Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up – Saturday, October 24, 2015

A week of frustration and interesting social interaction is ending today. While what I consider a busy week may seem like a walk in the park to many people, it was a fairly busy week. And, contributing to the business at hand was some frustration. I don't enjoy being frustrated. But, alas, it is part of the living experience.

So, the busyness was mainly due to my continued efforts to sell off “stuff” from my storage units. Some items have sold and I've done okay. Some items just don't seem to be attracting any interest even though the items are useful and worth the low prices I'm placing on them. That's part of the frustration. I'm getting better at some of the difficult choices and decisions I have to make, one of them being whether I want to keep sitting on some of this stuff and PAYING to store it or just get rid of it at any cost and save the storage money.

Okay! I know it's easier from an objective perspective to reply to me and say, “Duh! The stuff is going to continue to be worth less and cost you to keep storing it. This is a no-brainer, Ed.” Yeah! I get it. I even wrote it in my own 12 Steps for Living Free. But, really, it's so much easier to say than do. If you haven't gone through it, yet, you will. But, I hope you take it from my experience, DON'T fall into this pitfall.

The reality is we all put higher values on things than they are actually worth once we've taken possession. It's just like how we all complain about the depreciation on cars, motorhomes, boats, etc. Once we take title, you can write off a sizable percentage of what you paid instantly. The percentage varies depending on the commodity, but there are very few things in this world (including homes that people own) that truly appreciate after you take everything into consideration. Some, obviously, depreciate more and faster than others. But, it still pains us.

So, as I look at each item, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Do I recall what I paid/invested in the item and why did I acquire it?
  • Did I use the item and did I gain value from it or earn income from it?
  • Did I acquire it for some other reason that didn't pan out?
  • Is the technology still current or has it been replaced by newer technology?
  • Will I EVER use or find a use for the item again?
  • How much is it costing me financially to keep this white elephant?
  • How much is it costing me psychologically, emotionally and in peace of mind if it remains?

There are a lot of realities to be considered. But, here is the only one that really counts – peace of mind. As long at that stuff remains in my possession, it loses value in all ways. No one likes loss. Loss impacts our peace of mind. So, it should seem the answers are simple and easy. A few people are so disciplined in their lives they can do this exercise almost instantly and move forward. I think we refer to many of these people as the 1%. We criticize them for their wealth and success. The reality is they simply learned early on and practiced the self-discipline required to make, what we consider, difficult decisions, cut their losses and move forward. The bottom line is, they are smarter and we are . . .

So, I continue my quest for simplifying and minimizing my life, while gaining more and more personal freedom and ultimately, peace of mind. More tough decisions to make this week.

Actually, there are serendipities along the way. There are items I acquired in a variety of ways that I didn't lay out any money for. They just came into my life. Surprisingly, some of those items are actually selling and generating more income than I expected. So, I guess there is some kind of balance in the universe. You give a little and you receive a little. When the smoke clears (whenever that will happen) I'll take a look at the results and accept that it is what it is and it could have been worse had I not taken action.

Other frustrations that impacted me this week included shipping stuff, the Internet going down and having a glitch getting into my eBay listing process.

The shipping had to do with UPS, USPS and FedEx. I've worked with and used all three services for decades. I've had a UPS account for 40 years. I can't even imagine how many packages and how many pounds I've consigned to UPS during that period. Today, it requires a “logistical engineer” to figure out how to ship anything with them. I had one box I needed to ship from the east coast to Los Angeles. UPS ground service wanted $40.00 (and change) including my account discounts or the eBay/PayPal discounts. Plus, I had to pay an extra fee if I dropped the package off at a drop off point or pay about $8.00 for UPS to pick it up. This was about the same as the USPS Parcel Service charges. But, FedEx charged me about $20.00 to ship that same package and they picked it up for free. It took two and a half days to get that worked out. It shouldn't, but it did.

Part of the delay in getting that shipment worked out was because my Internet connectivity mysteriously disappeared for about 24 hours. I won't go into all the details other than to say that after spending about six hours trying to resolve it with no success, it mysteriously reappeared. I don't have a clue.

And then yesterday, I listed some collectible vinyl lp records on eBay. I had already sold one at a nice profit (considering I acquired the album for free about 43 years ago). Then all of a sudden as I was listing some more collectible albums, the eBay interface kept refusing the listing saying I couldn't use any Javascript in my description. What the? I wasn't using any Javascript. I don't even know how to use Javascript. I was entering the description in their Web interface, just as I've listed other records and other items. I blew a few hours on that fiasco trying to figure out what the problem was. I finally threw in the towel and gave up for the night in frustration. I'll attack it again after I complete this article and get it posted.

But, the serendipity of the week was meeting a new person. He is my friend's (the person whose place I use as my eastern base camp) cousin. Phil drove up from Gaffney, South Carolina to visit my friend and her mother, who is nearing the end of her life. My friend asked if I'd interact with Phil since she'd be busy a good part of the time caring for her mother. Phil was a good ol' boy, retired military, retired second career and had just lost his wife a short time ago. We hit it off famously and had a terrific time talking about all kinds of interesting subjects. I think we both enjoyed the mental stimulation.

I finished off my evening last night as I composed an email by sipping some 30 year old, single malt Scotch I discovered I still had in storage. I brought it back from a trip to Ireland in 2001. You just never know what you'll find hidden away in that storage stuff.

The Week That Was

So, here's my take on the news of the last week. Remember, I'm not politically correct. I says it as I sees it. I don't say anything to offend anyone, but if you are, it's on you and I don't apologize for my thoughts, feelings or opinions. I don't ask or require you to agree. I am basically apolitical. I don't necessarily vote to elect someone in an election. Mostly I vote for the lesser evil of the evil of two lessers to nullify the vote of anyone who votes for the greater evil (in my opinion) of the two lessers. If that doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry about it. It doesn't matter. I know what I mean and I mean what I said.

So, on the pachyderm side of the two party system, the brother and son of two former presidents is cutting back his staff and expenditures to save money for when The Donald is out of the picture. So far, The Donald is not going away. Actually, The Donald told a number of Super PACs (Political Action Committees) who have been raising money to support his bid for the White House to cool their jets, stop helping him. They aren't helping in his mind. He told them to return all the millions in donations they've been collecting to the people who contributed. Meanwhile, The Donald has lost some ground and fallen to #2 in the polling in Iowa where the doctor who is not from Kentucky has taken a sizable lead. That's an interesting turn of events. What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine and a lot of political pundits.

Meanwhile, on the jackass side of the aisle, two of the five candidates vying for their party's nomination have pulled the plug, bailed, dropped out of the race. They were almost ignored during the first Democratic debate a week or so ago. The former Secretary of the Navy and Senator from Virginia has hinted that he may run for the White House residency as an Independent. I think I hope he does. He could be the “spoiler” and hurt the leading candidate seeking to be the “pretender to the thrown.” The former governor from Rhode Island said he got absolutely no traction after the debate. No kidding. It was tough for anyone except the two leaders to get any attention.

Meanwhile, the former first lady, presidential enabler, questionable Secretary of State and carpetbagger Senator from New York danced all over the graves of the four Benghazi victims, again. You know, the woman who was so dead broke when she and her philanderer husband-president left the White House they had a hard time getting mortgageS – on multi-million dollar propertieS. Those $250,000 and up speaking fees, $8,000,000 book advances and a multi-million dollar foundation funded by all kinds of foreign governments just make it difficult to live a decent life. She spent 11 hours in front of a lily-livered congressional investigating committee and walked out, again, leaving them feeling like she had defecated on them. She then pronounced – and we should all be impressed by this – she is not going to have a third term for the current “pretender in chief” or a third term for her cheating husband. She is going to have a first term for her. Yep! She's the one I wouldn't entrust to hold a dime for me for 30 seconds.

And then there is the Senator from Vermont, the self-claimed Social Democrat who, I guess sees himself as a modern day Robin Hood, confiscate (or steal) from the rich and give to the poor. I took a Washington Post (now owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Besos) quiz this morning to find out if I'm a Social Democrat. In two words – I'm NOT! But, Bernie is making the talk show rounds and was on with the new host of the Late Show and the Tonight Show as have most of the other front running candidates. All I can say is we are about two weeks over a year from the next general election and it's going to be one mell of a hess listening to all the bullshit that's going to be flowing for the next year.

Moving on. A Delta Force Army guy was killed in a conflict with ISIS in Iraq while the Kurds were rescuing a group of 40 hostages. Delta Force is the Army's version of the Navy Seals. They are a specially trained, covert operating group. I hate the idea of anymore of our guys and gals getting hurt or killed in this mess in the Middle East, but it just seems this will never end. That's probably because we don't really try to win or so it would appear.

I hate collateral damage and I'm sure all or most of our troops do, too. But, if we do something that accidentally or mistakenly creates a collateral damage event, we are crucified. If the ISIS, Taliban, Al-Queda or other insurgent/terrorist groups do it, the condemnation seems to be ramped down by the Middle Eastern governments. Maybe we should just bow out and let them kill each other off. If they threaten us or our allies we simply nuke 'em. I know, harsh, inhumane, yada, yada. But, when is this going to stop? And I don't care what their religious beliefs are, they do not control the world.

There has been the usual murder, rape, mayhem, drug crimes, mass deaths by bus and truck and, what is described as, the most powerful and fastest growing hurricane in recorded history. The hurricane hit the western coast of Mexico, coming ashore with sustained winds of about 205 mph and gusts, reported to 245 mph. But, from reports, so far, the damage hasn't been as bad as anticipated, the storm has been rapidly dissipating and will likely be back to tropical storm levels by tonight or tomorrow. Texas is bracing for a serious rain/flooding event. And, according to the forecasts, even the mid west and northeast will realize significant precipitation from the storm. I hope it bypasses South Carolina. They'd had more than their share.

Of course, there's lots more news, but these were the things that impacted my brain this week. I don't know why, since I'm basically apolitical, I allow the election campaigns to occupy so much of my mind, but I do. I guess it's because, while none of us really have that much true impact on the elections or what happens after they're over, I guess hope springs eternal that we might actually see some real, actual reform. But, fantasy is what Fantasy Land is for at Disney World.

Here are some things for you to enjoy over the weekend . . .

Weekend Reads and Listens

Buying Begets Buying: How stuff has consumed the average American's life. In this article from The Guardian by Madeleine Somerville, I remind you of what I've been talking about in this blog for several years and what I was complaining about in my opening comments today. It's an epidemic and it's suffocating us and costing us a fortune.


Drastically Increase Your Standards. Here's another article with another take on the same theme. This one is by two gals, Kyle and Cary in their blog “New Minimalism.” Living a simple, minimal lifestyle doesn't mean taking up residence in a one room, dirt floor cabin with a chicken coop, a cow and a garden patch outside. It simply means realigning your priorities and values.


America's “Sickness Care” System: Putting profits over health. This is an interesting article. I don't want to believe it's true, but . . . I know when I've been at my own primary care physician's office I've seen the pharmaceutical reps come in with their little wheel around case that's full of samples. A friend's son was a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company and lived in a large home and drove fine cars in Nashville. And, a woman I dated years ago was a sales rep for a firm that made prostheses. She had her own airplane she flew around to make her calls. Maybe all is not exactly as my idealistic thinking might want to believe.


What 'Back to the Future II' got right (and wrong) about October 21, 2015. Here's an interesting article by Andrea Peterson from the Washington Post about the antics of Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) in the second movie in the 'Back to the Future' series. I often think back to the original 1960's Star Trek series and some of the things in that movie that have become reality. We haven't quite reached the achievement level of '2001: A Space Odyssey,' yet, even though we're nearly 15 years past that movie's date. But, certainly talking computers and artificial intelligence have come a long way. And, the beginnings of tourist class space travel may not be too far off in the future.


The Value of a 'Brain Dump Friday.' by Trent Hamm from the blog The Simple Dollar. Here's an interesting read. Ever feel like there are just so many things to do you just can't keep track of them all? Trent has an interesting idea in how to take some of that time when you know you should be doing something else, but maybe feel overwhelmed or just not motivated to do anything in particular. Some good ideas here.


That's it for this week. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Live free and be happy. EH


CinemaNoir said...

Hi Ed.....

I've shared many [most] of your frustrations with accumulated hoards of "stuff!" I have spent a small fortune moving my "stuff" from NYC to LA and many metropolitan areas in between..... In my third-to-last move I suffered a severe jolt of reality ~ I don't own all that "stuff!" No, indeed! It owns me!!!


Jim R

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

We are not alone, Jim. In this regard, we are part of the "collective."

You are so right. We don't own the stuff, it owns us. It's like pets. We aren't their masters, they are ours. They are wonderful to have around except . . . when they get sick and the vet cleans out your bank account OR when you want to do something and/or go somewhere pets can't be included. All of a sudden they take on a different dimension. In both cases - stuff and pets - you just keep paying and paying.