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2020 July - Attack Is the Secret of Defense



4th of July finds us in Long Branch. An excellent place for a couple of days. Some summer, some sun. So great! Of course, they screwed our billing at the end, but we're so used to it by now. I did file my taxes. I have to say that that's probably the most stressful week of my year. This year was no exception. This meme so describes so much me. Yes - I hit some very important financial milestones this July, and I'm so happy about it. So yeah - a happy tax season.


We went to Central Park one day. All New Yorkers escaped there since it was one of the very few non-taboo places to meet at that time. Especially in a corporate setting. In one of those meetings, I saw this writing in the sky. Airplanes were painting advertisements with clouds in the sky. That's crazy. I can't wait for this disaster day where people will start painting ads on the moon. I'm not sure there's yet any law prohibiting it, and we have strong enough lasers by now. It will be a terrible.


I also turned 14 thousand days old. That's a more accurate representation of my age. Instead of how many times I've been around the sun. I guess. 14 thousand. I like that number.


The cherry on top - I started the NAS Academy course on video-making. Let me explain what this means. Up to this moment, July 2020, videos have been a distant hobby of mine. Something that I've stopped doing since around August 2011. Actually, you can see here that I was doing something that was vlogging before vlogging had a name. Then you can see about a hundred videos in saites.gr, mostly tech related tutorials. And another 370 videos for various customers. But all those were in Greek. And now I find myself back in Video. A decade later. Lots have changed. And it's so cool! But more on that in August.


It's July, it's hot, and here's one photo that shows the courtyard in the building I live. During the summer is a super noisy place due to A/Cs. But still, given Covid, I was going there now and then to attend some meetings. One day a new tenant on the first floor comes out of his apartment. He tells me that the courtyard was advertised to him as for exclusive use for first-floor tenants. He pointed me to this announcement that the management has put on the door.


This annoyed me a lot! You can't imagine the range of spectrum of reactions that went through my mind. From "forget about it" to pretty extreme measures. Depending on how quickly my anger would go away, seriously, anything could happen.


What I did is a few hours of research. I found out how much everyone pays for rent. I found out what my contract says. It is clearly granting me the right and making his, and the management company's claim an outright violation of the contract. Then I complained to the management that, of course, didn't respond. Simultaneously and all within a few hours, I created a WhatsApp group, and I prepared a hundred envelopes. I left them out of neighbors' doors, gave them all the results of my research, the WhatsApp to join, and phone numbers and e-mails for them to call and complain. And then I waited.


Very few people joined the WhatsApp group. I also checked the envelopes, and weeks later, many of them were still there unopened. The building was empty. There are many students in that building and especially during Covid, with NYU closed, the flats were empty. So nobody cared.


The company or an agent might have begged the first-floor guy to get that apartment. They might have told them the lie that the crapy courtyard is for their exclusive use to make it more attractive. At the same time, while the building was half-empty, they likely tried to change the rules.


At that point, and since nobody seemed to care, other than me, I thought - that's great! I spoke with some lawyer friends. It turns out that a very American thing to do, under those circumstances, is to pay a lawyer, send them a letter. Break the contract immediately and ask them to pay no rent for a month or two or even more. And see how they react. At that point, I also grabbed this as evidence for the court. Cool, one more welcome to America.


After some research, we found that even though NYU was closed, flats were still super-expensive, and we have a pretty good deal. So I just let it go.


Sun Tzu in the Art of War says that "Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack." That was so much the case here. If you want to protect yourself, you should better be always ready to attack. If there's an unexpected threat and you're not prepared to attack, then play "defense," i.e. kill time while preparing to attack.


But the real boss is the Super. When we complained to him about the whole thing, he says. "well - you know - some people were having barbecues, and some tenants complained, there's not much I can do about it." The fact is that it was he who had barbecues, and his children were playing in that courtyard all the summer. He hides for 2-3 weeks. Then he's back. He started doing barbecues again. He has likely seen this whole show many times throughout the years. And all this time I was working for him. Super - like a boss!


That was July. Taxes, Ads in the Sky and Attack is the secret of defense.


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