Friday, October 30, 2009

Creating a Good "End Game"

Ok, I know it's a been nearly 3 weeks since you got an Update. I just haven't been inspired to write a post. I've been mostly in absorption mode, focusing on my own trajectory out here in the back country. Well, it's not that back, being within an hour and 10 from D.C., but far enough. Another hour and 10 and you are on the fringe of civilization, Walden style.

In chess, you have various stages of the game: the opening, the middle game, and the end game. Masters and advanced players orient their entire strategy from the first move to a successful end game. If they win in the middle, excellent. That's good too. But generally speaking, getting up a pawn and obtaining a superior tactical position, one way or the other, is where victory is found.

This has had me thinking about my own "end game," in life that is. When all is said and done, what does that "end game" look like? What factors are it contingent on? What am I gaming for? Is the result I am dreaming of obtainable now? And so on.

I've got a lot to say on this topic, but if I lived the way I've seen others do, by age 65 I would own jack shit, be up to my ears in debt, and need to work until I was 75+ just to continue keeping up with my lifestyle. That's not retirement, that's slavery.

I plan on owning my own house, being mortage free, and relatively self-sufficient by age 45, if not much sooner. I don't want to wait until I am 65 to retire. Hell no. WTF is that? Seriously. Are any of you juiced about working yourself into a grave? I think it's important to give of yourself throughout your life. That's different. Hopefully, well before 65 you are only working to be a contributor and because you enjoy it, not because you need to to avoid collections.

But becoming free of this mindset doesn't just happen, however. One must live differently and make savvy financial choices and sacrifices now. An early retirment is built now. An excellent quality of life is built now. It's not a free trip to cloud 9 just because one has turned 65. Do the things you love now, before you are too damn old to care about doing them, if God forbid, you are destined to be that crochety. Give a shit today about your future, before it's too late.

Over and Out,


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding an Edge

(Photo from; planes by Steve Knight)

I've been spending a significant amount of time this week learning the finer points of carpentry and joinery at the level of creating wood furniture, such as tables, cutting boards, case etc. It has given me a deeper appreciation for the amount of effort, time, and skill that goes into making a custom piece of furniture. Of course, you can bang some 2x4s and plywood together and have something functional, but it would be crude.

What got me started on this path is a combination of things. As a maintenance guy I have to fix or replace stuff all the time, and what I discover is that such and such a thing is meant to break because it was made like junk to begin with--essentially some kind of saw dust and glue (MDF) with a veneer on top attached by a few screws. Mass produced garbage.

Even a lot of high end furniture, if it wasn't built entirely by hand, is a kind of MDF with veneer, albeit of a higher grade than the wal-mart variety. Most of your modern cabinetry, same thing. I've seen "custom" shops at home shows sell cabinetry that is just MDF with venneer but market their product as hand-made. Huh? If it's not wood, it's not wood. Fake wood is not wood. Sawdust and glue is wannabe wood and doesn't count.

Anyway, seeing the lack of quality out there and the attached price, I'd rather spend the money and the time at this point to make my own custom furniture, than pay somebody else for most things to buy a piece of crap. I want my furniture to last generations, to feel permeneant, not fake.

So quality and affordability are definitely motivating factors for me, notwithstanding the cost of tools, which gets expensive once you start purchasing things like jointers and planers. That said, once I make some stuff and am confident in my own products, I will begin to sell them and pay for those tools. Besides I need to find an edge as a maintenance guy.

Right now, I am still somewhat at the level of learn on the fly, jack of all trades . I can do a lot of the basics confidently at work, and even at higher levels of proficiency in some areas, but I need a more thorough grounding in a trade on which to build. Fine woodworking is it for me. I want to get to log cabin building, honestly, but I do not have the capital let alone the time and equipment to do more than study how cabins are built. I am not sure which I'd like better, fine wood working or log cabin building, but what I do know is that I'd like to put my wood furniture in my log cabin.

Over and Out,


Monday, October 05, 2009


This morning, I drove to work under the cover of a bright full moon. I was focused and on my way to work early to handle an electrical problem, and thank heavens, or the creator of Heaven rather, that it was solved with the flick of a breaker.

That said, I began to reflect on my thoughts over the weekend regarding the future and even present demise of the dollar. I am not an economist, but I know enough about liberals and failed states to understand that you cannot create money out of thin air, bury yourself in debts that you cannot repay, and expect to become or remain fiscally solvent.

What happens to an individual in America when they borrow what they cannot or will not pay back? Their credit rating tanks and banks will no longer lend to them. They are destroyed financially from the perspective of the lender and it usually takes years to repair the damage.

Well, guess the hell what? The federal government does not have a credit score per se, but has over $53 TRILLION DOLLARS in unfunded obligations, a.k.a., social security, medicare and medicaid. Does the federal government ever intend to honor this debt. NFW. It just won't. Perhaps they are trying to tank the currency intentionally so that they can pay the debt off in worthless dollars, but it would destroy the country in the process.

Obama Breadline America is not something I am looking forward to, but is inevitable to my mind on our current economic trajectory. China has done more than saber-rattling with other countries to discuss moving away from the dollar as a reserve currency for the world. Now they, our biggest enemy, are plotting with the arabs to trade oil in a currency other than the dollar, which is bad for the U.S. in terms of its financial and political dominance.

My point: we are screwing ourselves royally. Most Americans do not realize that we are sitting on a powder keg that is about to blow our asses into the sky in 53 trillion different ways. We need to claim back our individual liberty and the spirit of rugged individualism. Not just in the political arena, but the way we live our lives every day.

I am not a shill for the tin-foil hat crowd. Empires have risen and fallen since the dawn of history. We simply cannot take America's greatness for granted. The time is long past for complacence. The "shining city on a hill" will only remain glorious for as long as we are willing to preserve it and stay driven in our vigilance to keep it bright.

Over and Out,