Tales and Thoughts

A house across the street recently had solar panels installed on the roof. The idea of it is pretty rad. Is there an impending apocalypse that I should be aware of? Whether it’s to save money or not it would be cool to have mostly because hardly anyone has it. I’m sure the owners of this house will be having the same conversation with everyone in the neighbourhood for the next 2 years. A bunch of people will talk like they’re interested in installing solar panels on their roof but really aren’t.

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When I see people working certain jobs or maybe any job, I picture myself doing it and think, no way. Maybe for a day but not full-time. Then I think what’s going on in their heads that’s not happening in mine. I remember a time when I would be ecstatic with working any type of job for any amount of hours as long as I thought it paid okay. I try to go back in my head during those times to capture the reasons why the hamster was running that wheel.

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In 2012 a salesman convinced me to buy a 4 year warranty for an aftermarket car stereo I purchased. The hook was that if I didn’t end up using the warranty I could use it towards another purchase. The sneaky part was that I would have to remember to register my unused warranty in 4 years and would only have 1 month to do so. I made a mental note of it and came out victorious. I held that memory better than a grudge. The other thing that these commissioned sales people don’t tell you is that you have to make a purchase double the amount of your warranty cost.

There’s not much in the form of electronics that interests me much these days. In the store the salesman kept firing off products until one connected.

“A new TV? Home theatre? TV mount?…….Home security cameras?”

Security cameras seemed kind of cool. Maybe I’ll catch someone not picking up their dog’s crap on my lawn or someone stealing parcels. I didn’t end up getting anything yet. I wish they sold underwear or socks.

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Ode to Dog

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Before I moved in here the dog was living a borderline rescue dog life. She was alone 14 hours of the day and in darkness for half of those hours during the winter months. The lowest point was when my mother was keeping her in the bathroom for the whole time while she was at work. She didn’t want her pooing or peeing on the carpet. I suppose if your bloodline is only one generation away from when they ate dogs then locking them in a bathroom might not seem so deplorable. Also, this somewhat recently purchased 35-year-old rancher might be seen by some people as a starter home but she sees it as her dream home. Living your first 50 years in poverty gives you a different perspective on everything.

The relationship I formed with the dog was gradual and unintentional. Slowly I began optimizing her lifestyle by changing her diet, going for walks, brushing her teeth daily and wiping the snot from her eyes multiple times throughout the day. I retrained her to go do her business outside in the yard instead of on those pee pads. Rather than being a pain in the ass, washing her feet after a walk or cleaning her butt has just become something I have to do.

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I discovered there was a doggy door already installed that was hidden behind a shoe rack. It’s possible that it was used as a cat door in the past. It took some training to get her to use it but now she uses it like a pro. It’s probably enriched her life tenfold. I’m praying no raccoons will ever find their way through there.

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For most of my life there was always a dog wherever I was living but I never had the intention to care for them. Somewhere along the line I decided I was going to with this one. Perhaps it has something to do with the stage of life I am in now or maybe I was trying to fill a void. It becomes a whole new experience though when you care for a dog instead of just owning one. I believe it can make you kinder person.

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This is when I say, “look at you you’re all tucked in.”

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Breakfast beside bed

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Friday Food Extravaganza

Instead of eating at a restaurant I went to hunt & gather at the supermarket. About-to-expire bacon was $2 instead of $5. I counted 16 slices that needed to be eaten within 3 days. Maybe I can do it, maybe not but if I can get through half then it will be okay.

3 eggs over easy, 3 slices of bacon, 2 slices of healthier bread & butter and 100 ml of french pressed coffee. Even a small amount of coffee can get me wired. I had the exact same meal 4 hours later and I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.

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In the evening I did some real hunting & gathering. There’s an abundance of prickly blackberry bushes nearby. I now know how those cave people integrated stretching in their daily lives. Combined with maneuvering yourself so that you don’t get pricked, it becomes a form of yoga. Those thorns are no joke. They’re a great defense system.

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A recent addition to the menu is berry salads with grated cheese.

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My breakfast would have probably costed me at least $8 plus tax and tip at a restaurant. There is a place I know of that charges $6 with no tax or tip but it’s the type of establishment where the ketchup bottles are greasy and walls are full of profanity.

12 eggs – $5
16 slices of bacon – $2
Loaf of bread – $5

I can make at least 4 meals for $12. Damn, it’s only a savings of half and I’m not even including the cost of butter and the water used to wash the dishes. I can live with greasy ketchup bottles and having a wall tell me who to call for a good time. In my old neighbourhood there is a place that does breakfast for $2.95 plus tax and tip. With no employees to layoff I have to cut the cost of food to compete. I’ll have to get non-free range eggs, expired bacon, bread made with 20 ingredients and recycled butter.

 

On the Way Home

Almost $6 for a small decaf Americano and a giant cookie. My new thing is going to this coffee place to read. At these prices I have to take up their space for at least an hour to get my money’s worth.

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During the walk home I saw a yard sale sign and checked it out. Ooooh…this is cool!

“How much?”

She quickly ran into the house to check the internet to see if it was “worth anything.” Once she was convinced it wasn’t going to get her 100 manic eBay bidders she offered it to me for $3. I gave her $4($2 coins) and she didn’t give me any change. I yelled profanities at her and sliced her throat open with the jagged record.

On the way home I decided to stop by an old lady’s home to say hi. She heard of Orson Welles but not of the radio broadcast. She asked if I wanted to play it. I asked if she wanted to listen to it. She said, “not really.” She told me an old person story like how old people usually do and then I left.

On the way home again I saw another yard sale sign and went to investigate. By the time I arrived they were packing up. A middle-aged man with an English accent said, “hey, is that the recording that scared the shit out of everybody?” He too thought the LP might be worth some money but I informed him that it probably wasn’t worth shit. His 3 friends had never heard of it. One of them tried to sell me on a free wooden entertainment center that he couldn’t give away during the entire day. People would rather accept a bag of dog shit because at least it’s easy to get rid of.

On the way home again I bumped into the an old guy that lives across the street from me. I’m not sure if he even recognized me. When he did recognize me in the past he would call me, Justin. My name isn’t Justin but I’m open to change. Sure, I can be Justin. He also never heard of this War of the Worlds. He took out his reading glasses and read aloud the synopsis. “People are gullible,” he said.

My conclusion is that this War of the Worlds is not as well-known as I thought.

 

Non-active Gym Membership

When doing the math, $4.99 plus tax every 2 weeks on a 1 year commitment could only be so bad. I suspect this gym had the same idea. A week after I signed up for the gym membership I crashed my car which resulted in a total loss. I walked to the gym a few times after but eventually gave it up. Now I’m the best type of customer that they have…one who pays but never goes. The bad customers take up space, stink up the place and contribute to wear and tear of the equipment. They should throw customer appreciation parties for customers like me.

It’s a classic case of human behaviour. Optimism is at its highest when an idea is just an idea. People often rationalize the high likelihood that they will commit. Everything works in theory. Once the idea requires physical effort it no longer seems like such a good idea. Now you rationalize ways on how it’s okay to stop going and how the money that will be wasted isn’t that much. You tell yourself that walking your dog is plenty of exercise and the money wasted is only half of what you received for Christmas. I’d like to see the stats of active memberships versus non-active. I’m sure it’s part of the business plan.

There’s a reason why businesses make you sign contracts. They know that people are losers and will often fall into the trap of convenience and laziness. When video stores were around they thrived on late fees. People would often put off returning videos until the last day and when that day came they forgot or their house burned down. With enough life experience you start to say “no” to every enticing offer not because it’s not a good deal but because you know your loser tendencies. Accepting offers are often a bet with yourself.

In the past I have made good use of my gym memberships but it just didn’t happen this time. It’s just been too inconvenient without a vehicle(excuse). I do mini-workouts by randomly dropping and giving myself 20 or doing pull-ups on the monkey bars when there’s no children around. I still have half a year to redeem myself with my gym membership so we’ll see what happens(rationalizing hope).

 

The Amway Meeting

The whole week I was dreading the meeting but I said I would go so that was that. I didn’t want to make my sponsor look bad. In hindsight I don’t think it would have mattered to anyone. I was curious though because at the time I didn’t even know I was going to walk into an Amway gathering. Also, having an abundance of time and not ever leaving a 10 kilometer radius makes one restless.

The 1 hour public transit ride to the more affluent side of town wasn’t too bad. The internet instructions made it easy. The idea of going somewhere unfamiliar with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting brought upon a bit of anxiety.

My sponsor greeted me right when I walked into this shoe store acting as a miniature auditorium. With 30 other people in attendance he made it a comfortable experience for me so far as he showed me to my seat.

The speaker of the evening was the leader of the whole crew. A mid-30s man, he quickly dove into the presentation with an auctioneer style of speaking while messily writing on a whiteboard.

Much of the presentation was geared towards how the majority of people have been misled their whole lives on the best ways to make money and to be happy.

“They teach you nothing useful in school”

That statement is mostly true. Not much of what you learn in school is ever used in real life. Everything else as he said was to see how well you could read and regurgitate.

“You can’t say you make $100,000 a year when a significant percentage goes to tax.”

A 6 figure income has become a holy grail in our culture. No one cares how you make it or what you have to do. As far as most people are concerned if you make it then you’ve made it.

He talked about the herd mentality and how people are wired to fit in with their society.

“Why would you spend your life doing things to impress people you don’t even like.”

I wonder if he got that line from the movie Fight Club.

He even quoted Hitler.

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

A point was brought up about staying at a job when you didn’t plan to be there forever.

“If you don’t plan to be there forever then why are you still there?”

Some people would say that they need the money. I think his rationale is if you’re not planning to be there forever then the sooner you leave the sooner you will find something else. How does staying any longer benefit your cause?

Other statements he made that I can remember were…

“People who hate people, hate themselves.”

“Many men fail in their goals because of their porn addiction.”

“Every man that I’ve met who couldn’t get it together had some problems that happened with their father.”

His whole idea was to push you towards owning your own business so that you could take advantage of the tax benefits of being a business owner. Ultimately it was to push you towards the Amway model.

Being a semi-cynic I listened but always asked myself if what he was saying had an Amway bias. All of it probably did but most of it was good information and enlightening if you were open to it. I’m not doing his presentation any justice. The comedic flavour and quick facts were brilliant. There’s much that I’m leaving out because I don’t remember everything and don’t want to make this post longer than it already is.

He ended off with…

“Don’t live on your knees. Stand for something. Stand for something.”

There was no money to be made for 5 years. They want you to spend the next 5 years being mentored. At first I actually thought it gave it more credibility because I was told there wouldn’t be any money coming out of my pockets for 5 years either. If they’re willing to spend 5 years working with you for free then there must be something honest about all of this. The idea was that building your self-image is crucial for success.

At the end our sponsors wanted us to meet the cult leader. Everyone lined up to say hi and shake his hand. It was then he pushed the $200 meeting in Washington state.

“If you don’t have $200 you can find it if you really had to. If someone was selling a Porsche for $200 you would walk across the street and break shop windows to get that $200.”

Most people probably didn’t see it as pushing but that’s what I got out of it. At the following and last meeting with my sponsor he made it apparent that these $200 meetings 4 times a year were mandatory. If I wasn’t willing to attend them or the other local meetings then it meant I wasn’t a “good fit for mentorship.” I paid $200 for a ticket to see Metallica next month. I’m excited about that.

 

Amazon Experience and Regret

If you had bought $1000 worth of Amazon stock at its IPO price in 1997 you would have close to $700,000 today. Even if you were a little slow to the game, $1000 at a share price of twice the IPO would have still seen a reward of over $300,000.

In 2003 I enrolled in a semester of college because it deferred my feelings of feeling like a loser…it’s more common than you might think. When you told people that you were going to school it gave them the idea that you weren’t a bum. A “loser” is just a more current term for “bum.”

The price of textbooks were and probably still are extremely expensive. I had heard of Amazon but had never even browsed their website. At that time Amazon was only selling books, at least in Canada. Things can take forever to get rolling up here because no one cares about a huge land mass with a relatively small population.

I happened to find a brand new copy of the book that I needed and it was substantially cheaper than even a used copy at the school bookstore. I paid and it arrived. I wonder if Amazon’s name is derived from the word “amazing” because that’s what I thought about the whole experience. It was a sign! If I had bought Amazon stock at that time in 2003 I would have still made 50 times my money.

I’m talking shit of course because I had no money in 1997 nor did I even know about Amazon or anything about buying stocks. Even if I invested what little money I did have in 2003 I would have sold the stock as soon as it went up 20% which would have just led to me being even more pissed off about life than I have been.