The first step to financial freedom

Posted in simple living with tags on 08/25/2014 by Fox

Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed.
~William James

I am not happy with the state of my bank account right now. Of course, I closed on a house just two and a half weeks ago, so the lack of funds is understandable.

But I miss my emergency fund. Having several thousand dollars squirreled away has saved me on many an occasion, and with the cushion gone, I feel like the net below my financial tightrope has disappeared.

None of my less financially stable co-workers keep an emergency fund. But the emergency fund is the first, and most important step to financial freedom. I am convinced you will never achieve your financial dreams without an emergency fund.

Let me give you some real-life examples.

Last May, one of my cats stopped eating. To make a long story very short, she had eaten her stomach 60% full of plastic. She spent a week at the vet, had her stomach opened up, and was fed via tube for several more weeks. It cost me three thousand dollars. At one point, I had to make the call for the stomach surgery. I made it in the full confidence that I could afford to get my cat taken care of.

After that, I built the fund back up.

Then, in October, my car was flooded, along with several other vehicles, and no less than seven apartments (none of which were mine). I will go into detail about this incident later, but I was able to put several thousand down on a new car within a week.

Right now, I’m having trouble with the subleaser I thought was going to take over my apartment. And then the fridge in my new house quit keeping things cold.

Had I not just blown what I had on the house, neither of these things would faze me at all. As it is, I’m in a bit of a mental mess right now, even though I have several directions I can go to solve these dilemmas (right now a friend is talking me through the fridge repair, yay!).

Random emergencies will always happen. There’s no way around it. You are not immune to it. The single best thing you can do is to prepare for them. Preparation gives you the cushion you need to bounce back from what someone else may think of as a financial disaster. It will keep you from putting said financial disasters on a credit card and paying 20% interest on several thousand dollars.

There is nothing like the peace of mind that can be obtained by knowing it will take more than a broken fridge or flooded car to knock you off your feet.

It’s been a long time…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 08/03/2014 by Fox

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
~Nelson Mandela

Hello internet. It’s been a long time. Over two years, in fact. My last post was in January of 2012. Here we are, August 2014.

I ran out of things to say, honestly, at least things that would just be parroting what I’d already said. Intended to write some, didn’t, got busy, forgot.

I’d been getting the writing bug again. Thought about writing on Tumblr, thought about reviving the Ouroboros, thought about starting up something new. But then someone (they know who they are) just…asked. And I know myself of projects left uncompleted that I wish the authors would come back to. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as that tired old quote goes.

And you know what? This feels right. Like coming home after a very long time. Everything’s a bit dusty, and things aren’t the same. But the bones are still here.

I can’t honestly say that things will go back to the way they once were. I find myself with many things to say, and some of them may not be the bread and butter of the Ouroboros. But we’ll see. It’ll be an adventure.

The last time I wrote, I was still living in a 600 sq. ft. apartment with a roommate. If I wasn’t still working two jobs, it hadn’t been that long.

I’m living alone now, in a one bedroom apartment of comparable size to the old one. Not for long though…I’ve just closed on a home (well, half a duplex) of my own, and I’m in the (very busy) process of making it ready for my habitation.  It’s a fixer-upper, naturally.  :P  Nothing like sweat equity!

I have a new car. More on that, later.

I also have a Roth IRA, which alleviates some of my fear of being old and poor.

My income has improved, but not by terribly much. Maybe a couple thousand more a year. I’ve accomplished what I have by force of frugality, not by an increase in income.

I have more shit, including some things that serve absolutely no purpose other than to collect dust and cat hair, but I still have a lot less than almost everyone I know.

So, expect some stuff coming down the pipe. Stuff about buying houses in general, buying houses while low-income in particular, why the hell I have a new car and why it’s not used, lifestyle creep, Obamacare, and god only knows what else.

Since I can’t black the site out…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 01/18/2012 by Fox

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.
~Eric Schmidt

…I’ll just rant instead.

I should hope by now you’ve heard about SOPA and PIPA. SOPA has apparently been shelved for the moment, but PIPA is still kicking around in the Senate.

Others have already done a better job of dissecting SOPA than I, but here’s the kicker, if you’re unfamiliar:

“An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if [a portion of the site is US-directed] and is used by users within the United States and is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables or facilitates [copyright violation or circumvention of copyright protection measures].

Still doesn’t sound that bad, but consider this: Any site that allows users to post content is “primarily designed for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables copyright violation.” The site doesn’t have to be clearly designed for the purpose of copyright violation; it only has to provide functionality that can be used to enable copyright violation.

This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. Simply providing a feature that would make it possible for someone to commit copyright infringement or circumvention (see: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is enough to get your entire site branded as an infringing site.

Furthermore, you may be painted as infringing if you, the site owner, “take deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of…the site to carry out acts [of copyright infringement or circumvention].” This means if you deliberately decide that it’s not cost-effective to screen every piece of content and determine whether or not it is copyright-free before it is posted to your site (whether there is infringing content on your site or not), then you are labeled as an “Internet site…dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” Simply the act of not actively screening every piece of content makes you a criminal under SOPA.

Basically, these bills give the US government and copyright holders (namely, the RIAA and other assholes) the ability to effectively shut down websites for the most vague of reasons.

Let’s take thatguywiththeglasses.com, for example. He does a hilarious show called “Nostalgia Critic.” Recently, he reviewed “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” It was not a favorable review. What if the company who owns the franchise decided they didn’t like that and took action against That Guy With The Glasses? Well, with SOPA or PIPA in place, all they’d have to do is yell and his site would be removed from search engines, have any and all advertising removed, and be blacklisted by such entities as Paypal. Because his site allows comments, basically. And hell, if what I was told was correct, he already had to fight off this type of bullcrap once when he reviewed “The Room,” based on his use of clips from the movie in question during the review. The review is back up, since his use of clips is fair use.

Something similar happened with YuGiOh: The Abridged Series, which was removed from Youtube for a while for copyright violation DESPITE the fact that parody is also supposedly protected.

The TL;DR version: the intellectual property protection guys are fucking nuts, have a lot of money, and want the internet on a very short leash. Tell them where they can shove it.

The Obama family gives the middle finger

Posted in green living with tags , on 01/07/2012 by Fox

We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.
~Bertrand Russell

So Michelle Obama and the kids took an Air Force One jet to spend Christmas in Hawaii…only four hours before Obama also took an Air Force One jet to Hawaii. Clip courtesy of the No Agenda Show.

Does this strike anyone else as FUCKING STUPID? Air Force One is a necessity, yes, but can’t they just wait four hours and all ride on the damn plane TOGETHER?

Even if you ignore the environmental consequences (a stupid waste of a limited resource and an unnecessary output of jet engine exhaust), the sheer COST of flying a private jet, much less AIR FORCE FUCKING ONE, TWICE, within FOUR HOURS, to the SAME DESTINATION, is just ridiculous.

This is just giving the middle finger to both the environment and the American people. We ride on a plane squashed between two fat people and not eating for ten hours while they take separate planes the way some people take separate cars.

And he claims to be cutting wasteful government spending. BULLSHIT.

Fuck you right back, Obama family.

How minimalism is occasionally very useful

Posted in simple living with tags , on 12/29/2011 by Fox

Two-legged creatures we are supposed to love as we love ourselves. The four-legged, also, can come to seem pretty important. But six legs are too many from the human standpoint.
~Joseph W. Krutch

Or, A Tale of Two Roommates.

My roommate and I could hardly be more different. I’m a moderate minimalist, she’s…not. I’ve got very little and almost nothing sitting about, she’s got a lot and most of it sitting about.

Enter the bedbugs.

I blame her for them, since she started getting bitten first, but who knows, maybe someone else in the building has them and gave them to us. The point is moot since they’re here regardless.

And guess which one of the two of us will have the worse time getting rid of them? Bedbugs love nooks and crannies and places to hide. The bedbugs in my bedroom have just the three bushes. There’s no end to the places where they can not be seen in my roommate’s bedroom.

Of course, while I’ll put up a much stronger fight against our anthropoid foes, I’ll also be continually reinfested from my roommate’s population until she either rids herself of them, too, or we part ways. At this juncture, the latter seems more likely. From what I’ve heard, heat treatment is at least two thousand dollars. For that price, I could toss all of my furniture and replace it. Our only other option is to do an Integrated Pest Management type approach and utilize pesticides, steamer treatments, and plastic bug-proof covers for the mattresses and boxsprings. And lots and lots of time. Especially for her. I can take care of the rest of the apartment in the time it takes her to do her bedroom.

All I can say right now, though, is that for your own sake, don’t get bedbugs. Unless you own only a bowl and a sleeping mat or something.

I’m off to the magical land of Oz to find the covers. Little bastards can starve and die in their little bubble.

How many books does it take to break even on a Kindle 2?

Posted in green living with tags on 12/15/2011 by Fox

A book is to me like a hat or coat – a very uncomfortable thing until the newness has been worn off.
~Charles B. Fairbanks

Between 23 and 280.

How many books would it take for me to break even on a Kindle 2? It would probably be a negative number, seeing as I rarely purchase new books. If I can’t get it from the library or grab it used, I almost always shelve the title away on a list and grab something I can borrow or get used. I’ve bought maybe two or three new books last year. The rest of my reading was supplied by the library, my mother, or the local used bookstore.

I don’t need the convenience of a Kindle, either. I’m perfectly happy to have books crammed into every available space when I go on an airplane. I’m perfectly happy to wait patiently until the library gets the latest…well, I hardly ever read the latest of anything, now that I think about it. Maybe RA Salvatore, but that’s more of a “Hey, I wonder if Salvatore has anything new out…” than an anxious waiting.

I don’t see the point, and never have. If you’re not the type to religiously consume periodicals or need a large selection of quickly outdated and heavy reference materials, the Kindle just doesn’t make much sense.

There will always be those who prefer the convenience, or those that require the latest gew-gaw, but I don’t see the point in that, either. I’m still using a dumb phone, which probably tells you something.

And for what it’s worth, you have to read 22.5 books you’d otherwise buy new to have the carbon footprint break even. I think that’s the Kindle and not the Kindle 2, and the figures given are sketchy.

So all those people who keep telling me that it’s green and that it’ll pay for itself can all just fuck off. The library has enough reading material to keep me happy for the next ten years, probably. People should just quit being so damn picky. Read what you have and stop pining over books that aren’t currently available to you.

I’m moving away from a structured posting schedule

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/12/2011 by Fox

Yep. Pretty much what is says up there. I’ll no longer be posting on a predictable basis.

Mostly I’ve just run out of things to write about twice a week. I worry that what I’ve been writing is second-rate stuff because I’ve been writing simply because it was Monday or Saturday and not because I had something I genuinely wanted to write about. Part of that is because, well, it’s hard to not just parrot the same thing over and over again regarding my preferred method of green living. I could go for a more personal-blog feel, but often there’s not much to say on the home front. I don’t have any exciting goals or limitations on myself that would make blog fodder. I just do what I do.

There will still be posts. Not nearly as many, though. I still enjoy ranting and raving about things. I just don’t want to feel that writing is an obligation and I want the posts to really shine again.

That’s all for today. I figured I’d let those of you who are regular readers know what’s going on. I missed last week mostly because, well, I had a birthday get-together on Saturday and there was much to be done. The get-together was glorious, though, and lots of fun.

Thank you all, and I hope to be back with more exciting posts soon.

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