What do in Sydney when it is Raining?

It’s raining sideways, trees are falling down in Sydney and the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology has issued a weather warning:

“… ABNORMALLY HIGH TIDES which may cause sea water flooding of low lying areas are likely. Water levels will exceed the highest tide of the year during Saturday and Sunday evening. VERY HEAVY SURF which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion is likely…. “

Something like this.
Yeah, something like this.

Well then, what is one supposed to do?  I sure am not too adventurous, but for those who are here is my list.

Most are CBD/ city central. I welcome any thoughts in the comments section below.

The Library.
Bum Free and clean (compared to San Francisco where the bums are watching porn and cleaning themselves in the bathroom, the Sydney Libraries are like the Ritz Carlton). Take a break and dry up inside at the public library.  I have taken a nap at all the branches I have visited!

Sydney City Branches Link
Kings Cross Library
I am a big fan of the public Library system here in Sydney.  The library is fantastic. I wrote the first draft of this post at the kings cross library. As I was writing I put a reservation on a dvd. Within one hour I received a text message that the dvd was ready to pick up. What service!!!

Town Hall Branch.
Granted not really a library but more of a pick up point for books.  Has tables and chairs.  Suitable for naps.  Also if you are a member of the Sydney Library, you can reserve books to pick up here.  Convenient if you are working in the CBD.


State Library of New South Wales Link
State Library of NSW hours
The State Library of NSW is sweet.  Covering two buildings and clean, I have already taken a nap here in my brief time in Sydney.  Plenty of tables to study and work on your blog posts too.

Sydney Museums
Get some culture as you stay dry.  Time out has a list better than I can create:  LINK

Not Summer Down Under
Not Summer Down Under

The Star Casino.
I have yet to go to the casino as I am trying to limit my gambling vice and thus cannot give my opinion. But I would guess that it would be a blast.

Or the Cinema as it is called.

Brunch / Coffee.
Hit up one of Sydney’s great Cafes.
These people voice their opinions on where to go:
Brunch list Link
Time out Brunch Link

Go Shopping.
Westfield seems to own this town.  Hit up the CBD mall or the Bondi Junction one.

Get  Wetter.  Go Swimming.
Why not get fully wet?  Sydney has some great public swimming pools.
Sydney public swimming pools link

Or hit up the beach.  Just don’t get caught up in a rip tide.  Bondi.  Coogee.  Bronte.  All good options.

Why Not?
Why Not?

Now if only Uber was not surge pricing I might be going outside and alleviating this cabin fever.

Is it worth it to pay for Tinder?

Or Alternatively Titled:
Being complete sober and going on a Tinder date with a girl on her period who doesn’t tell you about such fact until she is in your bed after listening to 4 hours of stupid bullshit banter at three different bars, subsequently having blue balls and wasting 4 hours of your life along with $83 (including $47.51 for an Uber which was on surge pricing at 1.5X) will create massive resentment.

Or to use the appropriate Aussie lingo:

Bugger off you F*cking C#nt.

So, No.

No, It is not worth it for Tinder.

Delete the Tinder app and help get society back in order.

Now, if you’ll excuse me it is 12:50am on Saturday Morning / Friday night after above such event occurred. I need some rest.


GTFO.  I want my own bed.
GTFO. I want my own bed.

Is it worth it to pay for flatmates.com.au?

Apartment Searching
Apartment Searching


Two weeks ago I arrived in Sydney, Australia. No Job. No place to live. Just packed up and moved to the southern hemisphere.   Probably not the best course of action, but as General George S. Patton Says:

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

I would not say I violently executed my plan. But things are falling into place this week rather than next week.

Not exactly murphy’s law, but stuff got bad upon my arrival. First I got really sick.  Then I had a cockroach infestation in my Airbnb Apartment. I am not too big a fan of Airbnb now, but that is a separate story. I have stayed at five Airbnb places in the past two years with four being on this trip in the last month. Four have been great. One not so great. As evidenced with the cockroaches and uncleanliness of the last place.  One bad experience greatly affects my thoughts of the company and I will be hesitant to use Airbnb in the future.

The reality is with any change or move, stuff takes work.  Work to get a job. Work to get a place to live.  Work to get connected.  And getting things right in Aussie is taking work.

Living out of a suitcase gets tiring after a while. Especially since I was traveling with three large duffel bags. Not exactly traveling light.  So I needed a place to live.  But I got lucky. Providence was looking out. I actually now have pretty sweet place to live. Granted it is not too cheap, but it has what I need. A furnished room with a bed in a good location. Near Kings Cross and close to city transport.

On The Move.
On The Move.


How I got it.

I used Flatmates.com.au.  In the States we have craigslist to get things done.  But not so much in Sydney.  I setup a profile on Flatmates.com.au. I paid the extra service to have access to e-mail people ($29 Australian Dollars) for 30 day access.

People have access to your profile and I was hit up with people sending messages looking to fill their apartments.  I do think that I moved to Sydney on the off time.  With a mid May move winter is about to start soon. Boo.  No one is moving in the winter.

Granted I am paying less in US dollars for my own room in Sydney than I was in San Francisco. That is not saying much though. San Francisco is one of the highest rental markets in the U.S.

Through flatmates and after setting up my profile a couple days earlier, I received a message on Saturday.  I saw the place on Monday.  I moved in on Wednesday.  Bam.  Done. Without even much work on my part.  Others were looking out for me!

Yes, I would say it is completely worth it to pay for Flatmates.com.au
(I have no affiliation to the site, it just worked great for me, so spreading the word)

It is good to now have a home base and I feel really grateful to have found a good place to stay.  I just hope that the honeymoon stage lasts long!


A Place to Rest My Head
A Place to Rest My Head

Being Sick Sucks. Or a Lesson in Australian Universal Healthcare.

Sydney. Still yet to see it.
Sydney. Still yet to see it.

It’s 75 degrees and sunny out. Why am I so cold? I am shivering.  Sore throat. Headache. Tired. Low Energy. Hurts just to take a sip of water. Feels like needles going down throat. Voice gone. Stomach pain. Painful cough. Ears hurt. Whole head feels congested. I just want to sleep. But I am so cold. Night sweats.  I feel miserable.

The constant travel of 5 weeks in the southern hemisphere has caught up to me as I have been hit with a sickness about four days ago. Arriving to Australia on April 20, I signed up to get my Australian Medicare Card the day I arrived. More as a matter or administrative work along with getting a bank account than any inclination that I would be getting ill. But it turned out to be a good idea. I don’t have health insurance nor do I have a job. So medicare is my coverage out here. I have not actually paid into the system yet as I do not have a job yet, but I do not feel that I am a complete drain to the Aussie economy. I pay plenty in the GST / Sales tax; plus this place is very expensive!

Coming from America, where I only know how one healthcare system works, the U.S. System. With insurance, a doctors visit generally costs you a copay of around $20. But your insurance cost a month is more than $150. And then you still have to pay for any prescriptions the doctor advises. It is a similar process in Australia as we shall see, except I am not paying the insurance/levy yet.

$246/ month is the cheapest option listed for covered California / Obamacare (LINK). I most recently lived in CA so using that as my comparison with a salary of only $55k noted and still $246 was the monthly premium. I don’t have to pay any monthly amount in Australia for my Medicare card, yet.  I will have to pay a Medicare levy when I get a job of 2% of annual pay.  So if someone makes $100,000 AUD, he will pay $166/month on Medicare Levy, still less than the covered California options available.

Been Stuck in Bed
Been Stuck in Bed

Anyway, to my story of how it works down under. Saturday I had finally gotten fed up with feeling so terrible and decided to see the doctor. A quick Google search and one phone call and I had an appointment within two hours. Great! Some slight paperwork on my details when I arrived and I saw the doctor within 10 minutes of my appointment.

Doctor: “Hi, I ‘m Doctor So and So. I am one of the doctors on staff. Why are you here?”
Me: “I’m sick and don’t feel well.”
Doc: “Ok, let’s take your temperature . . . Oh wow. You’re at 39.2.”
Me “That means nothing to me.”
Doc: “That’s’ 102.5 F.”
Me: “Oh, that’s a bit high.”
Doc: “Yes.”
Doc: “Let me check your breathing. And your throat.”

After a few minutes of the whole breathe in breathe out test the conclusion was that I potentially had a respiratory infection.  A prescription for antibiotics and to take Paracetamol (called Tylenol to us Americans) to reduce my fever.

I was out of the office in less than ten minutes from when I was called in.

$35 effective Co-pay out the door payment for the doctor.
It would have been $72.05 to see the doctor without the Medicare card. So I saved myself $37.05 by having the card. Still $72 would be cheaper than a cash out of pocket visit to an American doctor. Urgent care in the U.S costs more that $100 and you have to wait who knows how long.

$18.50 for the antibiotics (amoxicillin). Picked up with a prescription at the pharmacy. The antibiotics were in my hand in less than 3 three minutes. I have never had a prescription filled so quickly. Granted the pharmacist did not have to count any pills but rather put a sticker on the box of antibiotics and hand it over to me. But no subsequent questions asked. Everything she needed was on the prescription. No more forms or typing of info.  Just a “here you go.”    Sweet!

$8.50 for pack of 100 Paracetamol (Tylenol).

With meds in hand, I am on the road to recovery.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine go Down.
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine go Down.

I do estimate that I would have paid more out of pocket in America had I not had any insurance.  The doctor visit alone for a cash payment would have been over $100 plus any retail price on the drugs.  Plus as noted, the actual medicare levy fee is less.  Plus the wait time was not bad at all.  I was fitted in on a Saturday morning.  Who knows if many doctors work on a Saturday in the States.

From my sample size of one event, the Australian Healthcare system seems to work well.

But I would still rather be healthy.



A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With One Step.

Leaving my heart in San Francisco.
Leaving my heart in San Francisco.

The first step of my lifelong dream of living in Australia starts right now.

At the SFO airport. Waiting to check in for my flight with my fairly decent, surprisingly cheap, $2 coffee at the international terminal. Showing up 3 hours early before actual check in open.  Updating my resume so I can get some work. Paging some dude on the intercom.  Welcome to San Francisco International Airport.  Please dial 6424 from the white courtesy telephone; you have an urgent message!  Why does Bart cost so much to get to SFO?  It is cheaper to get to Millbrae and that is one stop further! Please report any suspicious activity by calling 911 from any airport telephone. Thank you for keeping our airport secure.  Worries of travel now start to creep in.  What if I lose my passport.  Worse, what if there is a helicopter crash.  AB, you are not on a helicopter.  Oh, yeah right!  Block worries out and become desensitized watching Youtube.

So much to do in life. So I just leave. I quit. I’m out. Peace out players!

But this time I actually did a good job of notifying people of my departure.  But that is relative.   Of those I forgot to tell, well now you know.

Escape? Maybe.  Geographic?  Maybe.  Wherever you go, there you are!

But this is dream I have always had.

Hard to say goodbye because I don’t want to deal with feelings. I always feel bad saying goodbye. Like I let you down or something.

So most times I just do the Irish Goodbye. Just get up, walk out and leave.

This time I’ll leave this note.

Too many methods to communicate, but let’s stay in touch!

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Linkedin, iMessage, Whatsapp, e-mail, Phone, Text, Skype, Facetime, Line, Tinder, Venmo, Paypal, Twitter, Youtube, Blog.

K, Thx, bye.


Gonna pick it back up in the land down under

The difference between American and New Zealand Customer Service.

I am planning a trip to New Zealand. I am flying Air New Zealand. A Great Airline. I have flown them once and had no issues and felt very safe (ranked # 6 in the world in fact!). Very friendly staff and they speak English, which is helpful on international flights given my lack of foreign language knowledge.

Where are all the Hobbits at?
Where are all the Hobbits at?

Anyway like most airlines now, Air new Zealand has begun charging for checked baggage. With Air New Zealand, the first bag is free, the second will cost you (up to $125! YIKES).

Thankfully they are running a promotion where the second bag is only $1.


Pack up!!
Pack up!!

So I recently called the Air New Zealand customer service to add the extra bag for $1.  But sadly, I was not able to get the bag added for a dollar due to some issues.  Along with some interesting cultural differences for which I will now share:

Representative:  “I am sorry, but I cannot add your extra bag for $1 and you will have to buy it at the airport if you need it.
But, Why do Americans travel with so much stuff? You only wear 50% of the clothes anyway.  You don’t need an extra bag. Just back less stuff.”

Well, then.  I guess I will not be having an extra bag and be packing less stuff!  That is one way to solve my customer service issue.


Probably the result of overpacking
Probably the result of overpacking


Now this is a bit different than how things would be handled in the U.S.


The rep would have to bend over backwards to make things work. God forbid he/she/machine robot call center did not get the correct solution. Otherwise said customer would plaster the horrific situation all over social media, twitter and Facebook describing what a crap company he/she had to deal with.

Well, I guess I am doing that now. LOL. There goes my self-awareness!

But the point is still the same. The USA bends over backwards to satisfy people. Maybe we shouldn’t be always doing that?  I don’t know. Don’t listen to me. I am just some dude typing my thoughts into a screen. But there is something to packing only a small bag . How much stuff do I really need to bring? I can only wear one shirt at a time.

In New Zealand, the customer is not always right. In this case it actually cost the company money ( a nominal $1 fee), but maybe she was working in the company’s interest as if I want to check a bag, I will have to pay the full price (advertised at $125!!!) at the airport.
Tricky. Very Very sneaky!!!


George Carlin Said it best:

What does the San Francisco Tenants Union Do?

The City by the Bay

The City by the Bay


San Francisco.  You’ll leave your heart in SF and want to move here.  But the rent is too damn high!  The highest rents in the 50 states in fact (source).  So’ll you’ll need stacks of cash.  Or  have a good advocate and some laws in your favor.  If you are one of the lucky few to have a sweet rent controlled apartment in San Francisco, then the San Francisco Tenant’s Union can help you out if you are getting bugged by the man, i.e your pesky landlord.  The SF Tenant’s union is an advocacy group fighting for tenants rights against evil landlords.  (Rent control commentary)


I recently visited the fine folks of the SF tenant’s union to see if they can help my roommates and I as our lease is up at the end of the month.  I want options and to know what those are.  Given my roommates and I live in a standalone home.  I.e. no other units at the same address, our place is not subject to rent control.  Bummer.  But more on that later.

First my glorious experience.  I arrived mins til 10. The union hall was already open. 3 people ahead of me. Time to wait and observe.
The waiting area was in the same place as where the counseling sessions take place.  So everyone hears your case.   The first folks who already in mid session were effectively being evicted.  They were learning some great tips to document and get back at their landlord who was saying that she was going move back in.  The tenants getting counseling said she was not moving in.  Let the battle begin!!

Second person up.  An older lady wanting advice as she was asked to leave for “capital improvements”  i.e her bathroom leaked and needed to be fixed.

Old Lady: “Can they evict me for having a messy apartment?”

Counselor response: “What, Are you a hoarder?”

L O L!

Counselor : “These people help people clean their apartments. Would you like a copy of their information”

“Yes please.”

That interchange alone was worth the trip.

Third person was helped  by a new counselor just walking in and in a different room so I have no idea what their issue was.

Now my turn as one more counselor arrives.
My session was quick given that my roommates and I are more covered by california law since we have no rent control and not under SF specific law.  The tenants union helps with the nuances of living in SF.  We have to negotiate on our own.

Now the SF tenants union is not a registered charity as they are very political  Signs everywhere for the various propositions.  It is good to know that there is still some fight left within the Socialist Republic of San Francisco.  Don’t mention Donald Trump here!  You will definitely be leaving feeling the Bern here.  

I do think that it is a good service overall.  And it does seem that they legitimately do provide a service.  The volunteers were working hard and three volunteers were fielding various queries by the time I left at 10:30am.  Could most of the stuff be found online?  Probably, but is nice to talk to a live person to get the support and faith needed that your cause is supported and has merit.  

Check them out if you are in SF and need help.  They also have a handbook you can purchase for $45 if you want to do self study/ self research.

SF Renters Resources / Links:
SF Tenants Rights 
SF Rent Board
California Tenants Handbook (State of California)
Curbed SF Article for Renters
SF Gate Article

Now it does cost money to fight and be all political. I guess socialism ain’t free.  So I was hit up for a donation at the end of the session.  I gave the suggested donation of $10 for “low income” people.  Standard suggestion of $25.  Come on man! That’s a lot of money for being all about fighting the man and wanting to help the little guy!

Now I will take a page from the Tenant’s union now and I will shamelessly ask for donations! Hey, SF ain’t cheap and the rent is too damn high!


An open letter to Donald J. Trump.

Dear Mr. Trump:

First, thank you for what you are doing for the USA. Your honesty and courage has helped bring this great nation together working towards higher goals like I have not seen in years.

I don’t actually care much for politics. In fact, I willing de-registered myself from the voter rolls after the last presidential election. My friends would probably call me very cynical, however I am working to improve that. I do find this campaign very interesting however and you are very entertaining and smart. Keep up the great work.

I know that you are an avid golfer, in fact probably much more so and better than our current commander in chief. After your campaign settles down and your term in office starts, I would imagine that you would be playing a few rounds of golf to relax and mediate a bit. As such, you will want to ensure that your golf game is of the best caliber.

Therefore, I am offering my services as a Caddie to help with your golf game!

Now I am not just some schmuck. I legitimately am a great caddie and will ensure that you have a solid round of golf. I have caddied at three USGA events and have the expertise to ensure that your golf game is at the elite level. I also have over 3 years of caddie experience at a prestigious golf course in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am an avid golfer myself, traveling across the world to play golf.  When you travel to California, let me know and let’s get a round going!

Together, we will not only Make America Great, but we can Make Golf Great Again!

Let's Roll
Let’s Roll

Fairways and Greens,

Adam Brown

A Review of the Benchmade Knife Service Benchmade LIFESHARP

I proudly state that I am a happy owner of a Benchmade knife.

A Knife! (not the actual product  or service reviewed)

Benchmade makes quality knives and has great customer service as I will detail below. After my admittedly a bit spiteful rant about the Breeze car membership service (read at link here), I am returning with a post about a very happy experience I had with the Benchmade knife company.

I bought a knife a while back (May 4, 2012 to be exact; as evidenced from my amazon receipt order history). After almost 4 years it was time to get my tool sharped so to speak. Little did I know how dull it was until I received the finished product, but more on that later.

Benchmade advertises:


There’s never a dull moment with a Benchmade… That’s right! We will gladly re-sharpen your Benchmade knife to a factory razor sharp edge (service does not apply to any serrated portion of the blade). If you prefer us to sharpen your blade, or if you may have neglected to maintain your edge for a while, simply ship your knife to us. We’ll not only sharpen it, but we will also inspect the knife for any warranted repairs and “tune” the knife for optimum performance. (Source)

I sent in my Griptilian knife on February 5, 2016 and it was back in my hands on February 22, 2016. Granted I could have received it on Friday February 19, 2016 but I was not home to sign for the package for UPS delivery.  Now this is not the speediest of turnarounds given the now expected two day shipping and customer service standard set by amazon, but for free sharpening and free return UPS shipping, I am very, very happy.

The only cost to me was the shipping to Benchmade to have it sharpened.


Status Update!
Status Update!


Resolution items as noted on the receipt:  “Replaced screws, omega springs. Cleaned, Adjusted, Oiled, and Sharpened as needed.”

My knife is like brand new. (Aside from the scratches that I made on my own). The blade is super sharp. Spring brand new and fast. The clip tightened and now fits snug in my pants.

Ready to Go!
Ready to Go!

Overall I am satisfied with the work done and great communication including  an e-mail on receipt of my shipping to Benchmade and an e-mail with tracking info when the service was completed.

This exceeded all expectations.  Thanks Benchmade! You have a happy customer!

I highly recommend Benchmade knives. Get one today!

More information:
Benchmade website details 

Benchmade Knife at Amazon

Breeze is a scam.

Note: Updated after initial posting with new information and details below the original post

Yes, Breeze is a scam.  They will take your money, not respond and not even provide a service. I was ripped off $99 with nothing to show for it!

I feel I now have an obligation to let others know who might be interested in using Breeze to know what to expect; expect a loss of your full “membership fee.”

What is Breeze?

Full of hot air.
There’s a breeze here and it is full of hot air.

Breeze is a car service that advertises that they will “hook you up with a personal hybrid car so you can start driving to make money.” Essentially they are a leasing company that provides a car with the idea that the renter/leaser will use the car for services such as Uber or Lyft; driving the car like a personal taxi to make some cash.  I really do want to try Uber and eventually share that experience in a post, but sadly my car does not qualify.  So,   enter my rationale to use Breeze. I could buy a car, but I don’t want that commitment yet as I still have a working car.  Albeit it is very crappy and old.  And has no Air conditioning.  And rattles.  You get the point.  My car does not qualify for Uber.  Breeze advertised that you can return the car anytime after 30 days after a membership fee and weekly payments of $195.  Ouch, a bit steep (math later on:)Uber does something similar with their Xchange leasing program, but I elected to try out the Breeze option as the membership fee was less than Uber’s $250 (Breeze is only $99 in SF).  You don’t have to go out and buy a new car so I thought I would give it a shot.  I was going to use the breeze service to get a car for a month. This was exactly my plan when I signed up for Breeze on December 29.    New Year’s eve was on my mind and I thought about the new year 10X Uber surge that was to occur and I wanted a piece of that Money!   $$$$$$!  Greed being the root of problems sure did cause me a problem. I should have trusted my gut and realized that this “service” seemed a bit shady.

I was actually “approved” a day later.  I passed the back ground check and received notice, but since then I have not heard a word.  I reached out regarding the next steps on December 30.  I have yet to hear back from Breeze and they told me I would hear from them in two business days, but nothing.  Thus my response here on this post.  Crooks.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 7.29.32 AM
The teaser e-mail
Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 7.22.15 AM
The confirmation.


No response. :(
No response. 🙁


I am waiting and I want my money back!
I am waiting and I want my money back!


Aren’t you being harsh, Adam?

No, I am not.  Breeze is effectively a predatory lender if they were to even provide services as advertised, charging such exorbitant fees per week to lease a used car.   $195/week for a car?  Seriously?  That is $10,140 for the full year if you keep the car that long! The main selling point is the ability to return the car.  Like bringing back serfdom and servitude with these predatory lending practices.

But even still, the numbers do not justify that as I will show below.

 Let’s do some math

Even someone with really bad credit could OWN a $25,000 car (i.e Brand New base model Toyota Prius for which Breeze would lease out,) financed for a $843 monthly payment(*).  Or yearly total payment of about $10,116.  That is about the same out of pocket yearly expense if one was to go lease a car through breeze.

After three years the owner would own the car outright and could sell it then, recovering some of the costs.  I am not even considering factors such as gas or insurance which would have to be paid no matter what method you use (breeze or buying).

However Breeze leases used cars!

Reworking the above on a USED 2012 Prius (Kelly blue book value on a 2012 Prius: 15,591) results in a monthly payment of: $526.  Annually paying $6,312(*).  A savings of $3,828.  Almost a $4,000 savings by just buying a car yourself.

As a side entertaining story, I actually rented a car through Hertz over the new year’s weekend to try to use Uber.  Let me tell you, you cannot use a rental car for Lyft or Uber.  I tried.  No dice. You can’t do it.  You cannot rent a car and expect to use it officially for Uber or Lyft.  I even went to the Uber partner support on Vermont street in San Francisco.  Denied! I think you can probably use a rental car if you are already signed up to use Uber or Lyft as I know for a fact I have been in a Lyft that was a rental car, but you can’t use a rental car to sign up for the service.  Time to reevaluate getting a new car!

End result 

Don’t use breeze.  Just the numbers alone should have been enough of a warning sign, but like a moron, I decided to try it anyway and got conned.

Don’t get schlonged. Don’t use Breeze.


Update on 1/7/2016.

Finally a response from the company:  I received a notice on 1/7/16 from breeze noting that they will refund me $49.00.  E-mail screen shot below.  Now they say that I am denied!  This company is completely screwed up!  First they say I am approved, now I am not?  What is this?

I also have submitted a complaint with the Better Business Bureau as I did not consider to do that until now .  I am pending a response on my BBB complaint along with a resolution on my refund.

Thanks for reading!

Breeze response.
Breeze response.
Better Business Bureau complaint filing screenshot
Better Business Bureau complaint filing screenshot



(*) Assumptions on above payment information: 36 month (3 years) term at 13% interest rate, ( a ridiculously high rate), financing the full amount noted in the example.  i.e. no down payment.