Friday, January 31, 2014

Best/Scariest website

Have you been to ConferenceCall.biz lately? If not, I highly recommend you check it out. It's a nightmarish experience, much like most of the actual conference calls I've been a part of. If you don't have an office job, take a trip over there and see what you're missing out on.

Now that's full service

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Less work = better

I just read a commentary on startribune.com about one potential response to high unemployment: reduce the number of hours each employee works. I think it's a great idea. First off, I like long weekends. Two days is just not enough. Second, it worked for Mr. Henry Ford (who also paid extravagantly high wages so that his employees could afford to buy his product).

You might think it sounds Socialist. You might think it sounds lazy. You might think it will mean lower wages for everyone. I just don't care. I want to work less, and if that means spreading the work around so everyone gets a piece, I'm all for it.

Here's to advancing society through selfishness! Channel that laziness for the betterment of your countrymen and countrywomen!

Frugality is the new thirty

I've decided that in order to get my early retirement goal on track, I need to take a more serious approach than just buying into the Powerball pool at the office. Enter frugality: the art of spending as little money as possible. Now I'm not going as far as the Extreme Cheapskates on TLC - goat head is not on the menu - but I'm making small changes that I think will add up quickly.

Change #1: bringing my own lunch. I know this is one of the classic pieces of advice, ala the "latte effect," but I'm really trying to do it. I bring a salad every day, pretty much the same every time - spinach, beans, feta crumbles, and sometimes chopped mushrooms or bell peppers. I can seriously save $8-10/day doing this. Hell-o!

Change #2: Stop buying so much shit. There are certain things I just won't give up, including beer, haircuts, pet stuff, and eating out, but I can still cut back. I don't need to eat out multiple times per week; I don't need to buy everything I want; I just don't need as much stuff as I've been giving myself. The rationale is no longer "I deserve this" - now it's "do I want this more than I want the freedom to not have to work?"

Change #3: I am finding a lot of inspirational articles, blogs, and websites to help keep me focused. Reading about other people who have paid off their houses, quit working full time, and have zero financial worries convinces me that it is completely possible. I really like Mr. Money Mustache (read his "Are You Cleaning Out Your Own Wallet" post - it's spot-on, pardon the pun) and MoneyNing. These guys both have real families and still manage to live frugally yet comfortably. I am convinced that I earn enough money to live comfortably, and still contribute to savings AND pay down my debts.

Here are my goals:
1) Save $750/month in my "emergency savings" until it reaches $30,000
2) Pay an extra $300/month towards my mortgage - this will allow me to pay it off 11 years early!!!
3) Once my "emergency savings" is funded, begin investing in low-cost Vanguard index funds, allowing it to grow until it is self-sustaining (i.e. the dividends getting reinvested equal the contributions I would otherwise be making)

Ultimately, I'm hoping that I can get that mortgage paid off even sooner. Losing that payment would save me $800/month - yes please!! Not to mention that if I then sell the house, and move South towards the sun and its warm rays, I'll have a big ol' pile of cash to start over with. Sounds like paradise to me.

Not what they meant

Just how well do I need to know you, door, before I can go through you? Three dates?


Monday, January 20, 2014

New demographic: "Hipstie"

I think I've found the hot new demographic that all the advertisers will want to woo: the Hipsties. Half hipster and half hippie. Young-ish adults who listen to random music (the less-well-known the better), will buy/carry/wear anything bearing a mustache, and generally enjoy "throwback items" like Pabst, handmade bags, their great-grandparents' stuff, and dark rimmed glasses. However, these young-ish adults also want to rebel against the commercialism of the modern world, which is half the reason they like "vintage" things like vinyl records and wood carvings. That's the hippie part of the equation.

I will place myself into this newly created category. I have to consider myself a hipster, although I do NOT appreciate the mustache trend (it's already too "done" for me). However, there are several tell-tale signs that I am one of them: I create my own designs using my sewing machine as well as make stencil art in the basement; I eschewed a new townhome or condo and instead bought a charming old house (built in 1906); I own a record player and found some free records on someone's curb, which I took home exclaiming "how could anyone just throw these away!"; I clear snow the old-fashioned way (see previous posts); and I generally consider my taste unquestionably excellent. I could go on and on, but I think these examples speak for themselves. I also am somewhat leaning toward hippie tendencies, however, as I have recently discovered: I am a pescatarian (and I will probably stop eating seafood in the near future too) because I feel that eating animal meat is both hypocritical and bad for the environment; I joined a local co-op so that I could easily buy local, organic, and natural products while at the same time avoiding corporate behemoths; I'm researching how to make my own clothing detergent and cleaning solutions so that I can use natural products while "voting with my dollars" against the corpo-industrial-complex that runs so much of our society; and I am saving money to have solar panels installed at my house so that I can avoid using energy that comes from coal and nuclear power plants. Again, there are other examples, but I think these illustrate the mindset I carry well enough.

As a hipstie, I would summarize our qualities thusly:

  1. We care about the planet and local environment, and want to impact them as little as possible
  2. We want to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit (those PBR's notwithstanding - clearly spiritually valuable but perhaps not so much for the body or mind)
  3. We do not want to be part of or support the corporate/industrial complexes that currently reign in the society (media, agriculture, energy, etc.)
  4. We reject the consumerism and consumption patterns that have emerged since the 1940's
  5. We ignore the "mass"es - mass media, mass consumption - and embrace the "niche"s (e.g. local bands over American Idol, handmade goods over Walmart mass-produced items)
I'm sure there are more traits to be found, and when I realize I forgot one, I'll be sure to mention it. For now I think this is a pretty decent start. Behold, wonder of wonders, a new demographic has been born! Good luck, marketers! Mwahahahahaaa!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Die Wand des Schnees

I am now convinced that the reason Minneapolis is consistently ranked highly in health & fitness categories is because of all the damn snow clearing we have to do. I just did a 45 minute set of weight lifting (i.e. putting snow in piles via shovel), and I am exhausted. Since this is the only exercise I get - I don't think strolling with the dog counts since it's extremely low intensity - I suppose I should be grateful to live in this hellhole. Yes, we get -60F degree windchills, parking tickets in front of our own houses, and cabin fever the likes of which only Jack Torrance can understand; but at least we have the built-in workout of snow shoveling. Unless you're a lazy bastard who has a snowblower (a.k.a. not a cheap bastard, like me, that doesn't), or a creative but mentally questionable wierdo who uses a flamethrower (granted, he was in North Dakota, and here's his delightful quote).

All I'm saying is that I should probably be grateful for living in a state that "provides me the opportunity" to build a 6 foot high wall of snow just so that I can get in and out of my own garage. Thanks, MN!

The fruits of my labor

My dog is knee-high, so yes, that snow is higher than my head.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Guinea pigs shall inherit the Earth

And now, for your viewing pleasure:



From my new favorite website! Enjoy!

What have dolphins ever done to you?!

It's already time for an angry post. What the fuck is going on in Japan, herding and capturing a bunch of dolphins, many of whom will then be killed?

Albino dolphin captured

This makes me SO mad. I don't care what kind of cultural heritage you claim makes it okay - and I also don't care if you think I'm "culturally insensitive." If this quote doesn't make you question the morality of what is going on, there is no hope for you:

"The calf was removed in a sling that was dragged through the water alongside a small boat.
Prior to this, it had been clinging closely to its mother in the collection pen."
This innocent albino calf was swimming along with its pod, when suddenly they were all penned into a cove, stalked, and then this little guy was taken from its mother. It's fucking sick.

Winter wonderland

This is my life: shoveling paths through the snow in my backyard so the dog doesn't have to squat in 12 inches of the stuff. You're welcome, and I hope you appreciate it.


Neko NOT using her new snowpath

House Rules

I know what you're thinking. "Why are you starting a blog? As if the world needs another self-obsessed, the-world-needs-to-know-what-I'm-thinking asshole, spouting whatever useless bullshit comes to mind." I agree, the world does not - but I do. So I commence this new blog, full of innocent hopes and naive dreams, not particularly caring if anyone else stumbles across it (much less reads it) on this world wide web. I highly doubt that anyone will, actually, so I'm not starting out with an expectation of a Kim Kardashian-esque rise to fame or other such nonsense. This blog doesn't have any kind of theme, either, which conventional wisdom tells me makes it even less likely to get any traffic whatsoever. I just want to put some stuff out there, into the ether, and hope that the NSA doesn't conclude I'm any kind of national security risk. (Trust me, I'm not - I have guinea pigs, for Christ sake.) 

I thought I would put down some house rules, just to clarify what little direction I do intend to have here.
1) Be nice or leave. First rule, always.
2) Keep it interesting. Since I'm the judge of what is interesting, it should be easy.

So there you have it. My first pointless blog post. Keep reading, please. It would be nice of you.