A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:54 pm

EdithKeeler wrote: "The first rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement. The second rule of early retirement is don't talk about early retirement..."
Well, I've already violated both the rules. Naughty me. Today they decided that if I were to download Mrs IlliniDave Version 2.0, it might not be too late for me to be cured. In other words, the consensus is that my malady is largely due to a lack of adult supervision.

At least they have a sense of humor about it.

Seriously though, I should probably just keep mum. I'll have to work up a "I know something you don't know" facial expression.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:40 am

One Evening at Home

I pull the keys from my pocket
and lay them on the counter,
then my wallet.

Next is ambition.

Then worry, fear,
a worn nickel and
two pennies--one from Canada.

I rearrange them all
to make room for

regret

and a last bent paperclip.

Breathe.

Now I'm ready to
fling myself into Life--the
Festival of Empty Pockets

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:25 am

Little things on the Margin

I've gotten into the habit of washing dishes by hand (living alone does not generate the heaping sink-fulls of yore). It wasn't a huge surprise, but some cursory research indicated that by efficiently using my dishwasher I can probably reduce water usage a good bit, and even possibly reduce electricity. Forgoing the heated dry cycle would further lower electricity. Plus, automatic dishwashers just do a better job of sterilizing. I'm going to give it a try for a month or so and see how it works out.

With temps finally creeping into the 80s here in the southeast US, it's "cool" shower season, and before long I'll be progressing to cold (tap water is never truly "cold" here in the summer). Sadly, I'm just not resilient enough to handle cold showers in the winter.

I found a spot in my yard where I can hang a little laundry to air dry with it being very difficult to see. I kept it small because being spring the Covenant Enforcement Agents are patrolling the neighborhood eager to spot a dandelion or untrimmed bit of shrubbery. They'd mobilize their SWAT unit if they discovered such blatant probable cause as a pair of old jeans hanging out to dry.

Not a huge win, but my dryer ran for one less cycle than it normally would have. This is something I really want to institutionalize if I can. I wind up discarding a lot of clothing just because it gets threadbare from rolling around in the dryer (purportedly), and shaving a couple bucks a month off my electric bill is a good thing too.

Demolition in my bathrooms starts tomorrow, prompting some rearrangement of things. I think I'll be putting some really worn out old furniture out on the curb for the recyclers, freegans, and flea market enthusiasts to pick up. I just don't feel like keeping it around to try to milk a few bucks out of it at a yard sale or something. Is that bad?

I met a friend I haven't seen for a couple years and ate dinner at a restaurant last night, even had an overpriced craft beer. Only my second such excursion in 2014. $28 well-spent, even if it wasn't the optimal move from an early retirement perspective. Life is a many faceted thing.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:45 pm

Weakness and Accountability

I made my last trip to the grocery store this month and was doing my spending tabulations and looking at totals for April since for most items spending for the month is complete.

I'm particularly frustrated about my grocery expenses. So far this year they are as follows:

Jan $200
Feb $250
Mar $296
Apr $259

April was not quite as bad as it seems because a good chunk was plucking Easter loss-leaders and stocking up but still, stepping foot into the grocery store is relatively the most inefficient facet of my trek to ER.

The ironic thing is I dropped about 15-20 lbs over that stretch!

So the purpose of this entry is nothing more than to avow "publicly" that I will find some way to eat for $100 a month for each of the next 3 months. May should be easy because the larder is well-stocked.

I'll post my numbers here and I'm counting on folks to call me out if I stumble.

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Dragline
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Dragline » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:52 pm

That would be relatively cheap if it results in improved health as you suggest. As Gompers mortality curve tells us, our chance of dying (as an aggregate population) increases 9% each year.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gompertz%E ... _mortality (particularly the table on right -- basis of the life insurance industry).

The older you get, the more incremental health matters. Still, if you can reduce it and get similar results, more power to you!

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:07 am

I found a spot in my yard where I can hang a little laundry to air dry with it being very difficult to see.
I hang my laundry to dry in my apartment. My office clothes go on their usual hanger to dry and everything else goes on a line or two that I temporarily hang from one end of the room to the other. When I lived in a different apartment there were permanent clothes lines in the basement that worked great. Maybe you could set up something indoors.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:29 pm

Dragline, the ironic thing is that the "cheats" are the biggest contributor to driving up the bill. Despite them I managed to drop some weight and more importantly get my BP from ~150/90 -> 110/70 (BP is hugely sensitive to weight for me, even lean mass above a certain point elevates it). Your point is well-taken, yet I think I can get a little more out of it, both lowered cost and healthfulness. In the end, if it has to stay around 250 to be optimum, I can live with that once my 3-month experiment/challenge is over.

Gilberto, I've given that a lot of thought. I have an unused room that I block the HVAC from. It gets really hot in there in the summer, so it's a candidate. I also think my garage would work well, from late spring to mid-autumn it is stifling hot, probably rivals my dryer temp on some days. I like your idea of using a "temporary" setup, I'll have to give that some thought, because I'd rather have a way to quickly/easily convert any space affected back to other uses.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:59 pm

Melancholy Day

We learned yesterday that a friend/colleague for the last 16 years is retiring effective tomorrow. He does not want to do it, but his health is just not robust enough for him to keep going. He's in his early 60s I believe.

I don't believe "retirement" is a goal that all people must pursue. For people like my friend who got a great deal of satisfaction out of his career, early retirement is a failure of sorts. It's strange that my dream is his nightmare. Hopefully he'll find new pursuits to keep himself engaged with. My dad did not want to retire. He took a too-generous-to-refuse early retirement incentive with the intent of going back to teaching part-time (he was a college instructor). He was required to be away for at least a semester before he could come back in an adjunct position. Turns out he developed other interests and never looked back. Hope my friend is able to make that transition smoothly.

I don't know why I'm writing here other than it's somewhat cathartic. For the last 20 hours I've been doing a lot of thinking and am promising myself that I'll be as proactive as possible regarding my health because once the chronic things start to build up, there's little hope of reversing course. A quote I like: "It's not that you have to stop moving because you get old, it's that you got old because you stopped moving." (I believe it's from Greg Glassman but not positive, and it's paraphrased. no photographic memory here).

No matter if you're shooting for ER or want to pursue your career/vocation until you drop, health should be a priority. It's too easy to resolve to "start working on that" next week or next month or next year, only to find that all the time you had to take care of that has passed you by.

Sorry if that reads a little like a lecture or sermon. Mostly it's addressed to myself.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 02, 2014 7:35 am

April

Well, April was my first month as an ERE-er, so I view that as a success.

Starting with the bottom line my total net worth increased by $4260 for the quarter, and my invested assets increased by $5148, which represents $12.87/month increase in ER income. Total spending was $6412 of which $4551 was draw down of my sinking fund for a home repair/renovation project with it's genesis in a plumbing problem last Fall. My routine life/lifestyle expenses were therefore $1861, which is pretty good for me. Still looking at ways to drive that down some, but with assets today and estimated proceeds from downsizing my home, I'm able to generate somewhere around $1550/month, so convergence is close as far as passive income covering all the day-in/day-outs. If I keep whittling those expenses down and ramping the future income up, I should be in good shape in my goal timeframe, even when factoring the standard complement of vagaries.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Fri May 02, 2014 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

robby152
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by robby152 » Fri May 02, 2014 9:35 am

@IlliniDave Great journal! I appreciate your openness and dedication to 'remake your life'. One question (sorry if I missed this, but I reread your journal first to try to find the answer): How are you calculating your $1550 a month? Is that a vested pension? Dividends off of taxable portfolio? 2,3,4,5% SWR off of index funds? You may not want to answer, but I am always curious of the mechanisms people choose to utilize.
Also, given that you have about 12 years until early SS withdrawals would be possible, does that factor into your withdrawal strategy?

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 02, 2014 10:28 am

Hi Robby, good to hear from you.

For the numbers I use at this stage it's based it's based on a 3% annual withdrawal (0.25%/month). I use the total of my invested assets at present plus an estimate of the residual I'll have after sell my current house, move, buy a smaller house, and pay all associated costs, which would then be invested along with my current nest egg. That number is somewhere around $620K, so 3% translates to roughly $1550/mo.

I think I differ from one of the ERE conventions in that I include money in my retirement accounts (401k and Roth IRA) in my net worth calculations and the like. I'm close enough to traditional retirement age that it makes more sense for me than does excluding them.

I really haven't worked out a specific withdrawal/spending strategy yet. I just use the 3% number above to get a feel for approximately where I'm at based solely on what I have in my pocket, so to speak. If things work out I might have a small single life annuity as a retirement benefit, then SS later. I really haven't tried to determine an optimal sequencing strategy yet, which would include a plan for utilizing the invested money.

That said, being within shouting distance of the "outside" fixed income is most definitely an ingredient in the stew. I think it's biggest impact is that it will provide me a generous margin for error. Maybe it's because of my age (and beginning to really feel it in my bones), but I don't have as much confidence as others that I can always rely on my physical self to get whatever work done that needs doing. So I'm perhaps excessively cautious.

In other words, SS is the margin/reserve that will allow me to sleep well at night once my financial assets appear to be enough to do the job indefinitely by themselves. That's sort of a non-answer, but honestly, working out the detailed strategy (which will include tax planning and estate planning as well as utilization of invested assets) will probably be the first major chore of my early retirement. Until then I'm working from a bird's eye view. As close as I am, it's still a fairly long journey.

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spoonman
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by spoonman » Sun May 04, 2014 11:55 am

You write a very interesting journal!

I think a good number of people in the ERE forums do include their retirement accounts in their net worth calculations. I've traditionally excluded those accounts from my calculations because I wasn't sure I wanted to implement the 72(t) exemption. You might have mentioned this earlier, but are you thinking of using a SEPP with one or more of your retirement accounts?

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Sun May 04, 2014 1:39 pm

I also hope that your friend finds a way to enjoy retirement. Perhaps "work" or "volunteer work" that is less taxing on his health. My mother retired from a teaching career at age 62... That is to say, in the three years since she has tutored roughly 6 different pupils (on Wednesdays and Thursdays) to help them do better in school. For her, it is more satisfying work than her work as a teacher was in the last few years. Hopefully your friend can find similar projects, volunteer work, work, or other activities that entertain and that make him feel alive and kicking :-)

I make some difficult calculations to see where I am, retirement-wise. I'm actually already "set" for after age 67 or so, because my country's pension plan PLUS my work pension plan already cover much more than what I would need. (Age 67 is when the pay-outs would start. I assume in the end they will pay out less and perhaps also start two or three years later, but they would have to pay out way less for me to get into trouble). So I make two calculations: one from when I retire until age 70 (I need to cover those years), and one from age 70 onwards (check, covered, done).

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Sun May 04, 2014 1:46 pm

Oh, PS. Together the boyfriend and I spend 600 euros so roughly $840 per month on groceries (groceries plus household expenses actually). So don't feel bad for spending $250 or so... I am trying to get the 600 euros down to 500 euros and then to 400 euros, and I'll be very happy if I can make that. Our problem seems to be A. candy and the like and B. ready-to-go meals and convenience meals.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun May 04, 2014 1:59 pm

spoonman wrote:You write a very interesting journal!

I think a good number of people in the ERE forums do include their retirement accounts in their net worth calculations. I've traditionally excluded those accounts from my calculations because I wasn't sure I wanted to implement the 72(t) exemption. You might have mentioned this earlier, but are you thinking of using a SEPP with one or more of your retirement accounts?

Hey, spoonman. Thanks.

I'm not completely sure about SEPPs at this point either.

If I go significantly before age 55 I would look seriously at that as an option. My understanding is that you can discontinue (or deviate from) them without penalty at age 59.5 (until RMDs pick up at 70). If that's true, I might do it with my 401 where the bulk of my assets reside. So at this point I'd say it's an option, but I'd have to do a lot of homework before saying it was part of the plan. Like I mentioned above, for now I'm looking at my future mostly from a bird's eye view.

I'll be counting on the 401k sustain me (along with SS) during the out years where I'm too old to fend for myself, so any drawdown of it prior to RMDs at 70 I want to keep relatively modest.

If I work until 55 and the financial markets are favorable, or at least benign, my little annuity benefit taken then plus taxable accounts should see me through to full retirement age.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Sun May 04, 2014 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sun May 04, 2014 2:23 pm

Hi DutchGirl!

He has a lot of trouble physically, he's had a couple strokes and related circulation problems that nearly cost him one foot, then recently developed sciatic nerve/back issues requiring surgery that partly alleviated the discomfort. For him just moving place to place is the big difficulty. Hopefully yes, he will find something to get engaged in, at least mentally and emotionally. He has a tenacious attitude in general, so I think he'll do good.

I started off with almost exactly the same approach you describe. At a certain point I realized that once I reached full retirement age (67 for me) I would be fine--actually, rather wealthy by my standards if I worked and saved the whole time. So, when for different reasons I started looking at early retirement, it was the year X to age 67 or so I had to focus on. I named it the "Bridge Period" just to have a short handle for it.

So most of my planning focused on that bridge period and how I might get through it. Long story short, working to 55 would comfortably get me there. But after having spent some time here on this site and engaging in some introspection, I'm now looking at how I can move things up, which may require moving some of my full retirement assets forward in time and upsetting the "check" I had in the > 67 column.

So I reverted to just looking at 3% of the total. It's highly likely to be a sustainable level and much easier than recalculating all the various scenarios to try and determine how close I am. I'm trusting I can find a solution to the details once the time comes.

Thanks fro making me feel better about my grocery bill. :) I did my first weekend shopping for May and got out of there for about $35, so it's a pretty good start. I count my household supplies and personal care items separately, so considering that and two of you versus one of me, we're probably not all that far off. Your item B) is what really drives up my bill more than anything. It plus ice cream.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Barlotti » Mon May 05, 2014 1:57 pm

There's a lot of social pressure, explicit and implicit, to not save. Takes a strong person to resist that pressure.

Here's something interesting to consider. When I first talk about savings and frugality with some person, the negative responses vary, from hostility to mockery to condescension. But then a year or two later, that person comes to me seeking financial advice or expresses their enthusiasm about their own frugal victory or to share helpful information with me. This indicates to me that even people who react negatively internalize some of what they're hearing. They may become part of your ER support network once they've had opportunity to mull over what you've said.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Mon May 05, 2014 7:25 pm

Hi Barlotti,

You are right, I have seen some of my friends and colleagues begin to make some changes in their lives. Fortunately, I have a good group I interact with regularly who don't really have either "E" going, but at least they are starting to reign things in so that "R" is not a train wreck for them. Many are committed to living free of debt, and their camaraderie and encouragement had a lot to do with my winding up here.

Even among the resistant, I've seen some small changes. Less so about frugality per se, but at least some awareness that it is possible to rectify the ledger and live life in the black. Relative strangers are the ones who generally nasty about it, in all three of the ways you describe. I've yet to have someone come back later with a change of heart, but it has not been very long yet.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Mon May 05, 2014 7:35 pm

Am I weird?

Increasingly I've been drawn to finding a life somewhere on a remote corner of the map where there aren't anymore words. When I have trouble sleeping (fortunately a rare occurrence) I can easily rectify the problem by imagining myself in such a setting, in the dead of winter, in a small dry place with a fire and something warm to eat. Uncanny how soothing that is to me. Primal, I suppose.

I don't talk about it much, or let my thoughts dwell on it. I'm conflicted with a sense of duty, both to be near my aging parents and at least available to my kids. Yet somewhere with loons, clean lakes, and a river full of brook trout calls to me quite insistently. I've really had a slippery few weeks, but I'm increasingly tempted to throw out everything that won't fit in a pack and go to a place where I can stand still and see it all for the first time.

I would feel as though I was betraying my family in a way, but at the same time I have increasing doubts I could go to other than wherever it is that calls me, and call myself alive.

Weird, huh? Seems like freedom is every bit as elusive with money in my pocket as it is with empty pockets.

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Dragline
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Dragline » Mon May 05, 2014 9:21 pm

I don't think it is so strange. It sounds more like your consciousness is expanding as you see more possibilities -- even ones you might not choose.

Yet, as I often say, you should attempt to choose both, or all, when possible. Nothing would prevent you from going on such a trip, quest or retreat for a short period of time that would not interfere with the other things in your life.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 07, 2014 4:23 am

Dragline, it is possible that if I make it all the way to 55 at my job I'll have the option of dual residency--possibly. I like the term you used, "retreat". That captures a nuance of it I need to think about some more. I've been viewing it as a full-time thing, but maybe there's a compromise.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri May 09, 2014 8:01 am

So Today I turn 50

Hard to argue I'm not a grownup now.

A life lesson that proves itself more true every day--you don't find time, you make it. All those things I never found the time for--they must not be important no matter what I "thought" about them. That's a harsh realization.

The only real significance of the day is that even from the most conservative perspective I can muster, I won't have to continue down my present course for more than 5 years. There's a fairly substantial probability that at this point, aside from what fraction of my current income covers day-to-day living expenses, I'm working for my heirs rather than myself. That doesn't bother me. I was apparently born without the gene that controls a need to "enjoy" money. I look at money as stored work, work I've already done that I'll use to avoid work later.

There was a discussion in another journal about dating (sorry, don't remember which one). I thought about but opted not to chime in on it because I'm substantially older than the journaler, and I would have appeared deliberately obtuse.

I have a younger female friend who encourages me to "get out there and meet people" on a fairly consistent basis. Now I can use my age as an excuse! I've concluded that the chances of me finding a compatible female are absurdly remote. I wouldn't wish myself on anyone, even someone I disliked, much less someone who would meet all my high standards!

I'm not dead set on perpetual bachelorhood, life has a funny way of dishing up curveballs, but for the present my plans include only me.

I have a keen appreciation of the distinction between solitude and loneliness. So I guess it's okay if I wind up alone somewhere in the Northwoods for the long haul. Speaking of which, I still can't kick that urge. I dug out an old CD of recorded loon calls I have and played it at dusk last night. Very real internal tension I have going on between what my "responsible" side planned up until now, and what the selfish side of me thinks it wants to do.

Good thing that plans, like money, are fungible.

That was a weird meandering rabbit trail to get down, and I wound up just repeating myself in the end. Hopefully most of you did not read this far! Contemplating the passage of time does strange things to a guy.

So yeah, I'm getting old. But knowing that I'm inside of 5 years is a pretty good feeling. Five years goes by quickly these days.

I'm thinking of celebrating by calling up my DSL provider and firing them. My old desktop computer died last fall and I bought a new laptop to replace it. I can do my essential online functions at local businesses that offer wifi, although I do have some security concerns with that, and it would mean I would participate here and some other favorite places less frequently. But $50/month cost avoidance adds 12.5 cents/month each month to my FI income!

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by George the original one » Fri May 09, 2014 10:05 am

> There was a discussion in another journal about dating (sorry, don't remember which one). I
> thought about but opted not to chime in on it because I'm substantially older than the journaler,
> and I would have appeared deliberately obtuse.

Wait a minute... I'm a bit over a year older than you and probably participated in the thread, so you can't use age as an excuse!

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by ebast » Fri May 09, 2014 12:13 pm

Dave - on the DSL side, if your data needs are modest and you're in coverage areas, you might think about a mobile hotspot. I've found myself using https://www.freedompop.com/ where you get the first 500 MB or so free. You have to pay for the device (I hit a promotion where they were giving the USB 'freedom stick' away for free but they have wireless hubs and other things too) but after that, it's hard to beat free and you can take it with you if you're unsure about wifi access.

on the other side - here's secretly hoping for a curveball. in my own experience they can hit you in the unlikeliest of places, if you can just manage to put yourself there.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by saving-10-years » Fri May 09, 2014 12:44 pm

Happy Birthday Dave. I hope there are some nice things happening today - not just change in DSL provider.

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