Category Archives: Simplicity

This Is No Way to Proceed

Holing up in the apartment is not good for me. I do it because nothing good comes from going outside. I am still alone. I spend money out there. Then I feel guilty. Oh, I can afford it, it’s just something I do because I am bored.

So, I stay in.

But then I binge a certain topic and immerse myself in that. I don’t need to be watching bourbon reviews at nine o’clock in the morning.

I have my project. That’s what I keep telling myself. The project bores me, so I don’t want to do it or flatline quickly once I begin.

Not much going on right now. Nothing excites me.

I am not depressed. Looking above, it might feel that way, but I don’t think that’s it. There’s just nothing. I’ve cleared out all the distractions that I am now bored.

I have posited since my college days that we construct our societies, religions, etc. to help the masses pass time. Seventy-80 years is a long time if we don’t have things to do. I am finding that to be the case.

FoodSaver VS2110

Untitled

This is a post in the My Things series on this blog. In it I chronicle items I own. I seek to describe why I own the item, whence it came, and what value it provides . . . and any other tidbits of interest.

About 20 years ago I purchased a FoodSaver. I used it quite regularly. It finally died. I definitely got my money’s worth from it. I did a little research to find a similar model. This is the one that seemed like it was in the space I work in (not the cheapest but not the most fancy either). I don’t need all the gadget attachments, etc.; just something to vacuum seal my meats.

I purchased this at Walmart in Vineland back in January for $120. Pretty certain Fritz was with me when I bought this. It works like a charm.

The tilted frame is convenient for loading the rolls. It also makes it easier to line up the edge of the bags for sealing. No frills. Just what I wanted.

Doing Breakfast Dishes

Stimulating video here, I tell you.

I made my standard four scrambled eggs breakfast. I videotaped the experience. Unfortunately, I did not press record on the actual cooking nor the tasting. Sigh . . .

While the camera was already out on the tripod, I figured why not document how I do dishes, which I gather from the time my sister visited is odd. Go figure.

No Magic Bullet to Stop Wanting

Having reached maximum efficiency, one might think that life is grand in the simple living world. It is. But the journey is not over. This is life and life does not end until one dies.

I may not be buried beneath stuff any longer, but struggles remain. Namely, I still want. I suspect I will always want. Is wanting a human trait? I do not know.

In recent years I have come to understand that my thoughts, mishaps, and insecurities, once thought to be uniquely mine, are what others experience too. Oh, if I had only understood that longer ago! So, I will take it that my constant wanting is something that others experience too.

It may be exasperated because I live alone and now on a 10-week holiday, but I am constantly finding myself thinking something I see, read, or hear about would be interesting to pursue. As I rebuild the blog, I am reminded of many thing I dabbled in previously that I think might be neat to revive.

It isn’t difficult at times to remind myself why I gave up on a particular pursuit. That usually is enough to get me to move on. But it is persistent. Over and over throughout the day I find that I am researching and considering other activities.

I feel like Stuart Smalley as I remind myself I don’t need anything else right now. The reality is that I have my project to focus on: this blog. The issue is that is most boring revisiting all these things. Sure, I find some things I had forgotten about and others that I have no memory of. But the shear volume of photographs is crippling. I have too many. Yes, it would be easy to delete them, but they are part of this experience. BORING.

So, I turn to YouTube for a respite. And then I begin thinking I deserve a break and should be afford myself a diversion. Who cares if I have a closetful of alcohol to mix cocktails with? Who cares if I have a box of magic to teach myself? Nope, I pursue other avenues.

I am doing pretty well at stifling those diversions. I know in the future I will take on more. When the blog is done. When I am retired. Always some time in the future.

But I am not living presently. That I know. I am holed up dealing with my digital clutter. It’s what I want to do. It keeps me out of trouble. And it keeps me from facing the fact that here at 57, after living in this community for 28 years, I have nothing to do and no one to do it with.

I’ve accepted my plight and have rationalized that it will be this way until I retire. Logic knows there is nothing magical about retirement. I won’t suddenly become a social butterfly. The only difference is that I will be in a different community, one that I don’t have to keep appearances for the sake of a job. I do have golden handcuffs. I have always felt stymied within my community and always look at the next step as a way to break free. Perhaps this time, I actually will.

In the meantime, I am hopeful not to surround myself with more stuff that I will need to address once this “last” project is completed. And to think, I was out of this project at one time.

The Minimalists Podcast

Each year, Joshua Fields Millburn asks The Minimalists audience to review the podcast on Apple as a birthday gift. His birthday, interestingly, is 29 June.

This is my review.

I have listened to every podcast. I have been a listener since almost the beginning (episode 6, I believe, although I had read the site and books written to that point). I have taken a break a couple times since, but have come back and caught up each time.

There is absolutely a love-hate relationship I have with this podcast. That I keep with it demonstrates, I suppose, that the good outweighs/equals the hate. 😉

Most podcasts, particularly these days, provide no value to me. The podcast stretches the idea of minimalism/simple living well beyond the topic for me. It has to as there are not 346 topics regarding minimalism. If one is going to make a living off this topic, it has to expand beyond the topic to fill the space. And that is not very minimalistic.

I listen only to the public (minimal) podcast. That the private podcast was labeled (and still referred to) as the maximal podcast is a poor branding example, imo. Even the pitch to become a patron for a long time appeals to “all the good stuff”, which is applying guilt of FOMO to fund the business model. That is at odds with what is preached all to support the business.

And there are many examples of the contradictions that are at play with The Minimalists. That is annoying, but it is what it is.

For many, JFM comes off negatively. I am one of them. His use of language is often not natural and it comes off as such. That, however, seems to have decreased recently. More strident is the judgement that is employed with his language. Despite interjecting that things are neither good nor bad often, his language does provide judgments (“They demand their shekels”; Ep. 345, 55:30).

Minimal maxims and stating that they are attempting to be pithy is uncomfortable. One may be pithy, but one does not call attention to it (“Tweet that, Podcast Sean!”). What a strange construction. There was a time when folks were humble. This does not hearken to that. Most of the “pithy” statements appear to be prepared; they come off as forced.

Like any show, the format is programmed. That is limiting. Beginning with the “advertisements suck” schtick, to the tired repetitions of stories (corporate careers, well-organized hoarder, boxes of stuff at the mother’s house, more cars than bathrooms, etc.), to the “look at me” cultural references at the end of each podcast, the exploration of the topic of the week is compressed (purposely so to gain paying subscribers?).

The paying members support this franchise. I am not a paying member. A couple years ago when The Minimalists cut their subscriber base and suggested that listeners stop listening if value wasn’t being had, I stopped subscribing. It was in there that a promise was made that the focus of the podcast would change. If it did, it is unremarkable to me. The thing that has increased is the focus on the subscribers (y’know the ones that are intentionally limited; just a marketing ploy). JFM refers to them as “true fans” or something along those lines. Language like that may compliment the paying, but it insults others.

The association with Dave Ramsey is problematic. They have walked a fine line so far with that, but it stretches the no advertising mantra of their business model. Ramsey is behind the financial literacy platform The Minimalists are asking donations for. To say that Dayton students are not taught financial literacy means these L.A. guys are out of touch with their hometown. Ohio has had financial literacy standards built into the curriculum since at least 2018.

There is a prevailing feeling these former cellphone salesmen are just plying their selling skills to a different product these days.

Nothing much of interest/help occurs on the podcast.

So, why continue to listen?

Every once in a while something is said that reminds me of why I am on this journey. In case I begin to stray from the path that I know has been good for me, these little things, sometimes expressed by the guest in different language, jolts me back to my line of journey. For me, that is valuable.

And so it is that each Tuesday I awake to put on the YouTube version of the podcast as I ready my day. It is the only media event I tune into; I have no cable, subscribe to no podcasts I don’t even subscribe to this one; I just find it on YT). and participate in no social media. It is the one regular thing I listen to in this realm.

Two minor suggestions:

  1. The woman off-camera who laughs on mic, added within the last several podcasts, needs to be muted. It is loud and odd to hear since she is not on camera or part of the conversation.
  2. While I am not a fan of the ‘m’ on the bottom of the microphones, if you are going to use them, please put the circle around them to match your logo. Doing so helps with your branding and would permit you to remove the watermark in the lower left corner. No need to duplicate the logo on screen; it is distracting. Without the circle, it looks incomplete.

Seasons to Things

One of the issues with my simplicity journey was guilt. The money, time, etc. tied up in things I considered getting rid of provided plenty of guilt to me. From what I can discern, this is a common feeling folks experience.

By no means was I prescient of this, but hindsight has provided the clarity to this issue. There is a season of things.

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago. The baseball cards that consumed me in my youth are no longer a thing for me today. Neither is the live music archive I collected or the library, Toastmasters pursuits, QuestScouts, etc. are all no longer front and center for me.

Nor are relationships with college friends, or teachers from other buildings I worked in, or the Cape May crew, etc. People come and go (Talking of Michelangelo . . . ha!).

At some point I think I considered it squandered time and resources to let these things and people go. The reality is that there is a season for all this.

I liken it to a teacher.

Think of a teacher. I may extol a certain teacher I had, but that teacher was in my life for a year. Maybe two. The importance of that relationship to me was limited. It may have taught me life lessons (I am thinking of you, Ducky), but that relationship was merely a couple years of my life.

14 June 2022

These things and people served me, but it’s not an ongoing relationship. A coloring book when I was four was special, but here at 57 is no longer needed. Is it callous to liken a person in the same way? I think not.

Friends in the dorm when I was 18 were wonderful, but we all grew up, went our own ways, and forged a life that is not anchored in that dorm room. That time is over.

A simple life is not found by holding onto all this. Sure, if there were occasion to meet up with the college crowd, or my childhood friends, etc. it would be pleasant to reunite to reminisce. But it is not something/someone that/who is likely to re-anchor in my current life.

David Somers comes to mind. My best friend from childhood is someone I have not seen in 30 years. If we were able to hang one day and reminisce, that would be great. But I am under no illusions that we will forge an ongoing relationship that will influence my day-to-day. The season for that friendship is over.

I do still have three friends that have persisted over time, but even those have morphed. We once interacted daily as dormmates. Then it became roommates. Then we went off in different directions. We do occasionally reunite. We keep the friendship alive a couple times a year, but these check-ins just demonstrate that the relationship is different these days. The season of being roommates is over. That is fine. We are 57-year old men; we don’t need to be each other’s roommates these days.

So, it isn’t callous. Things should be even easier to recognize that the season comes and goes. As a veteran teacher, I am preparing for the time when I cut ties with y teaching stuff. Already, I no longer have the bags to transport the things between work and home. I no longer keep teacher supplies at my home. My teaching season is almost over and so is my relationship with all the things associated with it. So too with all the people I work with. These people I see daily during the academic year will no longer be daily interactions.

It is all A-okay. Invoking Dr. Seuss (although he didn’t really say this):

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Rather, I look forward to the next round of stuff/relationships. Just tomorrow, my daughter will become an adult. Odd, today she’s a child; 24 hours from now she’ll be an adult. Tomorrow, my relationship with my daughter will change. We will go from child-parent where she has to come to my place on schedule to child-parent peers. This new stage will no longer be directorial but grounded in commonalities. I look forward to this time.

Eventually, even that relationship will change. She may marry, have a career, and drop a grandchild. Those actions will once again change the relationship. As her seasons change, so will our relationship. It’s all good. It’s all exciting. It’s all temporary.

Again, I did not have this idea when I began my journey. This has revealed itself since I arrived at maximum efficiency. My thinking is being aware of this keeps the guilt associated with the removing of things/people and pursuing a simple life at bay.

A Fundamental Shift

Despite chastising myself over and over that I should not spend time researching things to purchase. But there I was once again looking at creating a home studio so I can vlog from 3-Cubed.

Sure, I have had a home studio before. I know what is involved. Sure, I don’t have a plan for what I would vlog about. Sure, I don’t need a thing to keep me busy. Sure, I don’t need more stuff. But there I was looking at stuff.

In my research, I watched a YouTube video of vlogger that had a studio similar to what I was thinking about. As I watched that video, I became uneasy with the amount of stuff is involved. Yes, I knew what was involved. Just seeing it: the wires, the light stands, the screens, reflectors, etc. was off-putting. Perhaps if I had a house for which I could dedicate an entire room to a studio my thoughts would be different. I don’t have that kind of space here. There is no way I would bring all that stuff into my life at this point. I liken it to going to someone’s house these days that is cluttered; it makes me uncomfortable (although, to each his own).

Rather certain that no vlogging studio will be added to my life any time soon.

Focus, Bob!

The Trouble with Wish Lists

Over the years I have cultivated a wish list. My thinking was it provided exactly what I wanted so family members wouldn’t have to guess. That sounded nice, but it really didn’t work that way. Only once did anyone purchase something from it.

Later, the wish list, particularly the Amazon wish list served as a waiting place. Famously, when I considered getting into smoking meats, I forced myself to wait a year to prevent from taking on another hobby without thoroughly thinking it through.

That was such a good decision that it molded my approach for the next 15 years. Whenever I want something, I begin adding items to the wish list. Then I wait. If it still sounds good in the future, I pull the trigger.

But what I realized recently is that that wish list is really just a list of future spending. I go through it every now and then and either buy the things or delete them.

And what are the things that end up on the list? Items that other web sites are getting me interested in. Reddit, the news, YouTube, Facebook all are commercials for what I end up buying.

Not good.

If I want to live simply, if I am enough right now, if I have all that I need then I don’t need to be building toward something new.

Just yesterday I had a moment at work where I recognized that summer is actually going to arrive this week. In the past, summer represented a time to take on something new. One summer it was studying statistics. Another learning Perl. Another working out. I began to think about this summer. No, there’s not gong to be anything new added to my agenda. I have already what I am going to do. Sure, there is a trip, but other than that, it’s chilling. No new things to pursue. No new things to buy. Just maintain the life I have forged for myself.

I deleted my Amazon wish list. That way I am not tempted to provide the company with my new debit card number. 😉

For Me

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching

John Wooden

Today I received an e-mail requesting I send a photograph from my collection. It’s Beetle‘s graduation day. Her mother wanted a specific photograph of Beetle for something or other.

My initial thought was not to send it to her. Then I thought I would delay sending it to her. It was easy to have these thoughts. The woman chastised me for years for “playing on the computer”. My playing was often organizing the 180,000 photographs for which she now wanted access to.

Furthermore, it would appear that once again this woman waited until the very last minute (the day of graduation) to create whatever she decided to create using this photograph. The procrastination always bothered me. A delay would perhaps put a crimp into that.

As I dressed and got myself ready for the day, I pondered this. Silly. I’ll be 57 in less than a week and I am playing mind games with my ex?

So keep on playing those mind games together
Doing the ritual, dance in the sun

John Lennon, Mind Games

Wtf? I sent the image that I was able to find easily due to the playing I have done. I am not beholden to the emotion the e-mail initially elicited. Everyone wins and my mellow is not harshed.

You gotta let it, you gotta let it go

John Lennon, Mind Games

Changing Habits

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

My simplicity journey is going well, but I recognized recently I still had room for improvement. I seem to spend much time researching new things. Even since vowing to address this, I spent last evening looking into things.

Just now I was about to go to Amazon to put the order together. Then it dawned on me—I am not doing this. And to that end, I added an obstacle the other day that has kept me from purchasing today.

When I was scammed, I shut down the debit card that was used. That card is registered with Amazon. I now have a new card, but I have not shared it with Amazon.

Despite having seven months remaining on my Amazon Prime subscription, I am refraining from purchasing. That means any little projects I want are going to be be sourced and funded elsewhere. My goal is that by December when I officially pull the plug on the subscription, I have rid myself of all purchases.

That began today.