F30) 328i sedan for $21,500 in the Spring.

My 2013 BMW 328i F30

More details:

  • Original MSRP: $42,000
  • Purchased with 25,000 miles, and with CPO Warranty, the car had warranty for nearly 3 more years or 75,000 miles at time of purchase. Free maintenance was active for an additional 10 months. For reference, a new BMW has a 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty.
  • $1,500 recent student graduate manufacturer rebate from BMW for CPO vehicles.
  • Price was listed at $22.9K. Before the student rebate, the car was shown as over $3,000 below market value, according to CarGurus.
  • Received 2% financing for 5 years, another BMW promotion.
  • No Costco discount – the salesman said, this is already below our dealer cost.
  • NADAguides listed the CPO pricing for a similar (mileage, condition, etc.) vehicle at $27,075, with the “Clean Trade-In” value, or what a dealer would pay if a customer traded in the car to buy another at, at $22,375. This latter value doesn’t include the cost for the dealer to actually inspect the vehicle, recondition any problem issues (for ex, my floor mats were replaced with new ones), and add warranty onto it.

Reaching 90th Percentile Resting Heart Rate [Fitness with Fitbit]

I have been using the Fitbit Surge for the past couple of months after receiving one as a gift from my sister. Overall, the product works reasonably well, but its step counter isn’t so good if you play basketball or do crunches – dribbling with your left hand and doing crunches will increase the step counter, resulting in wildly inaccurate distance and possibly calorie measures.

Regardless, I like the heart rate function, and I assume this is something that can be counted on even if the pedometer is wrong – despite recent lawsuits on Fitbit’s heart rate tracking accuracy, I trust this Consumer Reports article, Taking the Pulse of Fitbit’s Contested Heart Rate Monitors, from January. After the first few weeks, my heart rate went down from 68 to 56, where it has remained so for almost a month.

However, I wanted to know what this actually meant, and how this compared to other people.

Real information on resting heart rate is difficult to find. There are many articles, but few that have actual sourcing (this is true of most food / nutrition articles as well) on why we can trust the information. Thus, I began to look into percentiles, and I found the following data (it would be nice if Fitbit allowed its community to share this information in aggregate for public comparison) from the Canadian government:

Average resting heart rate, by age and sex, household population, Canada, 2009 to 2011

Resting Heart Rate Percentiles
Resting Heart Rate Percentiles – Statistics Canada

From this chart, I am at the 90th percentile (top 10% of all males my age group) in resting heart rate. I am not sure what this all means, but I am guessing that because my heart has to pump less on average, I have a combination of a stronger heart, more efficient lungs, and less excess fat that blood has to pump around.

Currently, I do not work out as much as I would like (my knees really swell up after basketball), but I do the following workouts per week, along with my lower carb diet. Ideally, I would like to add bicycling and swimming (once a week) for lower stress workouts later on.

  1. 2 basketball practice workouts (30 minutes dribbling, 1 hr shooting)
  2. 1 basketball playing session (2.5 hrs on average)
  3. 3 sessions, roughly 500 crunches (60 straight, 110 bicycle alternating x 3)

Another Look at Cholesterol Tests [Health Fallacies]

Having read and written about The Great Cholesterol Myth, it had actually been a while since I had taken a test and could understand my results.


When I got this last week, I was of course worried. (H Flags denote issues) I had been on a (lower) carb diet since 2013, and in the process had dropped over 20 pounds. For the most part I do not eat rice, bread, potatoes, or drink soda or beer, though if I am being social or go out to eat, I consume more of all those. During the last year at Kellogg, I have not been the best at working out (during the Fall, I occasionally played basketball and swam, during the winter, I did nothing and broke my finger during basketball, during the Spring, I swam), but I wondered if I was just super stressed out (I feel reasonably fine) or if I was doomed for heart problems down the road. After a restless night, I remembered that the book argued that traditional cholesterol benchmarks were based on faulty research(read the book to see the extensive history of traditional cholesterol tests and disproving research), and I needed to check my findings with the book’s.

If, for example, your triglycerides are 150 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 3 (150:50). If your triglycerides are 100 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 2 (100:50). This ratio is a far better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol ever was. In one study out of Harvard published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, those who had the highest triglyceride-to-HDL ratios had a whopping sixteen times the risk of developing heart disease as those with the lowest ratios.1 If you have a ratio of around 2, you should be happy, indeed, regardless of your cholesterol levels. (A ratio of 5, however, is problematic.)

My Triglycerides : HDL ratio is .84, well below the happy ratio of 2, where the lower ratio is best. WIN!

A cholesterol level of LDL 160 mg/dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages, and loss of sex drive.

My LDL is 172. WIN! (The book explains that cholesterol drugs lower LDL, are actually inflammatory drugs, and that memory loss is a side effect of these drugs)

Triglyceride levels higher than 120 mg/dL and HDL levels below normal (less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women) are usually associated with the small, dense, atherogenic LDL particles you don’t want!

I am both well beyond these levels (Triglycerides is 63 < 120, HDL is 75 > 40). WIN!

Thus, now I can feel a lot better about things. The only thing I wish I had gotten was a LDL particle size test, which was not included in my physical results. If you need help interpreting your results or in better understanding cholesterol’s impact on health, definitely check out The Great Cholesterol Myth or my blog post about 10 Things to Learn from the book!