As many of you know, I’ve been doing some soul-searching over the last few months. The end result is that I want to become more focused in my writing, and to pursue my passions with, well, passion. That means there’ll be lots of little changes in my life, most of which are visible only to me.
One external change is that I’ll be focusing my writing in three places:
As I work to mold my life into what I want it to be, my aim is to write much more often for Foldedspace (which is still the name of my blog at jdroth.com). I miss writing about non-money topics. I miss interacting with my friends and family. I miss the glory days of Foldedspace.
I know I’ve made noises like this before, but mostly failed to follow through. Fingers crossed that this time I make it happen. Come on over to Foldedspace 6.0 to join the conversation. I promise to post lots about cats and comic books and movies and our garden. And I won’t talk at all about money!]]>
There are also a lot of people playing their music. The renters in the brown house across the street like to blare KGON and its classic rock. Curt and Tammy next door like contemporary country music. Behind us, Harvey and his girls tend toward oldies.
In a way, it’s fun when one of our neighbors has the music on at high volume. I wouldn’t normally choose to listen to any of these types of music, but I don’t hate them. Plus I feel like this gives me a glimpse into their world.
I even contribute to the din from time-to-time. If I’m working in the yard, I’ll turn up the workshop stereo. My music of choice is usually the two-disc Johnny Cash anthology (though I’ll often play big band or new wave or Indigo Girls). I’m sure the neighbors are sick of “Five Feet High and Rising” by now.
All is well and good in our noisy little world. Or was good until the other neighbors behind us joined the fray.
We think that the little red house is being rented by some college students. They seemed to move in during the late spring, during which they held loud bonfire parties well past bedtime on weeknights. No big deal. Easy enough to wear earplugs.
Now, though, they’ve found an even more annoying habit. On weekdays (and weekdays only), they begin playing their music loudly at about 9am. They keep the volume cranked until into the evening. This wouldn’t be so bad except for two things:
Ugh. Call me an old man, but this is like a torture one might devise for terrorists. Fortunately, I spend my days up at the office. If I were working from home, I might have knocked on their door to complain by now. I still may have to do so. We’ll see.
Or maybe I could make a request. Everything would be fine if they’d just play Johnny Cash.]]>
On my 38th birthday, I wrote about the 101 things in 1001 days project (which I learned about from dienu.com). I drafted my list of 101 goals on 25 March 2007, and then provided a single update on 01 January 2008. It’s now been 839 days since I made the list. How am I doing today?
Here’s the current state of my list:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve done well with my financial goals. I’ve met them all. In fact, I’ve exceeded my goals by a wide margin.
Pay off all non-mortgage debt
Fully fund Roth IRA (2006)
Fully fund Roth IRA (2007)
Fully fund Roth IRA (2008)
Fully fund Roth IRA (2009)
Establish a $5000 personal emergency fund
Open a high-yield online savings account
Automate bill payments
Automate IRA contributions
Get a safety deposit box
Health and Fitness
I haven’t done as well here. In fact, I haven’t done well at all. I think the contrast between this list and the first list demonstrates that what gets measured gets managed. The things we focus on are the things we excel at.
Give up sugar for a week
2. Eat only home-prepared food for one month
3. Eat vegetarian for one month
4. Get cholesterol to healthy levels borderline now
Have a colonoscopy
6. Complete a marathon keep getting injured during training!
7. Complete a 100-mile bike ride
8. Play a team sport
9. Do 100 push-ups got up to 50+ before giving up
10. Bench-press my body weight
11. Complete a one-mile swim
12. Maintain a weight of 170 or below for six months
Drink only water for one month
Give up alcohol for three months
Home and Garden
I did a little better with this list, though I still have many goals left to accomplish. I actually think I could finish some of these in the four months that remain of my 1001 days.
1. Get the birds out of the workshop ceiling
Repair ceiling upstairs in house
Clean all gutters and install gutter guards
Finish modernizing the electrical system
5. Build a patio
6. Prune the holly trees
7. Learn how to use the chainsaw properly
8. Finish building the horseshoe pit
Hire somebody to paint the house
Open all windows that are painted shut
11. Park my car in the garage (this entails a lot of sub-steps)
Remove debris file from beneath the cedar
13. Add new spigots outside
14. Get a rug or carpet for the library getting close!
Acquire some nice office furniture
Create home maintenance checklist
17. Erect a hammock keep trying to find a used one
Acquire a chipper
19. Set up workshop for woodworking no longer a priority
I made great start on this list, but haven’t done much on it recently. I really do need to purge my record collection, for example. And though I no longer want to sell all of my comics, I do need to organize my collection.
Purge wardrobe of anything I haven’t worn in the past two years
Get a massage uh, this is sort of an addiction now
Learn to shave with a safety razor
Update my address book
5. Sell record collection
Get rid of computer books
Sell CDs, keeping only hard-to-find favorites
8. Sell comic books
Sell board games
10. Hold a gourmet potluck
11. Create the Indispensable Comic Strip Reprint Library in progress
Wow. I haven’t even tried to do anything on this list other than the two interview items — and that’s because those come up in the course of my GRS activities. I need to do more here.
1. Take a speech-com class (Dale Carnegie?)
2. Take a drawing class
3. Take a Spanish class I’m more inclined to take French now
4. Take a yoga class
5. Take a cooking class
Give a good radio interview I can do this on a regular basis now!
Give a good television interview This is a little more difficult for me, but I’ve done it
Again, I haven’t done enough here. One of the things I crave is adventure, but I only talk about it. I never put my words into action.
1. Get tickets for World Cup South Africa Not going to happen
2. Skydive hahaha
3. Go on a trip by myself I should do this
4. Go white-water rafting
5. Ride in a hot-air balloon
6. Learn to shoot a gun Kris beat me to this and taunts me about it
The Wii bowling is no longer a priority, though I’m still making slow progress on the movies. Yay for Netflix!
1. See all Oscar-winners for Best Picture 59/81
2. See all Oscar-winners for Best Documentary 6/66
3. Bowl 300 on Wii Sports 264/300
Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I was actually interested in making money from photography. I was making good progress, too. This list of goals reflects the fact I hadn’t yet abandoned those dreams. Now I have.
1. Sell/publish a second photo
2. Digitize all photos
3. Sell $100 of images at iStockPhoto
Not bad progress here, but not as much as I’d hoped. I spend most of my time reading personal finance books!
1. Read all of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past 1/7
2. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays 13/38
3. Read all of Dickens 6/17
4. Read all Hugo & Nebula winners 23/82
5. Read all Pulitzer winners (for fiction) 10/56
Although I haven’t diversified my writing activities, I can’t say I’m disappointed here. I write a ton, and nearly every day. I haven’t sold a magazine article or published a book, but a book is in the future, I think, and I’ve contributed to three other personal finance books, so that’s a start.
1. Compile and print a Friends Cookbook
2. Sell a short story
3. Sell a poem
4. Sell a magazine article
5. Write a book well, no book written, but…
6. Publish a book …I’m getting close to this
7. Participate in National Novel Writing Month no longer a priority
8. Digitize all of my creative writing
Implement GRS forums
2. Implement GRS book section
3. Implement GRS tools and calculators section
Start a GRS podcast
Complete GRS redesign
Complete Animal Intelligence redesign done, but I haven’t written at this site in a long time
7. Move all old foldedspace entries to the new database messed this up
8. Launch Success Daily unlikely to happen, though jdroth.com may play that role
9. Launch Vintage Pop on hold, but in the works
10. Launch Too Much Cat abandoned this plan
11. Interview Robert Kiyosaki (or host guest post) not going to happen
12. Interview Dave Ramsey (or host guest post) still a good goal
Achieve $10,000 web income in one month
14. 1,000,000 visitors in one month to GRS oh so close on a couple of occasions
15. 100,000 RSS subscribers at GRS not going to happen
I now know that some of these will never be accomplished. Setting up other web sites? Not going to happen. I don’t consider this a failure — it’s just a shifting of priorities. And I’d now rather beat “Super Samurai” on Dance Dance Revolution than bowl 300 at Wii Sports.
I may not achieve everything I set out to do, but I’ve done a hell of a lot over the past couple of years.]]>
Perhaps his favorite prey, however, is the squirrel that lives in the walnut tree. He hasn’t caught Walnut yet, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Just now, for example, I was sitting at the table eating my raisin bran, when I heard Walnut begin his awful racket. He sounds like a chicken. I looked out the window, and sure enough: There was Nemo chasing Walnut up the tree. What cracked me up, though, was that Walnut paused halfway up to let Nemo scoot right by him. “Psych!”
I’m not sure Nemo is actually serious in his squirrel hunting, though. And I’m not sure that Walnut is serious about escaping. The pair of them spent about five minutes in a cat-and-mouse game (well, cat-and-squirrel, I guess), but neither seemed willing to follow through.
Walnut, for example, could have dashed up the tree at any time. He didn’t. Instead, he’d often creep closer and closer to Nemo. For his part, Nemo could have tagged Walnut during a couple of these moments — he was easily within paws’ reach — but he didn’t. Nemo and Walnut were content to jockey for position.
What broke this stalemate? One of our resident crows* came along to break things up. He landed on a nearby branch and began to caw at the two combatants. (Or are they playmates?) Nemo decided that he was no match for squirrel and crow, so he retreated to the picnic table.
Walnut actually seemed disappointed. He came down to scold Nemo from close range. It didn’t have any effect. When the crow left, Nemo came into the house. He’s now sound asleep upstairs on the bed. (Which is where he usually is…)
* This year, Rosings Park is home to a family of crows. Or something. These crows don’t behave like any crows we’ve ever seen. They come down to eat at the feeder. They drink from the birdbath. They interact with the other birds. And, as I just mentioned, they play a role in the goings-on around the yard. (I mean, really: Breaking up a fight between a cat and a squirrel? Why?) We have no idea how long the crows will stick around, but it’s fun to have them.]]>
As I say, I watched this a few months ago, but dismissed it as a novelty. But I’ve thought about the video many times since. I love the way it captures so many small moments.
Kris and I were joining Chris and Jolie to see a movie in northwest Portland. For some reason, we were meeting them at the Mini dealership in southwest Portland. When we met, there was an hour before the movie began, so I suggested we walk over to the theater. We did. As we were leaving the dealership, we passed through a coffeeshop attached to it (which doesn’t exist in reality), and I accidentally knocked a newspaper from some lady’s hands. Chris caught it as it fell, and I was all apologetic.
The four of us walked to the (imaginary) theater in northwest Portland, but we were way early (which wouldn’t be true in real life — the walk would have been just the right amount of time). Fortunately, the theater was attached to a large used bookstore (not Powell’s). Also fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), the bookstore contained a huge stash of comics-as-books that I’ve been hunting for. And for cover price (instead of marked up at collectors prices). I was ecstatic, and set aside a stack of them to purchase.
Then I saw that my brother Jeff was there. He and I began to talk. Jolie came to tell me that it was time for the movie to start, so I went to find my stack of books, but they were gone! I was frantic! I didn’t want to let these bargains slip away. I couldn’t find them anywhere. I looked under a bed (why was there a bed in the middle of a bookstore?) but they weren’t there. (There were, however, other comics-as-books that I wanted, so I grabbed them.) Ultimately, I had to leave without my books, and I was very sad. I did not enjoy the movie.
The four of us are coming out of a building (the theater in dream #1?) and we see a puzzling sight. We’re in southeast Portland now, over by Woodstock and 39th. All of the buildings are shifted off their foundations. In fact, most of them are collapsed and demolished. “Was there an earthquake?” we keep asking the people, but they’re wandering around in a daze and not answering us.
Chris and Jolie go their own way while Kris and I ride the bus (?!?!?) home, looking at the devastation as we ride. “I wonder if our house has collapsed,” I say, but we decide that it probably hasn’t because the foundation is embedded deep in the earth (not true). When we get home, the house is fine, but all of the houses around it have collapsed.]]>
For the past couple of weeks, there’s been a manual reel mower sitting in the front yard. It was sitting upright, as if somebody had stopped in mid-mow, but eventually it fell to the ground. The grass has been growing up around it: the hunter has become the hunted!
Yesterday, however, I noticed that the mower had been moved. It was ditched at the top of the hill in somebody else’s yard. Someone — probably a kid — had wheeled it a few hundred feet and then discarded it. “I ought to put it back where it belongs,” I thought. But I didn’t do it.
That’s okay, though. This afternoon as I was walking home, I noticed that the mower had been returned to the exact position from which it had been taken. That, my friends, is neighborliness!
Today, however, I got something…a little different.
When I walked in, I was pleased to discover there was no wait. Alexis was able to cut my hair right away. “How would you like your hair cut?” she asked, which I thought was odd, since the info is right there in the computer.
“Well, I usually get it clipper-cut on the side with a Four, and then I like it longer on top. Basically, I need a standard businessman’s haircut.”
“So you want about half an inch off the top?” asked Alexis, holding up my hair to illustrate. It was about two inches long.
“Sure,” I said. “That sounds about right.”
Alexis began to fuss with her implements. “I hate this chair,” she told me. “It’s too far away from my stuff. My cord won’t reach.” To make things work, she had to spin me around so I was facing the back of the shop. We chatted briefly, but not much — just the way I like it.
“Do you use product?” Alexis asked a few minutes later.
“Not much,” I said. “I have some at home, but I don’t use it often.”
“Would you like me to put some in your hair today?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“And do you part your hair?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “To the left.”
“There you go,” she said. “I think we’re finished.”
When she spun me around to look in the mirror, I just about died. My haircut was not at all like we’d talked about. Alexis didn’t take half an inch off the top; she left half an inch. She didn’t give me a standard businessman’s haircut. She gave me some hipster doofus cut. I looked like…like…well, like this:
O, my fragile heart. What could I do, though? I tried not to look shocked, thanked her, and left a two-dollar tip. I walked over to Safeway to do my shopping, but the whole time I felt mortified, as if everyone were snickering at my new hair.
“It’s not so bad,” Kris said when I got home. How could she say that? For years, she’s been refusing to let me get a short haircut. And now I have one by accident and she likes it? It makes my head look like an enormous melon!
“It’s really not so bad,” Kris said again.
“I almost don’t want to go to the party tonight,” I said.
“Don’t be silly,” she said. “Go to the party. In fact, I’ll make a bet with you. I bet nobody says a thing about your hair.”
I went, and Kris was right. (Kris Gates is always right, isn’t she?) Nobody said a thing about my hair. But I know that they were snickering on the inside!]]>